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Henry Vacuum Review: Why it’s Better than Ever

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Our Review of the Henry Vacuum

In the spring of 2023, the rotating brush bar in my Vax cordless stick vacuum started working only intermittently, which left me having to perform contortionist tricks while trying to figure out the angle at which I would have to use it in order to make it work properly. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn’t work at all, and it took me until late autumn to decide to start looking for a new vacuum cleaner altogether.

So all of a sudden I was presented with the hundreds of different vacuums on the market, with all kinds of fancy features that I did not understand. All I wanted was something simple to use that was built tough and would last us (as a family of 4 who need to vacuum every day) for years.

And then Henry popped into my head. This vacuum is an icon in the British psyche. It has a reputation as a no-nonsense machine that is used by professionals and homeowners alike. So I decided to take the plunge and purchase one as a replacement for our broken Vax to see whether it lives up to the hype and is functional as a daily vacuum cleaner.

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Best All-Rounder
Henry HVR160
£159.99
Pros:
  • Versatile, sturdy set of attachments.
  • Large capacity dust bags that are cheap to replace.
  • Long 10m cable means you can vacuum an entire floor without changing socket.
Cons:
  • You will have to carry it in one hand as your vacuum your stairs and it's not light.
  • The standard floor tool it comes with is not great with pet hair.
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Is Henry the right machine for you?

Before we jump into the review, I want to make it clear that Henry is not a fancy vacuum cleaner. There are no advancements in cyclonic technology that you would expect from the latest Sebo or Dyson. Furthermore, this machine is quite heavy, and you are going to be dragging it around behind you as you go, so if you have strength or mobility issues, this isn’t the vacuum for you.

However, if you are looking for an incredibly strong, well-built vacuum that sets out to achieve one purpose (suck dirt into a bag) and does it very well, read on.

What’s the Difference between Henry and Hetty?

The Henry and Hetty vacuum cleaners side by side
There is no difference between Henry and Hetty.

The only difference between the Henry vacuum and the Hetty vacuum is the colour and the eyelashes (on the Hetty). Both are essentially the same machine, just with a different look. So essentially, everything you read below also applies to Hetty.

Unboxing and Assembling

All of the contents that come in the box with the Henry Vacuum cleaner.
Henry comes in quite a compact box, when you consider just how much Numatic have managed to fit in there. The contents include the crush-proof flexible hose, the three stainless steel extension tubes, and the floor head, plus the various attachments. All that was required of me was to connect the hose to the nose of the Henry, attach the other end to the three connected extension tubes, and then attach the floor head to the other end of the tubes. I was a little surprised by the lack of any button locks between the tubes and hose, which I think would make it slightly easier to connect and disconnect everything.

Overall, I was impressed with how easy it was to assemble and how quickly I was able to connect the bits together. The internal dust bag was already connected, so I was ready to start vacuuming in no time.

To illustrate just how easy it was to assemble the Henry, I didn’t even look at the instruction manual! It was all very obvious and user-friendly. There was even a spare dust bag in the box (pictured).

The last thing to do was to plug in to the wall and flick the green switch on, which is located at the back of the machine.

The Henry vacuum cleaner fully assembled.
Full assembly takes just a few minutes.

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Cable Length

Henry comes with a fully retractable 10-metre long cable, which is enough range to allow us to vacuum an entire floor in our 3-bedroom Victorian terraced house without having to relocate to a new plug. To illustrate this, the three images below show that I was actually able to reach from the plug in the downstairs hallway, up the stairs, and into my study. This is a really nice, practical benefit, as a shorter cable would mean you would have to keep moving the plug and dragging the cable around.

Illustrating the 10 metre long cable with the Henry vacuum cleaner.
Impressive cable length.

To wind the lead back in, there is a manual handle at the top, which is completely effortless.

Henry vacuum rewind cable
Turn the handle and the cable will rewind back into the housing.

Dust Capacity

Henry is an old-school vacuum cleaner that uses a bag to store all of the horrible dust and debris from your floors instead of a bagless compartment that you have to empty. The bag has a six-litre capacity, which is indeed very large. So large in fact, that it is actually the same size as my sofa cushions!

A comparison between the bag in a Henry vacuum cleaner and a sofa cushion.
Huge dust capacity.

This kind of capacity means that you won’t have to change the bag for at least a month with regular use. Once the bag is full, all you have to do is slide two clips that sit on the side of the machine to lift off the top, then lift out the filter to access the bag (which you then just slide off the end of the hose).

The inside of the henry vacuum cleaner, including motor, filter and bag.

Then, simply pop the full bag into your outside bin and slide a new one on. There is a self-seal tab that will stop any of the horrible dust and dirt escaping.

Henry vacuum cleaner full dust bag
The tab/ flap prevents the dust contents from spilling out.

Hepaflow

The dust bags in the Henry used to be made from a thinner paper material, but now they are made from a material called Hepa-Flow, which is meant to lead to less dust and dirt escaping and better airflow through the vacuum cleaner (which means improved suction power). My impression of the bag is that it feels thick and tough.

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Attachments and What They Do

The Henry comes with a large number of attachments that can either be pushed on to the end of the extension tubes or, more commonly, on to the end of the flexible black hose. The only exception to this is the floor tool, which is not really an attachment, but I will include it here anyway, which you will need the extension tubes attached to use.

Combination Floor Tool

The combi floor tool is the rectangular head that you would associate with a traditional vacuum cleaner, and it is what you will be using for the majority of your vacuuming. As already mentioned, it slides onto the ends of the three connected extension tubes and it has a foot pedal that raises and lowers a brush bar. You are going to want to raise it for hard floors and lower it for carpets (the brush bar agitates hair and dirt).

The brush bar does a really good job when it is lowered on carpets. It definitely does require a bit of strength to stroke back and forth, but the results are very good. The 620 watts of power that the motor produces are really noticeable on dirty carpets.

Combi Floor Tool Before and After (1 stroke up and down)

Before and after of the Henry vacuum combination floor tool vacuuming up dirt on a carpet
Really good vacuuming results on carpets.

For this test, I used an outrageous amount of dust and debris, and the combination floor tool almost sucked up all of it in just two strokes (one up and one down). I wanted to see how well it would do right up against the skirting board, and the results were pretty good. There was definitely some debris left at the very edge, but I was able to remove it fully with a third stroke back upwards.

Performance results on carpet of the Henry vacuum's combination floor tool

One thing that particularly impressed me was that the floor tool had great results along its entire width, rather than being more concentrated where you would assume the most suction would be (in the middle near the pipe). Upon flipping the tool upside down and inspecting it further, I can see why. Numatic have designed it with a clever ridge that ensures the suction power is dispersed along that full width.

The underside of the Henry vacuum's combination floor tool
A clever design for efficient pickup.

Now one of the areas of our home that is most neglected when it comes to vacuuming is under the beds, and this is partly due to the fact that our previous Vax cordless stick vacuum was really unreliable, meaning the suction power was pretty poor. So I really wanted to test out Henry’s ability to vacuum the entire area underneath our master bed.

In terms of the results, I found that with the combination tool attached, I was able to reach approximately 1/3 of the way under the bed before the limitation of design stopped me from reaching any further. However, to extend the cleaning range, I simply swapped out the combination tool for the upholstery brush (more on that later), which allowed me to spotlessly vacuum every inch of carpet under our double bed.

henry vacuum cleaning under the bed
Pretty good reach with the extension wand.

Upholstery Brush

This is the brush that you will want to attach when you want to tackle chairs and sofa cushions, car seats, and stairs. Essentially, it is a smaller version of the combi floor tool that is perfect for small, flat surfaces. I had some great results when I tested it out on our carpeted stairs.

Upholstery Brush Before and After

Results of using the Henry vacuum's upholstery brush attachment.
The upholstery brush is really handy for stair treads.

I was also able to get great results with this tool on the floor in the boot of our car (more details below) and the flat surface underneath the sofa cushions.

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Soft Dusting Brush

The soft dusting brush attachment of the Henry vacuum.

The soft dusting brush is small and circular, with soft bristles (like horse hair) around the circumference that are meant to gently agitate dust and dirt. This attachment is ideal for delicate items such as picture frames, ceiling lights or lamps, ceiling fans, and the top of your curtains. I found this brush particularly useful to clean my ceiling fans, as they are quite flimsy and look like they could be scratched quite easily if I were to use one of the other attachments.

The Henry vacuum's soft dusting brush being used on a lamp.

The Henry vacuum's soft dusting brush being used on a picture frame

The circular shape of this attachment really came into play when I tackled the curtains, which would have been hard to vacuum properly using the alternative upholstery brush.

The Henry vacuum upholstery brush being used to vacuum curtains

Soft Dusting Brush Before and After

The cleaning results of the Henry vacuum's soft dusting brush on a ceiling fan.

Crevice Tool

The crevice tool is long and cylindrical, and its purpose is to access those really tight spots in your home (or car) that are smaller than the width of the hose. This tool funnels all of that suction power through a very narrow space, meaning that you get incredible results on the smallest of surface areas. I found the crevice tool to be perfect for the edge of the carpet where it meets the skirting board, as well as down the side of our sofas and in all sorts of nooks in the car (particularly between the seat and the door).

The Henry vacuum crevice tool being used on a skirting board
The crevice tool reaches the tight spots that the floor head can’t.

Crevice Tool Before and After

Vacuuming results of the Henry vacuum crevice tool before and after.

I was very impressed with this tool overall. It is very satisfying to be able to reach those really tight spots that usually get ignored by regular everyday vacuuming.

Manoeuvrability

I found that as I moved around and between rooms in my house with the Henry, I tended to drag the machine behind me using the strong crush-proof hose. I was confident that this would be fine and not damage the hose, as it feels incredibly thick and strong. However, this did mean that Henry bumped into skirting boards and doorways occassionally, but I was pleased to spot a rubber buffer that runs around the circumference of the machine. I am confident that this clever design feature will soften the navigational blows around the home and avoid any damage.

The buffer around the circumference of the Henry vacuum.
A rubber buffer ring will prevents damage.

All in all, I found it very easy to manoeuvre the Henry around. The undercarriage consists of two soft rubber rear wheels and two front casters, which also have a rubber coating. This gives me confidence that the wheels are unlikely to damage any hard flooring.

Henry vacuum cleaner wheels and undercarriage.
More rubber on the undercarriage to protect your hard floors from scratches.

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Car Cleaning with Henry

One of the original reasons for purchasing our Vax was the fact that it was cordless, which I thought would make it ideal for cleaning our car. However, without the rotating brush bar (when it worked), the suction power just wasn’t sufficient to lift up the food crumbs, mud, and other debris from the thick carpets and mats. So for this reason, I was really hoping that Henry would perform well with car cleaning, and I was not disappointed.

Firstly, the long 10-metre cable meant that I could easily reach our car parked outside on the road, although our drive is quite small. However, connecting an extension cable would not have been much of a bother if it were needed.

Henry vacuum being used to clean a car.

The crevice tool was perhaps the most satisfying attachment to use in the car, as it allowed me to reach the really tight gap between the car seats and the side of the car, which was absolutely filthy thanks to 5+ years of not being able to access it with the attachments that came with our old Vax. The suction power shooting through that very narrow gap meant that it was highly effective in these types of nooks.

Henry vacuum attachments being used on car seats.
All three attachments come in useful when cleaning cars.

The soft dusting brush was the attachment that I used for the majority of the car cleaning, however, due to its sheer versatility. I found that it was really useful for cleaning everything on the car dashboard, including vents and around the digital controls on the steering wheel. It was also perfect for the seats themselves.

Henry vacuum's soft dusting brush being used to clean the air vents in a car.

And lastly, I used the upholstery brush to vacuum the flat surfaces in the car, which included the floor in the boot, the sides and floors of the footwells, car mats, and the head rests. The thick, tough bristles were really good at agitating some of the mud that was stuck to the floor, in particular.

Henry vacuum's upholstery brush being used to clean a car boot.

Storage

This review focuses on the Henry 160, which is slightly smaller than the older version of Henry, but it is also the model that is the most popular. I was surprised by how small this machine is overall, with the base easily fitting under our stairs. I also found that it fit snugly in our small bedroom wardrobe, so I do not think that storage is an issue at all with this machine. The only thing worth noting is that you are going to want to disconnect the extension tubes from it when you put it away, unless you have a tall and narrow area in your home where it can be stored upright, connected together.

The henry vacuum being stored under some stairs.
Some dissassembly required for easy storage.

Secondly, there is a really handy storage caddy at the back of the Henry, which allows you to store two of the attachments. This is great because it means that you don’t have to either carry them on your person as you go or keep going back to fetch them. The key to efficient cleaning with this machine is to keep swapping out the attachments as you go, so this is a really good storage feature.

Henry vacuum's storage caddy.
Store two attachments on-the-go on Henry himself.

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Stair Cleaning with Henry

A Henry vacuum sitting at the bottom of some stairs.

To be completely honest, Henry is not really designed for easy stair cleaning. Firstly, he is too wide to fit on a regular-size stair tread, so I was forced to carry him in one hand as I went up the stairs, using the upholstery brush attached to just the hose as I went. Now, I did not find this particularly challenging but the machine itself is fairly heavy (7.5 kg), so if you have any strength or mobility issues, you should perhaps consider a different, more lightweight vacuum if you are going to be tackling stair vacuuming.

A Henry vacuum balancing on a stair tread.
Henry is too big to sit on a regular stair tread.

How Well Does it Tackle Pet Hair?

For all of the pet owners out there, and in particular, dog owners, you will be disappointed to learn that Henry is not very effective at removing pet hair. This is really down to the fact that Henry does not come with a rotating brush bar. However, do not fret because Numatic have corrected this mistake through the design of the Henry Pet and Henry Xtra, which both have a special Airo Brush tool for removing pet hair. The Henry Pet also includes odour control.

Our Verdict

Over the years, Henry has built a reputation as an extremely tough, reliable, and well-built vacuum cleaner that is the ideal choice for tradesmen, professional cleaners, and regular homeowners. I have to say that I think it continues to deserve these accolades because it is just so user-friendly and feels like it will last for decades.

It comes with a good set of sturdy attachments that are uncomplicated but still very well designed, with practicality at their heart. The lack of complicated moving parts means that there is less to go wrong, and this is exactly what I was looking for.

However, it is worth highlighting that this is a heavy machine and that it does require a certain amount of strength to get good results (particularly on your thick carpets), so if you are looking for something effortless to use, this is perhaps not the vacuum cleaner best suited to you. Similarly, if you own dogs, you should go for the Henry Xtra or Henry Pet instead.

My overwhelming conclusion though is that this is a fantastic, no-nonsense vacuum cleaner with a cheeky grin that is perfect for homeowners like myself, who need an all-round machine that will effectively tackle everyday dust, dirt, and debris, which also performs as an excellent car cleaner.

Our old Vax has gone, and the Henry has taken it’s home under the stairs. We have replaced a modern piece of vacuuming technology with an old workhorse, and we couldn’t be happier with our decision.

Where to Buy Henry

Top-pick for April 2024
Henry Vacuum
4.8
£159.99

Buy direct from the manufacturer and get an extra years warranty (three instead of two).

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James Cook
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2 thoughts on “Henry Vacuum Review: Why it’s Better than Ever”

  1. Can you explian the Autosave function? i purchashed my HVR 160-11 on the basis that it had this function, but there is no ‘hi’ switch I can see

    Reply

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