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Putting allergy vacuum cleaners to the test

ALLERGY VACUUM CLEANERS

Even when your home looks clean, microscopic dust mites, pollen, spores and skin cells can lurk in corners, cracks, carpets and soft furnishings, and cause allergic reactions including sneezing and itchiness. For anyone suffering from allergies or asthma, regular cleaning with quality vacuum cleaners is essential – preferably those with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

They trap almost 100 per cent of collected particles, down to 0.3 microns. Most cleaners manage about 96 per cent, which means a small but potentially hazardous quantity of allergens are blown out of the vac into the air. The Miele Blizzard CX1 Comfort and Dyson V8 Absolute tick the HEPA box. Each has two filters, which are readily removed for cleaning with water.

These cleaners are remarkably quiet considering their sucking power, and also light and manoeuvrable, which makes cleaning those corners, cracks, carpets and soft furnishings easier and more effective. Another shared feature may alarm those wary of dust-borne allergens: they are bagless, but designed to drop waste directly into bin or bag, so unlike extricating vacuum cleaner bags there's little or no contact with dust.

They're pricey but worth the investment, especially for allergy sufferers. Other models in these ranges target pet hair.

MIELE BLIZZARD CX1
RRP $949

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This barrel vac's 6.5-kilogram body glides effortlessly on rubberised castors that turn 360 degrees – if it doesn't get stuck on the cord. Two of the three supplied attachments are conveniently stowed on board, and the ergonomic handle includes wireless controls: on, off and switching between four power levels, from curtains to hard floors. Emptying the dirt container doesn't raise any dust, as fine particles are collected in a separate container requiring only occasional rinsing.

DYSON V8
RRP $899

Without cord or hose, this goes anywhere for 40 minutes (in standard mode), and readily transforms from stick to hand-held vacuum. The body is 1.6 kilograms, with most weight near the handle, so it's easy to wield. The 11 heads and (often adjustable) attachments included make it convenient for many tasks – if you're willing to keep switching accessories. Removing hair and fibres wrapped around the heads' rotating brushes is simple, but the dirt collector is small.

VERDICT

The Miele's larger dirt collector can be emptied virtually dust-free, but the cord and hose make this vac less practical. The Dyson's very easy to handle and comes with numerous accessories, so you can arguably get at allergens more effectively. In hand-held mode with a brush attachment, it's an excellent duster.

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Want to know more about household allergens? Medical search engine seenso.com ranks web results according to relevance, rather than popularity or advertising. It also points users in sensible directions with lists such as symptoms and diseases, and links to reputable health calculators and first-aid advice. A not-for-profit service that launched last year, this website is ad-free and does not track users.