Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

If you’re in the market for a new vacuum cleaner you can’t have failed to notice just how much choice there is in the market.

Do you go corded or cordless? Bagged or bagless? Upright or cyclinder? The questions can leave your head spinning.

That’s why here at Vacuum Stuff we’ve tried to put together this simple vacuum cleaner buying guide to help make your decision a little bit easier.

Types of Vacuum Cleaner

There are broadly 5 main types of vacuum cleaners:

Cordless Vacuum Cleaners

Increasingly popular due to their compact nature and ease of use, cordless vacuums tend to be lightweight stick-like cleaners that can also be used as handheld units. They’re particularly popular as they can reach places many others can’t.

They are also very easy to manoeuvre due to their lightweight build. These models tend to be more expensive than their cylinder counterparts. Cordless vacuum cleaners tend to work well if your power points are not conveniently located around the home.

  • Main Features
    • There are models available that can be used as a handheld unit
    • Some models come with spare batteries
    • Batteries can take up to 4 hours to charge for around 30 – 60 minutes of use
  • Suited For
    • Busy homes with little time for cleaning
    • Homes with multiple levels
    • People who need something easy to lift
    • Those who don’t have plugs conveniently located

Upright Vacuum Cleaners

Upright vacuum cleaners are those that you push infront of you typically without the need to bend down. These tend to suit bigger homes especially those with lots of carpet. Upright cleaners also tend to have larger capacities which helps with larger spaces. They often come equipped with turbo operated brushes which makes them perfect for getting rid of tougher dirt like hair out of carpets. They’re not as easy for cleaning in hard to reach places like under the stairs or curtains though some are equipped with lightweight attachments to make it easier.

They can tend to be noisier than cyclinder models and their cables do not reach as far.

  • Main Features
    • Push in front of you
    • Upright design means less bending over
    • Usually have larger capacities than other types
  • Suitable For
    • Those who need to avoid bending
    • Homes with lots of carpet
    • Those who want more mobility than a cylinder but aren’t happy with the functions of a cordless

Cylinder Vacuum Cleaners

These are the classic vacuum cleaners (think a Henry) that you pull behind you as you go. They are typically the cheapest vacuum cleaners on the market, have a wide range of options and tend to have longer cables than other types.

These types of vacuum cleaners are usually relatively small, light enough to move around with ease and are round.

Their long cables (10m on average) mean they can go further from the power point than most types.

Due to their size they tend to be relatively easy to store however, their typically longer hose and tube can sometimes be a bit of a pain to put away neatly.

  • Main Features:
    • Pull behind you
    • Suitable for most budget
    • Wide range of options on the market
    • Longer cables than most
    • Typically small, light and round
    • Usually come with multiple attachments for various jobs
  • Suited For
    • Most types of homes
    • Those needing to clean stairs, hard surfaces or upholstery

Cordless Handheld Cleaners

These are smaller units that are handheld and battery operated. They’re particularly well suited to cleaning cars, pet hairs and quick cleans around smaller areas. They’re typically equipped with powerful motors that allow them to do a good job quickly and can be fitted with various attachments.

  • Main Features
    • Held by hand
    • Battery operated
    • Some cordless upright vacuum cleaners can be converted into handheld unit
  • Suited For
    • Those who need to regularly clean small spaces
    • Those who need to clean the car, stairs or furniture e.g. sofas

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Though not always recognised as a separate category on their own, robot vacuum cleaners are becoming increasingly more common in homes. These little guys are perfect for smaller homes. They can be set to automatically clean even when you are not there and the more advanced onces can return to their charging stations when they’re done.

Many are equipped with smart sensors meaning there’s no need to worry about them knocking into things.

As you would expect with relatively new technology, robot vacuum cleaners can be pricey with some selling for well over £1,000.

Unless you only need to clean flat hardwood/smooth floors, robot vacuum cleaners tend to be more of a top-up rather than a main option. Though if you live in a one level apartment with lots of hardwood floors, they could be perfect.

  • Main Features
    • Battery operated
    • Mobile units
    • Some can be operated remotely, via apps
  • Suited For
    • Homes with flat smooth floors
    • Those who want to avoid vacuuming
    • Those short on time
    • Those who like their gadgets cutting-edge

Bagged Or Bagless

As well as having a choice of the main types of vacuum cleaners, you also have a call to make on whether they come as bagged or bagless.

Bagged Vacuum Cleaners

These are simply vacuum cleaners that need a bag to collect the dirt.


  • A big advantage of the bagged options versus their bagless counterparts is the fact you’ll have far larger capacity than with a bagless option.
  • It is usually easier to isolate the dirt/dust in the bagged variety as you can simply undo the bag and throw it away in its entirety. There are some bags that self-seal whilst others have special filters which help with retention of allergens. This is not always the case with bagless options where you typically open the dust compartment straight into the bin.


  • One of the major downsides of bagged vacuum cleaners is the fact you will have an additional on-going cost when you need to replace the bags.
  • You also need to remember to buy the replacement bag which can be a pain if you’ve forgotten and suddenly need to do a vacuum clean.

Bagless Vacuum Cleaners

Bagless vacuum cleaners don’t rely on any kind of refuse sack for holding dirt. They are typically equipped with a compartment that can be easily opened to dispose of trapped dirt


  • The major upside of this system is of course no on-going costs for replacement bags.


  • You do not typically get as much capacity as the bagged options. This means you’ll need to empty them out more frequently than you would with bagged options.
  • You tend to get more exposed to the dust when you are disposing of it than you would with bagged systems. Dust can easily escape in the air as you empty the compartment and they can sometimes be difficult to clean.

How Much Should You Pay For A Vacuum Cleaner?

As you would expect with so much variety in the market for vacuum cleaners, the amount you pay varies.

However, typically you should expect to pay anywhere from £70 – £700 for a decent to great vacuum cleaner.

There are models in the £350 + category but you can find enough that are priced lower than that to get what you need.

Generally cordless vacuum cleaners tend to be more expensive as the technology is more cutting edge and developing rapidly. Remember always though that just because you’re paying more for a vacuum cleaner doesn’t necessarily mean it will be better at everything than cheaper alternatives.

What Accessories Will I Need?

As well as the main vacuum cleaner, most models come with a few accessories.

Bags: If you’re going for a bagged model then you may get one or two spares alongside the main piece of kit.

Filters: Typically manufacturers will recommend you replace filters once a year to maintain the best performance of their machines.

Attachments: There are various attachments that make different jobs easier. For example some models come with a pet tool attachment to make it easier to get rid of unwanted fur.

Most vacuum cleaners come with a few basic tools including a dusting brush, an upholstery fitting and a crevice tool.

What Other Factors Should You Consider?

There are a range of other factors you should keep in mind when making your choice.


Consider how much storage space you have and quite importantly the shape of the space. If you have space but it is a compartment under the stairs or half a cupboard then you may not for example, want to have an upright vacuum cleaner.

Also consider how much space you have for a hose and tubing if you opt for a cylinder model.


If you have serious allergies then you should carefully consider which type of cleaner would leave you less exposed to dust and dirt that could cause you problems. If they’re serious you may want to consider a bagged option.

In addition, you may also want to consider whether you need a vacuum equipped with HEPA filters. HEPA filters are able to trap far smaller particles than ordinary filters.

Time Available For Cleaning

The amount of time you have on your hands for cleaning should also be a factor. If you are short of time a cordless vacuum cleaner which you can easily pick up and clean quickly may be a great option.

Whereas if you have more time and can pop out to your garage or storage cupboard to grab you vacuum cleaner, plug into the wall and go around the house then you are more free to choose whichever type suits your needs.

Floor Types

Be sure to check that whichever type of vacuum cleaner you go for will be suited to the type of floors you have around your home.


If you are not comfortable moving heavier items around the home or quite importantly up the stairs, then be sure to keep a close watch on the weight of your intended vacuum cleaner.

Cable Length

Keep in mind the location of power sockets around your home and cable length on offer from different models of vacuum cleaners.

If you do not have conveniently located plug pockets around the house then you may need a vacuum cleaner with a longer cable run (e.g. cylinder model). Or it may mean that you have to go cordless.

Battery Charging Time and Battery Life

If you’re going for a cordless, handheld or robot model, keep in mind how long it will take to charge the battery and how much use you’ll get out of each charge. If you need to clean often this may be a limiting factor in your decision making.

You also need to consider how long the battery will last on a cordless vacuum.

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