Skip to content Skip to footer navigation

Vacuum cleaner buying guide


Bamboozled by the number of vacuum models on the market? Use this handy guide to narrow down your options.

woman vacuum cleaning carpet

What kind of vacuum do I need?


You need a new vacuum cleaner, but which type is right for your household? We break down the options.

Want to know how our experts get their results? Check out how we test vacuum cleaners.

Do I need a Dyson?

Dyson makes popular and stylish machines, but are they always worth the high price tag? Our tests often find cheaper brands that perform the same or better.

Barrel and upright vacuums

Barrel vacuum cleaner – Miele Complete C3 Allergy PowerLine.

Upright vacuum cleaner – Vax Performance Floors and All VX6.

Price range: $50–1500+

House size: Medium to large homes (but suits all sizes)

Pet hair pick-up: Usually good to excellent

Types of floor to use it on: All types

Weight: Usually about 7kg (range 3–11kg)

How easy is it to store? Not so easy. They need cupboard or floor space to fit their bulk, height and wand or hose. Upright models are usually bulkier than barrel models.

 Need to know:

  • These are the best models for thorough cleaning of large areas of floor, especially carpet.
  • Barrel models are easier to use in awkward places, such as stairs, car interiors and behind furniture.
  • Upright models are good for large level areas of carpet due to their built-in power heads.
  • For more information on what features to look for, see our barrel or upright vacuum buying guide

Looking for the best barrel or upright vacuum?

See our expert product reviews.

Barrel and upright vacuum reviews

Stick vacuums

Stick vacuum cleaner – Dyson V8 Absolute.

Price range: $40–850

House size: All sizes

Pet hair: Usually excellent

Types of floor to use it on: All types, mainly hard floors

Weight: Usually about 3kg (range 1.8–5kg)

How easy is it to store? Easy. They aren't bulky and usually come with a stand or mounting rack.

Typical battery life: About 17 minutes (range 7–37 minutes)

Need to know:

  • Very convenient for quick clean-ups and spot cleaning.
  • Usually good at cleaning hard floors, but not very good at cleaning carpet.
  • For homes with carpets, a stick vac for quick clean-ups plus a barrel or upright vacuum for occasional thorough carpet cleaning is a good combination.
  • For more information on what features to look for, see our stick vacuum buying guide.

Looking for the best stick vacuum?

See our expert product reviews.

Stick vacuum reviews

Robot vacuums

Robot vacuum cleaner – Hoover Classic Robot 2240.

Price range: $130–1800

House size: Small to medium

Pet hair: OK on hard floors, but usually poor on carpet

Types of floor to use it on: Hard floors

Weight: Usually about 3.5kg

How easy is it to store? Easy

Need to know:

  • Can be good for keeping floors reasonably free of fluff and dust.
  • Best on hard floors.
  • Usually bad at getting dirt out of carpet, though they can give it a superficial clean.
  • Don't always navigate rooms or clean corners and edges effectively.
  • Best when paired with a regular barrel or upright vacuum for occasional thorough cleaning.
  • For more information on what features to look for, see our robot vacuum buying guide.

Looking for the best robot vacuum?

See our expert product reviews.

Robot vacuum reviews

Handheld vacuums

Handheld vacuum cleaner – Kambrook Captiv Wet and Dry Minivac KHV200.

Price range: $39–399

House size: All sizes (but is best suited to spot cleaning)

Pet hair: Usually good to excellent

Types of floor to use it on: All types, but spot cleaning only

How easy is it to store? Easy. They aren't bulky and usually come with a stand or mounting rack.

Typical battery life: About 16 minutes (range 6–30 minutes)

Need to know:

  • Very convenient for spot cleaning and car interiors.
  • Most stick vacuums include a handheld vac, or convert to one, so you may get better versatility and value from a stick vacuum.
  • Handheld vac sales are declining, mainly because stick vacs are so popular and most of them can be used as a handheld vac. For this reason we don't have a current review of handheld vacs.
  • For more information on what features to look for, see our handheld or cordless vacuum buying guide.

Leave a comment

Display comments