Floor & Surface Cleaning

Vacuum Cleaners: Finding the Best Vacuum Cleaner for You

Unsure whether to buy a cylinder or cordless vacuum? Help is at hand – read our essential guide to finding the best vacuum cleaner for you.

Vacuum cleaners are one of the handiest household tools ever invented. Not only do they provide an effective method for floor cleaning, but they also purify the air quality and reduce the risk of allergy flare-ups. But with more improvements in the design of vacuums every year, how do you go about choosing the right vacuum for your home and lifestyle? Here’s a quick rundown of the main types, along with the advantages and disadvantages for both.

Bagged vs. Bagless Vacuum Cleaners

One of the main decisions you will need to make is whether to go with a bagged or bagless vacuum cleaner. Traditionally, vacuum cleaners store the collected dust and dirt in a bag, which needs to be changed fairly regularly. Though bagged vacuums can often hold more than bagless versions, the on-going expense of buying new bags is a significant drawback if you’re on a budget.

Bagless vacuum cleaners have become popular in the last few decades, storing debris in a compartment that then gets emptied into the household waste. Many people find bagless options simpler to manage, as well as being cheaper. However, emptying all that dust out by hand is not the best solution if there are allergy-sufferers in the household – and if you’re not careful, it can create more mess than when you started!

Generally, this decision comes to down to personal preference. There are decent vacuums that provide a high level of suction in both bagged and bagless varieties. Let’s take a look at the main types available to buy.

Upright Vacuum Cleaners

Upright vacuum cleaners provide good suction on large carpeted areas, often have a larger capacity than cylinder models, and work well in busy households with a lot of floor traffic. The brush bar on the floorhead can tackle things like hair embedded in the carpet, making them the best vacuum cleaner for pet-owners. This said, they are also heavier, difficult to manoeuvre around corners and cannot be used on stairs, so may not be suitable for multiple storey houses.

Barrel Vacuum Cleaners

Barrel models are designed with a small, wheeled dust container so that you can pull it behind you as you vacuum with the hose. This design lends flexibility in terms of moving around the room and up the stairs.

how to find the best vacuum cleaner

Barrel vacuums are generally the most lightweight vacuum cleaners and their compact size makes them easy to stow away, helpful for elderly or infirm homeowners. However, these models don’t have the same carpet grooming tools on the floorhead and often don’t perform as well as uprights on heavy carpets.

Cordless Vacuum Cleaners

These models tend to be light in design and are often known as stick or broom vacuum cleaners because of their shape. They work on a rechargeable battery system. More powerful models are now coming on the market, able to run for longer without needing a boost, but these types are really only suitable for small homes, or for a quick clear-up in busy areas such as the kitchen. Cordless vacuums are perhaps the best vacuum cleaner for those living in an apartment.

Handheld Vacuum Cleaners

Handheld devices are lightweight vacuum cleaners that don’t require a bag. They can be very useful for tidying up spills and a daily clean of your home’s key ‘mess-zones’. Often found in commercial offices, the best handheld vacuum cleaner will help keep a particular room, such as the study, clean without the need for a larger appliance. Again, these will not replace a full-size vacuum, so are usually intended as a back-up tool.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

The latest vacuum technology has produced robot or automatic cleaners that you can programme to clean a specified area and leave to get on with the job. The best robot vacuum cleaner is equipped with rubber guards and sensors that detect obstacles, in order to avoid any collisions.

There are obvious advantages here, especially for those with hectic lifestyles: you can set the vacuum to run, even when you’re not at home! However, some argue that you can’t achieve the same level of cleaning without being able to direct your vacuum into the corners and along the fringes of a room. The best robot vacuum cleaner is likely to come with a high price tag, but the convenience means you may use it more often, so getting better value for money in return.

Other Vacuum Cleaner Tips     

Remember to test vacuum cleaners in-store, if possible, picking it up to test the carrying weight and extending the plug cord to get an idea of the reach. You might also want to check which cleaning tools come with the model – and don’t forget to turn it on to hear how noisy it is! All of these things are likely to affect how well it performs according to your needs, so it’s important to be sure before you buy.

Top Tip


If you have any pets at home, look for a vacuum specially designed to pick up pet hair – it’ll make the job of cleaning your carpets so much easier!

Key Steps:

There are a variety of types available on the market, so make sure you choose the best vacuum cleaner your lifestyle. Consider:

  • Do you need to be able to carry your machine upstairs?
  • Do you need to vacuum pet hair?
  • How much surface area do you have to vacuum?
  • How much time do you have for vacuuming?