Is there a better vacuum than the Dyson?
December 3, 2004 7:20 AM   Subscribe

[VaccumFilter] My Wife wants a new vacuum for Xmas. Namely, she wants that bright yellow $400 vacuum that you see on TV all the time. That seems a bit excessive to me for our small house. Tell me mefities, what's the best vacuum for the money? Is it worth repairing an old vaccum instead?
posted by quibx to Shopping (49 answers total)
You got to got to got to get her the Dyson she's been asking for. She wants it because it freaking WORKS. Forever. So that makes it cheap because you're not buying a new one every three or four years. And you'll think it's so cool you might actually do some vacuuming yourself!
posted by pomegranate at 7:27 AM on December 3, 2004

It's christmas. I say buy her what she wants.
posted by transient at 7:29 AM on December 3, 2004

We went with the Consumer Reports' "Best Buy" thing, and got a Eureka Boss Smart Vac Ultra's pretty sweet, and we got it at Home Depot for about $130...

I really haven't done a lot of vacuum comparison in my, take that with a grain of salt.

FWIW, Consumer Reports (from that link above) ranked the Dyson 9th out of 27.
posted by tpl1212 at 7:37 AM on December 3, 2004

The Dyson is initially expensive but it's built like a tank and it has no filters or bags to replace- it's a long term investment. If you don't want to buy the Dyson, I wouldn't get her a vacuum cleaner at all for Christmas. I have Mr. Clean Magic Erasers on my Christmas list, but I would be pissy if I got a bundle of wash rags and a bottle of ammonia instead. The Magic Erasers would be a splurge- that's why they're on the list.

Christmas is not the time to be thinking of practicalities- if she's the one doing the vacuuming and she thinks it's appropriate for the size of the house, well...
posted by headspace at 7:39 AM on December 3, 2004

My sister has a Miele. Holy crap is that thing powerful. You wouldn't want to use it around small pets. Maybe even small children. And it's extremely expensive, which is, I think, why my sister has it. Nothing but the best, preferably European.
posted by TimeFactor at 7:40 AM on December 3, 2004

Vacuum quality isn't proportional to vacuumable area so much as it is to vacuuming frequency. Someone who vacuums a larger house weekly is vacuuming as much as someone who vacuums their one carpeted room every other day. And it's definitely true that most vacuums suck and/or fail to suck, depending on whichever you view as more pejorative in this usage. Bagless is definitely the way to go, but I have no info on the Dyson.

That said, all the other posters are right -- it is Christmas.
posted by blueshammer at 7:42 AM on December 3, 2004

We love our new Roomba Discovery SE, but it isn't for everyone. It isn't quick, but it is thorough. But it works the way I like to clean. I straighten and dust one room, and then run the Roomba in it. While the Roomba does its stuff I move on to another room. Rinse, repeat. Our hardwood floors have never looked cleaner, but our dog is pissed that the little round metalic "dog" gets all the good floor crumbs for itself ;)
posted by terrapin at 8:06 AM on December 3, 2004

Adam Greenfield loves the Dyson DC07.
posted by Vidiot at 8:15 AM on December 3, 2004

I had a Miele, and I sold it to get a Dyson. It is REALLY good, and exceptionally well designed in lots of little ways that really matter (like, all of the places in the tube that things can get stuck are easy to open with big buttons).

Count this double if you have pets - nothing clogs a vacuum bag like cat hair.
posted by Caviar at 8:17 AM on December 3, 2004

we really like our Dyson (the purple one that comes with the "animal" attachment).

check out their site and see the features -- some really great ideas (like how there are vents on the skinny wand attachment so it won't suck up fabric -- genious!).
posted by evening at 8:18 AM on December 3, 2004

Caviar: I had a Miele, and I sold it to get a Dyson.

That's interesting, because I've read a few accounts of people doing just the opposite. Can you do a compare/contrast?
posted by trharlan at 8:24 AM on December 3, 2004

We also have the Dyson Animal. Paid an extra $100 for a 5 yr Sears 'no questions' warranty. So it is expensive. But there's something rewarding about watching it effortlessly suck all that crap out of your carpets. Plus, if you're nerdy, you'll enjoy the way it's designed and put together, and just functions well. Think of it as the difference between pro-grade tools, and cheap'n'flimsy power tools that look pro-grade but which crap out when faced with any heavy-duty task.
posted by carter at 8:31 AM on December 3, 2004

I've got a Dyson, and it's AWESOME.

Seriously. When we bought it we vacuumed our entire house with our old vacuum, and then vacuumed it immediately thereafter with the Dyson... It was kind of gross how much crap it picked up after the floor had already been vacuumed.
posted by icey at 8:32 AM on December 3, 2004

I don't know about their vacuums, but Dyson has a neat telescope game on their site.
posted by caddis at 8:44 AM on December 3, 2004

The Dyson is worth the money. We took a chance and went with a 'reconditioned' Dyson via Amazon (it was, if I remember correctly, a hundred dollars cheaper), and apart from some minor cosmetic flaws, it works like a champ. The amount of dirt and dust it picked up from our we-thought-it-was-clean carpet was awe inspiring.

The two minor problems with the Dyson:

(1) the plastic it's made of is not the most expensive plastic in the world. Some fittings, etc., are a little less perfect than I would expect from a half-thousand-dollar vacuum cleaner. On the other hand, making it out of titanium might've driven up the cost a little. And it works
oh so unbelievably well.

(2) it's a new, rare, uncommon household appliance that runs on electricity and has a motor. Necessarily, it will fail one day. When it does, I anticipate the cost of service being a bit higher than the cost of service for your standard vacuum cleaner.
posted by felix at 8:50 AM on December 3, 2004

If you are interested in a site that does a good job of explaining the pros and cons of the different vaccums. Go to

This site is really a meta-review site. They compare different reviews and try and give you the general consensus.
posted by bove at 8:54 AM on December 3, 2004

trharlan: That's interesting, because I've read a few accounts of people doing just the opposite. Can you do a compare/contrast?

It really comes down to two things:

1) The Dyson simply has better suction for longer than the Miele. The Miele, not too long after putting in a fresh bag, would get clogged up, and not pick up things as well. It had particular problems with stray cat litter and cat hair.

2) The tools are better designed. As previously indicated, they have vent holes to avoid sucking things up into them. They're easily placed so you can get to them while you're working. This is smart, and it works. In fact, the whole thing REEKS of good design. Everything that separates does so well and definitively, and snaps easily back where it goes. The controls that move are big and obvious. My only complaint is that there's no cord winder mechanism on the upright (but then, I've never seen any other upright with one either).
posted by Caviar at 9:19 AM on December 3, 2004

I don't have a link, but I read a scad of dyson reviews from Britain. Everyone indicated that there was a gradual loss of power in the unit. Any long time users confirm or disconfirm that?
posted by mecran01 at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2004

Oh, and we bought a Hoover on the advice of consumer reports. It's a bagless. It has been slowly falling apart.
posted by mecran01 at 9:39 AM on December 3, 2004

Here is the link to the british reviews. They hate the thing:
posted by mecran01 at 9:44 AM on December 3, 2004

bove, thanks for that link.
posted by smackfu at 10:02 AM on December 3, 2004

Buy her the dang vacuum. It's better than her asking for a Syban.
posted by erratic frog at 10:10 AM on December 3, 2004

this previous thread has some good opinions, too.
posted by Hackworth at 10:18 AM on December 3, 2004

it's just a vacuum cleaner. only obsessive-compulsive consipcuous-consuming til the fucking world ends over-paid over-indulgent under-critical ask-mefi readers give a damn. get something cheap from nearby. it will clean well enough.

and then put what you save in a retirement fund and stop working every hour of the day just so you have enough money to buy the latest over-advertised under-justified piece of yellow plastic crap.

you know you don't need it. if you could stop working a day earlier because you didn't buy it, it would be worth it. stop being part of the machine. wake up, cut the credit card into pieces, stop making luxuries out of tools, and let it go.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:20 AM on December 3, 2004

it's just a vacuum cleaner

You don't have pets, do you.

I bought a Dyson after the 3rd vacuum death in 5 years and it is better than all three previous ones combined. Pet hair has lost it's hold on my house. I just wish I could keep it off my clothes now...
posted by dness2 at 10:26 AM on December 3, 2004

Just FYI ( because I make the same mistake sometimes) it's vacuum, not vaccum. Two Us not two Cs.

on preview, I disagree with andrew cooke, a few quality items carefully chosen for durability make the journey of life more rewarding and less stressful, and end up being worth a little extra cost. A cheap vacuum can be a real time waster. Don't obsess, but if you enjoy doing the research for it's own sake, why not?
posted by milovoo at 10:27 AM on December 3, 2004

I think you're on thin ice if you give your wife any housework-related items that she doesn't explicitly request. Go with the Dyson, because anything else would just be getting a vacuum for Christmas.
posted by smackfu at 10:28 AM on December 3, 2004

It doesn't suck up the errant apostrophe though. Sorry about that "it's".
posted by dness2 at 10:29 AM on December 3, 2004

stop making luxuries out of tools

andrew: There's a saying in New England: only rich people can afford cheap tools. A well-made, durable, cheap-to-operate, pleasant-to-use tool is usually a better value in the long run. I don't know enough (or really anything) about vacuum cleaners to know if that's the case here. Otherwise, I am in agreement with your main point.
posted by TimeFactor at 10:36 AM on December 3, 2004

"It really sucks, and that's a good thing."

Now I feel completely inadequate without a Dyson. But I have mostly bare floors and not much of a rug. Can I expect the Dyson to strip the varnish off my floors?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:37 AM on December 3, 2004

When we bought it we vacuumed our entire house with our old vacuum, and then vacuumed it immediately thereafter with the Dyson... It was kind of gross how much crap it picked up after the floor had already been vacuumed.

This is a common occurrence with pretty much any major brand of vacuum cleaner. They're putting bigger motors in them now, is all. Nearly all of them have 12 amp motors.

I still like and recommend my Panasonic Dual Sweep. It's quite the value.
posted by kindall at 10:40 AM on December 3, 2004

After searching Epinions I bought my Mom a cheap $30 Bissell (I think--whatever it is that Walmart sells; sorry I didn't know they're "red"), and she likes it better than a Hoover these days. (She and my grandmother used to swear by Hoover. In some countries Hoover is synonymous with vacuum cleaner the way Biro = ballpoint and Kleenex = tissue.) She tried out Orecks, too, too and was unimpressed (except for their weight; the Bissell's not bad in that dept., tho.)
posted by Shane at 10:41 AM on December 3, 2004

FWIW, Consumer Reports (from that link above) ranked the Dyson 9th out of 27
I have two problems with CR rankings in general:
  1. I seldom seem to be able to find the exact models they test for sale anywhere.
  2. They often order their ranking priorities very differently from me
Their reviews and methods are great, but the personal opinion aspects need to be taken into account. A good examples of this effect is an old ranking of strawberry jam where it was obvious their testers liked something very different from the kind of jam I like, making the general comments useful but their final ranking useless.

As to whether a Dyson is worth the money I don't know, but add me to the chorus of people saying that if your wife is sure that's what she really wants then get her the Dyson or don't buy her a vacuum.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:52 AM on December 3, 2004

get something cheap from nearby. it will clean well enough

As a Christmas gift? Ugh. You really don't want to say or imply to your wife "You wanted something better, but I figured that this is good enough for the likes of you."

Especially not if it involves an activity or job that's mostly hers -- then you're adding a nice "...and I really don't care about that crap you do, so I don't care about your opinions about what's useful and what isn't... you leave that decision to big strong me and stop worrying your pretty little head about it."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:09 AM on December 3, 2004

As Vidiot has linked to my extensive, highly-positive long-term evaluation of the Dyson, I'll limit my comments here to agreeing with those who have expressed an appreciation for well-engineered tools as being worth the cost.

In short, you get what you pay for, for all the reasons I detail in the v-2 piece. I only wish most of the other paraphernalia of life did as well in their respective niches as the Dyson does in its.

And, yes, it would be a terrible, terrible blunder to buy your wife an off-brand substitute if she has expressed an informed preference for the superior option (and you can afford it). Go with the Dyson: your house will be cleaner and your relationship that much happier.
posted by Adam Greenfield at 11:19 AM on December 3, 2004

The Electrolux 5000 canister; no finer vac made.
posted by lometogo at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2004

I ain't no relationship genius, but if your wife asks for a fancy $400 designer vac for Xmas and you are considering giving her a spruced up second-hand Hoover instead..... brrrr, the holidays are gonna be cold around your place!
posted by spilon at 12:18 PM on December 3, 2004

Don't get her the Dyson. As part of your Xmas present, take over all the vacuuming responsibility and get yourself whatever vacuum you want.
posted by rajbot at 12:49 PM on December 3, 2004

I would like to put in a gratuitous plug for the Dyson. Not that I've ever tried it, but, generally speaking, in a free market, expensive products really are better. This thing will last many years, and be cheap on an annualized basis.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:51 PM on December 3, 2004

Add me to the list that say a good vacuum (and more generally, the right tool for the job) is worth the price. And if you do buy your wife a Hoover for X-mas, well, don't be suprised if you don't get the sucking action you expected.

That said, I have no experience with Dyson vacuums. But I only have good thing to say about Miele vacuums. They're expensive, but worth it in the long run.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 12:58 PM on December 3, 2004

Thanks all for the information.

She knows that it's too expensive, and given me the "don't, it's too much" speech. but judging by the raves here, I think i'm going to get it anyway. We may wait until after xmas though, and maybe catch a sale.

We have 4 kids, and even though we don't have that big of a house, cleaning strength is very important.

I had looked at the vac in person, and the plastic looked very cheap. It also looked very complicated. Me, as a nerd, would enjoy that, but I doubt she would use many of the cool accessories. I had to sell the palm pilot I got her because she just wasn't into it.

Thanks again for all the input.
posted by quibx at 1:56 PM on December 3, 2004

Three things.

1) mecran1 - your link is for reviews of an older Dyson product, NOT the two upright models that are sold now (the now-famous DC07 and the DC14, which seems to have just been released).

2) quibx - the plastic feels flimsy, but it's not. Plastics are wonderful things these days. It's not complicated. There are some things that are not obvious at first glance, but once you do it once (or see it done), you go "ohhhh", and that's that. I think most of the accessories are overkill. I got the one with the flat floor brush for under the couch, but even with three cats, I couldn't find a use for the "turbo animal brush". Maybe it's different with dogs and orangutans, but the other brushes do just fine on cat hair.

3) I believe the Miele that I replaced had a 12 amp motor. It had nowhere near the suction of the Dyson.
posted by Caviar at 3:08 PM on December 3, 2004

Which magazine (UK version of Consumer Reports) consistently rates Miele as amongst the best vacuum cleaners. Dyson are considered below average due to poor reliability. (I would provide a link but Which is subscriber only). That said, Dysons are hugely popular in the UK despite their high price.
posted by chrispy at 4:15 PM on December 3, 2004

"Poor reliability" in what sense, chrispy? Motor burnout? Gasket failure?

The thing feels robust as hell to me. It's given us sixteen months of frequent use with extraordinarily satisfying results, and nary a hitch.
posted by Adam Greenfield at 4:25 PM on December 3, 2004

My four year old Dyson still works as well as it ever did.
Dysons Rock!
posted by seanyboy at 4:31 PM on December 3, 2004

I used to have an antique Vax and now have a Dyson "Animal" (to go with the two cats) and the vacuuming takes less than half the time that it used to.

If it means that less of your wife's time is spent doing tedious chores then it has got to be money well spent.
posted by NthMonkey at 5:15 PM on December 3, 2004

stop making luxuries out of tools

The luxury is in owning a tool that's well-designed enough that chores become easier and more pleasant. How is that a bad thing? If you're going to buy a tool, you should buy the one that best does what you want it to do, and what you feel is important. Some people don't care about that, some do.

And what ROU_Xenophobe said.

I don't have a Dyson (yet), but I love the way they're designed.
posted by biscotti at 5:18 PM on December 3, 2004

I'd go for the Dyson every time. For design, durability, suction and customer service - and I only have a DC04! Nobody throws a vacuum around like my mother, and her Dyson lasted years. Mine is two years old already, but still works as new.

Yes, it will clean floorboards without tearing off the paint lol. It will clean any surface really. And also, here in the uk, everything is free on the Dyson automatic five year warranty. My Dyson fell down the stairs once, and then wouldn't stand up properly. Not only was it still in one piece and working fine otherwise, the service guy came out and fixed it free. You can also get replacement bits for it if anything breaks within the warranty.

It will also work as an industrial cleaner - I have used it to vacuum glass, concrete, old brickwork, bits of wood - everything really. The Dyson is worth the money in my opinion.
posted by lemonpillows at 5:19 PM on December 3, 2004

Adam Greenfield - they don't specify the reason for failure, but they do a regular survey of their members and Dyson is the only brand that comes out with below average reliability in both the upright and cylinder categories. I presume reliability in this case means users having to get the cleaner repaired in some way.
Having said that, it sounds like the warranty is pretty good. Worth noting that the survey only covers Dysons bought in the UK - not sure if US Dysons are different in some way.
posted by chrispy at 6:30 AM on December 4, 2004

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