Welcome to Vacuum Valley, home to the best vacuum cleaner guides and reviews to help you keep your home clean and make the right choice when buying a new vacuum cleaner. Here you will find guides on the different types of vacuum cleaner available, how to maintain your vacuum cleaner for best performance and lifespan, choosing the right vacuum for you and other helpful information. If you have specific questions regarding vacuum cleaners then do not hesitate to use our contact page and we will do our best to get back to you with the answers you need.
In the meantime, you’ll find a couple of introductory guides into the world of vacuum cleaners below as well as many more in our vacuum cleaner guides section.
Types of Vacuum Cleaner
There are many different types of vacuum cleaner designed for different purposes – perhaps more than you would think. Below is an introduction into the different types of vacuum cleaner available on the market today.
Upright Vacuum Cleaner
The upright vacuum cleaner is most popular in the USA and the UK. They normally use a spinning brush roll (also known as the beater bar) which brushes up dirt and dust out of carpets for a deep clean. There are two main types of upright vacuum cleaner:
Clean-air/fan-bypass upright – Most commonly found on domestic vacuums, a motor sucks air through a bag and filter where dust is caught and then the air is expelled out by the motor.
Direct fan upright – These are found more in commercial vacuum cleaners and consist of a large fan that sucks air and dirt into a bag. They do a good job as carpet cleaners, but the suction is lost quickly when using pipes, making them inefficient for anything else.
The brush roll on upright vacuums traditionally use a belt connected to the main motor to make them spin, but more modern designs tend to use a separate smaller motor for this as belts can be susceptible to wear over time.
Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner
Cylinder (or canister) vacuum cleaners house the motor and dust collector (either bagged or bagless) inside a unit which is on wheels, with a hose connecting it to the vacuum head. This makes it more versatile than the upright model, but unless a motor or turbine is fitted in the brush roll as in uprights then they do not perform as well on carpets.
Drum Vacuum Cleaner
The drum vacuum cleaner is a beefier version of the cylinder vacuum which may be connected to compressed air for strong suction. These are most often found in industrial environments where high performance and a large capacity are vital.
Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner
Domestic cyclone vacuum cleaners are a relatively modern invention, but the idea had been in use in central vacuum systems – semi-permanent fixtures in buildings where a centralised power unit and collection container is connected to hoses or outlets around the building. This technology wasn’t introduced into domestic vacuum cleaners in the UK until 1993 when Dyson released the DC01.
Air and dust is sucked into a vortex inside the dust collection cylinder where the dust and dirt is pushed outwards due to centrifugal forces, separating it from the clean air (although the air will normally pass through multiple filters before expulsion to remove the finer dust particles). Cyclone vacuums have exploded with popularity, particularly in the UK, due to providing excellent suction until the container is full (unlike their bagged counterparts which will lose suction when the bag is as little as 1/3 full).
Robot Vacuum Cleaner
The futuristic robot vacuum cleaner (or robovac for short) were uncommon due to their price and limited functionality, but sales have been steadily increasing over the last few years with the Roomba the most popular model in the USA. Whilst the technology isn’t good enough to replace your existing vacuum cleaner, leaving them to roam your house will mean you shouldn’t need to perform daily touch-up vacuums.
Robot vacuum cleaners usually consist of a spinning brush head in the bottom of the device, much like those found in upright vacuums. The robot vacuum will then use infrared sensors to detect objects and work its way around the room, hopefully without getting stuck on furniture. They lack the power, speed and ability to get into tight spaces that the other types of vacuum provide, but in an ever increasingly busy world it may just take one job off your shoulders for a while.
Should I go Cordless?
Cordless vacuum cleaners have soared in popularity in recent years thanks to technological advances that allow them to compete with all but the best mains powered vacuum cleaners. If you’re still trying to decide whether to make the jump to cordless, read our information below which details the pros and cons of cordless vacuum cleaners.
The Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Most people reading this will have had the experience of using a mains vacuum before, and probably understand the main limiting factor – the cord. Not only does this slow you down as you are forced to plug it into a different socket when you change rooms, but it can get caught on furniture or trip you up. Whilst handheld vacuum cleaners have been around for a long time, decent cordless replacements to the main household vacuum cleaner have been elusive until recently.
The biggest problem vacuum cleaner manufacturers have faced up to this point is how to provide adevice which will give the same level of performance that mains vacuum cleaners can on a limited charge. Luckily, this has now been overcome, with cordless vacuum cleaners able to run from anywhere between 15-40 minutes on average – enough time to clean all but larger households. Whilst the suction performance still isn’t quite up to the standards set by mains vacuums, the gap is ever shrinking and, in certain cases, negligible.
Cordless vacuum cleaners are light, versatile, manoeuvrable and convenient. This not only makes the task of vacuum cleaning easier, but also quicker. They will lack power for thicker carpets and can struggle with pet hair (some cope better than others – for example, the Gtech AirRam performs well), but if these aren’t major factors for you then the cordless vacuum cleaner should be a serious consideration.
Also note that many cordless vacuum cleaners, such as the Dyson Digital Slim DC35 or the Morphy Richards 732000 comprise of both a handheld and an upright vacuum cleaner – something that no mains vacuum cleaner can offer.
Upright or Cylinder Vacuum?
The first question you may ask yourself when choosing a vacuum cleaner is whether you want an upright or cylinder vacuum cleaner. Both of these have advantages and disadvantages that must be considered when deciding which is the best fit for your home.
The Upright Vacuum
Most popular in the USA and UK, the upright vacuum cleaner is perfect for vacuum cleaning large areas of carpet quickly. Upright vacuums tend to be more efficient than cylinder vacuums, requiring less power to provide the same level of suction which means they can outperform the cylinder vacuums in most cases.
Pet hair is dealt with better by upright vacuums, but once that hair starts appearing on furniture or stairs it can get a bit trickier. Upright vacuums usually come with a pipe, crevice tool and furniture brush but these can be unwieldy to use.
Powerful and efficient
Especially strong on carpets, large areas and at picking up pet hair
Can be difficult to manoeuvre
Not ideal for stairs or furniture
Not as suited for hard floors as cylinder vacuums
Recommendations: Suited best for households with large, carpeted rooms or pets.
The Cylinder Vacuum
The cylinder vacuum has grown in popularity, especially in smaller flats or houses. They tend to be smaller than their upright counterparts, but the loose pipes can actually make them harder to store neatly. They are usually lighter and easier to manoeuvre than uprights, getting under furniture and into corners better, but they will take longer to use on large open spaces of carpet. They do, however, normally perform better on hard floors and are far easier to use on furniture or stairs.
Cylinder vacuum cleaners tend to be quieter than uprights, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t actually using more power to keep their levels of suction up to par. Even this extra power won’t help when it comes to pet hair which can cause problems for the cylinder.
Vacuum Cleaner Maintenance
Whilst vacuum cleaners are tools designed to help you keep your house clean, they themselves require regular cleaning and checks to ensure that they do not lose suction or become clogged. This article lists the steps you should follow to keep your vacuum cleaner in full working order.
Empty the dust collection cylinder/replace bag
An obvious but important task to keep your vacuum cleaner from becoming too full, as this will quickly reduce the suction that it can output. For bagless vacuum cleaners we recommend emptying the collection cylinder after every use if possible. If your vacuum uses bags then you won’t want to do this, but do check that the bag isn’t full after each use otherwise you will see a huge deterioration in suction power. As a rough guideline we would recommend emptying the bag when it gets 2/3 full.
One further step you can take with bagless vacuum cleaners is to use a wet sponge to clean the inside of the dust collection cylinder. This isn’t mandatory, but it’s nice to keep it looking clean.
Clean the filters
Most modern vacuum cleaners have cleanable or replaceable filters that catch dust particles as the vacuum exhausts air. These should be cleaned often to prevent a loss of suction, so follow your vacuum’s user manual to find how to remove it.
Once you have taken the filter out, shake it out over a bin to remove any loose dust. You can also use your fingers or a soft brush to remove the excess – an old toothbrush is perfect for this. The manual for your vacuum will inform you whether you can use water to wash the filter, so use cold water to rinse and clean the filter if this is the case. You will then need to leave the filter to dry before refitting it into your vacuum cleaner.
Some vacuum cleaners use paper or fabric filters which can be replaced, but these too can be shaken out to extend their lifetime.
Filters should be cleaned once a month, or more under heavy usage.
Clean the brush
The brush roll or beater bar is the spinning brush used to pull the dust up from carpets and this too should be cleaned regularly to ensure that your vacuum cleaner is picking up as much dust from your carpets as possible. Common things to look for are:
Hair or thread coiled around the brush
Large pieces of debris trapped in the brush
Large debris can normally be removed using your fingers, but you may well need scissors to cut through hair that has become entangled around the brush before being able to pull it free. Also make sure to check the ends next to the bearings as hair trapped around here can jam the brush.