Choosing a Vacuum Cleaner

A vacuum cleaner is an essential tool for cleaning floors, upholstery and other surfaces in the house. I will first discuss how to choose your main vacuum cleaner for the home. I will then discuss how to choose a second vacuum cleaner for the home if required.

When choosing the main vacuum cleaner for your home. It needs to be versatile to perform all the necessary cleaning. The first and most important consideration is the main type of flooring in your home. If you mainly have hard floors – wooden, tiled or vinyl then a cylinder vacuum cleaner is the best. If most of your home is carpeted it is best to have an upright vacuum cleaner.

After deciding whether you require an upright or a cylinder vacuum cleaner. The other factors are mainly to do with the performance of your chosen vacuum cleaner. These I have listed below.

When you are purchasing a second vacuum for the home, it is even more important to decide why you need it. You may wish to purchase a second vacuum for jobs like cleaning up small spills or cleaning the car. Your choice is then between either a handheld or a stick vacuum. If you want to clean up small spills from the floor a stick vacuum cleaner is ideal . If you want to clean above floor surfaces or your car, a handheld vacuum cleaner is best.

Factors which affect the Performance of your Vacuum Cleaner


Filtration determines the number and size of the dust particles that escape into the air from the vacuum exhaust. This has nothing to do with the amount of dust and dirt a vacuum can pick up. Filtration is particularly important if you have dust allergy suffers or asthmatics in the household.

There are three different types of filtration, standard/stage filters, HEPA and Lifetime filtration.

  • Standard or stage filters: Filter out the dust in several stages using a series of filters. This method is not suitable for allergy sufferers.
  • HEPA filtration: Specifically designed filters to reduce the number of microscopic allergens emitted after vacuuming. Suitable for allergy suffers and asthmatics. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air.  HEPA Filtration removes 99.7% of airborne pollutants of 0.3 microns or larger that pass through it.
  • Lifetime filters: will last the lifetime of the vacuum generally between 7 and 10 years.


Most vacuum cleaners come with at least three attachments. That is a crevice tool, dusting and upholstery brushes. In addition, a turbo brush is useful particularly for picking up pets hairs from carpets. If you are cleaning hard floors, a horsehair or parquet brush is useful to avoid scratching the surface. For cleaning hard to reach areas including nooks and crannies, an extendible tube is useful. To clean stairs easily it is useful to have a stair cleaning hose.

When buying a cylinder vacuum cleaner it is useful to buy a turbo brush attachment for cleaning carpets. This will compensate for the cylinder vacuum having less power than an upright.

Bag or Bagless

The next thing to consider is whether you want to buy a vacuum with or without dust bags. Personally, I have not purchased a bagged vacuum cleaner for years. In my view, the bags are fiddly and dusty to change.

In their favour, the vacuums with bags are generally cheaper.  You can now buy bags, which seal in the dust for easy disposal.  Bagless vacuum cleaners do tend to be more expensive. However with these vacuum cleaners you do not have to pay for replacement bags. The performance of bagged cleaners can also fall off, as the bags become full.

Bagged models can be more hygienic as the dust and dirt traps in a sealed bag. When emptying a bagless unit dust can remain trapped in the container.

If you have someone in the household who suffers from allergies or is asthmatic it may be best to purchase a bagged cleaner with the British Foundation seal of approval. Some bagless models are easier and cleaner to empty.  As they have anti bacterial agents to keep them clean and have the British Allergy Association seal of approval.

Power of the Motor

Generally the higher the wattage the more powerful the cleaner is. In addition, the design of the vacuum can improve suction power. On upright models, the type of the brush can make a difference to suction.

You should be looking at least 1400 watts in a cylinder vacuum and 1300 watts for an upright vacuum. Power is more important in a cylinder vacuum as the dust has further to travel. Some models have variable power setting which is useful if you are cleaning curtains or upholstery, which need a lower power setting.


The weight of the vacuum can be an issue, particularly if you intend to use the vacuum on more than one floor. If you suffer from back problems, a cylinder vacuum cleaner may be a better option.

Price and Quality

Generally the more expensive the vacuum the better quality it is and the longer it will last. There is a wide price range in vacuums depending on factors.  Such factors are the power of the motor and the number of attachments.

Auto Cord Rewind

Usually found on cylinder or canister vacuums.  They are good for saving time and storage.


Check on dust capacity.  This is usually between 4 and 6 litres in cylinder and upright vacuums. The higher the capacity the less time you need to spend changing the bag or emptying the dust container. Choose a larger capacity if you have a big area to clean.

Cable Length

Choose a long cable if you have a large house to vacuum.

Rechargeable Batteries

Some vacuum cleaners operate using rechargeable batteries. Generally, these are the stick and handheld models. These can be sometimes more expensive to run than vacuums connected to the mains.