Best cordless vacuum cleaners: 2018 group test

Which of eight powerful cordless vacuum cleaners best tidies up messy car interiors?

Even the most careful driver will eventually have to clean their car’s interior, especially in filthy winter weather. Dust, dirt, animal hair and food crumbs can make a real mess of it. Abrasive grit in particular can ruin a carpet, and so regular cleaning will pay dividends when it comes to resale time.

A cordless vacuum removes the need to trail a mains model out to the garage or even on to the street. Their big batteries add weight and bulk – a hassle in a car – but the extra power means better suction for longer.

How we tested them

We ground into our test carpets a mix of sea salt, rice and fine grit and looked for rapid cleaning progress. Then we used each for a full 10 minutes in the car.

We considered practicality, for jobs like getting into narrow cabin gaps and down the sides of seats. Points were awarded for tools supplied and the ability to work well elsewhere. Prices are the best we could find online at the time of writing. 

Verdict

  • 1. Gtech Multi MK2
  • Cordless vacuum cleaner reviewsGtech (revised) Multi MK2 K9 and Car Kit 

     

    Price: Around £170 & £25
    Charge time (hours): 4
    Rating: 5.0

    A few design differences set the K9 apart from its predecessor; the light has moved, with two LEDs becoming one, and the useful built-in flexi tool has gone, so we relied on the one supplied in the three-piece car kit. The fixed nozzle pushed the powered brush further out, and so it was only 40mm shorter than the second place Dyson.

    Its impressive motor was slightly better in low-power mode, and the K9 cleaned the car well, yet it was noisier than some rivals. We found the pull-out bin easy to empty and the scented filter cartridges are a bonus. It has a two-year warranty. At half the price of the runner-up, it may seem like an easy win. However, the K9 isn’t a full domestic cleaner, which limits its overall use, and it also loses out on run time.

    Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal

    Price: Around £400
    Charge time (hours): 3.5
    Rating: 4.5 

    The V10 now operates for 60 minutes on low power, thanks to a new design that puts the cyclone and motor in line. This makes emptying the bin easier, too. It’s a little longer, but, surprisingly, not as awkward as we expected, and weight wasn’t an issue; it’s just 200g heavier than the winner. A light and flexible hose would have been welcome, though.

    There were two ‘turbo’ modes that offer great suction for tackling stubborn dirt, but they quickly drained the battery. The small powered brush and straight crevice nozzle made a good job of the V10’s half of the car. While the price is high, it’s still a full-size domestic vacuum with an extension tube and a direct-drive cleaner head.

    Vax Blade 32V Cordless

    Price: Around £180
    Battery (v)/Charge time (hours): 32/4
    Rating: 4.0

    With 32V on tap the Vax is really potent, especially in boost mode. Its powered brushbar was mighty around the home, where its 24cm width came in useful, and it dismissed our test dirt with ease – even more quickly than the Gtech. However, in the confines of our car, the brushbar proved cumbersome and, thanks to the horizontal dirt bin, the machine was wider than most.

    This clumsiness was exacerbated by the fact it weighed an extra 400g. The crevice tool is only 10cm long, so many jobs were impossible, and the Vax needs a light. It’s dearer than the Gtech, and while there’s currently a £51 tool set offer, this doesn’t bring a long crevice tool. With one of those or a flexible extension, the powerful Vax would have the edge.

    Buy the Vax Blade 32V Cordless vacuum from Vax.co.uk

    Vax Cordless SlimVac Total Home Vacuum Cleaner / Pro Kit

    Price: Around £130
    Battery (v)/Charge time (hours): 22.2/5
    Rating: 4.0

    Another impressive domestic-based machine, with a handy five-hour charge time and trigger lock. Of the accessories, only the crevice nozzle was suitable for in-car use, and while the large domestic brush worked well on carpet and mats, a small motorised brush would have been better. The optional Pro Kit added four tools ideal for nooks and crannies, but upped the price by £19.99.

    Buy the Vax Cordless Slimvac from Argos

    Hoover Jovis Plus Cordless Handheld SM18DL4  

    Price: Around £65
    Battery (v)/Charge time (hours): 18/5
    Rating: 4.0

    This was similar in design to the Halfords, Sealey and Dirt Devil, but extra power from a five-hour charge gave it an edge. The suction design is old school, relying on a piece of rubber to keep dirt in the bin, so some snuck out. Hoover supplies a crevice tool, flexi hose and two brush tools. It took a few passes to get small particles out of the pile, but was practical in-car.

    Buy the Hoover Jovis Plus from Amazon

    Dyson V8 Absolute

    Price: Around £500
    Battery (v)/Charge time (hours): 22.2/5
    Rating: 4.0

    As always with Dyson’s cleaners, this is a great performer, but you pay heavily for it. So you need to be able to justify the price by using this around the home as well as in the car. Suction power lived up to Dyson’s bold claims, and the V8 Absolute ran for 40 minutes (or 25 with motorised brushes). The small motorised brush made light work of our test carpet. At 1.6kg the cleaner was a little bulky to hold, but this was offset by its huge power, which meant less time spent in the awkward spots – although an LED would have been handy. 

    Buy the Dyson V8 Absolute from Amazon

    Sealey CPV72 Cordless Wet & Dry Rechargeable

    Price: Around £35
    Battery (v)/Charge time (hours): 7.2/3-5
    Rating: 3.0

    The only wet-and-dry vac on test, the Sealey had the second lowest voltage and was an old-tech unit, relying on a rubber flat to seal the bin. It sucked up water well from a flat surface, but not so much from an uneven carpet. It took a few passes to clear our test material. The small brush enabled vent cleaning and the LED illuminated well. At just 0.8 kg, it was easy to use, but the crevice tool was too short.

    Buy the Sealer CPV72 from Amazon

    Vax Gator 18V Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

    Price: Around £55
    Battery (v)/Charge time (hours): 18/12
    Rating: 3.0

    A well made cleaner, and the 18v motor was powerful, although charging time was by far the longest on test. Emptying the bin and removing the filter was simple, as was fitting the small motorised brush. The Vax ploughed through our test material, pulling all the grit from the pile with ease. However, the built-in crevice tool was a mere 65mm long, which severely hindered its performance. 

    Buy the Vax Gator from Amazon

    Halfords Rechargeable Vacuum Cleaner

    Price: Around £55 
    Battery (v)/Charge time (hours): 11.1/6
    Rating: 2.0

    With three nozzles, a flexi hose and powered brush, this looked good for car work. The brush worked reasonably on the test mat, but with the simple rubber bin seal, some dirt would escape. The short crevice nozzle was only adequate, and while it had a 345mm hose, suction was limited. Twin LED lights were a good idea, but they mostly lit the device itself and there was no soft brush for cleaning vents.

    Buy the Vax Gator from Halfords

    Dirt Devil HandiMate Handheld Vacuum Cleaner DDH06-E01

    Price: Around £20
    Battery (v)/Charge time (hours): 6/7
    Rating: 2.0

    The cheapest on test, this was also the lowest-powered and unsurprisingly, the only one not to reach our in-car 10-minute limit, failing just below the nine-minute mark. It struggled to get down into the carpet pile to remove fine particles. A crevice tool was supplied, but it wasn’t quite long enough. It’s cheap, although after waiting seven hours for a charge, you’d just end up being frustrated. 

    Buy the Dirt Devil HandiMate from Amazon

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