Our experts lab test and review barrel and upright vacuum cleaners from brands such as Dyson, Miele, Electrolux, Shark and Vax to help you quickly find the best performers on the market.
This test covers upright vacuum cleaners and barrel vacuum cleaners, as well as models that come either with bags or without.
Our expert testers give every vacuum a thorough workout to help find the models that:
Our interactive comparison tool helps you find out which models come with a HEPA filter, are bagged or bagless, have variable power or come with on-board storage. Our Recommended list
will help you quickly see which models come out on top.
This review includes previously tested models that are now discontinued; to see them, select the filter at left under Related products.
List of brands we tested in this review.
Recommended or typical retail price. You can often get a better price by shopping around.
enter value/s in increments of 1 between 48 and 1299
We recommend barrel and upright vacuum cleaners that score at least 75% overall, and at least 70% for both quick carpet cleaning and complete carpet cleaning.
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Barrel vacs (aka cylinder vacs) are the type you pull along behind you – their long hoses and wands make them well-suited to cleaning a variety of spaces, including stairs and car interiors. Upright models are good for cleaning large areas of carpet as they have built-in power heads.
Bagless vacs have on-board bins which can be messy to empty, but at least you don't need to worry about buying bags. Bags can be less messy to remove and replace, but are an ongoing cost. Water filter models use a water tank to trap dust; it must be emptied after each use. See our buying guide for more info.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air filtration – a filter for trapping very fine dust and pollen. Useful if you have allergies or asthma. Some are washable, others need to be replaced every year or so.
To test pet hair removal, we embed cat hair in the carpet and, as with the dirt pick-up test, vacuum it to a set pattern and speed. We rate 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, we use the standard cleaning head. Pet hair for testing supplied by Woof Cat & Dog Grooming, Bondi, NSW.
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Noise is measured at the user's position at maximum power setting. For comparison, a typical conversation is carried out at about 60dB, while city traffic is measured at around 80dB.
This score is a composite of the quick carpet clean score (67%) and the complete carpet clean score (33%).
Has a motorised brush and is a good option for quickly cleaning up pet hair and lint as well as extracting dirt from carpet.
Has a rotating brush driven by the vacuum's air flow. Good for picking up pet hair and lint, though generally less effective than a power head.
It's more convenient to store the tools and attachments in or on the body of the vacuum cleaner than to have to keep them separately elsewhere. Some models only have storage for one or two of the supplied tools.
The vacuum can switch from suction to blowing out air. Handy for inflating things like airbeds and balloons, or for blasting dust from hard-to-reach areas.
A Similar model is identical in most aspects except for a few. This means that a majority of its test results are identical so you can reasonably expect to get the same results from the model we tested, but for those aspects which aren't identical, we'll note these as "Not Tested" in the Compare tables.
A Tested model refers to a model that is still current and available in the Australian market. You should be able to order this model through your local retailer, or find it online.
These models can't be found in retailers or online or are no longer manufactured. You may still find these models on second hand websites, or in second hand dealers. Test methods may change over time, so criteria which can't be directly compared will contain an N/A.
An Identical model is exactly that. Performance characteristics will be identical and the only difference will be something trivial such as colour, which won't have an impact on performance.
These are models we haven't yet tested but that are available.