Vacuums buying guide

You know you need a new vacuum cleaner, but which one? Vacuum cleaners vary, from models that pick up dog hairs to ones that aid allergy sufferers. And for a deeper clean, there are steam and carpet cleaners.

In this guide, we'll take you through the different cleaners out there and help you choose the right one for you and your home

What type of cleaner should I buy?

It's best to start off by thinking about the surfaces you want to clean. Vacuum cleaners are the
go-to for frequent or daily carpet cleans and come in two types, cylinder or upright. There are
also cordless models that are lighter and more compact, and can be used almost anywhere. And if
you're after more of a deep clean, you might want to consider a carpet cleaner 
or a steam cleaner for hard floors.



Cylinder models are small, light and easy to store, making them ideal for smaller homes.

  • Work by sucking up dust and dirt into a dustbag
  • Reliance on suction power meaning they work well on hard floors
  • Compact and easier to use on upholstery, on stairs or around furniture
  • Can be more difficult to control


Upright models are best for homes with large areas of carpet as the brush combs the pile to lift and loosen dirt.

  • You need to bend down less when in use
  • As well as suction power, upright cleaners have revolving, belt-driven brushes and sometimes an agitator beater bar that help to loosen and sweep up ingrained dirt from the carpet
  • As the dirt has less distance to travel up the cleaner, wattage isn't as important as with a cylinder vacuum
  • Cordless upright models (sometimes known as sticks) are also available
  • These are lighter and work by being charged up via a power socket
  • Each charge willl give you up to about 30 - 40 minutes' cleaning time

Cordless (handheld)

Small and compact, these are light and portable, so perfect for cleaning the car, stairs or upholstery.  These are usually bagless.

Steam cleaners

Steam cleaners

Steam cleaners use steam to remove dirt and stains from carpets and can also be used on tiles, hard floors, windows, clothes and upholstery.

  • They don't use detergent and rely purely on steam, so they're good for the environment too
  • Simple to use, some models take less than 30 seconds to heat up
  • Achieve spotless results and a really deep clean every time

Carpet cleaners

Use a carpet cleaner if you want to give your carpet a really deep clean.

  • Capable of removing dirt and debris that your vacuum can't, they'll prolong the life of your carpet
  • It will look fresh and new
  • Carpet cleaners use detergent to break down stains and dirt and carpets are normally dry enough to walk on in a few hours
  • Some carpet cleaners can be used to wash upholstery too


Robot vacuum cleaners have intelligent navigation systems by which they move around your home and optical acoustic sensors detect where to find the dirt, focusing cleaning on where it's most needed.

  • Compact designs
  • Sensors mean that the robot adjusts to the type of flooring and won't fall down stairs when it reaches the edge
  • You can set up your robot to clean at pre-set times
  • The cleaner uses agitation, brushing and suction
  • Rechargeable - the robot cleaner even finds its way back to the charging station to re-charge
  • Battery life and charging time will vary according to model
Shop all vacuum cleaners

Bag or bagless?


This is a highly debatable point between certain manufacturers. Bagged cleaners are usually cheaper than bagless models, but you have the added expense of buying additional bags. Some have self-sealing bags, making disposal less messy – a boon for allergy sufferers.


With bagless there’s no fuss with inserting fresh bags, and though the technology makes the initial outlay expensive, in the long run they can be cheaper.

Some bagless models are easier and cleaner to empty, and come with anti-bacterial protection which substantially reduces house dust mite and cat allergen content. These models carry the British Allergy Association seal of approval.


All cleaners have some form of filtration system, but there are some models that have more sophisticated filters or ones suitable for those with either allergies or pets.

  • Stage filters: usually vary between 3 and 7 stages. A typical
    4-stage filter would comprise a double-skinned bag (2 stages), a filter between the dust bag and motor chambers, and a final filter
  • Lifetime filters: no need to change the filter during the lifetime of the machine – normally 7-10 years
  • HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air): also known as S-Class, these retain even the smallest of allergy-causing particles. Look out for those machines that have been given the British Allergy Foundation’s seal of approval
  • Charcoal filter: with a charcoal layer that removes any nasty smells. Particularly suitable if you have pets



Most cleaners come with three attachments: crevice tool, upholstery and dusting brushes.

  • Some machines have an additional turbo brush, often powered separately, for extra suction - good on cut pile carpets and for picking up pet hairs
  • For wooden or tiled floors consider a horsehair/parquet brush
  • For hard-to-reach areas, look to see if the cleaner has an extendable tube.

Steam mops often include washable mop pads, which can be popped into the washing machine after they're used, and you can buy replacements too.

Most carpet cleaner brands recommend a detergent for their products that's specially formulated to remove stains from your carpet.


Energy efficiency

From September 2014, all vacuum cleaners made in the UK or shipped into the UK have had to comply with EU eco-design and energy labelling regulations, designed to tackle climate change.

This means that all new upright and cylinder vacuum cleaners should be energy-efficient and carry an energy label showing how efficient they are, but the regulations don’t apply to rechargeable vacuums, wet and dry vacuums or robot vacuums.

The new EU requirements for vacuums includes: 

  • Power of less than 1600 watts 
  • Electricity consumption of less than 62 kWh per year 
  • Dust removal efficiency grading


Understanding the energy label

All vacuums will be given a rating between A-G based on energy efficiency and cleaning performance on carpets, hard floors and their dust emissions. An energy efficiency class for each individual vacuum cleaner will be based on these details.

These are the specifications included on the energy label for vacuum cleaners:

Energy efficiency: This shows the overall efficiency with ‘A’ as the most energy-efficient vacuums and ‘G’ as the least efficient.

Energy consumption: This shows the amount of energy the vacuum cleaner is estimated to use over a year, measured in kilowatts per hour, per year. The lower the number, the more energy-efficient the vacuum is.

Dust pick-up (Carpet) : This grade shows you how efficiently the vacuum will pick up dust from carpets. For effective dust removal on carpets, choose an efficiency class of ‘C’ or above.

Dust pick-up (Hard floor) : This grade does the same but for hard floors such as tiles or wooden floor , and again for effective dust removal on hard floors, choose an efficiency class of ‘C’ or above.

Dust re-emission: This grade determines how clean the exhaust air is and is an important factor to consider if you have allergies to contend with. The exhaust air is dependent upon the quality and type of filter along with how well the vacuum is sealed. An ‘A’ grade vacuum has the lowest level of dust re-emissions.

Noise level: This shows the noise rating in decibels for the vacuum cleaner. The lower the number, the quieter the vacuum.

vacuum cleaner efficiency label

Carpet care

Carpet care

Vacuuming and shampooing

Newly-laid carpets sometimes develop what appear to be patches, which happens after the tufts have been compressed in different directions. As soon as the carpet is vacuumed, the tufts will return to their upright position, so we recommend that you vacuum your new carpet as soon as it's laid.

Regular vacuuming is good for your carpet. It removes dirt and grit that collect at the base of the tufts, and once removed, the tufts can stay upright and keep the colour rich and bright.

Loop pile carpets should be vacuumed using the suction head only, as beater brushes and heads can cause a felted look.

How regularly you clean your carpet of course depends on the amount of wear it gets. We recommend getting the professionals in, but if you'd prefer to do it yourself, we sell steam and carpet cleaners.

General care

Pilling can occur in blended fibre carpets. Snip off pills carefully with scissors.

Shedding is usual for the first few months with new carpet. The more often you vaccum the carpet, the sooner it will stop.

Shading of light and dark patches is normal on cut pile carpets such as velvet. These patches should diminish but not always disappear entirely with vacuuming. 

Static can build up in a carpet in a dry atmosphere. Increase humidity levels by putting pot plants in water trays, or by using a humidifier.

Use a doormat or rug in doorways where there’s access to the street to prevent dirt soiling the carpet in this heavy wear area. Vacuum the barrier mat frequently so that the dirt doesn’t spread to the carpet.