Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

Barrel and upright vacuums to avoid

If you want suck for your buck, skip these models from Kmart, Big W, Dirt Devil, Bissell – and, surprisingly, Dyson.

green vacuum on grey background avoid
Last updated: 25 October 2023

Few of us look forward to doing the vacuuming, but it's all the more frustrating with a cumbersome machine that does a mediocre job and takes twice as long as it should. 

Our vacuum cleaner reviews have found that barrel and upright vacuum cleaners are the best option for thorough carpet and floor cleaning, but not all vacuums are created equal.

We lab tested 50 popular models and found a huge difference in their performance for carpeted and hard floors, pet hair pick-up, ease of use, noise and more. Learn more about how we test.

Our testing revealed some high-quality cleaners (both expensive and cheap) but also exposed a number of duds bound to make vacuuming even more of a drag – including a Dyson that costs $1049!

We don't want you to end up with a dud buy, so here are the products that scored lowest in our lab tests. Consider becoming a CHOICE member to see the best performers.


CHOICE expert Matt Tung knows vacuums inside and out.

dirt devil rebel 40 bagless vacuum cleaner dacblv21e2

Dirt Devil Rebel 4.0 Bagless Vacuum Cleaner DACBLV21E2.

Dirt Devil Rebel 4.0 Bagless Vacuum Cleaner 

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 55%
  • Cleaning performance score: 65%
  • Pet hair removal score: 50%
  • Price: $99

At less than $100, this Dirt Devil won't put too much of a strain on your wallet, but it will put a strain on your arms – and your patience. 

It's difficult to move over carpet, and what little pet hair it does suck up is difficult to extract from the bin. 

And just for good measure, while it's busy not picking up dirt from your floor, it'll make an irritating, high-pitched noise. Avoid it like the devil.

Read the full Dirt Devil Rebel 4.0 Bagless review

bissell cleanview turbo multi cyclonic 1994u

Bissell Cleanview Turbo Multi Cyclonic 1994U.

Bissell Cleanview Turbo Multi Cyclonic 1994U

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 56%
  • Cleaning performance score: 51%
  • Pet hair removal score: 50%
  • Price: $379

This vacuum comes with a range of tools, but all the accessories in the world can't make up for its poor performance. 

Our experts rated it as "borderline" for cleaning, and it only managed to score 50% for pet hair removal – better than the Big W model below, but still terrible. It was fiddly to empty, and the cleaning head often got stuck when first pushing it along the carpet. 

Several vacuums that are recommended by our experts cost less than this one, so you can definitely do better for your money. 

Read the full Bissell Cleanview Turbo Multi Cyclonic 1994U review

Anko 2400W Bagless Vacuum SL163E

Kmart Anko 2400W Bagless Vacuum SL163E.

Kmart Anko 2400W Bagless Vacuum SL163E

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 60%
  • Cleaning performance score: 50%
  • Pet hair removal score: 70%
  • Price: $99

The price might be right, but the performance is anything but. This model delivers only mediocre suck for your buck, it's noisy and the bin is messy to remove. 

It does a good job of removing pet hair (we embed cat hair in the test carpet and rate how much the vac picks up) and has a washable HEPA filter. But these pluses do little to make up for its low cleaning performance score. 

Read our full Kmart Anko 2400W Bagless Vacuum review.

big w contempo compact vacuum cleaner 1800w jc621d 180j

Big W Contempo Compact Vacuum Cleaner 1800W JC621D-180J.

Big W Contempo Compact Vacuum Cleaner 1800W JC621D-180J

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 60%
  • Cleaning performance score: 63%
  • Pet hair removal score: 20%
  • Price: $85

This basic barrel vac will let you down in many different ways – but especially if you have a pet to clean up after. It received the lowest score for pet hair removal of all the 50 vacuums in our review. 

In fact, it was so bad at tackling pet hair that it actually embedded it deeper into the carpet instead of removing it.

It's also pretty ordinary on pet-hair-free carpet, too, with our experts scoring it a just "OK" for cleaning carpet. It's also not crash-hot on cleaning corners and edges. 

Read the full Big W Contempo Compact 1800W review.

Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Absolute

Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Absolute.

Dishonourable mention

Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Absolute

  • CHOICE Expert rating: 65%
  • Cleaning performance score: 47%
  • Pet hair removal score: 100%
  • Price: $1049

Disappointment knows no price tag. The second-most expensive model we reviewed scored just 65% – a similar score to other vacuums that cost less than half the price. 

This Dyson did OK on corners and edges, but it fell short of expectations for cleaning carpet and had the lowest cleaning performance score of all the models we tested – shockingly, even lower than a $99 Kmart vacuum.

It did, however, perform exceptionally well at pet hair removal, scoring a perfect 100%.

Overall, this vacuum is a prime example of why price doesn't always equal a better product, as many other vacuums (including other Dyson models) delivered more for less. 

Read our full Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Absolute review

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.