What kind of vacuum cleaner do I need?
Mid-priced vacuum cleaners usually give the best performance for the price, although it's the more expensive models which give the very best carpet cleaning. Some low-cost vacuums compare favourably with pricier models - you can compare models in our table to see which ones - but generally the cheaper models are better suited to cleaning hard floors only.
When buying a vacuum cleaner, keep in mind the type of cleaning that's required.
- Barrel models are easier to carry up stairs and use in awkward places, such as a car or behind furniture.
- Upright models suit large areas of carpet cleaning, on a level surface, as they have built-in power heads.
- A conventional cleaning head is usually all you'll need to vacuum carpet. But when it comes to picking up pet hair, a model with a turbo brush or power head will often give a more thorough clean.
To see how reliable the top-performing brands are from this test, as well as reliability information for 21 other appliance categories, go to CHOICE's Kitchen section and check out our latest appliance reliability results.
We review 69 vacuum cleaners, priced between $69 and $1599.
- Bissell AirRAM Cordfree #1047-F
- Bissell Lift-Off Pet 2177F (newly tested)
- Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Multi Cyclonic 10N6-F
- Bosch Free'e Animal BSGL5244AU
- Bosch XXL-Hose BSGL32XLAU/03
- Bosch Zoo'o ProAnimal BGS5ZOOAU
- Dirt Devil Pet DDC1800P
- Dyson Ball DC40 Allergy
- Dyson DC25 Origin (newly tested)
- Dyson DC41 Animal
- Dyson DC50 Multi floor
- Dyson DC54 Multi Floor (newly tested)
- Electrolux Supercyclone ZSC6930
- Electrolux Ultra Captic ZUC4103DEL
- Electrolux Ultra One S-Bag Z8870P
- Electrolux Ultra Silencer Animal Care ZUS4065PET
- Electrolux Ultra Silencer Green ZUSG4061 (newly tested)
- Electrolux Ultra Silencer ZUS4065OR
- Electrolux Ultraone Z8830PT
- Hoover 7010PH Prestige
- Hoover Mode 5000PH
- Hoover Performer 3000
- Hoover Prestige 7010
- Hoover Smart 11120364
- Hoover Super Hero HB2030B
- Kambrook Captiv G3 Pet KBV480
- Miele Compact Cat & Dog S6320
- Miele S2111
- Miele S6210 Compact
- Miele S6330
- Miele S8 Cat & Dog S8320
- Miele S8310
- Miele S8790 HEPA Silence
- Nilfisk Bravo 18451023
- Nilfisk Combat Ultra 12404901
- Nilfisk Elite Comfort 107402946 (newly tested)
- Nilfisk Extreme X150
- Nilfisk Meteor 12404911
- Numatic HVR 200-22 Harry
- Philips PowerPro Active FC8635/71
- Piranha Battler 2400W
- Piranha Phantom 2400W
- Piranha Sky 2400W Cyclonic
- Piranha Striker VU32W-09P (newly tested)
- Rowenta Silence Force Extreme RO592183
- Rowenta Silence Force Extreme RO822183
- Russell Hobbs Extreme Suction RHF208C
- Samsung Air Track SC4350
- Samsung Motion Sync Cyclone Force Multi SC20F70HC (newly tested)
- Sauber Intelligence SI-200
- Sebo Airbelt K1 Pet
- Sebo Airbelt K3 Premium
- Sebo Felix Premium
- Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV350
- Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away NV500NZ (newly tested)
- Vax Air VAU1200 (newly tested)
- Vax Mach 1 VMBG2000
- Vax Power 6 VCP6B2000
- Vax Power 7 Pet VCP7P2400
- Vax Power Plus 3 Pet VPP1600P
- Vax Silentium Plus VBGSP1850
- Vax Zen 2 Pet VCZP1600
- Volta Advantage Plus U5420
- Volta Aptica Animal Care UTT7930WP
- Volta Powerglide Pet Lover U3282AVZ (newly tested)
- Volta Sierra U4020
- Volta Ultima Pet Plus U6011
- Wertheim Dog and Cat W2000
- Wertheim Power Clean W4000
- Zelmer Solaris VZ5000HQ
- Zelmer Odyssey VZ450ST
Plus results for over 70 previously tested models that are now discontinued but which might be found in clearance sales or second-hand.
How we test
Dirt removal from carpet Our tester, Peter Horvath, pre-loads the vacuum cleaners with artificial household dust, embeds sand evenly into a section of carpet and vacuums it to a set pattern and speed. The sand collected is then weighed and recorded as a percentage of the sand applied; this is repeated twice for each vacuum cleaner and results averaged. He rates all models based on the dirt pick-up performance from carpet using the standard cleaning head.
Quick clean We've recently introduced a new quick clean test to simulate typical everyday cleaning. Peter measures the dirt removal from carpet as above, but after just four passes over the carpet rather than the full 10. The score is shown in the table for recently tested models, but as we didn't do this test for previously tested models that are still available, we haven’t yet incorporated it into the overall score.
Ease of use is based on how easy it is to manoeuvre the cleaner and move the cleaning head on the carpet and under low furniture. Peter assesses how difficult it is to empty and change the dirt receptacle; operation of the controls; and how easy the supplied accessories are to use and store.
Cleaning corners and along edges Sand is spread into a right-angled corner and, using the standard cleaning head, it’s vacuumed to see how close to the corner each cleaner is able to pick up dirt.
Pet hair removal Peter embeds cat hair in the carpet and, as with the dirt pick-up test, he vacuums it to a set pattern and speed. He rates the results based on how much cat hair is left behind after the test. Where supplied, the turbo brush or power head is used for this test; otherwise, he uses the standard cleaning head.
Scratch test For uprights, the cleaning head is set to the hard floor setting and stops the brush from rotating; for barrels, Peter uses the hard floor tool or standard cleaning head set to hard floor. He runs the head back and forth 50 times over a lacquered fibre board and checks for scratch marks. This result is not added to the overall score in our table.
Noise is measured at the user’s position at maximum power setting. Even though most models produce similar sound readings, some emit a high-pitched whistle that can be irritating.
For more information on vacuums of all types, see Vacuum cleaners.