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8 best corded vacuum cleaners that only stop cleaning when you do

When armed with one of these powerful machines, no cleaning job is too big to tackle

Siobhan Grogan
Monday 20 September 2021 18:14
<p>We considered how lightweight and portable they were, as well as how easy they were to empty  </p>

We considered how lightweight and portable they were, as well as how easy they were to empty

Though cordless vacuums have replaced corded models in many homes, they often have a smaller capacity and need regular recharging, which makes them less suited to bigger houses.

Pet owners might also prefer a traditional machine with a wire to keep their home hair-free without the battery conking out halfway through a deep clean.

First, decide if you prefer an upright or a cylinder vacuum. Upright machines tend to be a little heavier but cover large areas quickly and are particularly good on carpet. Cylinder models are useful if you have a smaller property but also if you have a lot of furniture to clean under or around, as they tend to be easier to manoeuvre. They are also particularly suited to any house with lots of stairs.

Many vacuums are now bagless so you don’t need to worry about buying replacement bags, but it’s worth considering traditional bagged models if you suffer from allergies, as the dust is sealed away and won’t escape into the air during emptying. If you have a pet, it’s also worth looking for a vacuum aimed specifically at blitzing their hair with easy-clean filters and tangle-free brushes.

How we tested

We tested a range of vacuum cleaners in our own home over several weeks on both hard floors and carpets, cleaning under beds and sofas, up the stairs and on upholstery to see how well they tackled dust, hair and larger particles. We also considered how heavy each one was, how easy it was to empty and whether we could drag it up the stairs without needing to lie down afterwards.

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The best corded vacuum cleaners for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Shark anti hair wrap upright vacuum cleaner XL with powered lift-away and true pet PZ1000UKT: £299.99, Sharkclean.co.uk
  • Best lightweight vacuum – Hoover upright 300 pets: £199.99, Hooverdirect.co.uk
  • Best budget stick vacuum – Amazon Basics 2-in-1 corded upright vacuum cleaner: £35.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best cylinder vacuum – Hetty eco bagged vacuum cleaner: £129.99, Lakeland.co.uk
  • Best for pet owners – Miele complete C3 cat and dog pro powerline SGEF3: £309, Miele.co.uk
  • Best bagless vacuum – Dyson ball animal 2: £299.99, Dyson.co.uk
  • Best for speedy cleaning – Bissell smartclean pet: £249.99, Bisselldirect.co.uk
  • Best bagged vacuum – Sebo felix pet eco 90810GB: £359, Ao.com

Shark anti hair wrap upright vacuum cleaner XL PZ1000UKT

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

  • Type of machine: Upright
  • Dust capacity: 1.6l

We were bowled over by the suction of this upright vacuum, which dealt with even large debris like dried up pasta and grains of rice without hesitation. The huge floorhead meant our vacuuming took noticeably less time than normal too (result!), and the machine had no problem moving between hard floors and carpet without losing power. Anti hair wrap technology ensured we didn’t even have to clean hair from the floorhead, so this machine would also work brilliantly in any house with pets. There’s a dedicated anti hair wrap pet tool included in the box to give carpets a real deep clean too. We also liked the LED headlights in the floorhead (though we didn’t always love the extra dust they helped us spot), the long 8m power cord and the anti-allergy seal, which meant we weren’t engulfed in a dust cloud when emptying this bagless model.

Best of all, the cylinder lifts away entirely from the body of the vacuum, making the whole thing brilliantly portable, perfect for the stairs or reaching underneath furniture. It’s a little bulky overall, so could be hard to store if you’re short on space, but this ingenious two-in-one machine is worth squeezing in somewhere if you can.

Hoover upright 300 pets

Best: Lightweight vacuum

Rating: 8/10

  • Type of machine: Upright
  • Dust capacity: 1.5l

The reason many people have abandoned their old corded vacuum is simply because they hated lugging it around the house. This incredibly light, upright model is the ideal compromise for anyone who prefers a machine with a wire, yet struggles with their usual weight. We were astonished how light this new Hoover upright was, at just under 5kg, and found it only a little heavier than our usual cordless vacuum. That made it far easier to steer than heftier uprights too, with a swivelling floor nozzle that meant we could whip around corners with no problems. It managed well on all surfaces, though you need to switch the brush bar off for longer pile rugs and hard floors.

Suction is impressive too, and it left our home spick and span, only struggling with the occasional larger food particle. It has a decent capacity, a H13 HEPA filter to keep dust away and a lengthy 8.1m cord, so we found we could vacuum large areas without having to move plugs. The included pet turbo brush is also great for keeping upholstery in tip-top condition.

Amazon Basics 2-in-1 corded upright vacuum cleaner

Best: Budget stick vacuum

Rating: 7/10

  • Type of machine: Stick
  • Dust capacity: 0.7l

We were absolutely floored (sorry) when we saw this boxed vacuum and were convinced we’d mistakenly received a replacement nozzle instead of a full machine. The box is a third of the size and weight of any other vacuum we tested, but really does reveal a dinky-sized appliance that manages to hold its own against bigger models. It’s unusual to see a stick vacuum with a cord – one that’s a reasonable 6m long in this case – but this makes the model a fantastic choice for anyone who struggles with steering an upright. It weighs in at a teeny 1.8kg and comes with a useful swivel brush head for getting in the tightest corners. We especially loved the fact the cylinder could be lifted off to operate as a corded handheld, which was great for using on upholstery or even in the car if you can get close enough to a plug.

Obviously at this size, it needs emptying at least twice as often as most corded vacuums, and it is on the flimsy side, so the brush head occasionally needed re-attaching mid-clean. However, if you’re short on cash or space, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Hetty eco bagged vacuum cleaner

Best: Cylinder vacuum

Rating: 9/10

  • Type of machine: Cylinder
  • Dust capacity: 6l

Call us shallow but we were instantly smitten by Hetty and her candyfloss-pink exterior, cute face and long eyelashes. And yes, we are still talking about a vacuum. Hetty’s distinctive appearance certainly brightens up the drudgery of cleaning, and she is a dream to use too. This is a stonkingly powerful vacuum with a high-efficiency motor that uses 30 per cent less energy than previous Hetty models. As expected, it’s just as solidly built as its well-known brother Henry, and is perfect for bigger houses as the 10m-long power cord and smooth wheels make it easy to cover a huge area in no time. It’s particularly good on carpets and stairs, though has no trouble on hard floors either and slurped up everything in its path, although we did find long hair tangled a little on the brush head.

We loved the fact the cable rewinds automatically after use and it felt like we hardly needed to empty it as the enormous 6l capacity was double the size of most other vacuums we tested. Bear in mind it does require bags which add an ongoing cost, but allergy sufferers will appreciate the fact they self-seal and lock dust securely inside.

Miele complete C3 cat and dog pro powerline SGEF3

Best: For pet owners

Rating: 9/10

  • Type of machine: Cylinder
  • Dust capacity: 4.5l

Pet owners struggling to keep floors free of fur won’t recognise their own home after a whip round with this bagged cylinder vac. It has blistering suction so powerful it actually got stuck on our deep pile rug, but this worked a treat on other hard floors and carpets, leaving them immaculate. It’s easy to pull around the house too and the accessories fit neatly inside so you won’t have to find cupboard space for them. We also liked the fact that the telescopic tube can be adjusted for comfort and locked in place, and a rubber strip stops the vacuum marking skirting boards. The suction tube even rests neatly on the back of the machine when you stop for a break, so you don’t need to leave it sprawled messily on the floor – a simple but ingenious touch. Once you’ve finished vacuuming, the wire rewinds with the simple touch of a button and the huge capacity means you won’t need to empty it every time, though you will need to keep a stash of bags to hand.

Dyson ball animal 2

Best: Bagless vacuum

Rating: 9/10

  • Type of machine: Upright
  • Dust capacity: 1.8l

This Dyson dream machine didn’t leave even a speck of dirt or dust in its wake when we tested it. It has three suction modes for carpets and hard floors and performed equally well on all of them, steering around corners fairly easily thanks to Dyson’s renowned ball technology. We never needed to go back and redo any areas and our carpets looked good as new after the first vacuum. The machine is also certified asthma and allergy friendly by Allergy Standards Limited and has a useful 10m long cord.

We also liked the fact the wand handle rotates in three directions, making it easy to tackle under furniture or ceiling corners and awkward spots, while the tangle-free turbine tool is astonishingly effective at dealing with hair.

Our only gripe? Though it’s not significantly heavier than other models we tested at 7.34kg, we did find it felt like more when cleaning the whole house, and our wrist was a little tired afterwards. However, it couldn’t be simpler to maintain, with no bags, a large bin that empties at the push of a button and a washable lifetime filter.

Bissell smartclean pet

Best: For speedy cleaning

Rating: 9/10

  • Type of machine: Cylinder
  • Dust capacity: 3l

Got a moulting pet or – worse – a shedding teenager? This bagless cylinder vacuum powered through our teen’s trail of long hair without too much tangling around the brush roll like with other vacuums. The hefty suction had no problem tackling larger dirt particles and we loved the LED headlights to help us spot dust we’d have previously missed under furniture. It had no problem dealing with lurking dirt traps either, thanks to the clever two-position handle which squeezes into even the tightest spot.

It’s also super easy to drag around, even during a marathon cleaning session, with a huge 9m cord and 3m hose. This was particularly useful on stairs and stopped us having to lift the cylinder itself every few seconds. The massive capacity meant we didn’t need to empty it halfway through cleaning either, though when we did, we preferred to empty it outside as some dust escaped in the process.

Sebo felix pet eco 90810GB

Best: Bagged vacuum

Rating: 8/10

  • Type of machine: Upright
  • Dust capacity: 3.5l

This German manufacturer is not the best-known name in the UK, but fans swear you’ll never use anything else once you’ve sampled its sturdy build and powerful suction. It’s certainly very easy to manoeuvre despite being fairly heavy, and the swivel head made it much easier than with most uprights to sweep round corners and tackle tight spots. It even lays almost flat to clean under furniture, which is something many uprights struggle with. The long 9.5m cord was also a great help as we found we didn’t have to keep unplugging it as we cleaned. There are plenty of other small but thoughtful details to make cleaning easier too, including a height-adjustable handle, a removable brush holder and a simple sliding switch to vary suction. This makes it ideal for switching between hard and carpeted floors and it didn’t even struggle on our thick pile rug as many vacuums do. The downside is you will need to replace bags, but at least emptying them is a blissfully mess-free process.

The verdict: Corded vacuum cleaners

If you love the power, speed and run time of a corded, go straight for the Shark anti hair wrap upright vacuum cleaner XL, which can tackle just about anything. When only a cylinder will do, we couldn’t resist the Hetty eco bagged vacuum cleaner for great manoeuvring and a no-frills, professional level clean.

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For more vacuum reviews, read our round-up of the best pet vacuum cleaners, cordless models, and robot cleaners

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