How to select a good vacuum cleaner? Our Tips!
Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide
Vacuum cleaners have come a long way lately, with technological innovations making vacuuming easier and faster. This Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide covers the key things you need to consider to choose the best vacuum for your home.
1. Types of Vacuums
Stick vacuums are compact, light and easy to manoeuvre around, making them perfect for vacuuming up crumbs, cobwebs and pet hair. They're perfect for quick cleans before visitors arrive, and for homes with pets or kids. Some stick vacuums cleverly convert into a handheld vacuum for complete vacuuming convenience.
Key features to compare:
- Battery life and recharge time—you don't want a dead battery before you finish
- How much dust it can hold—you don't want to have to empty it mid clean
- If any extra tools are included—a crevice tool makes cleaning corners easy
- If it has a high voltage Lithium Ion battery—these stay charged for longer
- Is it recommended for pet hair?
Barrel or cylinder vacuum cleaners are designed to be compact so they're perfect for small homes or homes with limited storage space. These great all-rounders are suitable for hard floors, carpet, and stairs because they're light enough to lift.
- Lighter and smaller than upright vacuum cleaners
- Easy to manoeuvre around furniture and up and down stairs
- Can have a small, medium or large capacity to suit different sized home
A little vacuum that's light enough to hold in one hand is perfect for spot cleaning floors and the furniture, and also for vacuuming the car, so these are great for families and people with pets.
Key features to compare:
- How long the battery will last before it needs to be recharged
- If it can vacuum up liquid spills as well as dry dirt and crumbs
- If it has a boost function you can switch on for extra suction power
- If has an angled head that can be adjusted for vacuuming dust on high shelves
- Is it recommended for pet hair?
These clever little bots automatically move themselves around the house and do the vacuuming for you—saving you so much time and effort. They're an ideal second vacuum for busy households that want to do a proper vacuum less often and still have their floors look good between cleans. Some robot vacuums can even sense furniture, stairs and really dirty floors, while others automatically recharge and can be set to start cleaning at a certain time.
Key features to compare:
- How long the battery lasts before it needs to be recharged
- If it has a sensor so it doesn't run into furniture or fall down stairs
- How quietly it vacuums
- How easy it is to empty
- If an app can be used to control it from your compatible phone or tablet
Vacuuming with an upright vacuum is easier than with a barrel vacuum because you don't have to bend over, making them perfect for people with back problems and houses that take a bit of time to vacuum. Upright vacuums have powerful suction that lifts out trodden-in dirt and stubborn pet hairs, and are best for flat surfaces because they're usually heavy, and they may not fit under low couches and beds.
- Pushed in front of you rather than dragged behind so easy to manoeuvre
- Removes deep down dirt from carpets and rugs
- The powerful motor, large dust capacity and wide head suits large homes
2. Difference in suction
How well a vacuum cleaner cleans comes down to suction power. It's important to consider these three key aspects of suction:
Watts: This tells you how much power goes into the vacuum when you turn it on. It's important to remember that a vacuum can have a higher wattage but worse suction relative to other vacuums if it's inefficient. Cordless vacuums are usually around 20-200 watts and corded vacuums are generally about 1000-2000 watts.
Air Watts: What are air watts? How well a vacuum converts watts into ‘air watts' determines the suction power, with more air watts usually giving you more powerful suction. Other important factors that can affect suction are the filtration and airflow, brush head quality, and the design of the hose and nozzle, so it's worth finding out about these features when comparing different models.
Noise: A bit of noise is inevitable when you vacuum, but some models have been designed to make a lot less noise—think about whether this is important to you if you want to be able to vacuum during nap and TV time.
3. Bagless Vs. Bagged
The great bagless versus bagged vacuum debate ultimately comes down to what matters most to you—price, convenience, avoiding allergens, the environmental impact, or any combination of these.
Bagless vacuum cleaners save you the hassle of buying and changing vacuum bags. You can empty the removable dustbin straight into your compost or rubbish bin, so they're better for the environment, but some of the dust can escape into the air during emptying.
- You can empty the vacuum bin straight into your compost or rubbish bin
- No need to keep buying vacuum bags which is better for the environment
- Easy to see when the bin is full so it can be emptied before it loses suction
- If you accidentally suck up something you can see it and fish it out easily
- Can expose you to dust and other allergens during emptying and filter cleaning
- The filter must be cleaned and replaced regularly or performance can suffer
Vacuum cleaners with a bag inside are less messy and a great option for allergy and asthma sufferers because all the dust stays inside the bag during emptying. If the bag is biodegradable it can also go in your compost to reduce the environmental impact.
- A lot less messy to empty as dust is trapped inside the bag
- More hygienic and therefore better for allergy sufferers
- Built-in bag and vacuum filters don't need to be cleaned or replaced
- If the bag is biodegradable it can go straight into your compost
- The vacuum can lose suction as the bag fills up
- Hard to see when the bag is full unless there's an indicator light
- The cost and effort of buying filters and the right bags for warranty validity
- Frustrating if the bag is full during cleaning and you don't have a new one
- The environmental impact of manufacturing the bags
4. Allergy Considerations
There are two main types of filters found:
Micro filters: These can be washable or disposable and are found in most basic vacuum cleaners. These filters release particles of dust back into the air so they're not the best choice for asthma or allergy sufferers.
HEPA filter: A HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter filters the air and traps tiny particles and pollutants in the filter. This removes 99.97 per cent of particles such as pollen and dust mite faeces that are 0.3 micrometres or larger in size, so vacuums with a HEPA filter are the best choice for those with asthma, allergies or dust sensitivity. HEPA filters must be cleaned regularly and replaced every year.
5. Pet Vacuums
For those who love their pets but hate having pet hair everywhere! Pet vacuums have powerful suction that picks up pesky pet hairs from your floor, couch, bed and car, and you can choose the type of pet vacuum that suits your needs best—barrel, upright, handstick, handheld, or a two-in-one handstick and handheld vacuum.
If you have asthma or allergy sufferers in your home go for a pet vacuum with a HEPA filter, and if your pet has long hair look for a rotating, motorised brush head that prevents their hair from getting tangled around the brush head. Some vacuum cleaners even have a special attachment for grooming your pet—as you brush your beloved fur baby any loose hairs are sucked straight into the vacuum so they don't end up everywhere!
6. Cordless Vs. Corded Vacuums
A cordless vacuum gives you the freedom to vacuum without having to plug into the wall and constantly manoeuvre around the cable. They're small and light so they're easy to use and store, and are perfect for a quick vacuum. Cordless vacuums are great as a second vacuum for crumbs and quick cleans without having to haul out and plug in a bigger barrel or upright vacuum.
- Smaller and lighter than barrel and upright vacuums
- Vacuuming isn't limited by cord length and power points
- A handheld cordless vacuum makes vacuuming furniture and the car easy
- The compact design makes them easy to store if you have limited space
- Battery needs to be recharged (check the battery life—it will be less if on Turbo)
- Hold less dust than a barrel or upright vacuum—about 0.6litres versus 2-3litres
- Filter needs cleaning and changing more often than barrel or upright vacuums
- Most models don't perform as well on heavy carpet as corded vacuums
Vacuums with a cord generally have more suction power than cordless vacuums, and they don't have battery life limitations so are best for vacuuming the whole house.
- More suction power than cordless vacuums
- Don't have a battery so you can vacuum for as long as needed
- Plug into a power point so you have to navigate around the vacuum cord
- You're limited by cord length and have to unplug and plug in between rooms
7. Additional Considerations
Some vacuums come with an upholstery brush that carefully cleans curtains, dining chairs and couches, a hard floor tool for tiles and wooden floors, a dusting brush, and a crevice tool for skirting boards, corners, and the gaps beside appliances.
Some vacuums have a wand that extends out so you can reach annoying cobwebs in corners and vacuum floors standing up straighter so there's less strain on your back.
Cord Stored Inside
Many barrel vacuums have a cord that quickly retracts back into the vacuum at the push of a button, whereas upright vacuum cord stays on the outside and has to be manually wrapped around two hooks.
If you like to keep everything tidy look for a vacuum with a wand that clips onto the hose—it makes your vacuum easier to store and ensures nothing goes missing.
The height of some vacuum heads adjusts to suit the type of floor you're vacuuming and give you the best cleaning results. Some models adjust automatically while others need to be adjusted manually, so the head sits lower on hard flooring and higher on thick carpet.
Adjustable Suction Power
Some vacuums have a variable suction control you can adjust for delicate things you want to clean with less suction, like curtains, cushions and dining chair fabrics.