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Dyson small ball allergy review: Is the upright vacuum cleaner a miracle worker for hay fever?

As pollen counts rocket, so has the popularity of this purpose-built dust-buster from the leading brand

Tamara Hinson
Monday 05 July 2021 10:56
<p>Incredibly manoeuvrable, this vacuum has been designed to access had to reach spots where dust can accumulate</p>

Incredibly manoeuvrable, this vacuum has been designed to access had to reach spots where dust can accumulate

For most people, summer means sun-soaked days in the garden, balmy sunset strolls and leisurely evenings hanging out with friends in gardens and parks.

Sadly, the reality is much different for hay fever sufferers, many of whom stumble through summer in a bleary-eyed, sinus-singeing, headache-foggy haze.

And it’s a misconception that allergies only strike when you’re outdoors. During the summer, when we typically fling open our windows with abandon after long, harsh winters, we’re not just letting in the heat and sunlight but the pollen too, while simultaneously aiding the spread of year-round allergens such as mites, dust and pet dander – the tiny particles of skin and hair shed by pets.

In recent years, a growing number of vacuum cleaner brands have designed models which claim to help allergy sufferers through the use of heavy-duty filters and dust traps. One brand to have jumped on the allergy bandwagon is Dyson, whose small ball allergy (£199.99, went on sale in 2019.

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Sales of vacuums designed with allergy sufferers in mind typically rocket during the summer months, and this is especially true with the Dyson small ball allergy, which has achieved a cult-like status amongst a large number of those who succumb to hay fever, whether on a seasonal basis or long-term. And this, fellow clean freaks, dust-busters and allergy sufferers, is precisely why we decided to see if it’s a vacuum which lives up to the hype.

Dyson small ball allergy

Buy now £199.99,

  • Weight: 6.9kg
  • Air wats: 90
  • Cordless? No
  • Cord length: 9.4m

What does the Dyson small ball allergy claim to do?

Nothing particularly ground-breaking – but we’re seeing that as a major plus. As allergy sufferers, we’ve grown somewhat weary of vacuum brands which claim to use weird and wonderful technology to reduce allergens, or which fire off stats relating to dust-busting capabilities which simply don’t stack up. Not so with the Dyson small ball allergy; the main weapon in its dander and dust-dispatching arsenal is a powerful motor which drives the vacuum’s brushes more deeply into the carpet, enhancing its ability to remove allergens. The blurb states that it’s certified asthma and allergy friendly by Allergy Standards Limited (but no, we hadn’t heard of them either).

We’ll brush (excuse the pun) over the standard Dyson stuff: there’s the same, neat packaging you expect from the brand, with plenty of cardboard and much less plastic than we’ve seen used by other companies, and the bin opens in in the same way as other Dyson bins, using a quick-release mechanism which snaps open the base for quick, easy disposal of its contents.

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The vacuum comes with four heads (in addition to the main roller brush head): a combination tool, comprising a crevice tool and brush (call us geeks, but we’re huge fans of this particular part, thanks to its nifty sliding head which can simply be slipped down to transform the nozzle into a brush), a narrow stair tool, designed to pick up hair, fur and dirt on stairs, a mattress tool and a soft dusting brush, designed for use on delicate items, like keyboards.

There are two filters (which Dyson says should be washed once every three to six months in cold water). One is neatly stored beneath the handle on top of the bin, and a second is located in the centre of the ball itself, and accessed by unscrewing the centre of the ball, and simply popping off the side. Prone to forgetting instructions? You’ll appreciate the handy tap motif which adorns both filters – a subtle reminder to give them a monthly dousing. We also loved the ease with which we could remove the filters – in the past we’ve damaged the plastic surround of vacuums trying to do this (a posthumous apology should be made to our much-loved Dyson DC02 at this point), but removing both filters was surprisingly simple.

One thing which became immediately clear is that the Dyson small ball allergy is designed to do its thing with minimal disturbance. We love a good vacuuming session, but we’ve also found ourselves reaching for the earbuds when using certain models. Not so with this one, which definitely errs on the quiet side – Dyson says it’s 40 per cent quieter than DC40, and we estimate its output at around 80dB, which is quieter than the average vacuum cleaner.

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Although we’re puzzled by the name – the ball isn’t particularly small, but then again, there aren’t that many ball-based vacuums to compare it with – it’s a vacuum which is incredibly manoeuvrable. Everything about it has been designed to access the parts other vacuums can’t reach, whether it’s the spaces under tables where dust so quickly accumulates, but which become easily accessible thanks to the small ball’s low, flat head, or the way the ball itself makes it easy to navigate tight corners and change direction. Moving from one type of flooring to another is simple, too – when you move to a hard-floored area, simply press the grey button on the shaft to turn the roller off and rely on suction alone.

The verdict: Dyson’s small ball allergy vacuum

Is this a sure-fire way to reduce the plight of those prone to hay fever and more likely to react to common allergens? It’s hard to say with certainty, and although we initially expected to see more features designed specifically with allergy sufferers in mind, we suspect we were missing the point. Is this the supercar of the sucking world? No, but it’s not designed to be (although it still packs a respectable 90AW of suction power).

The features which make it a great dust buster aren’t extra-thick filters or chemical-infused brush heads but more practical ones: a lightweight design – it weighs in at 6.9kg – which means it takes seconds to pull it out of a cupboard to give pollen-filled lounges a quick once-over on balmy nights, the ball itself, which supercharges it manoeuvrability, the deep, rugged brushes and the ease with which it can be maintained. The best example of this is the design of the filters, which slip out with unbelievable ease and are a breeze to wash and dry. This is a perk which shouldn’t be underestimated – fiddly filters are the bane of allergy sufferers’ lives.

In many ways, the Dyson small ball allergy is a slicker, lighter version of the Dyson light ball (currently unavailable), which wasn’t marketed as an allergy-specific vacuum, but which still went down a storm, largely thanks to its measurability, which has been cranked up in the case of the small ball allergy.  And that alone is something worth bearing in mind and will surely be a godsend for those keen to access tricky corners, angles and recesses: all those places beloved by dirt, dust and dander.

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For more vacuuming favourites, try our best bagless vacuum cleaners, from upright to cordless and robot models

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