Vacuum cleaners vary from models that pick up dog hairs to ones that aid allergy sufferers. To help you choose the right cleaner, here are a few pointers you might like to consider.

Should I buy a cylinder or upright cleaner?


It’s often a matter of taste but each type has its own advantages. Cylinder models are more compact and are easier to use on upholstery, on stairs or around furniture, though they can be more difficult to control. With their reliance on suction power they work well on hard floors.
 
Upright cleaners give you better control – after all, you steer them. They’re suitable for large areas of carpet as the brush combs the pile. As the dirt has less distance to travel up the cleaner, wattage isn’t as important as with cylinder.
 
 
How do they work?

In cylinder cleaners the motor turns a fan, that in turn sucks up dust and dirt from the cleaning head, through the hose and into the dust bag. Cylinder cleaners rely entirely on suction to draw the dust in, so they tend to be more powerful (that is, of a higher wattage) than uprights.

In upright cleaners the motor is situated in the head of the cleaner. It drives a fan which sucks up air and dust into the dust bag via a tube. The dirt is retained in the bag, and filtered air passes over the motor before it is pushed out of the cleaner. 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.
 
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 purchasing additional bags. Some have self-sealing bags, making disposal less messy – and 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. However, they may prove an irritant to allergy sufferers.
 
Type of flooring

The main type of flooring your home has should dictate the type of cleaner you buy:
Wooden, tiled or vinyl: cylinder cleaners are best.
Loop pile carpet: either, but make sure you turn any turbo roller attachment off as it may flatten or damage the pile
Cut pile carpet: upright, or cylinder with a turbo brush attachment
 
Filters

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.
 
Power and wattage

The higher the wattage the more powerful the cleaner, but this is more important on cylinder machines as the dust has further to travel up the tube. It’s not just the wattage though: airflow and the design of the machine help improve the suction power as well. On upright cleaners it’s the type of brush that makes more of a difference. Many models have variable power – useful on upholstery, curtains or rugs.
Attachments

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. They’re 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. 
Other points to consider
 
Bag capacity: these vary enormously. Opt for a larger capacity if you have a big area to vacuum.
Cable length: if you have a large house then look at the length of cable supplied.
Weight: important for less able people or if there are stairs involved.
 
Other cleaners
 
Robotic Cleaners

More than just a novelty machine, these use sensors to travel round the room, without the need to steer them yourself. They require more frequent emptying and have less sophisticated filters but they are suitable for less able people – or those who like gadgets!

Handheld/cordless
 
These are ideal for small jobs around the house and for cars or caravans but their reduced power and cleaning capacity don’t make them a viable alternative. Some models can pick up liquids as well as dust. For rechargeable models look out for how long the running time is.
 
Steam cleaners

These use very fine, dry, high-pressure steam which dissolves dirt and grease in the carpet. Using only tap water they offer an environmentally-friendly way to clean the household. They can be used on virtually any surface – upholstery, mattresses, tile grout – even cleaning ovens or removing wallpaper.
The cleaner heats the water up to 120°C and to high pressure. At this temperature and pressure the steam produced is dryer and surfaces are left damp, not wet. This means that carpets are dry to the touch after 10 to 15 minutes. The high temperature kills all germs and bacteria including dust mites, so is of benefit to allergy and asthma sufferers. Steam cleaners don’t vacuum the carpets but there are some dual models available.
 
Floor polishers

Using a combination of hard bristle brushes for laying the wax and soft bristle brushes for polishing they can be used on most hard floor surfaces. As with steam cleaners they’re not suitable as vacuum cleaners, but they will pick up residues of dust or small particles. 

Aww sod it I think I’ll get a Dyson cos my Mum said to.

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