Best cordless vacuum cleaners: 2019 group test
Which of eight powerful cordless vacuum cleaners can make light work of filthy interiors in winter?
Cleaning your cabin makes sense, particularly in winter weather. Your carpets and seats are under constant attack from dust and food, while leaves, mud and abrasive grit can destroy carpet pile.
With no trailing cable, a cordless vac is safe and convenient. A removable battery means you could buy a second to charge while the unit is in use. Many companies now also offer a range of products that can be powered by the same batteries. Max run time is always quoted at the lowest power and should be regarded only as a rough guide.
How we tested them
We ground a mix of salt, rice and fine, damp grit into a mat with thick luxury pile and then into another with flatter pile. Quick, efficient cleaning was the aim of our test. We used each machine for 15 minutes of car cleaning – getting down the sides of the seats, right up into the footwells and in the awkward areas of the boot. Points were given for accessories supplied, in-car versatility and domestic capability. Our final factor was price from makers and online sources.
The new Vax Blade 2 Max bulldozed the opposition with its performance and value. And while the Hoover is less powerful, it still produced results beyond its bargain price in our test. The Gtech K9 remains a great buy, albeit limited in the home.
- 1. Vax Blade 2 Max 40v inc. Car Cleaning Kit
- 2. Hoover H-Free HF18CPT
- 3. Gtech Multi MK2 K9 (+ Car Kit)
Vax Blade 2 Max 40v inc Car Cleaning Kit
Price: around £299.98Charge time/max run time: 3hrs/45minsRating: 5/5
With its 40v motor, the Vax Blade 2 Max crushed all our tests, although using the powered brushbar or boost mode really took it out of the battery. However, the short delay from pressing the button to the motor running was irritating and sometimes confusing. It doesn’t have a small brushbar and, as with the Bosch, using the large one in the car was awkward. Still, the car-cleaning kit was very welcome, particularly the long-stretch hose. We liked the three-year warranty, as well as the bin that we found easy to remove and empty – and to get performance equal to that of the Dyson at this price is impressive.
Hoover H-Free HF18CPT
Price: around £137.98Charge time/max run time: 5hrs/25minsRating: 4.5/5
As with the Dyson, Hoover’s H-Free comes with a small, powered brushbar (12cm), which is ideal for in-car work. Despite being a mere 18.5v, it performed well in our vehicle and for domestic chores, too. But it had the second longest charge time (five hours), and we were annoyed that there were no countdown LEDs for the state of the battery, as well as no wall-mounted docking station. In practical terms, though, it was a delight to use, with its lockable trigger and low weight of only 1.6kg. It was quiet, too, a mere 79dB on max, and its bargain price brought it so very close to a win.
Gtech Multi Mk2 K9 (+ Car Kit)
Price: around £169.99 (+£50)Charge time/max run time: 4hrs/20minsRating: 4/5
The K9 remains a cracking unit for cars, with some domestic ability thrown in. Its powered brushbar made light work of the grit on both types of carpet, and the cleaner’s design meant it was easy to use in the footwells; the LED light was particularly welcome there. The standard crevice nozzle got into most areas, and for more tricky places we used the flexible nozzle from the Car Kit. We liked its light weight, at only 1.6kg, as well as its two-year warranty. Certainly the best handheld in our test, but beaten overall thanks to some versatile opposition.
Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal
Price: around £399.99Charge time/max run time: 3.5hrs/60minsRating: 4/5
It's the only device here with three speeds, but the lowest was limited and most was achieved on position two. Although the Cyclone’s max setting gave huge suction, it also created our highest noise level, at 94dB. Performance from the 25v motor was as impressive as ever, with the small brushbar and crevice nozzle ideal for car work, but we’d still like a light and flexible hose. Dyson reckons a trigger lock wastes power, although we think it makes life easier. A great device, but rivals have rallied and now provide some stiff competition.
Ryobi 18v One+ Cordless Hand Vac R18HV-0 (+Battery/charger)
Price: around £34 (+£58.99/£29.95)Charge time/max run time: 2hrs/24minsRating: 3/5
This uses Ryobi’s One+ system, which would make it seriously well priced if you already owned the battery and charger. Our 4Ah battery should give around 24 minutes of cleaning power; plenty for the average car. Complete with three-year guarantee, the single-speed unit spun quickly and suction was good, but thick-pile cleaning wasn’t easy using just the device’s ‘mouth’. The narrow, short crevice tool meant we couldn’t reach some places.
Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Price: around £429Charge time/max run time: 1hr/60minsRating: 3/5
A polished finish gives the Bosch a real upmarket feel, and its easy-change batteries can be charged in the dock or quick-charger supplied. Even on the max setting, it was just 70dB. The powered brushbar worked well on removable carpets, but was clumsy in the car. To compensate, the flexible crevice nozzle did sterling work, but this 2.3kg device is the priciest here.
Panasonic Cordless Vacuum Cleaner EY37A3 (+Battery/charger)
Price: around £142.80 (+£70/£33)Charge time/max run time: 1.5hrs/100minsRating: 3/5
Another ‘bare’ unit, with the charger and battery bought separately and used for other tools. It was the only handheld to have a high-power mode that gave a 30-minute run time. There’s an unpowered brushbar, short crevice tool and 54cm extension tube. On high mode, it was a noisy 88dB, but the multi-angled brushbar cleaned well. In the car we found it cumbersome, at 1.8kg and 59cm long.
Dirt Devil HandiMate Wet and Dry Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Price: around £24.99Charge time/max run time: 7hrs/14minsRating: 2/5
We found this to be a step back in time, in both basic design and having to wait at least seven hours for the lowly 6v battery to charge. The performance was predictably lacking, and it was no surprise that working the device hard flattened the battery in well under 15 minutes. It weighs just 0.7kg and wasn’t noisy, at 71dB, but it struggled with damp grit, and its 14cm extension was too narrow, at 26mm. Cheap but very limited.