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In this guide
If your idea of happiness is sitting down in a spotless living room as that 'just-cleaned' lemon scent wafts through the house, this is the guide for you. Whether you've got kids to clean up after, or guests to impress, a great vacuum cleaner is essential for every household.
The best upright and barrel vacuums are popular with Australians for their power and efficiency. In upright vacuums, the motor and suction head are all-in-one, whereas barrel vacuums house the motor in a wheeled unit pulled behind you. Barrel vacs are the most popular kind, with a hose and suction head to make things lighter. There are also stick vacuums, handheld vacuums, and pet hair vacuums, too. We've done the digging, and found 8 vacuum cleaners up to the task.
How we picked
We started out by checking CHOICE, Australia's biggest consumer advocacy group. They've reviewed several upright and barrel vacuum cleaners. We checked these results against ratings by real Aussies on ProductReview.com.au. Not all of CHOICE's picks were popular with consumers, so we added a few vacuums people rated highly to be sure we had a good selection.
Next, we did some window shopping at major retailers so that our reckons were in line with what was available. Chopping several options from the list, we went back to the drawing board to make some top picks. We weighed up ease of use, price and design, as well as features and accessories. This is how we came up with the 8 best upright and barrel vacuums in Australia.
The best barrel vacuum cleaner
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The Miele C3 Powerline Complete is a vacuum that really sucks. With 2000w of suction power, this model cleans up in its award category year after year. Aussies love this vacuum cleaner for its clever foot controls, top-notch filtration, and back-saving design.
What we love
With 2000w of power, the Miele deals with dust and debris, no sweat.
This model has a parking slot for the head and hose attachment to make your life easier.
The main telescopic tube is made from stainless steel, and can be made longer or shorter at the touch of a button. The cable is easily rewound by foot, too.
Handle locking system
The suction head, handle, and hose all lock together with a 'click' so you know it won't come apart on you.
Illuminated foot controls
Light-up suction controls can be changed with your foot to increase or decrease power with a quick tap.
The Miele HyClean Dustbags have been redesigned to hold 20% more. They're also self-closing, so you won't end up with a faceful of dust when you go to change the bag.
Upholstery nozzle, dusting brush with natural bristles, and crevice nozzle fit neatly under the hatch.
The Miele exhaust filter and motor protection filter work together with HyClean dustbags for nearly 100% dust retention.
The not so good bits
The power of the Miele C3 proves to be too much for some. A few reviewers find the heavy suction makes it hard to push this vacuum on newer carpets.
Poorer reviews show that some machines gave up just outside of the 2-year warranty. While Miele vacuums should last, it helps to replace bags and filters regularly to keep your machine in tip-top shape.
The Miele Complete C3 Powerline is one heck of a vacuum cleaner. This exceptional sucker is solidly made, winning ProductReview.com.au awards for the last 3 years in a row. It's a bagged vacuum cleaner, and has a clever foot-controlled system to increase and decrease suction power. This makes it suitable for almost any surface - from bedroom blackout curtains to your nana's 20-year-old carpets.
We like that the Miele C3 Powerline has an in-built parking slot for the vacuum head, so you don't have to balance the hose on something and pray it stays there. Its locking system is also clever. The hose, suction head and handle all lock together neatly, which means it won't fall apart mid-vacuum. But the Miele goes further still, with a long cable and suction hose for an 11-metre range.
The Miele C3 Powerline is also stocked with on-board attachments. It includes an upholstery nozzle, crevice nozzle, and dusting brush, hiding neatly in the top of the unit. The C3 also has a temperature limiter for thermal protection, so it'll stop automatically if the cleaner starts to overheat. It even has a soft bumper strip around the base to protect your walls and furniture from the odd bruise.
It's an understatement to say Aussies love the Miele C3 Powerline. It scores around4.5 stars from more than 500 reviews on ProductReview.com.au, with several folks ditching their bagless vacuums for the Miele's high-powered suction. Despite its oomph, reviewers say this model is surprisingly quiet, with easy-to-change filters. Some did find their C3s ran into trouble just outside of warranty, and for RRP around $600, it's not the cheapest vacuum.
Related: The Best Vacuum Cleaner
The best value barrel vacuum
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For just over $200, you can't buy better than the Bosch GL-30 Free'e ProPower vacuum cleaner. It's lightweight, compact, and quiet, with suction you can adjust for different surfaces. While not everyone loves the hose design, it scores well with reviewers for the price.
What we love
At under $300, it's the cheapest barrel vacuum cleaner on our list.
Lightweight and small, this vacuum is ideal for any home where storage is at a premium.
This vacuum cleaner is designed to make less of a racket.
With a washable lifetime HEPA filter, the Bosch vacuum filters out over 99% of airborne particles. This ensures solid air, dust, and allergen filtration for people with allergies.
Self-sealing dust bags
The 4L PowerProtect dust bags have a special self-sealing lock with a built-in indicator to tell you when they're full.
Reviewers rate the suction power of this Bosch vacuum, which can be turned up or down.
The not so good bits
The hose fittings simply slot into each other without any lock, which means they're less securely fitted.
Hard to push
Some reviewers complain that the strong suction makes this vacuum hard to manoeuvre.
Blows hot air
One or two reviewers don't like being 'pummelled' with the hot air that comes out the top of this unit. While the HEPA filtration makes this air super-clean, it could be annoying in warmer climates.
The Bosch GL-30 Free'e ProPower is our pick for the best barrel vacuum on a budget: it’s the cheapest vacuum on our list at just under $300. It's also a great choice for allergy sufferers, with a washable lifetime HEPA filter that absorbs over 99% of airborne particles. This vacuum uses self-sealing dust bags so you won't undo all your hard work when you empty it. It also comes with an upholstery tool, carpet brush, floor brush, and crevice nozzle.
This CHOICE-reviewed vacuum boasts a super-sucking, German-made motor with variable power levels for different surfaces. The Bosch is also designed to be quieter and lighter than other vacuums, and is one of the smaller models we've seen. This makes it an ideal choice for apartments and smaller homes, or for anyone not naturally gifted with the strength of the Incredible Hulk.
Aussies are big fans of the Bosch GL-30 Free'e ProPower vacuum, giving it almost 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au. People like the strong tube and dependable suction, although some find it so strong it's hard to push on carpets and rugs. Some also complain about the handle, as there's no locking system, which means the hose sometimes comes apart mid-vacuum.
Related: The Best Robot Vacuum
The best luxury upright vacuum cleaner
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The SEBO Automatic X7 is an upright solution to downright dirty floors. The in-built computer adjusts its height automatically, and it's so lightweight that one reviewer reckons it feels self-propelled. With this fancy German-made vacuum, you'll feel as glam as Freddie Mercury in I Want to Break Free.
What we love
Self-adjusting brush head
By measuring the resistance of the rotating brush in the suction head, the SEBO X7 automatically adjusts the height for effective cleaning.
S-Class filtration is exclusive to SEBO vacuums, and removes 99.9% of particles 0.3 microns or over. In short, this makes this one a good pick for allergy sufferers.
At only 31cm wide, it'll fit in even the tiniest of apartments.
Gets into small spots
The on-board telescopic wand is great for cobwebs and skirting, and the machine also goes flat to the floor for under beds. It even has a little headlamp on the front so you can see leftover crumbs from breakfast.
Like most of our other top picks, this German-engineered vacuum represents quality.
The SEBO has a refined palette. Thanks to its auto shut-off mechanism, it won't try to eat rogue socks.
Tells you when the dust bag is full.
At just over 7kg, the SEBO X7 is one of the lighter upright vacuums we reviewed.
The not so good bits
This kind of quality will set you back nearly $900.
The SEBO Automatic X7 is exactly the sort of vacuum cleaner Monica Geller would put at the top of her Christmas wishlist. The rotating brushes inside the suction head easily sweep dust and debris from most surfaces. It's one of the more high-tech vacuums, with a computer control system that adjusts the brush height automatically depending on your surface. The X7 is also a better communicator than other household members, telling you when the bag's full with its indicator alert.
The SEBO X7 has a 10 metre cable, and top-level S-class filtration exclusive to SEBO. S-class filtration is comparable to HEPA filtration, removing 99.9% of particles bigger than 0.3 microns. This makes the X7 a great pick for allergy and asthma sufferers.. This vacuum is only 31cm wide, and will fit easily in the laundry cupboard or under the stairs. On top of this, there's an integrated wand with a telescopic tube for ceilings and hard-to-reach spots.
Aussies are stoked with the SEBO Automatic X7. One reviewer on ProductReview.com.au says that it's so light, it 'almost vacuums by itself' with a 'self-propelled' feeling. The only downside is the $800 price tag.
Related: The Best Stick Vacuum
The best value upright vacuum
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The super-sucking Bissell Powerlifter Pet 1521F is a steal at $319. With two upholstery tools and a dual suction tool, this bagless vacuum makes for a satisfying clean-up. Aussies love it for its lightweight frame, and impressive suction at a hair-raisingly good price.
What we love
Value for money
There are few bagless upright vacuum cleaners that perform well at this price point, and the Bissell delivers.
Bagless dirt container
The twist-off lid on the Bissell's 1L dirt container makes this bagless vacuum cleaner a breeze to empty.
Adjustable height settings
5 different settings for various carpets.
This vacuum comes with a pet hair eraser, turbo eraser, and dual suction crevice tool.
Reviewers were surprised at the power of this sucker.
The not so good bits
A couple of reviewers are upset about their vacuums dying or needing replacement parts just outside of the 2-year warranty period.
Two reviewers say it's not the quietest of vacuums.
Different websites give different lengths, so all we can say is that this power cord is somewhere between 6 metres and 10 metres.
We're big fans of the Bissell Powerlifter Pet 1521F because it's a great value machine with impressive performance. For around $300, you get a powerful cleaner which sucks up Play Doh crumbs and pet hair like Mary Poppins in vacuum form. It also has 5 adjustable height settings for different carpet types, and is on the lighter side at just under 7kg. The spinning brushes in the head of this machine are the key to a deeper clean.
The Bissell Powerlifter is one of the best bagless vacuum cleaners in the upright category, especially for the price. It comes with a pet hair eraser, a turbo eraser, and a flexible dual suction tool. Bissell also reckons the Powerlifter has 'allergen filtration,' but it's not clear what that means, and it was difficult to find out how long the power cord was. Bissell says 10m, while other sites say 6m and 7m.
This Bissell vacuum cleaner scores around 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au, making it a well-loved upright option. It performs above expectation time and again, although some complain they have to stop and unclog the bristles with longer pet hair. One person also finds the 1L dust catcher too small, but it's easy to empty with a twist-off lid.
All in all, Aussies are overwhelmed by how effective the machine is. One person says it performs so well compared to other vacuums that they felt they'd lived in 'filth' before the Bissell. A couple of people feel frustrated by Bissell's customer service, and some machines broke just outside of the 2-year warranty. But as one reviewer reckons, for the price, it's brilliant.
Related: The Best Vacuum for Pet Hair
Others worth considering
If you like the look of the Miele C3, but not the $600 price tag, the Miele Classic C1 Powerline might be your best bet. For just over $300, this German-engineered vacuum does the job without breaking the bank. It shares the same locking system as the C3, so the hose won't fall out mid-vacuum, and has a dustbag change indicator as well as a park system for storage. There are 6 adjustable power settings too.
The Miele Classic C1 Powerline is a quality vacuum for the price, which is reflected in ProductReview.com.au reviews. It scores around 4.5 stars, and Aussies reckon it's excellent quality. These machines are relatively quiet, and the main unit wheels easily around all kinds of surfaces. On the other hand, they're so powerful that some folks find it hard to push the vacuum head over carpet.
Depending on who you ask, the distinctive Numatic Henry is both an adorably iconic and terrifyingly traditional vacuum cleaner. On the face of things, the Henry isn't for everyone, but he's a commercial-quality product built to last. This model is reviewed by CHOICE, and comes with a 10m cable, hose, rod, and standard floor tool. It's a bagged vacuum that boasts a TriTex filtration system.
Aussies on ProductReview.com.au love their Numatic Henry vacuums, awarding it around 4 stars. People rate the huge bag space, and some say they're quieter than Dysons. The downside of the Henry vacuums is that they're not particularly easy to store with their awkward shape. They're not very light, either, but at least you've got room to move with Henry's super-long extension cord.
The Dyson Big Ball Origin is a high-tech bagless barrel vacuum from a trusted vacuum giant. Using its ball-shaped body to its advantage, this machine is designed to get knocked down and pick itself up again in true Chumbawamba style. If you hate getting your hands dirty, this is the vacuum for you. It has no filters or bags, and can be emptied straight into the bin in one quick action.
The Dyson Big Ball is reviewed by CHOICE, and Aussies on ProductReview.com.au are generally pleased by this model. They give it around 3.5 stars. Many like its lightweight, bagless, filterless design, but several reviewers feel this machine isn't as well-made as the price might suggest. Two people also complain that the swivel next to the handle pinches anything it comes near.
The Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor + is a lightweight upright vacuum with great suction power, weighing in at just over 6kg. It comes with a stair tool and soft dusting brush, as well as a combination tool that boasts an instant-release extension wand for getting in-between even the highest of Venetian blinds. The washable lifetime filter and bagless dust bin mean you'll never have to buy another vacuum bag again. Probably.
This bagless vacuum finds mixed favour with Aussies on ProductReview.com.au, scoring around 3 stars. People like the tools and attachments, and one reviewer is particularly impressed by how much carpet fluff it picks up. It's less effective on bigger bits of debris like popcorn or cat kibble though. Several reviewers feel this Dyson isn't as sturdy as other models, and 2 people find it hard on their wrists.
The bottom line
What makes the best vacuum cleaner differs for every household, especially given the number of options out there. If you have serious carpet meterage in your home, an upright vacuum could make all of your lint-less floor dreams come true. On the other hand, if you've got a multi-level home, or just a few different surfaces, a barrel vacuum could be a more flexible option.
We reckon the Miele C3 Powerline Complete is one of the top barrel vacuums in Australia. But we're not the only ones - it took out ProductReview.com.au awards three years running. The C3's sensible design means less stooping to change suction settings. It also features a parking spot so you don't have to balance the hose on the nearest piece of furniture when duty calls.
If you like the sound of a German-engineered vacuum without the price tag, the Bosch GL-30 Free'e ProPower is right up your alley. This compact vacuum cleaner isn't just lightweight and quiet - it also has adjustable suction and HEPA filtration, both rare features on cheaper vacuums. Some reviewers aren't big fans of the hose design, but at this price, it might not bother you.
The SEBO Automatic X7 might look old-school, but its fancy technology makes it anything but. This vacuum cleaner has a computer system which adjusts the brush height on the suction head automatically. It also tells you when the bag's full, and has an auto shut-off function to prevent wandering socks. Reviewers of the X-series vacuums love their SEBOs, giving them full marks across the board.
Over in the budget ring, the Bissell Powerlifter Pet 1521F packs punches with serious suction and rotating brushes for even the hairiest of situations. It comes with a clever set of additional tools for upholstery and small spots, and surprised Aussies on performance for the price. It's also bagless, which makes clean-up easy, but some reviewers complain about the quality over time.
Features to consider
A vacuum cleaner is something you should be able to rely on for a few years. Here are a few things you might want to think about before investing.
Upright or barrel
Barrel vacuums are more popular than upright vacuums as they're easier to move up and down stairs, and are well-suited to many different surfaces. Their design means more bending down, so if you have achy bits an upright vacuum may be a better bet. Upright vacuums are also better-suited to carpets because of their rotating brushes. This makes them ideal for large living areas.
We found few quality vacuum cleaners in the sub-$300 range, and the average price of all the vacuums on our list was around $550.
Bagged or bagless
Many of us hate cleaning the gunk from the inside of vacuums, but newer models offer self-sealing bags to make things less painful. Bagged machines maintain suction over time, and some have multiple filter processes to reduce strain on the engine. Certain bagless machines cost more than bagged ones, but if you factor in the cost of replacement bags, a high-tech bagless vacuum may be worth it.
Upright vacuums can usually be stored in smaller spaces better because of their uniform shape. Barrel vacuums can be awkward to stow away, but hoses and handles can be taken apart to make life easier.
If your pet sheds a lot of hair, you might want to invest in a specialized vacuum. Upright vacuums tend to fare better with pet hair, as they have motorized heads with brush rolls for a deeper carpet clean.
Many of the vacuums we reviewed came with several attachments, and some had dedicated space within the machine to store these. If you have delicate curtains, high ceilings, or just a vendetta against spiders, it could be worth thinking about extendable tools or brushes.
What you get if you spend more
If you can afford to splash a little more cash, here's what you can look forward to.
Design and technology
A lot of thought goes into the process of making a high-quality vacuum cleaner, which is reflected by price. More costly machines tend to be cleverer and more ergonomic than cheaper ones, with features to prevent overheating, or debris being sucked into the motor.
It's hard to understand why you'd spend $800 on a vacuum when you could spend $300, but higher-priced vacuums like the SEBO X7 fare much better in reviews over the long term.
Variable suction power
Most lower-priced machines only have a single suction setting, whereas those over the $400 mark often include 5 or 6 power options. This comes in handy when switching between curtains and stubborn carpet fluff.
Machines with HEPA filters and S-filters are designed to filter particles that cause allergies. If you have asthma or allergies, it could be worth investing in a machine that better grapples with dust mites.
Should I buy an upright or barrel vacuum?
A vacuum cleaner is essential for anyone with carpets or large living areas. Upright and barrel vacuums are popular in Australia, plugging in at the wall for sustained power and suction. Both barrel and upright have similar functions, but are best suited for slightly different things. Barrel vacuums are popular because of their versatility. They're easier to get up and down stairs, although can be awkward to store.
Barrel vacuums also tend to perform well across different surfaces, but mean more bending down to change settings. Upright vacuums also perform well across floor types, and their rotating brushes mean they deep-clean carpets with ease. Those with aches and pains may find upright vacuums easier to move, since there's only one piece to push around.
What's the difference between an upright vacuum and a barrel vacuum?
Bagged and bagless barrel vacuums are popular in Australia, making light work of big cleaning jobs. Most barrel vacuums have a large motor unit, which is pulled behind you. The suction is funneled through a hose attachment into a suction head and pushed across the floor. The head is separate from the hose, making it easy to get into small spots like under car seats or along skirting.
Upright vacuums also come in bagged and bagless options, but save you bending down with an all-in-one design. The motor sits inside the main unit, which you push in front of you rather than dragging behind. These vacuums usually have rotating brushes inside their suction heads. This makes them ideal for getting dust and dirt out of carpets. While you'll find it difficult to clean the car with one of these, they often have additional hoses to get into nooks and crannies.
Bagged vs bagless vacuum cleaners
Most major retailers offer vacuums with and without bags. Bagless vacuum cleaners have built-in dirt containers, which you should be able to remove to dump out over a bin. Bagged vacuum cleaners trap dust and debris inside a bag that you can remove and replace. If your vacuum uses paper bags, you might be able to chuck them in the compost bin.
If you have allergies, a bagged vacuum cleaner may be a better choice, as dust particles and allergens are properly contained. This may also ensure your vacuum maintains suction over time, as dust is less likely to move around other parts of the machine. Even so, disposable bags aren't as sustainable if you don't have a compost bin, or if your machine's bags aren't biodegradable.
It's also worth checking your vacuum cleaner's warranty information, as using bags that aren't made by the manufacturer can void warranties if engines are impacted by rogue dust or debris. Not all bags are easy to find, and they can get pricey if you regularly clean large areas. Bagless models don't have these issues, so they could be a cheaper or more eco-friendly choice in the long run.
What's the difference between HEPA filters and S-Class filters?
There are numerous kinds of vacuum filters, and anyone with dust mite allergies, asthma, or other sensitivities could benefit from HEPA filters or S-filters. HEPA stands for 'high-efficiency particulate air,' and refers to a standard of filter that removes 99.97% of particles at or over 0.3 microns. This is a military-developed American standard, and differs slightly from Europe.
New European HEPA standards require that filters remove 99.95% of particles around 0.1 to 0.2 microns and over. This is different again to S-Class filtration, which filters 99.9% of particles at or over 0.3 microns. S-Class filtration is exclusive to SEBO vacuum cleaners. In short, HEPA filters and S-Class filters are made according to similar standards.
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