Shark AZ950UKT cleaning around chairs

Whether you hate vacuuming or find it a welcome distraction, we can all agree on one thing: it’s important to have a vacuum cleaner that can clean quickly and efficiently, providing all of the tools that we’ll need to get into every nook and cranny. Needs differ between people and households, but here we have a list of the best plug-in vacuum cleaners to suit everyone.

We’ve focussed on just the plug-in vacuum cleaners in this list, but you can check out our guide to the best cordless vacuum cleaners if you want something battery powered. While cordless cleaners may be getting more powerful, and there are models suitable for whole-home cleaning, the humble plug-in cleaner still deserves a place in many homes. Not least, because these vacuum cleaners run at higher suction levels by default and they never run out of battery, so you can clean for as long as you want.

There are two main types of vacuum cleaner: cylinder and upright. Cylinder cleaners have you drag around the main vacuum cleaner body, while you hold the hose. They’re a little more cumbersome to store, but for the most part you only have to hold the hose and floor head, so they feel lighter.

Upright cleaners are a little neater, combining everything into a single body. Just plug them in, lean them back and start pushing. We rate all vacuum cleaners based on how easy and comfortable they are to use, and point out who they’d be good for.

Suction power is important for any vacuum cleaner. We measure power in airwatts (AW), which is a mark of efficiency based on the suction ability and airflow (the higher the better). Simply listing suction power alone doesn’t tell the true story, so be wary of reviews and specs that quote this.

We also use real-world tests, measuring how well vacuum cleaners pick up dirt from carpet and hard floors, how well they can clean right into the edges of rooms, and how well they deal with pet hair.

As this list is about form, we’ve listed plug-in vacuum cleaners are a wide-range of prices for all budgets, with each review clearly explaining where a product is good and any flaws it might have.

How we test

Learn more about how we test vacuum cleaners

We put every single vacuum cleaner through the same set of tests, so that we can tell the good apart from the bad. We measure all vacuum cleaners for suction in air watts (AW), which is a combination of both airflow and vacuum suction. This is the only true measurement of a vacuum’s ability, with the higher the number the better.

While that figure tells you how powerful the vacuum cleaner is, it doesn’t tell you how well it performs in real life. For this reason, our real world tests show you before and after pictures of dust collection on carpet, hard floor and at the edge of the room, using a combination of dust from flour and rice grains to pet hair.

If you want to learn more, read our detailed page on how we test vacuum cleaners.

Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner with Powered Lift-Away and TruePet NZ850UKT

The best overall vacuum cleaner


  • Clever control placement
  • Excellent cleaning
  • Lift-away mode is powerful


  • A little bulky in upright mode

After impressing with last year’s NZ801UKT, this year we have the improved Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner with Powered Lift-Away and TruePet NZ850UKT.

Although similar in look, Shark has fine-tuned the design for the NZ850UKT, with the controls moving to the top of the handle, rather than on the main vacuum cleaner’s body. It puts everything you need by your thumb, so you can start and stop or adjust the power level without having to bend down.

Shark has made little adjustments elsewhere: the accessories now clip more easily onto the onboard storage clips, and the hose locks firmly into place and doesn’t spring out and wave around as with the older cleaner.

Shark has used its DuoClean floor head for the main work. This has both a soft roller and a carpet brush, so you don’t need to swap floor heads when you move between different floor types. Shark’s Anti Hair Wrap tech continues to be brilliant: we didn’t have any hair caught around the floor head, even in a house with pets and people with long hair.

Performance is excellent. We measured the hard floor more at an incredible 260AW: that’s about the same as a powerful cordless vacuum in its maximum power mode. Of course, on a cordless cleaner you’d only get a handful of minutes at this power, where as the NZ850UKT continues at this level for as long as you want.

Switch to carpet mode and power drops to 233.96AW, which is still a lot. Besides, that’s combined with a fast-spinning floor head to agitate dirt. On Deep Pile mode, power is 130.19AW (around the same as a cordless on medium power) and the floor head spins more slowly: this helps prevent the cleaner from getting clogged on long carpet fibres.

Real-world performance is excellent. On carpet, the NZ850UKT picked up everything on a single pass, it cleaned right to the skirting board, picked up larger debris on hard floors without dropping anything and effortlessly dealt with pet hair.

When you need to get into detail work, there’s Lift-Away mode: just push the button and you can lift out the main cylinder, using the hose to reach into those hard-to-get areas, or using the anti-tangle pet brush, which we found got our sofas back to the best condition.

For the majority of homes, the combination of power and flexibility makes this the best overall vacuum cleaner.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Read the full review: Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner with Powered Lift-Away and TruePet NZ850UKT review

Shark PZ1000UKT

The best vacuum cleaner for large homes


  • Clever control placement
  • Excellent cleaning
  • Lift-away mode is powerful


  • A little bulky in upright mode

The Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner XL with Powered Lift-Away & TruePet PZ1000UKT takes everything great about the company’s Lift-Away vacuums and super-sizes it. Here, there’s a wider floor head than normal and a huge 1.6-litre bin. That bin is so big, that we found we could do a full deep clean of our house and still have space left to go again.

Shark has used its DuoClean tech on the floor head: it has a soft roller for had floors and a brush roll for carpets. It’s a smart design, as you don’t have to swap floor heads ever, and its Anti Hair Wrap: genuinely, we have never managed to clog this floor head with hair.

Having a wide floor head means you can do more in one go. With our regular carpet test, the PZ1000UKT made a clean sweep through the middle of our test mess, leaving nothing behind; and, the width of the head meant fewer sweeps were needed to clean everything. Multiply that up around a house, and the wide head captures more dirt on fewer sweeps, so you can clean faster. Performance right to the edge of rooms was excellent, as was the perfect pet hair and hard floor pick-up.

It helps that this vacuum cleaner is so powerful: 270AW on hard floor mode (more than most cordless cleaners in their short-lived boost modes), and 254AW on carpet mode (here, the brush roll spins faster to agitate dirt). There’s also a Deep Pile mode, which cuts suction to 159AW and reduces the roller speed: this prevents clogging and tangling.

Power and mode selection controls are all on the main wand, so you can reach them without bending down. As this is a Lift-Away model, the main cylinder comes out, so you can use the long-reach of the wand and hose to use the detail tools, including the excellent crevice tool and powerful anti-tangle pet brush, which worked wonders on our sofas.

The slight downside is that this large vacuum cleaner is heavy at 6.8kg, and it’s large. If you’ve got lots of storage room and a big house, it’s a brilliant choice, but those of us in smaller homes or flats may find we’re better off with smaller cleaner from this list.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Read the full review: Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner XL with Powered Lift-Away & TruePet PZ1000UKT review

Bissell SmartClean Pet

The best cylinder cleaner for large homes


  • Very powerful
  • Adjusts power on the fly
  • Excellent dirt pick-up
  • Large bin


  • Large
  • No mini motorised tool

A best of a cylinder vacuum cleaner, the Bissell SmartClean Pet weighs 9.98kg. Don’t let that put you off, as the large wheels make this much easier to move around than you may think, and the long 3m hose gives you plenty of reach: we could tackle our stairs with the cleaner at the bottom. In fact, the only time we had to lift this vacuum cleaner was to physically go upstairs.

The core tool is the motorised brush, which is suitable for carpets and hard floors alike. It’s an anti-tangle brush, designed to stop hair wrapping around it. And, it works well: we didn’t have to cut any hair away from the roller during our testing.

As this is a large vacuum cleaner, it has a huge 3-litre bin. That’s absolutely massive to the extent that we only had to empty it every couple of weeks or so.

We measured suction at 227AW in maximum mode (that’s a lot of power and outdoes many cordless cleaners on turbo mode), down to a more sedate 185AW on minimum: that’s a more useful power mode for thicker carpets. There’s an Auto mode, too: we found that this lets the SmartClean Pet adapt to the surface it was on perfectly.

Real-world tests showed that this cleaner was excellent: perfect cleaning to the edges, clean sweeps on carpet and hard floors and pet hair removed with no issue.

There’s are multiple clips for the wand: one for storage while cleaning, and a second one underside for storage when the vacuum is stood on its back. It’s a shame that there are no clips for the brush and crevice tool. The lack of a mini motorised tool for upholstery is a little disappointing, particularly for a vacuum cleaner aimed at pet owners.

This is a very large and heavy cylinder vacuum cleaner, but if that doesn’t bother you, it’s power and cleaning ability make it a great choice, particularly in large homes.

Review: David Ludlow
Read the full review: Bissell SmartClean Pet review

Hoover Telios Extra TX50PET

The best budget cylinder cleaner


  • Lightweight and easy to manoeuvre
  • Powerful
  • Cleans well on all surfaces
  • Easy to store


  • Too many floor heads
  • Carpet Optimax head is hard to push

Great value, with decent performance, the Hoover Telios Extra TX50PET is a great all-round cylinder vacuum cleaner. This model weighs 5kg, which is pretty good as far as plug-in cleaners go. Besides, as the vacuum is on wheels, we rarely had to lift it.

Storage of cylinder vacuum cleaners can be annoying to store, but not the Telios Extra TX50PET. Flip open the flat at the front, and there’s space for the crevice tool, dusting brush and furniture nozzle. There’s also a clip for the floor head, so you can store the vacuum cleaner upright with its hose wrapped around it.

Hoover provides three main floor heads in the box, but the 2-in-1 head was the only one we used: the parquet head felt superfluous and the Carpet Optimax head was practically impossible to push on carpet. It needed so much force, that we gave up.

We measured suction power at 207AW on maximum power and 117AW on minimum. That’s a little behind the most powerful-cleaners, but these power levels are higher than cordless cleaners in standard mode, and you don’t have to worry about battery life here.

Performance is very good: the vacuum cleaned right up to the skirting board, tackled large debris on a hard floor without leaving anything behind and the furniture tool got cat hair off with ease.

Emptying the cleaner is easy, as the EPA bags just lift out to be thrown away. Note that these are HEPA bags, so homes with allergy sufferers may want to look elsewhere. Anyone looking for a neat, well-priced cylinder vacuum cleaner for homes with pets will like this well-priced option.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Read the full review: Hoover Telios Extra TX50PET review

Shark CZ500UKT

The best overall cylinder vacuum cleaner


  • Powerful
  • Cleverly placed controls
  • Excellent build quality
  • Flexology makes cleaning under furniture easy


  • A little cumbersome to store

Shark is best known for its upright and cordless models, but with the Shark Bagless Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner CZ500UKT the company debuted its first cylinder cleaner. This model has many of the features that we’ve come to know and love from Shark cleaner, only in a different form factor.

Cylinder cleaners are often easier to move around because you drag the cylinder behind you. Here, Shark has made that job very easy with four caster wheels.

If there’s one issue with cylinder cleaners, it’s that the controls are on the main unit, so you have to bend down to use them. Here, that’s not the case, as the controls are all on the handle, so can toggle power and change mode all with the flick of a thumb.,

In the box, you get a motorised pet tool, crevice tool and brush, which gives you plenty of flexibility for detail cleaning. The main cleaning head is a DuoClean (works on both hard floors and carpets) with Anti Hair Wrap (this honestly works and stops hair from wrapping around the brush).

Shark has clips to hold the wand and floor head in place, and there’s an accessory clip so you can carry around the detail tools with you.

I measured the vacuum cleaner at a decent 92AW on Eco mode (about the same a cordless in its regular mode), 227AW on Standard and a massive 285AW on Max: that’s a truly huge amount of suction power. Eco mode was enough to tackle our test dirt on carpet, and Standard for everything else: hard floors and pet hair. On our edge test, we did have to finish off with the crevice tool, but that’s our only minor complaint.

If you like cylinder vacuum cleaners and want the features that Shark usually has with its uprights, then this is the perfect vacuum cleaner for you.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Read the full review: Shark Bagless Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner CZ500UKT

Stihl SE 33

The best wet and dry vacuum cleaner


  • Very powerful
  • Large capacity
  • Can blow as well as suck
  • Excellent performance on all spills


  • Can be hard to push on some surfaces

Normal vacuum cleaners aren’t built to handle the kinds of dirt and mess you get from DIY, which is why you may also want a powerful wet and dry vacuum cleaner, such as the Stihl SE 33. This looks much like any cylinder vacuum cleaner, but as well as sucking dirt into a paper bag, and make for easier emptying, you can fit the filter and suck up wet mess, too.

One big difference between wet and dry vacuum cleaners and your standard models is that they can exceed the power limits set: the SE 33 draws 1400 W, whereas a standard cleaner will be 750W or less. This translates into more raw power: we measured it at 406AW, which is double the power of other models in this list.

In fact, it’s so powerful that the suction makes the bog-standard floor head hard to push on some surfaces, such as carpet. You won’t be surprised to learn that this vacuum cleaner scored perfectly in our carpet, edge, pet hair and hard floor tests. We also spread wet Weetabix onto the floor: no problem for the SE 33 at all.

The difficulty pushing this cleaner on everyday surfaces mean that it’s not the ideal everyday cleaner: instead, this level of power is best directed at DIY debris, from sawdust to wet plaster mess. This is a great addition to any household, as a DIY or workshop vacuum cleaner, able to cope with those dirty jobs that a regular vacuum can’t touch.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Read the full review: Stihl SE 33 review

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What style of vacuum cleaner do you want?

Cylinder cleaners have the power in a wheeled unit that you pull around behind you. There’s less weight in your hand, as you hold the wand and hose only, and you only occasionally need to drag the cylinder where you need it. They’re not quite as quick to get going with as an upright cleaner, which you plug in, pull back on and get going with. Upright cleaners are generally more popular as a result.

Do you need a bagged or bagless cleaner?

A bagged cleaner adds running costs into the mix, but you get a simple bag that you pull out and throw away, which can be better for allergy sufferers. With a bagless cleaner, you get a removable bin that needs emptying, which saves on cost but can lead to dust spreading in the air as you empty.

What accessories do you need?

All vacuum cleaners come with a floor head. Given the power available, some don’t require a spinning brush, but look out for models that do, as motorised brushes can make dirt pick-up more efficient, particularly when dealing with pet hair. You’ll also want to get a crevice tool and dusting tool, at the minimum, for close-up work; look out for a mini motorised brush if you have pets and want to tackle furniture.

How much power do you need?

Most plug-in models are limited to 750W of power, but the actual suction available and cleaning quality differs from vacuum to vacuum. Read our reviews to find out which vacuums clean the best.

Do you need a wet and dry vacuum?

Wet and dry models can tackle wet spills as well as dry, although you may need to do a bit of conversion before switching modes. These models can have more powerful motors, but they’re specialised tools that excel at tough jobs, such as DIY mess, and cleaning out a blocked washing machine.

What can a plug-in vacuum cleaner do that a cordless model can’t?

For basic cleaning, there’s not much between the two types, but the plug-in model does have some general advantages. First, you can keep cleaning for as long as you want, and don’t have to stop to recharge. Sure, some cordless cleaners provide power for whole-home cleaning, but even they will run out if you want to deep clean your house, tackle your sofas and car, for example. With a plug-in cleaner, you can just keep on going, and you run them at higher suction power for a deep clean.
A smaller advantage is that you can generally use plug-in cleaners for other suction jobs as they don’t cut out; cordless cleaners often (although not all models) have suction protection, turning off when they detect a blockage. For example, if you’ve got a vacuum drill attachment, where dust from drilling is sucked away before it can make a mess, this will work more easily with a plug-in cleaner. With a cordless cleaner, this kind of accessory may not work. Likewise, for vacuum storage bags, some cordless cleaners will cut out before you’ve compressed your bag; a plug-in cleaner will not.

What’s the difference between a regular model and a wet and dry vacuum?

A wet and dry vacuum cleaner can suck up dry dirt and water, although you usually have to convert between the two modes. As well as that clear difference, wet and dry vacuum cleaners don’t have the same power limitations placed on them, so they’re more powerful making them great for DIY jobs and dealing with the messiest of dirt.

Specifications Compared

Size (Dimensions)
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Vacuum cleaner type
Provided heads
Bin capacity
Stated Power

Trusted Reviews Test data

AirWatts (low)
AirWatts (medium)
AirWatts (high)
Sound (low)
Sound (medium)
Sound (high)

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