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Getting my house ready to rent out for a year while I'm away had me doing all sorts of things I wouldn't normally bother with. Like cleaning, for one. You might think it strange that someone who cares so little for housework would bother investing in a £200 vacuum, but that's precisely why I did: after 3 vacuums in as many years, I was getting frustrated with cheap things breaking on me, and it was made all the more annoying by the fact that hoovering up was never something I enjoyed. I bought a Dyson Ball in 2008. At the time they were fairly new out and there were lots of offers on - I got a £50 Argos gift card with mine - but I see they're still readily available now and have not been too much superseded by the next great thing in floor cleaning.
I bought a Dyson because in my limited knowledge of vacuums, I would probably rank them at the top in terms of perceived efficiency and reliability, and general wonderfulness. Obviously the ability to invoke vacuum-envy among all my friends had nothing to do with it.
As with most purchases of this type, I bought it because my previous one had broken. It wasn't the day it broke....more like a few weeks later....so I bought it with the intention of going home and using it immediately. I did not want to sit around and read the instructions, or spend hours putting it together. Luckily this model requires minimal assembly, and it's more a case of clicking parts together than messing around with a screwdriver.
The Dyson D24 is an 'All Floors' vacuum, which is just what I need. I have 5 types of flooring in my house, not because I have some sort of weird personality quirk that makes it difficult to choose and stick with one option, but because that's what it was like when I bought it. I have lino in one bedroom, tiles in the kitchen and one of the bathrooms, laminate in the dining room and the other bathroom, thick carpet on the stairs and landing, and thin carpet everywhere else. I suppose I could sweep my tiled and wooden floors, but it's so much easier just to switch on the DC24 and whizz round the whole house that I tend just to do this instead.
The Dyson DC24 was designed for those with pets or allergies. I am allergy free, and I don't have any pets in this house, but I do have long hair. Pet owners with cropped locks might protest that this is not the same thing, but anyone who has every lived with me will appreciate the, erm, prevalence of hair on most of my floors, most of the time, so this was the main thing I was hoping an expensive vacuum would sort out, and it did to a greater or lesser extent. When I am vacuuming my bedroom or the dining room, or one of the bathrooms, this Dyson works a treat, sucking up everything in sight and a whole lot more that's not visible. However, on my thicker carpets it only tends to do half the job, pulling up the hair to the surface but then giving up before it actually disposed of it. This is still a massive improvement on my previous vacuum cleaners, and although it takes a two pronged approach, it's not real hardship for me to get down on my hands and knees and scoop up the hair once it's been dragged up and deposited in a neat pile.
Hair aside, I have found it an excellent model for general day to day use (and by day to day I mean maybe once a fortnight....maybe a little less often). It works as well at picking up crumbs from the kitchen floor or the rug beneath my dining table as it does eating up paper clips in my study and general dirt and dust by my French doors.
When I'm not using my vacuum, I store it in the smaller of my two under the stairs cupboards, which is something I was never able to do with previous models. The D24 is remarkably compact for such a powerful vacuum, and the telescopic handle stores itself neatly inside when not in use. Something I just love about it is the way it is free standing with a nice, solid base. After years of those funny little unstable vacuums that you're forever propping back up, this is a real joy to put away. It has a carry handle which makes it very easy to carry up and downstairs, too.
The model has an easy, intuitive design. It's obvious what you have to push in to expand or collapse the handle, how to empty it, where to switch it on and off. In terms of its operation my only slight niggle is the way you have to push quite forcibly to start and stop the power and I'll often lean down and press it, then straighten back up before I've realised I've not pushed hard enough.
The Dyson D24 is a bagless model which is better for the environment, and better for your pocket and sanity as you never have to remember to buy spare bags. The debris collects in the plastic body of the vacuum, which is transparent so you can see when it gets full. When it's time to empty it, you simply detach this part and take it to a bin where you press the button to open the bottom and release the contents. It's simple to do, and you can even do it one-handed. The filters inside this bit are supposed to be washed by hand every month. I've amended this to more like even 6 months given my continuing lack of enthusiasm for vacuuming on a regular basis, but when I have washed them I've found them easy to rinse and easy to fit back in. I am constantly amazed by how much grime gets collected in the body. Today I took it outside to empty and a gust of Manchester wind swooped in and picked up a trail of dust from my bin before I put the lid back down, dressing the air with a grey film for a few moments. My house never seems all that dirty, hence my general laziness when it comes to cleaning, but every time I see all the gunk that comes up when I push this around I vow I'll get it out for a spin more often.
The Ball aspect is a bit of a novelty feature more than anything else. Yes, it means you can sit on the sofa and twirl it from side to side with the flick of a wrist as you clean the floor in front of you, but otherwise it's only a fraction more manoeuvrable than other non-ball models. I suppose having a ball instead of wheels does slightly reduce the drag on your carpet, though. I had a previous vacuum that left my floors so striped you'd think the Wimbledon lawnmowers had popped round for a visit. The bigger selling point for me is that it is so lightweight - this is the compact version of the DC 25, and is that bit smaller and lighter (weighing just 5.4 kg). The container where the bag would be were it not bagless holds 0.85 litre which doesn't sound much, but I don't have to empty it every time I vacuum, and my house is an extended 3-bed semi, not the tiny city apartment I used to have. The constant suction means it vacuums just as well whatever the state of the bin (unless absolutely full to bursting) so there's no real incentive to keep emptying it prematurely. Dyson call it 'Root Cyclone technology' and it's a great description since it really does look like a cyclone is going on inside, such is the speed at which it all zooms round the bin when switched on.
The bottom is so small I have been known to use it on the stairs without switching to the nozzle attachment (and not just because it took me a year to realise it had said attachment). The vacuum comes with a good long cable (over 6m) which is thick and sturdy, and therefore less prone to getting in a knot. There is storage on the back of the unit for the cable, but it's not quite a secure as some so you have to be careful not to jolt it as you put it away otherwise it will all spill off. A slightly larger hook to wrap it around would be helpful in future models.
This Dyson isn't my favourite in terms of appearance (that would be a former, purple one), and the colours are a bit of a mishmash (why have an orange ball with red buttons?) but it's not that bad, and since I store it out of sight it doesn't really need to blend in with my decor. It's an electric vacuum so it is reasonably noisy: no more so than other models, perhaps, but also no quieter even though it's smaller. I tend to be able to hear my door go, but not my phone ring, when using this.
This model is marketed as a providing a relatively inexpensive entry into the world of high-performance vacuums, and this is a statement I would agree with. Having had poor previous experiences with cheaper alternatives, I have been very pleased with this one, and at £40 a year maximum (given its 5 year warranty) it's not even that much more than buying a new shoddy budget version every year.