When buying a corded vacuum cleaner, you first have to decide whether you want upright or cylinder. Cylinders are smaller so may be easier to store, while uprights often have more power, though are usually heavier than their cylinder counterparts.
Though some cordless cleaners are now very powerful, they will only run for half an hour or 40 minutes at the most, so for several rooms you need the stamina and power that plugging into the mains delivers.
Some cleaners use bags, which is an on-going cost and can mean the suction power drops as the bag fills up. Bagless is the other way to go, though it’s usually more expensive upfront.
1. Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal: £410, Amazon
The Big Ball (stop sniggering at the back) is designed so it doesn’t fall over, or at least picks itself up again when it does. The design also makes it easier to steer the cleaner. This model is meant for households with pets but there are other Cinetic cylinders in the range which are a little cheaper. But the quality of dust and dirt removal on this Dyson is outstanding, and it’s a dream to use. Multiple floor tools suit carpet, wood and other surfaces.
2. AEG UODELUXE+ UltraOne: £259, Amazon
AEG’s cylinder is powerful – sometimes it’s almost hard to prise it off the floor, it’s so strong. It’s designed with controls usefully placed on the handle. It’s quieter than many vacuums, thanks to what the company calls the AeroPro Silent nozzle and Silent Air technology. The noise is actually 66dB, where many vacuums are significantly more (75dB but that’s much noisier). It’s especially good with pet hair. This cleaner uses bags and is the heaviest machine on the test (8.88kg).
3. Miele Compact C2 Cat & Dog Powerline: £190, John Lewis
When it comes to picking up pet hair, Miele makes exceptional vacuum cleaners, such as this model which can suck up pet hair quickly and easily. Its bags have considerable capacity so you won’t be emptying them all the time. The floorhead is designed to mimic the power of a cleaner with a higher wattage level to pick up more dust.
4. Dyson Small Ball Total Clean: £260, John Lewis
Disproving the rule that uprights are heavy, this Dyson is small and extremely light – handy when you’re carrying it up the stairs. The main handle is retractable so you can store it in a smaller space, too. The bin volume is smaller, mind, as a result of this compactness so it requires frequent emptying, though this emptying process is simple and hygienic thanks to a well-placed release trigger. Like other Dysons, this is bagless.
5. Vax U85-AS-Ue Air Stretch Ultimate: £90, Amazon
This bagless upright is excellent value and combines a powerful motor with a long cord and hose so it can manage stairs and reach into awkward corners. It’s very lightweight, too, though like the Dyson upright, the dust compartment is smaller than some here. It also comes with a longer-than-average six-year guarantee. There is a pet hair-specific model in the range but this one is good enough for pet owners.
6. Numatic Henry HVR.200-A2 Cylinder: £100, Amazon
Henry cleaners have always been great at efficiently, quickly picking up plaster dust, for instance, that can cause other models to struggle. The eyes and mouth suggest it’s a comical machine but it works tremendously. It has a large capacity bag and its long cable (10 metres) means it can cover a big room or the stairs without you having to re-plug it. It’s not light but it’s certainly capable.
7. Zanussi ZAN7880UKEL Pet Bagless: £101, Amazon
This is another cylinder cleaner designed to help pet owners live fur- and hair-free. The mini turbo nozzle is designed to grab the bits your cats and dogs have left behind. There are no bags to change and it is well-suited to hard floors as well as carpets. It’s also lighter than some rivals here.
8. Hoover WR71WR01 Whirlwind: £90, Argos
The upright Whirlwind offers extremely good value in a lightweight, powerful machine with a decent-sized bin for longer vacuuming before you have to empty it (a simple process on this bagless cleaner). The power cord isn’t as long as some here (five metres) but it is still very functional. The tools aren’t as versatile as offered by some other cleaners but are fine for most situations. It’s quite noisy, though.
9. Philips PowerPro Expert FC9724: £195, Amazon
The bagless PowerPro is a good all-round performer, with impressive results on carpet and hard floors and with pet hair, for instance. It’s lightweight – at 5.5kg, it is one of the lightest on the test. It comes with three different floor attachments including one for parquet as well as the standard dusting, crevice and upholstery nozzles.
10. Sebo Felix Rosso Eco: £235, Amazon
The Sebo has a pleasantly nostalgic look to it, especially in this red edition. The flexible neck is designed to get into awkward places such as kitchen cupboard overhang, though it’s a bit clunky for stairs. There’s a long reach and it works on all floors. It also has a power brush to turn on and off as needed. This cleaner works with bags.
Verdict: Corded vacuum cleaners
The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal and Dyson Small Ball Total Clean are the best, though they are also the priciest. The Miele is the one to choose if you have pets and offers a good balance of price and power. Bigger rooms are well-served by the excellent-value Henry which excels at certain tasks including fine dust pick-up without clogging, and has a big capacity. If a lightweight machine is a priority, the Hoover is easily the lightest here, and the AEG the heaviest.
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