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Vacuum cleaners suck, says survey

Vacuum cleaner on pink carpet

Some have names, others have trendy designs and many are bagless – but vacuum cleaner sales are still on the decline. So are we less house-proud or just more savvy when it comes to selecting the right model?

The latest figures on the UK vacuum cleaner market show that sales have fallen 14% in the last year. In numbers that means we’ve bought 800,000 fewer vacuum cleaners.

The report, from Mintel, also suggests we just don’t care as much about how clean our houses are compared to previous generations: that pride in cleaning is also in decline.

I love a clean house and vacuuming is a firm favourite, but if I’m honest it’s often a race against time, and one that starts when visitors are due. So are modern households just too busy to care as much about the dust on the floor as generations before? Maybe, but I reckon the decline in vacuum cleaner sales is a reflection of a much more mundane fact.

Frugal times, fewer sales

Vacuum cleaners aren’t the only domestic product to have taken a hit in sales in the last few years – almost all have. In 2008 only 50% of households waited until their current vacuum cleaner broke down before replacing it, whereas now 80% do.

My Miele vacuum cleaner is now five years old. I bought it after convincing my husband that, although the landlord’s vacuum cleaner turned on, it didn’t actually work. And I just had to have my own top-of-the-range Which? Best Buy, complete with on-board accessory storage, telescopic tube and HEPA filters.

My faithful vac is now showing the signs of age but, true to its excellent Which? brand reliability rating, it keeps going. Money well spent in my mind.

Making do, wasting less

But with price tags of £200-£500, I can’t convince myself (let alone my husband) to splash out again, so will carry on with my trusty old vac until it stops altogether. Although, since we’ve now got a cat, I do look enviously at the latest top-of-the-range models that score well in our pet hair tests.

The figures from this report suggest I’m not alone in this wait-and-see approach. Hopefully I’ll enjoy the new model even more having waited so long for it. Heck, waiting to upgrade could even makes us more, not less, like our parent’s generations when it comes to domesticity?

What my experience tells me is that buying a good vacuum with excellent reliability is the best, and most cost effective, way of getting clean floors with minimal effort… Just give the skirting boards a miss if you’re short on time.


I thought you might like to know that I bought a Kenwood Chef food mixer plus all attachments in 1965. I bought a commercial machine as in those days it was exempt from Purchase Tax. It is still going strong and has never failed to please. Built to last I would say, why don’t cars last for as long? It seems that a modern item loses its value as soon as it is purchased and is replaced by the manufacturer with a newer model as soon as you use it.


I would like to add my approval of the Makita 18v Lithium battery handheld cleaner. For anyone into power tools and already has the batteries for their drills etc. its hard to beat. I have spent much money on Bosch Black and Decker and Dyson handhelds. While they worked to an extent, none delivered the goods. When it bought the Makita I was very impressed. Strong suction, easy to use and empty, easy clean filter and very long battery life. This is the bonus of using an already powerfull battery from the power tool range one of the best range of power tools. I have been using this for over a year now I would thoroughly recommend this cleaner to anyone who has existing 18v Lithium power tools, otherwise it is expensive.


I have a house where often the best place (location wise) to do DIY sawing & planing is far from the best place to clean up afterwards. I do put dust sheets down but there is always a bit of sawdust on the carpet that my old vacuum takes ages to suck up.

As it is overdue for replacement and making a few other weird noises from time to time, should I be looking at the Which recommended ones for “cat & dog” hair, or can somebody suggest a better idea?