Sweeper challenge: Dyson vs. Swiffer

The new Dyson Hard promises to make cleanups a snap. It vacuums and wet wipes at the same time. But it is pricey, $330. Consumer Reports pitted the Dyson against the $40 Swiffer Sweeper, which is also designed for wet and dry cleaning.

To see which worked best, testers used the cleaners on some tough messes, including grape jelly, gravy, ketchup, and mud, both wet and dry.

The Swiffer's wet pads, which you buy separately, were better at picking up sticky kitchen spills than the Dyson's, which left some residue behind. But the Dyson was better at vacuuming up heavy dust. The Dyson also comes with a detachable hand vac, which proved great at cleaning up Cheerios. But the Swiffer didn't have any problems with Cheerios either. In the end, Consumer Reports says the $40 Swiffer is a better deal.

If what you really want is a small lightweight vacuum, Consumer Reports found one that's better at vacuuming than either the Swiffer Sweeper or the Dyson Hard. It's the Hoover Platinum LiNX BH50010 for $150. It can't help you with wet spills, but it works well on carpets and did an excellent job cleaning up pet hair.

Dyson response

Dyson defends is product as superior to the Swiffer. I contacted the company for a response to Consumer Reports tests and a spokeswoman responded by email. Associate Communications Manager Olya Leptoukh told me the Swiffer sweeper vac has dramatically less suction and is not as versatile as the Dyson Hard, which can also be used to clean cob webs, couches, countertops and car interiors. But it turns out Dyson is already limiting the retail distribution of the Dyson Hard, in favor of a newer model.

"DC59 has replaced much of the Dyson Hard distribution so we'd want to focus on technology consumers can actually get in stores", explained Leptoukh by email. "While it doesn't have the wet wipe function of Hard, DC59 is designed for all-around cleaning - hard floors, carpets, you name it - and it sucks up as much dust as conventional vacuum cleaner, without the hassle of a cord. For those with smaller homes or apartments, it could really serve as your main vacuum cleaner - something no other cordless manufacturers can claim."

But why would a company spend two years developing a product, then limit distribution only seven months after it hits the market? Leptoukh says in reality, the Hard is not all that new.

"We launched it last July. The DC59 we launched a few weeks ago. Our product launch cycle at Dyson is always fairly quick - we're always thinking ahead to the next big thing," Leptoukh replied.

Dyson says the Hard will remain in stores and on retailer websites for the next little while (timing yet to be determined) but the company is slowly transitioning to the DC59, which it feels has a more universal and broader reach. The new product also has a bigger price tag of around $50.