We have two really cute cats, Percy and Portia. Unfortunately, I’m mildly allergic to them (although I’m dangerously allergic to trees and grass, a problem I developed after my first Iraq deployment… something about the trees at Fort Bragg). My doctor told me to get rid of the cats, but they’re definitely part of the family and there’s no way I could ever give them up.
So I decided to place several more portable air filters in the house, increase the filtration in our A/C system, start immunotherapy for all of my allergies, and buy a serious vacuum to help reduce the amount of cat dander floating around. We’ve had some not-very-effective vacuums before, even from well-known brands like Daredevil, so I wanted to do my homework and avoid repeating those experiences. How did my vacuum search go?
Comparing Vacuum Cleaners
First, I decided to research several different vacuums at different price points:
Shark Bagless Navigator Freestyle Cordless Stick Vacuum (SV1106) – $77.59
I was really attracted to the cordless, bagless combination. This Shark weighs 7.5 pounds, runs on 2 speed settings, and is designed for carpet and bare floors. Various users online said that it only runs for 15-20 minutes with the initial charge, although that will get longer after the battery is recharged several times. Amazon reviewers reported that the Shark picks up pet hair very well, but also said that it wasn’t as maneuverable as they expected, it has a relatively small “cup” that needs to be emptied frequently, and there were other minor issues – none of which sounded like deal breakers, but were enough to make me keep looking.
Anker HomeVac Duo 2-in-1 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner – $119.99
This is another cordless/bagless combo. It has a slightly longer battery life of 24 minutes, or even up to 60 minutes on a gentler setting. It’s also a little lighter than the Shark, at 6.2 pounds. The Anker had mostly positive reviews on Amazon, but I noticed that while some customers were impressed by the level of suction, others were disappointed. There were also mixed opinions about maneuverability. I have a pretty favorable view of the quality of Anker electronics because I had a great experience with their Bluetooth stereo (reviewed here). However, Anker apparently doesn’t sell replacement filters or parts (and I find it hard to believe that a vacuum will last several years without needing a new filter!) so that was a deal breaker for me.
Dyson Ball Multi-Floor Upright Vacuum – $299.99
I have several friends who own a Dyson and rave about it, saying they’ll never buy another brand of vacuum again. My friends’ endorsements are pretty persuasive to me, which is one reason we decided to start writing in-depth product reviews online at BuysWithFriends.com. So after looking at lower price points and not finding a miracle vacuum cleaner, I started to get comfortable with the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a Dyson.
The Dyson Ball Multi-Floor Upright is one of Dyson’s (relatively) lower cost models. It comes with “whole-machine HEPA filtration” to trap allergens and bacteria inside the machine, which is exactly what I was looking for. However, this model also has a cord, which I really didn’t want to deal with because our house is really long and we have several stories. It also weighs a ton — 17.2 pounds. That’s more than double the other vacuum cleaners I looked at. Granted, there would be no battery capacity issue for a vacuum with a cord, but I definitely did not want to drag that thing up and down the stairs. I’m sure it would be less of an issue for a single-level home.
Dyson V6 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum – $399.99
This is a bagless, cord-free vacuum that comes with a built-in “mini motorized tool” to remove pet hair and debris from the rugs. It weighs only 5 pounds, making it the lightest vacuum that I researched. The battery will keep the vacuum running for 20 minutes, which is less time than the Anker, but more than enough time for me to sweep a room. It’s also designed to be used in hard-to-reach places – including ceiling corners – which is a great feature to get those cobwebs down. The V6 Animal has a really convenient disposal for debris: the lower part of the “cup” drops down at the touch of a button, dispensing dirt straight into a garbage can.
Note: Dyson also just released the Dyson V8 Absolute, another cordless vac that comes with HEPA filters to catch allergens, and the battery reportedly lasts 40 minutes. Unfortunately this one wasn’t available when I made my purchase earlier this summer, or I might have gone with it… maybe. $599.99 is a lot of money to spend on a vacuum, even if it’s amazing.
All of the vacuums I researched had approximately 4.5 stars on Amazon. Even though the Dyson vacuums were much more expensive than other ones, I thought it would be worth it to get my allergies down. I also hoped that buying a high-quality Dyson would mean that we wouldn’t have to keep buying a new vacuum cleaner every two years or so. So after thinking about the other qualities that were most important to me, I went with the cord-free, lightweight Dyson DC35.
Our First Dyson
I was super excited to buy the Dyson DC35. The allure of having a Dyson, the DC35’s rave reviews on Amazon, its cordless and bagless features, and the vacuum’s light weight were the deciding factors. Instead of buying it new from Amazon, I went for a manufacturer-refurbished model. Dyson sells these at a slightly lower price through Dyson’s eBay store (I managed to snag the DC35 for under $180, refurbished).
Unfortunately, I can’t review the Dyson DC35, because I never received my purchase. When Dyson shipped our vacuum (via FedEx), they did not specify “signature required” for delivery even though I had requested it. Even worse, they ship their refurbished vacuums in a box that says “DYSON” and shows a picture of the vacuum on the outside of the box. We generally don’t have problems with package theft, but this obviously expensive looking thing disappeared from our porch within 15 minutes of the recorded drop-off time (nobody even rang the bell when the delivery was made).
I contacted the company via Ebay to request they re-ship the item when it never showed up. This is fairly standard practice with other companies that rely on internet-based sales. For instance, when a Blue Apron box got stolen awhile back, the company reimbursed the cost; on another occasion (when we lived in DC), Amazon re-shipped a purchase that disappeared. So I expected a company with a reputation like Dyson would “make us whole” again, particularly given how much money we just spent on their product. Long story short, after many tedious and unproductive email exchanges with their customer service people, we went into eBay’s dispute resolution process – and eBay decided that Dyson didn’t need to reimburse or re-ship.
I almost went with a different company, but decided that all of my analysis still applied. It took me a few weeks to get over it. Despite my frustration, I still needed to buy a super high-quality vacuum so I could get my allergies under control. So – major negative points to the company for its customer service, but I still wanted a Dyson.
Our Second Dyson! and Accessories
After I stopped being angry, I decided to get the Dyson V6 Trigger. (And I ordered it new from Amazon this time.)
It has a slightly more powerful motor than the DC35 (it uses the DC58 motor), but it’s designed for use in the car or on furniture, so I had to get a couple of accessories to make it a fully functional floor vacuum. The V6 Trigger sells new for $189 .99 – a tiny more expensive than the DC35 refurbed model – and I bought a few (totally necessary) accessories that brought the total cost to $313.61. It wasn’t that much of a hassle to buy the parts separately since they all sell on Amazon, and it was $86 cheaper than buying a new V6 Animal. Consider it my way of sticking it to Dyson for the raw deal on my first purchase.
First, I bought a Dyson extension wand for $42.71 plus a motorized floor brush (not made by Dyson) for $39.99 to turn my Dyson V6 Trigger into a full-length vacuum that I could use on our floors.
When the Trigger arrived, it only came with 2 tools – a long, slender nozzle great for getting stuff out of cracks or working along edges, and a shorter stubby brush that doesn’t really seem to do well on any surface or mess.
So I also bought a “Genuine Dyson Handheld Tool Kit” for $40.92.
Here is what my Dyson Frankenstein looks like, fully constructed (cats for scale):
How I’ve Used the Dyson V6 Trigger
I’ve been using this vacuum for more than two months now, primarily to remove cat hair from furniture, to clean our area rugs, and to sweep our wood floors in the kitchen, hallway, and staircases. We only have low-pile oriental rugs and bare wood floors in our house, so I can’t speak to the performance of this vacuum on deep-pile carpet. I’m also not sure how it would hold up for ground-into-the-rug messes since I haven’t dealt with that yet (and I know that’s really important to moms with little kids at home).
What I Like So Far: Suction, Dirt Disposal, Size
The suction is really amazing – I’ve never owned a more powerful vacuum. There are two settings – a normal power setting that can take care of most normal cleaning requirements, and a high power setting that will drain the battery rapidly, but in my experience, lifts all of the animal hair off of a rug or upholstered chair. I literally saw my rug change color from a dusty rose to a bright scarlet after using the Trigger. I also had to stand on the end of my area rug to hold it down while the vacuum was working its magic – otherwise the Trigger is so powerful that it actually lifts the rug off the ground.
On furniture covered in cat hair, I like to use the Trigger on its highest power setting. It pulls the hair right off, particularly if I use the wide nozzle tool and flexible extension hose from the accessory kit.
Before I got the Dyson V6 Trigger, I couldn’t sit in this chair without breaking out into hives. No joke. Even though I had been removing the cat hair with a lint brush to keep the chair looking good, I was too allergic. Now the Trigger is getting the dander out too and I can sit in my chair again!
It’s a good thing it works so well, because I’ll have to do it all over again in a few days:
Percy, hard at work re-catting the chair
You can see just how much cat debris it can pull out. This thing was empty before I vacuumed the chair.
Now I can get rid of it by dropping the bottom outlet over a trash can. Unlike the hassle of cleaning out other bagless vacuums, I don’t get dirt in my face by wrangling anything out of the body of the vacuum. Too easy!
I also really like that I can do furniture jobs, vacuum carpets, and clean my stairs and kitchen floor with a single vacuum cleaner. I used to have a large vacuum, a small hand-held vacuum, and a broom for those jobs – this is just so much more efficient. If storage space is an issue, this is a great way to consolidate down to a single, very compact device that is easily dis-assembled for even smaller storage (like under a bed or on top of a closet shelf). And it’s unbelievably light, too – only 3.4 pounds for the motor, plus a little more for whatever accessories are attached.
What I Don’t Like
There’s really only one drawback to the Dyson V6 Trigger – the battery life. It lasts for about 20 minutes on the “regular” suction setting, and a mere 6 minutes on the high power setting. For me, 20 minutes is enough time to get a room done and spot-clean a few pieces of furniture, but I would like to be able to vacuum for a longer period. Like I said before, the regular setting is totally adequate for normal cleaning. I do prefer to use the higher setting for furniture jobs so that I can really pull the cat dander out of the upholstery, and 6 minutes is just not enough. This is an issue seems to have cracked with its V8 model, which reportedly runs for 40 minutes on a single battery charge, so if this is really important to you and you’re willing to spend almost $600 on a vacuum, I would go with that.
Recharging is time consuming if you want to get a full charge back. It can take several hours (I haven’t actually timed this) before it’s 100% ready to go again. I’ve basically worked it into my routine so that this doesn’t feel like a hassle: on chore day, I vacuum stuff until the Trigger dies, then go grocery shopping, and do another round of vacuuming.
A Word on the Accessories
I haven’t had any compatibility issues with the extension rod, although the aftermarket motorized floor brush (the thing at the very end of the tube that turns the Trigger into a full-sized vacuum) feels like it’s cheaply made and not functioning at 100%. It doesn’t affect the performance of the vacuum, mainly this is a gripe about how it “feels” while being maneuvered – just a little bit clunky. To me, correcting this would not be worth the extra $86 to buy the comparable full-length Dyson V6 Animal. While I was poking around on Amazon, I found an actual Dyson part (wish I had seen this while I was shopping before) which would probably work better: the Dyson Articulating Hard Floor Tool. It’s $43.80 on Amazon, only about $4 more than what I paid for my non-Dyson part.
On the accessories kit, the wide nozzle tool and flexible extension hose are absolutely essential. I use them for almost all of my small detail jobs, like furniture. There is a lint brush-like tough fabric underneath the opening of the wide nozzle, which helps dislodge cat hair so that the Dyson can suck it up more easily. However, the soft dusting brush and the stubborn dirt brush are pretty much gathering dust themselves. I don’t really know when they would be useful – it seems like all of my handheld vacuuming requirements are fulfilled by the wide nozzle from the kit and the long slender piece that came with the Trigger.
The Verdict, or tl;dr
I’m really happy with the Dyson V6 Trigger. This is a great light-weight vacuum, and I love the power and maneuverability. It gets rid of cat hair and cat dander, and I can literally breathe more easily in my own home. (Obviously, I can’t guarantee other allergy sufferers will have the same relief.) And I feel pretty good about converting the small hand-held vac into a full-length vac with just a few small accessories, saving almost a hundred bucks off the price of the full-sized Dyson V6 Animal. I wish it would hold a charge longer. Overall though, I would definitely buy this again, with a different part for the floor end.