Powerful and versatile, the Shark DuoClean gets close to the Dyson V10 in some areas but can’t surpass it in others
- Powerful cleaning
- Twin batteries
- Flexible wand
- No dirt ejection system
When it comes to cordless vacuum cleaners you could be forgiven for thinking that Dyson owned the market. And, yes, its Cyclone V10 (and the V8 before it) cleaner is an exceptional product. But there are plenty of other manufacturers vying for a slice of the cordless vacuum pie and Shark is producing some of the more interesting products in this area.
Shark DuoClean Cordless review: What you need to know
The DuoClean Cordless (with “Flexology” no less) is a direct rival to the Dyson Cyclone V10. It has a pistol-grip vacuum unit, just like the Dyson, comes with a motorised head with dual soft and brush rollers, and it’s rechargeable so you can use it untethered from the mains.
The Shark DuoClean is different from the Dyson in a couple of key areas, though. First, it’s a touch more flexible when it comes to charging. The DuoClean comes two removable lithium-ion batteries, which means when it runs out you can quickly swap one out and continue cleaning using the other battery.
Second, is that its wand attachment (the long tubular stick that connects the head and main cleaning unit) has a reverse hinge, allowing you to clean more easily under furniture and in other awkward spaces.
Shark DuoClean Cordless review: Price and competition
The Shark DuoClean is cheaper than the Dyson Cyclone V10, although not by much. I’m reviewing the standard IF250UK twin-battery package here, which is around £340 on Amazon. The closest Dyson package is the Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute, which comes with both soft and brush-based powered rollers and a small powered head, which is useful for vacuuming stairs.
If you want the smaller powered head with the Shark system, you need to buy the “Pet Power” version, which bumps up the price to £370. Alternatively, if you don’t mind missing out on a bit of suction power but appreciate the lighter weight of the Dyson design, the Dyson V8 Absolute is another good shout at £339.
Shark DuoClean Cordless review: Features, design and accessories
The Shark DuoClean Cordless is clearly no ordinary cordless vacuum cleaner and this is reflected, not only in the cleaner’s innovative design but also in the number of attachments and accessories it comes with.
The main DuoClean head is the star of the show here. It’s motorised, comes equipped rather ostentatiously with LED headlights, and has both soft and brush-based rollers, allowing it to be deployed on carpets, rugs and hard floors without swapping between heads.
There’s a host of extras here, too. The unit I’m reviewing doesn’t come with the motor-driven pet hair tool but there is a crevice attachment, an “anti-allergen” dust brush and a couple of smaller brushes for use on curtains and in smaller areas. The DuoClean also comes with a dual-bay charging station, which you can use to charge both of the lithium ion batteries it’s supplied with simultaneously. It’s also possible to charge each battery individually without the docking station.
Each of those batteries gives around 44 minutes of total cleaning at the lowest power levels according to Shark’s claims (that’s without the motorised main head attached), but the run time falls as you bump up the power and motor head speed. There are two settings for motor and suction power, both accessible via backlit buttons on the top of the pistol-grip main unit. With both the suction and the motor head on low power I achieved around 16 minutes of cleaning time per battery; with both set to maximum that dropped to just over 11 minutes.
This isn’t as good as the Dyson Cyclone V10, which offers up to an hour of cleaning time per charge on low power but you probably don’t want to be vacuuming for that long anyway – and you’ll want an excuse to stop, put your feet up and have a cup of tea anyway.
The Shark’s main attraction isn’t its dual batteries, however, but its innovative wand. This has a hinge in the centre, which has two functions. First, it allows the DuoClean to be stowed without having to prop it against a wall or hang it from a docking station. Second, it means you can clean underneath a bed or sofa without having to get down on your hands and knees: just click the button to unlock the hinge, point the pistol grip down and drop the handle and you’ll be able to reach places that might not have seen a vacuum cleaner for months.
This works beautifully but it does have a flipside: the extra mechanism required add weight. While the cordless unit itself is reasonably light at 1.57kg compared to the Dyson Cyclone V10’s 1.65kg, when you add the 618g hinged wand and beefy motorised head, that rises to a hefty 4kg. The Dyson Cyclone V10 with its motorised brush head weighs a far easier to lift 2.58kg and, as a result, is a much less tiring vacuum cleaner to use than the Shark.
To make matters worse, the DuoClean isn’t the easiest thing to manoeuvre, especially if you ramp up the suction the power of the motor head, at which point it attempts to drag itself across the carpet on its own accord.
Shark DuoClean Cordless review: Cleaning performance
While the Shark can’t quite match the Dyson Cyclone V10 for manoeuvrability or sheer cleaning power, it does a pretty good job of sucking up dirt. In my tests, it coped with everything from clay-based and wood-pellet cat litter to pet fur and human hair without too much fuss.
^ The dual-roller head means the DuoClean can clean on all surfaces, soft and hard
^ Set the rollers to high speed and you do get a little spray back
The dual-roller design means the motorised head can be used on any surface. The soft roller at the front of the head is good for sweeping and polishing hard floors and picking up larger particles, while the brush at the rear gets deep into your carpet pile, giving it that lovely just-vacuumed look.
And suction power is very good indeed. With clean filters, I measured 14kPa (kilopascals) in low power mode and 24kPa in high-power mode, which compares favourably with my 1,200W Numatic Henrietta (HET200A), which delivers 19kPa and 26kPa on low and high power respectively. (These measurements were taken with a bag installed.)
It doesn’t get quite as close to the skirting boards as a Dyson V8 or V10 does, though. There’s a gap of around a couple of centimetres between the end of the roller and the edge of the head’s housing, which means you’ll have to get in there with the crevice tool if you want a thorough clean. I also found that, on a couple of occasions, larger particles became lodged between the brush guard rails and the brush, which stopped the Shark dead in its tracks. And for heavier, gritty spillages, you’ll have to set the roller speed to low and suction to high if you don’t want the bits sprayed about.
One further point of criticism is that the dust container, although reasonably large, doesn’t have any kind of ejection mechanism to push the dust out into the bin. Instead, you have to flip open the lid and hope everything drops out of its own accord. You will find, at some point, that you will need to get in there with your fingers to get everything out, too. I found that long hair would become wrapped around the central filter core and would clog up with other detritus if not removed manually.
Shark DuoClean Cordless review: Verdict
Despite the niggles, though, the Shark DuoClean Cordless is an accomplished cordless vacuum cleaner. Its twin batteries keep you cleaning for longer than with many rival machines and the reverse hinge on the wand means it can reach places that other cleaners struggle to get to.
It isn’t quite as good as the Dyson Cyclone V10, though. Battery life isn’t as long, cleaning power not quite as good and it’s much heavier, which will rule it out for some customers. Still, at £339 it is a good deal cheaper than even the lowest-priced Dyson V10, which makes it a very tempting alternative indeed.