Vax U85-ACLG-B Air Cordless Lift Upright Vacuum Cleaner

I first came across this vacuum cleaner when I was idly browsing a Motorhome forum thread, where people were asking for suggestions for cleaning their Motorhomes (before, after or during trips away).

I was partly interested in it for that purpose, but mostly bought it for day to day use at home to replace a large, heavy tank of a corded upright vacuum cleaner that was perfectly good at its job. However, as a person somewhat lacking in motivation for cleaning, I found that my old one was unwieldy enough to put me off even getting the wretched thing out of the cupboard, never mind plugging it in and hauling it around the house. And heaven help us if it was downstairs when upstairs needed cleaning, or vice-versa. Luckily for me, the Vax cordless was on offer at £129.99 at exactly the time when I was looking for a replacement for the monster (although it's back up to £160 now), so I snapped it up.

The Vax U85-ACLG-B Air Cordless makes that disincentive a problem of the past. It's light, yet sturdy enough to grab a do a quick whiz round at any time, (even if that means taking it up or down stairs), with all the benefits of an upright for those of us with back problems, and because there's no cord, there's no faffing about plugging it in, avoiding the cord, moving it from one room to another, using it to clean in the car, motorhome, etc. Just grab it, switch it on, and get the job done.

I'm not an intensive houseworker, so I typically tend to do a room or two (or maybe three) when the mood takes me, or it looks like it needs doing. I've only once had the battery run out during a cleaning session, and that was soon after I'd first got it, so I was being considerably more intensive than normal. And even then, as it comes with two batteries, I just switched to the other one and kept going until I'd finished cleaning all of our three bed semi in one session.

I find it very comfortable to use, and easy to get into the spaces it needs to reach. The fact that it's lightweight helps too, of course.

In my house, very fine dog hairs make up far more of the contents that it picks up than dust does, but it does pick it up without a problem (the only time I found it leaving "tide waves" of fur was on one occasion where dust container had totally filled up without me noticing. All I had to do was empty it. I've rarely had to use the Turbo boost. For me, the container fills up long before the battery runs out (no doubt because fur takes up more space than dust). I have not had any issues with it being unable to pick up anything except when the cylinder is full - and no cleaners, bagless or not, can pick anything up when they're full.

As somewhat of a sufferer from dust allergies, I've always avoided bagless vacuum cleaners in the past, as I was concerned that dust would create a cloud and go everywhere when I emptied it. However, this one empties from the bottom by pressing a button to release the catch, and the bottom hinges, so there's no need to "pour" the contents out of the cylinder as you do with the top emtpying ones, and no messing about in the dusty bit, so I haven't had any issues with it. As I've said, it picks up lots of fine fur in my house, so I do find that I need to use a small spatula to coax the matted fur out from the slim space at the top of the cylinder, between the workings of the cleaner and the container, but it's no big deal. I just keep one handy, near the bin in the cupboard under the kitchen sink. If I was emptying into a larger bin or an outdoor dustbin, and not worried about spreading dust around, it may well be that a couple of good thumps on the cylinder would dislodge it all.

The cleaner is very manoeuvrable, and can get under some surprisingly low bits of furniture. The "headlights" on the main machine are rather fun, although I'm not convinced they're genuinely all that useful, except possibly when under furniture. I don't usually do my cleaning in the dark :o). They do help a bit in the gloom of a dark winter's afternoon though.

There is storage space on the cleaner for one of the tools that it's supplied with. I keep the slim nozzle there (which is a clever design with a brush that you can slide into or out of use, depending on what you need to do) as I find that one most useful for corners, tops of skirting boards, narrow spaces, etc. I considered buying the extra tool pack, but decided that I'd see how I got on without them, and so far there's nothing in there that I've missed. The only thing I would quite like is some sort of revolving brush attachment for use with the smaller lift out portable section, e.g. for on the stairs.

The rotating brush is easy enough to clean when it gets clogged up with pet hair, as any brush inevitably will (and it's easier to get at than the removable one in my corded vacuum, which was always rather fiddly to get in and out of the cleaner), and also somehow more fiddly than this one to clean too.

Having two removable batteries is great, because one can be charging while the other one is in use (unlike the style of cordless cleaner where the whole cleaner has to be plugged in to charge). I keep one battery on the charger at all times (the charger switches off when the battery is full), and make a habit of switching batteries as soon as I've finished cleaning, so that I've always got two fully charged and ready to go at any time. As a bonus, hopefully it'll be possible to replace the batteries (or buy extras) when they eventually lose their capacity. If you can outlast the life of two batteries (allegedly an hour - I haven't tested it), the other one's already had half an hour charging since you switched, and it's probably time to take a tea break anyway. Or come back to it another day when both batteries are fully charged again.

All in all, this excellent machine doesn't feel like any sort of compromise in terms of power compared with a corded model, and I can highly recommend it.

The photos show
1. complete machine
2. portable section removed
3. cannister and battery removed
4. spare battery on charger
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