Best vacuum cleaners: from cordless Dyson to robot Roomba

Doing the chores can be, well, a chore. You get in from a hard day’s work, or are getting prepared to put your feet up for the weekend, when the dust and the dishes rear their ugly heads. The last thing you want to do is get cleaning.

But, like the budding Ghostbusters we are, we’ve all secretly got a soft-spot for doing the vacuum cleaning. It’s instant gratification, seeing the dirt, grime and crumbs sucked away into the netherworld of the vacuum cleaner’s bin.

And it only gets better if you’ve got a top-notch gadget to help you do it all. Whether it’s a lightweight cordless, a super-powerful upright or a “who needs humans?” robot cleaner you’re after, these are the best vacuum cleaners TechRadar has used. They all suck, but in the best possible way.

Dyson V8 Absolute

Power supply: : Cordless, battery | Weight: : 2.16kg | Bin size: : 0.54L | Suction power: 22AW (115AW in MAX mode)

Lightweight
Portable and modular
Strong suction
Expensive

Want the absolute best cordless vacuum experience that money can buy? Then it’s going to cost you – but it’ll be worth it. The Dyson V8 Absolute is the company’s top-of-the-line battery powered vacuum cleaner, and is an absolute joy to use.

First, the design. With a removable extender pole and equipped with six different heads for different surfaces and use cases, the V8 Absolute is lightweight and easy to run around the house. But with the suction motor in the pistol-grip handle area, you can easily clip a head directly onto the main unit, turning the whole thing into a portable cleaner, perfect for going up the stairs of de-crumbing the car.

A full-charge will give you around 40 minutes of use, which is really impressive for a cordless cleaner – though mileage will vary once you start using on the motorised heads, or switch on the V8 Absolute’s MAX mode. You’ll rarely need it though – for a handheld, this cleaner will rival even an upright for sheers dirt-sucking power. Its large bin will take in plenty of trash too before needing emptying – another convenience not often seen in a cordless.

Best of all though, it genuinely is fun to use. The sci-fi aesthetic makes it one of the few “white goods” gadgets you’ll happily leave on show in the house, with the transforming design as useful as it is clever. It’s worth saving the cash for.

Gtech AirRam MK2

Power supply: Battery (cordless) | Weight: 3.5kg | Battery live: 40 minutes

Lightweight, easy to carry and move
Easily accessible bin
Bin is small
No attachment tools

The Gtech AirRam MK2 blends the flexibility of a cordless vacuum with strong suction performance and easy use, making it a great choice for those looking for a vac they can quickly whizz around the home.

It’s super easy to setup out of the box, and after the the initial charge (it takes four hours to fully charge from flat) you’re ready to go. The need to charge however can be a hassle, especially if an accidental spillage has occurred and you want to quickly clean it, only to find the AirRam MK2 is out of battery. You could use it if plugged into the wall, but with such a short charging cable supplied that'd be wholly impractical.

An hour on the charger will give you a short burst of power to address a spillage, but if you’re planning on doing a general clean you’ll want a fall charge, which gives you around 40 minutes of use – similar to what you'd get from Dyson's V8 Absolute.

While charging may be a little inconvenient at times, it means you’re never tethered to a cord when using the Gtech AirRam MK2 and that is where is comes into its own. It’s lightweight and highly manoeuvrable body allows you to quickly and efficiently move round your home.

Gtech’s Airlock technology automatically adjusts the head for different flooring types, and suction is generally very good - but it’s not the best on offer.

The collection bin may be a bit on the small side too, but it’s incredibly easy to empty and ensures you don’t get your hands dirty, with the removable cylinder featuring a sliding lever that pushes out all the nasties.

It’s easy to carry up and down stairs, but with no hose or attachments you can’t easily vacuum stairs with it, or hard to reach areas of your home. It's price tag makes it a more approachable option than the Dyson however, so if you're on a budget it's well worth a look.

Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor

Power supply: Corded | Weight: 6.9kg | Cord length: 9.4m | Suction power: 90AW

Impressive, continuous suction
Multi-functional tools included
Heavy to carry up stairs
Cord is annoying

If you want serious suction from your vacuum cleaner, Dyson is the market leader. Its cyclone technology has long been touted as the best sucker around, and on the Light Ball Multi Floor we can safely say; this thing sucks big time. In a good way.

With 90AW of suction power the Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor tackles carpet, wood floors, laminate and more. Each pass hoovers up dust, hair and other particles struck inside your carpets too, not just those sitting on top.

We were surprised, and impressed with the amount of stuff it picked up during the first few trips around our house - clearly our previous vacuum wasn’t doing the job as effectively.

When the large bin fills up, it’s just a simple one button release from the body of the Light Ball, and then another one button press to dispense its contents into the bin - although with the large flag that opens at the bottom you’ll need to angle the cylinder accordingly.

As well as acting as a standard upright cleaner, the Light Ball also comes with a built in hose and tools, allowing you to tackle hard to reach places, ceilings and stairs with relative ease.

It’s still a bit of a beast to carry up and down stairs though, and at times the long 9.4m cord does get in the way, making you wish this was a cordless vacuum - but the trade off will be inferior suction.

If you’re in the market for a vacuum cleaner that will give your floors a seriously good seeing too, then the easy to use, highly maneuverable and surprisingly quiet (considering the suction) Dyson Light Ball could be up your street.

Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaner

Power supply: Battery | Weight: 2.4kg | Bin size: 0.33Lm | Suction power: 20AW

Quiet operation
Compact width
Not the most thorough clean
Tall height

With AI smarts improving all the time and robotics increasingly as at home as on the production line, the sci-fi dream of having a little robot helper to potter about the house is increasingly becoming a reality. The Dyson 360 Eye is the vacuum cleaning company’s first effort in the space, and makes a good account of itself.

After a relatively painless app-powered set-up process, the camera equipped Dyson 360 Eye is able to navigate your home, weaving around obstacles on a cleaning routine you again establish through the app. 

Considering its small size, it's surprisingly capable at sucking up the rubbish in your home and, when its battery gets low and it's time for a recharge, the 360 Eye will intelligently return to its charging station without any prompting. 

It’s a premium product, commanding a high asking price that’s best used as a supplement to your usual cleaning rota rather than a replacement. With the 360 Eye doing the rounds once every day, you’ll find that your home will need a “deep clean” vacuum session by your own hand far more rarely. 

But there’s still room for improvement if the company ever make a second generation – the tall clearance makes it difficult for the 360 Eye to fit under furniture, a bigger bin would lessen the need to keep emptying it out, and a larger battery would give it a better chance of completing a whole-house sweep in one pass without a recharge session. 

The limitations of the wider product category taken into consideration, it’s a solid luxury cleaning product regardless.

iRobot Roomba 980 robot vacuum cleaner

Power supply: Battery | Weight: 3.94kg | Bin size: 0.6Lm | Suction power: 33AW

Environment mapping
Relatively low clearance
Sluggish app control
Struggles with cables

Dyson’s not the only company working with robotics in the home space, and many rate iRobot and its Roomba 980 vacuum cleaner very highly, too.

A low-clearance, dirt-sucking disc, it’s likewise intelligent enough to go about its business in your home without much prompting from its human owners. The Roomba 980 will intelligently map your home for problem spots, kicking into a high-power mode when carpets are identified, and weaving around chair legs and other potential obstacles. 

With a two hour battery life, it will manage a longer cleaning cycle than the Dyson before it too heads back to its charging dock.

Other smart features of the Roomba 980 include its battery-powered “Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barriers” which signal to the bot which area to avoid if placed across a doorway, and more granular control over its cleaning procedures through its accompanying app. 

However, the Roomba 980 too has room for improvement, with it’s app not always terrible intuitive, and the robot itself sometimes getting bamboozled by cables.

It’s another pricey cleaning luxury, and making the choice between it and its Dyson rival will be a tough one. But for those that can afford it, the Roomba 980 is another excellent cleaning convenience.