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Bissell PowerGlide Deluxe Pet Vacuum review: This Bissell is not a clean sweep for pet owners

My primary complaint about using this machine lies with the brushwell. Unlike the Dyson models, which enable you to access the rollerbrush easily, the Bissell's rollerbrush is hard to get to. This is especially frustrating when you go to remove tangled hair. For full access, you'll need a screwdriver so you can remove the bottom plate entirely, which you'll need to do for full brush cleaning or to detangle hair.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Performance
We put each of the vacuums through a series of rigorous tests to assess how they would do with debris types you may encounter in your home. Our tests included Fruity Cheerios, a sand and sawdust mixture (to mimic fine particulate debris), pet hair, and human hair, collected from a hair extension kit. We performed every test three times each on three different surface types: low-pile carpet, midpile carpet, and hardwood/laminate floors. We also conducted a torture test, scattering nearly 3 ounces of bobby pins, washers, and nuts on the low-pile carpet.

Cheerios, 2 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Hardwood
Midpile
Low-pile

Given that the Bissell faced stiff competition from vacuums that cost twice as much and then some, I was extremely impressed with its performance. So impressed, in fact, that I repeated several tests for extra data points, to be sure that the information was correct.

Sand/sawdust, 2.5 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Hardwood
Midpile
Low-pile

On low-pile carpet, the Bissell collected 98 percent of the Fruity Cheerios, 79 percent of the sand/sawdust mix, and 100 percent of the pet hair. This made it the second-best performer with both Cheerios and sand/sawdust mixture, outperforming more expensive models.

On midpile carpet, the Bissell picked up 100 percent of the Cheerios, 83 percent of the sand/sawdust mix, and 100 percent of the pet hair. To put it in perspective, it picked up the most Cheerios out of any vacuum we've tested so far and outperformed all but one of the more expensive vacuums with sand and sawdust.

Pet hair, 0.2 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Hardwood
Midpile
Low-pile

In some regards, at least, hard floors proved to be a challenge for nearly all of the vacuums we tested. The Bissell was not exempt from this, and yet it performed well in surprising ways. Bissell recommends disabling the rollerbrush for hard-floor vacuuming. This is not uncommon. On hard floors, the Bissell collected 83 percent of the Cheerios, 99 percent of the sand/sawdust mixture, and a negligible amount of pet hair.

I wasn't surprised about the pet hair as, with that debris type, the brush seems to be integral to most vacuums' success. I was, however, surprised by the fact that it picked up so many Cheerios. It collected more than the Eureka, Shark, and the DC40, all of which boast higher prices.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

True, the hard-surface tests are somewhat unrealistic where larger debris is concerned. If you spill cereal or other large items on your floor, the broom and dustpan will likely be far more convenient and certainly faster for you. Many vacuum manufacturers make bold claims about hard surfaces, however, and so the tests felt necessary, if for no other reason than to serve as a proving ground.

Human hair proved to be challenging for a couple of the vacuums, the Bissell among them. On both carpet types, two-thirds of the hair became wrapped around the rollerbrush and only about a third made it into the bin. Unraveling the hair was a pain, obviously, and I was disappointed that I had to do it, especially when other models performed better. The Bissell redeemed itself on the hard floor, however, picking up nearly all of the hair and leaving a negligible amount caught on the rollerbrush. The brush's design seems to be the culprit because it catches the hair but, with the added friction of the carpet, that hair simply rolls around the brush and gets tangled. This grabbing quality is great for pet hair, which the brush grabs before the vacuum suctions it into the bin. Most pet hair, however, isn't long enough to wrap around the rollerbrush. When it was deactivated on hard floors, the Bissell picked up far more long hair.

None of the vacuums "passed" our torture test. All left debris behind and many experienced jams in brushwells or pipes. This test, however, wasn't designed to determine how much large, heavy debris a vacuum could collect. Rather, it was a test of ruggedness. We wanted to determine whether a vacuum would break if you accidentally ran over a penny or bobby pins. The Bissell did not break and picked up a couple of bobby pins and the smallest nuts, but everything else was left behind or jammed in the brushwell. The results weren't as impressive as other vacuums' but, then again, the Bissell didn't break either, and so we'll call it a win.

Maintenance and service
The Bissell comes with a five-year limited warranty. To preserve the life of the vacuum, Bissell recommends cleaning the filter regularly and taking care to empty the bin often. Given the reasonable price, the five-year warranty just sweetens the pot. In addition, the product page contains a section for ordering replacement parts, such as a belt or filter, should you want to try to fix the vacuum yourself.

Conclusion
With a $179.99 sticker price, the Bissell costs half the price of vacuum cleaners that underperformed it in all of our tests. It's a solid-feeling vacuum with strong performance -- it's particularly good at collecting fine particulate, be it on carpet or hard surfaces. If you have pets and a lot of hard floors in your house, it might not be the best option (the $499.99 DC50 Animal or the $649.99 DC41 Animal Complete excelled there, if you're feeling spendy). If, however, you're looking for a reasonably priced vacuum that will collect fine particulate matter throughout your home and manage your carpet cleanliness with ease, the Bissell PowerGlide Deluxe Pet Vacuum is an excellent option that offers a lot of value for your dollar.

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