You can spend as much money as you want on a stick vacuum cleaner and, to a certain extent, you get what you pay for. However, the Vax Blade 3 is an affordable stick cleaner that punches above its weight when it comes to its cleaning prowess. That’s not to say that it doesn’t come with a few compromises to reach its price of £180 but anyone looking to spend less than £200 should take the Blade 3 very seriously.
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Vax Blade 3 review: What do you get for the money?
The box isn’t resplendent with tools but all the essentials are present. As well as the main hand-held vacuum unit, it comes with a motorised floorhead brush and an extension wand so you can use it standing up.
There’s also a crevice tool and a small brush attachment, and you get a removable battery and charger. Lastly, there’s a wall mount so you can stow away the cleaner neatly when you’re finished vacuuming, and a clip-on attachment for the crevice tool that keeps it handily attached to the extension pole.
When you’re shopping around for the best deal, it’s worth checking for deals that include extra tools, as if you buy those separately they can cost you quite a bit extra.
Vax Blade 3 review: What’s it like to use?
At 3.1kg with the floorhead and the stick attached, the Vax Blade 3 is heavy to lug about. Most of the weight is up near the handle and it’s top-heavy as a result. This makes it less manoeuvrable than the Eufy HomeVac S11 Infinity and, while the Eufy can twist in and out of corners with a flick of the wrist, I found myself having to reverse in and out of tight spaces with the Vax Blade 3 to get it into the correct position.
This isn’t helped by its motorised brush roller. This is engaged using one of the buttons on the top of the handle but, when it’s switched on, it pulls the floor head along the carpet. This is great when you’re moving forwards, but it requires extra effort to pull it back for another pass. As most vacuuming jobs require a bit of back and forth, this extra pull, coupled with the weight, can become tiring.
The cleaner is switched on by pressing the power button above the handle. This initiates suction and you have to press a second button to set the brush in the floorhead spinning. There’s also a third button – the boost button – for when you hit some particularly problematic dirt. Below the buttons there’s a useful bank of LEDs that indicate how much charge the battery has left.
The 0.6l collection cylinder connects to the unit on its side and, while there’s a door you can use to empty it without having to remove the entire drum, I found this tricky to do, as it requires holding the entire device horizontally. Releasing the collector from the body of the vacuum is simple, though, and makes it much easier to empty out fluff and dust. Everything within the collector unit is easily detachable and you can rinse it all in water, including the filter, if it gets too mucky.
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Vax Blade 3 review: How well does it clean?
Looking at the front of the Blade 3’s floorhead I was convinced it would fail our Cheerio test, which measures how many Cheerios a cleaner can collect in a single pass on maximum power. It appeared that the gap at the front would be far too small to let anything as large as a Cheerio pass underneath.
However, I was pleasantly surprised. Although the floor head pushed most of the Cheerios ahead of it, the weight of the unit forced a few down into the short pile of the test carpet. Once it had a grip of these, the weight of the unit and the motorised spinning brush trapped and pulverised them, and they were easily gathered up. It managed to grab 34% of my spilled cereal in this way. Unfortunately, it couldn’t perform the same trick on hard floor, where the test spillage was simply snow-ploughed out of the way.
The flour test didn’t faze the Blade 3 in the slightest, however, with 98% of the test spillage being collected on both short-pile carpet and hard floor.
This is an excellent performance for a cleaner of this price. It betters the Gtech HyLite, which is a bit cheaper at £130 but which failed to collect just under half of the flour on short-pile carpet.
It also compares well to slightly more expensive models, at least in terms of its cleaning. It performed very similarly to the Vax Blade 4, despite costing significantly less. The Blade 4 uses a more sophisticated motor and has stronger suction power but this didn’t lead to much more effective cleaning in testing. The Blade 3 also coped better with larger particles on carpet than the Eufy HomeVac S11 Infinity, which failed to transfer any Cheerios that made it into its tube into the collection chamber. The Blade 3 is a lot less manoeuvrable than the lighter Eufy model, though.
As you might expect, if you’re prepared to spend more, you can get a much better cleaner. For example, the Dyson V7 Absolute (the same as the Dyson Animal reviewed here) is better at collecting dust and larger particles but at £300 it’s almost twice the price of the Blade 3. The Dyson V11 Absolute is even more impressive but you’re doubling the cost again at around £600.
Vax Blade 3 review: How good is the battery life?
In our tests, the battery on the Vax Blade 3 lasted around 25 minutes on its standard (lowest) power setting with the motorised floorhead engaged. This should be enough to whip around a modest house, though the Eufy HomeVac lasts almost twice as long on one of its two supplied batteries. In the Blade’s high-power mode, we still managed to get 11mins 18secs from the battery, which is a decent performance; the Eufy only lasted eight minutes at full blast.
The Blade 3 comes with a single battery in the box but, if you find it’s not enough to make it around your home, you can buy a second direct from Vax. However, they cost £70, so are a significant expense. Because the battery is detachable and sits in its own charging cradle, it’s possible to charge one battery while using another.
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Vax Blade 3 review: Should I buy it?
The biggest barriers to a hearty recommendation for the Vax Blade 3 are its weight and manoeuvrability. I found it very top-heavy and cumbersome to move around the floor. However, I can forgive it for being chunky and clunky because of its price. Hovering between the £150 and £200 mark, this isn’t aiming for the top of the range and, if that’s all you’re prepared to spend, it’s a great value option.
There are certainly better vacuum cleaners available, however, and we’d recommend one of the Dyson models over this, if you can afford one. Also, if you were going to get a second battery straight away, look out for deals on the Eufy HomeVac S11 Infinity, which is lighter and easier to use, and comes with a second battery in the box.