The main benefit of bagless vacuum cleaners, which, by the way, are just as good on suction and power as their bagged contemporaries, is that you save on running costs as there’s no need for more bags. Many are easier and quicker to empty too than their bagged contemporaries. And as some come with anti-bacterial protection, which can reduce house dust mite and cat allergen content significantly, they can also be better for allergy sufferers.
On the downside, bagless machines usually have smaller dust capacities – the average holds 2.6 litres, compared to 4.2 litres in bagged machines. So if you’re buying one, do your homework about how quickly it tends to fill up. Also check if the canister is easy to empty. It can get messy, producing billowing clouds of dust, although that’s certainly not always the case.
Do you mind how heavy the machine is? Is it easily manoeuvrable? Will it reach into tight crevices and other hard-to-reach spots in your home? Is the machine quiet? And finally, make sure you don’t get so carried away with the benefits of the bagless technology that you forget to check whether the machine you’re buying will suck up dust efficiently, leaving your home with that freshly vacuumed look.
We’ve tested upright, cylinder, cordless and robot machines across all floor types to bring you the best of them.
1. Philips PowerPro Ultimate FC9920: £249.99, Dunelm
We can’t rate this hi-tech, futuristic-looking machine highly enough on carpets, where it effortlessly sucks up the finest of dust in its wake. Stairs are a doddle, thanks to the long, flexible hose, and it’s not bad on hardwood floors either, although it didn’t score quite so highly on laminate floors. It’s compact, making it easy to store, and the 10m power cord gives good reach. We had a few niggles – it’s not that easy to move around and bin emptying is tricky until you get the knack. Plus the instruction manual could be clearer. But for incredible suction and a machine that’s built to last, it’s impressive.
2. Morphy Richards Supervac 732002 2-in-1 Supervac: £76.36, Amazon
Cordless vacuum cleaners are great if they’re lightweight, powerful and easy to store and this one is all those things, as well as being affordable. Whether you use it as either an upright or handheld cleaner, it’s strong on power and suction and gives you a good 20 minutes on full charge. Afterwards, simply collapse the handle and bung it away in the tightest of spaces. The dust box needs a lot of emptying, but it’s a quick and easy job.
3. Miele Blizzard CX1 Excellence Bagless Vacuum Cleaner: £299.95, John Lewis
We couldn’t wait to try the first ever bagless vacuum cleaner from this market leader (I know, I know, we need to get out more) and when it comes to the key business of sucking up dust and grime, we were not disappointed. Aesthetically, it’s stylish and even the sound (which is lovely and quiet) smacks of quality. It has four power settings, it gets into tight corners and is easy to empty. It’s a boon for allergy sufferers too.
4. Bissell Powerglide Cordless Vacuum 1538A: £279.99, Lakeland
If you’re fed up of clumsy and cumbersome corded vacuum cleaners, then feast your eyes on this cordless creation that whizzes round the house in no time, particularly on hardwood floors where it really lives up to its name. Pet hair causes no challenge and you get a whopping 45 minutes run time, after which time you’re bound to be ready for a rest anyway. The extendable hose, crevice tool and brush makes light work of stairs and tricky corners, although you might be left with some fine dust on carpets and in between the grooves on floorboards.
5. Bosch Power Silence 2: £279, Very
Vacuuming can be a noisy affair, although not so with this machine that’s one of the quietest we’ve tested – ideal for when your kids are asleep or the rest of the family is trying to watch the telly. It excels on hard floors and does a decent job on carpets, while the 3.6L capacity for dust is way bigger than you get with most bagless cylinder vacs, which will save you time on emptying. The long reach means you don’t have to keep switching plus sockets and it’s good for allergy sufferers, but on the downside it’s quite large and probably not the best for pet owners.
6. Karcher VC5: £149.98, Amazon
If versatility tops your list of priorities, then check this out. Impressively compact and lightweight – which makes it easy to store and use – it has lots of suction on all four power settings and enough accessories to make short work of cleaning tight corners, stairs, walls and more. We found the accessories among the easiest and quickest to remove and replace of any vacuum cleaner we’ve tried and the cable is nice and long too. On the downside, it’s not the most stable of machines, which we found tipped over quite regularly.
7. Vax Air3 Agile U87-AA-BE: £119.99, Currys
This energy-efficient and very lightweight machine gets top marks for what it’s designed to do – thoroughly cleaning all kinds of surfaces, including the finest of dust particles and pet hair. And because there’s no need to go over the same spot twice, it’s quick too. Be warned you’ll have to empty the dust canister quite regularly, but it’s a cinch to do so. It’s also noisy and doesn’t have a long cable reach, but these issues aren’t deal breakers if you’re a clean freak, allergy sufferer or pet owner that wants a clean home in record time.
8. GTech AirRam AR02: £199, Argos
There are no dust clouds when you empty this machine, which is nice and light, and nor are there any cables to get in your way. It’s not the quickest to charge at four hours, but you get a decent 40 minutes run time and in terms of power and suction, it gives any good corded machine a run for its money. It fills up quickly, but in many ways, that’s a positive as you see just how much it’s sucking up from your floors. It could do with a few more tools, though.
9. iRobot Roomba 980: £799.95, John Lewis
Loathe vacuuming? This is the top of the range robot vacuum from iRobot, which does the job for you. Wifi enabled and controlled via an app, remote or on the robot itself, it runs for two hours non-stop until it needs charging again and it can even be pre-set to work every day. It’s slim enough to reach under furniture like beds and automatically adjusts according to floor types. It didn’t do quite such a deep clean as some other machine we tested, but if you get it working regularly, your home will always look fresh and immaculate. It’s quite noisy, though.
10. Dyson Cinetic Big Ball: £469.95, John Lewis
This compact vacuum cleaner has a surprisingly big bin (a third bigger than previous Dysons) and we like the ball shape that means it self-rights itself when toppled – although this can make it tricky on stairs. If you have laminate flooring, you’ll know how difficult this can be to keep clean, but this machine won’t let you down, also excelling on other surfaces and on upholstery. As the bin is emptied, a silicone collar slides down the shroud, scraping off trapped dirt or debris – a huge boon if you find having to put your hand inside the bin a revolting job.
11. Hoover Velocity: £109.99, Argos
This energy-efficient machine is a great all-rounder at an affordable price, making it a good option for people with a range of different floor surfaces including laminate, floorboards and carpets. It’s not bad on upholstery too. The hose is nice and long – a godsend for stairs and tight corners – and all the attachments can be neatly stored away on the appliance itself. But it is the noisiest vacuum cleaner we tried.
The Verdict: Bagless vacuum cleaners
Our vote for the best mid-range bagless vacuum cleaner goes to the Philips PowerPro Ultimate FC9920. That said, it’s not the best on laminate floors – for that, our top choice is the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball, although it’s a lot more pricey. At the budget end, we’d say the Vax Air3 Agile U87-AA-BE gives you the most bang for your buck.
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