Sep 10, 2023
We tested the most famous pink vacuum cleaner on the market and we think Henry's got some competition...
We tried out Hetty to see if this legendary cleaning appliance can still cut it in the fast moving world of vacuum cleaners Hetty is the friendly pink vacuum that needs no introduction. She’s an
We tried out Hetty to see if this legendary cleaning appliance can still cut it in the fast moving world of vacuum cleaners
Hetty is the friendly pink vacuum that needs no introduction. She’s an affordable, no-frills vacuum that might not have the strongest suction power, but is capable enough for most daily tasks. I for one enjoy the mess-free emptying that comes with a bagged machine. But most importantly, who can resist that cute pink face and her long eyelashes?
Made in the UK
Simple to use
There’s an ongoing cost of bags
Wand isn’t telescopic
Manual cord wind
One suction power
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Love it or hate it, Hetty’s pink exterior is instantly recognisable. It’s quite funny how adding a face and splash of colour to what’s essentially quite a utilitarian vacuum, has elevated her to national treasure status.
A bagged vacuum that’s not cordless, might feel like a dated concept, and might not be an immediate contender in your mind for the award of best vacuum. But I know so many people who are tired of short run times and small dust canisters. What’s more, bagging one of the best cordless vacuums at this price level is pretty much impossible. Hetty will set you back £160 and I personally think is likely to outlive any cordless vacuum you might be considering.
I review a lot of vacuums, and while lasers, wifi connectivity, and dust detection are all the rage in vacuum innovation, sometimes you just want a reliable floor cleaner that doesn’t show off. So I happily gave Hetty space in my home and put her to the test for a couple of weeks. Spoiler alert: I enjoyed seeing her little friendly face every day and my floors are nice and clean.
After completing a Home Economics degree, Helen went on to work for the Good Housekeeping Institute and has been reviewing home appliances ever since. She lives in a small village in Buckinghamshire in the UK, where she reviews all sorts of home and garden appliances using her wealth of experience.
Happily, when I first opened Hetty, I discovered mostly cardboard packaging and no hideous polystyrene that would inevitably end up in landfill. The second great discovery was that she comes out of the box virtually ready to go. I simply had to screw the hose onto Hetty's face and then push together the three metal tubes and attach the floorhead. She even comes with a dust bag already installed, plus there’s a spare in the box.
I barely needed to look at the manual, which is good, because it’s very basic so isn’t a huge help. The vacuum is switched on via an on/off switch on the top, next to the switch a red light illuminates when it’s plugged in and has power. And although there aren’t multiple suction levels to choose from, you can control the suction somewhat by twisting the air flow regulator on the top tube.
I was impressed at how effortlessly the power cable pulls out from within the vacuum. And although Hetty doesn’t have a fancy button to automatically wind the cable back in, manually winding it in with the handle on top is really no bother at all.
The floorhead has a foot pedal to switch between hard floor and carpet, which raises and lowers brushes on the underside. It’s a floorhead design many of us are familiar with. And a flip-up handle on top makes Hetty easy to lift and move around.
Hetty comes with a crevice tool, dusting tool and an upholstery tool with removable brushes, plus a small plastic connecting tube for these little tools. Only two of the tools at a time can be stored on board, which I found a tad frustrating as I like to have them all to hand as I go around the house. But I just made sure I always had the dusting brush and upholstery tool attached, as for me, these are the ones I use the most.
The wand comes in three sections which means it can be configured to suit what you’re doing. But I found the sections very tough to disconnect from each other. This is something that might get easier over time as they wear in, but at first they seem to get wedged and need some brute force to be pulled apart. Nevertheless, if you can get them apart, you might only need one or two of the sections for some tasks. Or you can simply vacuum with the end of the hose if you need to quickly reach into a corner that the floorhead can’t fit into.
On my first go with Hetty, I did a full vacuum of my whole house, which is something I rarely do these days thanks to the short runtime of my cordless vacuum. The long 10m cable meant I could vacuum a couple of rooms at a time before I needed to unplug and find a new socket. During this time, Hetty trundles along behind you while you clean and I barely noticed the weight of pulling her along. Whereas my previous cylinder vacuum felt quite weighty to pull along behind me and I often found myself yanking at the hose to get it to follow. Obviously though, the fuller the dust bag, the weightier the vacuum will be. But my general impression was one of ease and fluid manoeuvrability.
The wand felt lightweight to push, it hasn’t got a super comfy cushioned handle like you’ll get on some vacuums but that said, it’s certainly not uncomfortable. And I like that it has a long reach - I usually find it tricky to vacuum under my King size bed from the sides because it’s fairly close to the walls. But from the foot of the bed I was able to reach ⅔ of the way towards the head end with no trouble. I must point out though, that I was kneeling and crouching down, I wouldn’t get this reach standing up.
The floorhead is fine, my carpets were left looking clean, but I noticed some bits remained in a long pile rug, so I don't feel like it has the suction power to perform a really deep clean. Cleaning the stairs was quite easy despite Hetty being a bit too big to balance on a step. With one hand on the handle to steady her, I could take her up with me as I moved from step to step. For stairs I removed two of the wand sections, so I had the floorhead attached to the top section, and this worked quite well.
A spillage of flour on my tiled kitchen floor was easily removed in one sweep. And although the floorhead is capable of picking up larger debris, I noticed that when vacuuming oats from a wood floor, a few oats got pushed along in front of it, they were eventually all picked up after a few sweeps. I was impressed with how effectively debris alongside the skirting board was collected, regardless of whether I approached it with the front of the floorhead or vacuumed along it with the side.
Generally, on hard floors everything was collected with ease. But I must admit, it sounded like it was scraping along the floors and though they weren’t scratched, I think if I had very delicate or newly installed hard floors, this would make me uneasy.
I also used Hetty to clean my car and all of the tools made it super easy to reach into the nooks and crannies. The crevice tool was long enough to reach down the sides of seats and the upholstery tool did a great job at removing debris from the seats and carpets. All in all it was much faster than when I use my little handheld vacuum.
As someone who despises dusting, I often make use of a vacuum’s dusting tool to do this task, as it makes me feel better that the dust is vacuumed away rather than wiped away. I really like the long bristles on Hetty’s dusting brush, it reduces the risk of scratching surfaces. It’s a decent size too, so I was able to cover a lot of ground quite quickly.
The upholstery tool can be used with or without the brushes, when the brushes are attached, it works well for a gentle clean and spruce up. Remove them and it sucks harder at the fabric for when a stronger suction is needed. I left the brushes on for most of my upholstery as I felt it was a bit harsh without them.
Hetty is neither super loud nor super quiet, I recorded 75dB on my noise meter and I’d say most people will find it a pretty acceptable noise level for a vacuum cleaner.
The joy of bagged vacuums is that they don’t need emptying nearly as often as their bagless counterparts. Furthermore, when it is time to remove the bag, it’s a mess free process. And Hetty’s bags have a little flap that closes them so you don’t get dust everywhere on your way to the bin.
To access the bag there are two side clips that pull out to allow the top motor section to be lifted away. Then the big round filter lifts off to reveal the bag. The bag itself acts as a further filter, which means there are no little fiddly filters that need regular washing.
If any clogs happen, it’s easy to unscrew the hose and disassemble the wand into three sections, so you can unblock it. This means it’s super easy to maintain yourself, and the Henry website offers lots of replacement parts as well as additional tools, so you’ll be able to keep it going strong for years, even if something breaks.
Hetty is one of the cheapest models in the Henry range, but if you need a bit more oomph, the Henry Xtra will only set you back a further £20. And for that you’ll get a larger 9 litre capacity. It comes with all the same tools as Hetty, but you also get an additional hard floor tool and an Airobrush tool, which is designed to give carpets a deeper clean. So it’s a worthwhile upgrade if you need better floor cleaning tools.
Alternatively, if you love the idea of a Hetty but think you need a cordless vacuum, the brand has recently launched a cordless range. At £300 the Henry Quick is quite a step up in price, but as cordless models go, it’s actually pretty affordable. It still takes bags for mess-free dust disposal but as a battery operated stick vacuum, you get more freedom than a corded vacuum.
Look, Hetty isn’t the fanciest vacuum, nor does she have the strongest suction. But for everyday cleaning, Hetty is a great choice for several reasons. She’s effortlessly simple to use, comes with a decent selection of tools, and most importantly, the price tag won’t break the bank.
There’s not too much that can go wrong and the sturdy build quality really does make Hetty feel like she’s built to last. However, my advice is if you have a very busy household or have pets, it might be worth upgrading to one of more beefed up models in the range. The same goes for houses with lots of thick carpets that need a vacuum with a floorhead that offers a deep clean.
Helen used Hetty in her two bedroom house for a couple of weeks before writing this review. She vacuumed, wood floor, tiled floors, carpets and rugs as well as her sofas and even her car to make sure she thoroughly tried out all the accessories. She was allowed to keep Hetty after the review.
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After completing a Home Economics degree, Helen went on to work for the Good Housekeeping Institute and has been reviewing home appliances ever since. She lives in a small village in Buckinghamshire in the UK.
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