Sunday, June 23
Why the Dyson Gen5Detect Is the Best Stick Vacuum

Why the Dyson Gen5Detect Is the Best Stick Vacuum

I’ve long maintained a bias against expensive appliances. Could a pricey vacuum really be $500 better than a basic one? It is, I admit, why I never succumbed to buying a Dyson product, no matter how wooed I was by the gentle British accent in the commercials. Welp, I was wrong. I have been using the Dyson Gen5 Detect for a month now, and I am routinely angry at myself for having wasted money on lesser models and the frustration they brought when I could have been living in this suction-induced bliss.

At a staggering $849 (even marked down from $949, it’ll make your mouth dry), it better be good. We’re talking about vacuuming, after all. And if you don’t have the coins, I’m not suggesting you wrangle them up for this. But if you are in the market for a stick vacuum, and this won’t bankrupt you, I give you my assurance of the Dyson’s value. After testing a laughable number of vacuums including uprights, sticks and robots over my lifetime, I’m not an easy customer, either.

I finally bought a stick vacuum last year—the top recommended model by Wirecutter and Consumer Reports, which happened to not be a Dyson. The battery life was terrible, I couldn’t run it more than 10 minutes without having to clear a blockage, and I was constantly emptying it. I wrote these problems off as the cost of a stick vacuum, but from the first time I turned the Dyson on, these problems all went away.

Its power is evident the moment you take it for a spin. It came pre-charged, so once I unboxed it, I was immediately excited for its maiden voyage. It was so powerful that I felt like I was walking an excited 150-pound Great Dane bounding away from me. It was powerful enough that I had to turn it to a lower setting on my low-profile rugs because I couldn’t move it without taking the rug and everything on it with me. Along the way, it had zero problems picking up any piece of detritus on the floor, from dirt and dust to the leftovers of some cooking prep that had dropped to the floor, and the real test—my dog’s stuffy floof. Clouds of dog-toy polyfill are a known vacuum killer, but the Dyson didn’t seem to care at all. So efficient was the suction that when I used it for my favorite purpose—sucking spiders into oblivion—the spider was dead by the time it made it to the vacuum chamber.

My 1400-square foot house, with a combination of carpet, rugs, tile and hardwood, was easily completed in one battery cycle. Dyson claims you can get 70 minutes of runtime from one cycle, but I don’t have enough house or patience to test that limit. The unit can cycle between three power levels, which will affect how powerful the suction is, and how long the unit runs on that battery cycle.

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Photo: Amanda Blum

One of my chief complaints about vacuums these days is how easily the rollers get caught up and need cleaning themselves. This has been true on my Shark upright, previous Hoovers, as well as every robot vacuum I’ve tested and a previous Tineco stick vacuum. The Dyson came with a weirdly comprehensive number of attachment heads, and regardless of which I chose, from the Motorbar to the “Fluffy Optic” (a name I dare you not to enjoy saying), they all cleared hair and every other challenge—so you never need to clean the cleaning thing. While the Dyson actually ships with a tool called the Hair Screw tool designed to remove hair from places it often collects like pet beds and car seats, I found all the attachments did a pretty spectacular job on this task. There’s also a combo tool, but honestly, I have found all the heads work universally well everywhere, with the Fluffy Optic have a slight advantage on hard surfaces like wood and tile. There are a raft of accessories to fit into any space or task you could conceive, from flexible hoses to mattress cleaners.

If you’re going to vacuum for 70 minutes, the challenge isn’t even going to be endurance—it’s going to be how often you have to empty your vacuum. Sticks just don’t usually have a lot of capacity, since capacity equals weight. The Gen5 did need emptying every 20 minutes or so, but that certainly outdid previous brands I’ve tried. In terms of functionally emptying the canister, I’d say Dyson was neither easier or harder than other brands—once you locate the right button, so long as you’re over the dustbin, you’ll be fine. It does require, like most brands, that you detach any wands or attachments on at the time. This is annoying, but universal.

In putting together the vacuum, I thought I might have not received one of the tools, a crevice and dusting tool, but support helped me realize it is actually part of the main body and exposes itself when you detach the long wand. Once transformed into a hand tool, you can slide the neck out for a hard crevice tool or back for a soft dusting tool. I need to take a moment to gush over the dusting tool—it had the perfect softness and profile to effectively glide over my keyboard, over all my book dust jackets, and my soft blinds. It was here I had the most regret, wondering how less dingy my blinds might be if I’d just bought a better vacuum, sooner. It went effortlessly and without risk across sculptures with protruding parts and delicate dishes, glass lamp shades, expensive speakers and air conditioning grates.

My only complaint about the attachments was that the included dock doesn’t really give you a place to stow them, but if it really bothers you, you can buy a dock that does.

One of the premises of this Dyson model is that it will also make the air a little cleaner, with its onboard Hepa filter, which will grab particles down to .01 micron. Now, if you spent any time looking at air purifiers in the last four years, you know that as a benchmark, that’s high. Most purifiers themselves only filter down to .03 micron. To make you feel good about the purchase, this model reads out how many large, medium, small and really freaking tiny particles it has cleaned up as you go.

Part of the way Dyson does this is by illuminating the detritus with a light as it vacuums—the “detect” in the Gen5 Detect. I did not, personally, notice anything different about the air in my home after using the Gen5, but I did notice that the dust and dirt usually left behind with other vacuums was gone, and that was all I was asking for.

You can connect the vacuum to the My Dyson app, which doesn’t report data back to the app or diagnose the machine, but does serve as a visual set up, maintenance and diagnosis guide, and connects you quickly to replacement parts and accessories.

It’s worth noting that the vacuum weighs almost eight pounds. That doesn’t sound like a lot until you are holding it for 20 to 30 minutes. It’s a trade-off for the power you get; this vacuum is a beast, and because of that, it also takes up a lot of space on the wall. It looks good doing so, but it’s not fading into the background. I also didn’t love that the power button was on the face of the machine, rather than a trigger I could use with mu finger. The machine was either on or off, as opposed to the trigger action on most sticks that allows you to decide exactly when to use it. The same face determines the power mode.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s no way to stow the additional tools/head with the included mount, so you have to stow them elsewhere.

I honestly wish I could be more critical—it feels hard to admit a spendier tool is actually … worth it? But I can honestly say that this is the most powerful vacuum I’ve ever used, and unless I can pay my taxes with it, you’ll be prying it out of my cold, dead hands.

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