vacuums

Dyson DC39 Animal Vacuum Cleaner Review

This Animal is graceful, but not quite domesticated yet

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The Dyson DC39 Animal (MSRP $499) is a canister vacuum that wears a big hat, but has little cattle. This model is equipped with Radial Root Cyclone technology, which Dyson claims will pick up microscopic particles. That's great, but if you value design and ease of use, this is a vacuum for you. It's power and cleaning ability lag behind other machines in the price range, but it looks stunning.

The Animal is also the first in the company's canister lineup to feature Dyson's iconic ball. Like other Dyson vacuums, this ball allows the DC39 to take corners with ease. Theoretically, this should translate to an excellent vacuum. What we got instead was a slickly designed machine that performs especially well with pet hair, but does a mediocre job with other types of detritus. Still, if you can find the DC39 on sale, it might be worth checking out.

Accessories

Dyson designed, reviewer approved

You can gather the amount of engineering that went into the DC39's accessories just by looking at them. The main cleaning tool is called the Triggerhead. It's an turbine-powered brush head that can be controlled from the handle. That means you can switch from carpet to bare floors without tapping any pedals or bending over.

The DC39 also comes with the standard dusting and crevice tool. They perform much like their counterparts on other vacuums, only they're more compact. The only other accessory of note, the Tangle-Free Turbine tool, is a standard on Dyson vacuums. The "tangle-free" distinction comes from two counter-spinning rotors, which (Dyson claims) won't clog with hair.

Handling

This Animal is on a tight leash

Thanks to the iconic ball, the DC39 does roll around with ease. Even though the canister weighs over 16 pounds, it follows you with just a little tug. The ball also lets you glide over normal and bare floors easily, but this low-profile design makes it difficult for the canister to traverse high-pile carpet.

When you're done with the floor, it's easy to clean the sofa or the curtains. Attachments click off with a single button and the Tangle-Free Turbine tool works on multiple surfaces. After cleaning the top of the couch, the DC39 can slip under it too. We found that anything with a 4-inch gap between the floor and the furniture will allow the Animal complete reach underneath.

The fact that the Dyson DC39 Animal is so easy to use might encourage you take it out of your closet more often. And that's half the battle, isn't it?

Cleaning Performance

Does not perform up to its price

The cleaning performance of the DC39 lags behind its price. When you spend more than $400 on a vacuum, you should expect an Animal of the highest pedigree. But for the same price, you could get two Kenmore 21814s.

Radial Root Cyclone technology or not, the DC39 had trouble picking up the dirt mixture we left out for it. On normal carpet, it picked up just 48% of the dirt. When we switched to high-pile, the percentage nose-dove down to 1%. These numbers aren't really passable, but the DC39 makes up for it with pet hair removal skills.

No matter what surface it was on, cat hair couldn't hide from the Animal. The Tangle-Free Turbine stayed true to its name—hair didn't clog the hose at any point during our tests. However, if you don't have a pet that sheds everywhere, this sole advantage of the Animal becomes moot.

The DC39 isn't bad, but if you prioritize cleaning power over handling, this might not be the vacuum for you.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.

Conclusion

Style over substance

The Dyson DC39 Animal handles well and looks sleek. For some people, that's important. If your vacuum's controls dissuade you from cleaning, that's almost as bad as having no vacuum at all. The maneuverability and the ease of attaching different tools make this Dyson a pleasure to use.

On the other hand, a vacuum should get dirt out of your house. In that regard, the Animal doesn't live up to its price tag. The street prices hover around $300-400 and for that you get below-average performance on normal and high-pile carpet. This Dyson does redeem itself with the ability to easily remove cat hair, but that's not enough to make up for other detriments.

If you want a canister vacuum that has a really tight design, this is one such model. However, we can only recommend the Dyson DC39 Animal to the general public if you find it at a steep discount, which doesn't happen too often. Otherwise, you'll be disappointed by its relatively weak cleaning performance.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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