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There are two big vacuum cleaner requirements in my home – pet-friendly and good for allergies. These are the most essential features for me because my dog sheds 365 days a year, and the person I live with is allergic to practically everything.
Shark has always been able to accommodate those needs quite nicely, and they have to be one of my favourite vacuum cleaner brands. So, when the opportunity came for me to test out the NV681UKT, I jumped at it with open arms.
It’s a corded vacuum, which I like, as well as one that has been designed for pets and allergies to keep the home nice and clean as well as free from dust and allergens. I’m always looking for the best vacuum cleaner, and this is one that surprised me in multiple ways.
To give you an idea of what I thought, I did love this vacuum. It’s actually in my top three for when it comes to replacing my current Shark.
However, it did have a few flaws that kept it from coming in first, and you’ll see what I mean when you read through this review. So, grab a snack and a drink, kick your shoes off, and prepare yourself for another wild ride through Vacuum Town.
Corded upright vacuum
This powered lift away vacuum is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, and it contains so many handy features that vacuuming your home will never be the same again. With flexible lift away technology installed, there’s no area of your home that can’t be reached, so you can experience ultimate cleanliness without the fuss.
Corded upright vacuum
Much like the standard version, this pet vacuum has both flex and lift away technology for easy cleaning of your home, but it also comes paired with the excellent pet tool. Carpets and hard floors alike stand no chance against this powerhouse. Try it out; you won’t regret it.
- PROS AND CONS
- 1.1L dustbin
- 6.7kg weight
- HEPA filter
- 750w motor
- 5-year guarantee
Presenting the Shark NV681UK and NV681UKT
The Shark NV681UK and NV681UKT are both fantastic models if you want a vacuum cleaner that offers more flexibility as well as powerful suction.
The UKT is, of course, the one you want if you are searching for a pet vacuum, but they both work superbly across all floor types and offer smooth handling.
Of course, it might not be for everyone because it is quite heavy being a standard upright. The cord is also a little short, and that can put some people off.
If this isn’t quite what you were hoping for, we have some great stick Shark vacuum cleaners you can look at, as well as the sleek handhelds.
Also Read: Shark NV601UK Review
What’s the Difference Between the Two Shark Models?
What I love about Shark is that they don’t have so many differences between models that you’re left with a headache and unsure what on earth you are supposed to do.
There is one difference between the NV681UK and NV681UKT – the latter is for pets. This means that it comes with a pet tool so that you can clean their bedding as well as other tough spots without issue.
There is also usually a slight colour difference between the two models based on whether it is a UK or a UKT. It’s a really refreshing feature, and one that makes it so much easier when it comes to choosing between them .
Design and Features
The design of this vacuum cleaner is pretty much the same as most Shark upright vacuum cleaners. It has a slightly boxy build, but remains surprisingly compact. This is a feature I always like to see because storage in my house can be quite tricky at the best of times.
It packs away neatly as well, so there is still room to store other cleaning tools and products around it. You will find the controls that switch between floor types on the handle, as well as a handy suction valve to give you more control while you clean.
However, the power button is located on the body instead of the handle in this model. It was a little disappointing because I have used Shark vacuums with the power button on the handle and it was so much smoother to use.
There are LED headlights on the main floorhead, which is the same for every Shark, but a little feature that I love.
Until you have them, you don’t realise how useful they are for spotting fluff and debris that is hidden around the home and under furniture. The soleplate on the head can also be removed for easy access to the base.
Further Reading: Shark NV700UK vs NV700UKT Review
This means that you can take a good look at the bristle brush that works to collect hair from carpets and really scrub the dirt out. Unfortunately, you can’t remove it, one thing that I really hope Shark will change in their next vacuum because it’s not just me that finds it frustrating.
However, the bar is easy to clean, which is a big plus. The main body has a rubber grip that keeps the house tidy and in place while you are using it in its standard form, but there is a quick release option to make the process quicker when you decide to use lift away instead.
Additionally, the tool holder on the back is great for making sure that you always have them close when you need them. The Shark NV681UKT has lift away, which is so handy for getting around the home and cleaning it (something I look at in more detail later on).
However, this one has something else that I really love; flex tech. The flexible hose means that you can attach the main floorhead to the wand and use it to reach right under your furniture and other hard to reach locations.
It’s really handy, and my home felt cleaner than ever by the end of it.
It uses 750w of energy when running, which is well within the EU guidelines and still provides you with some serious power.
Even the floorhead has its own motor, with an excellent 80w to keep the floors clean. It’s amazing how well these lower wattage machines work, as well as the amount of energy that they save.
How Noisy is it?
The Shark NV681UKT comes in at 80db, which is the maximum allowance from the EU. This is way better than older machines that easily reached the mid-90s in terms of volume. It’s a quieter machine, which makes it more pleasant to run.
Cable Length and Storage
Unfortunately, the cable only comes in at 8m. I do find this disappointing because my current Shark has a 10m cable that makes things so much easier.
It’s not a deal breaker, but it can be annoying having to switch sockets more frequently. The cable tidy is a great addition though because it ensures everything is packed away nicely after use.
Weight and Handling
The Shark NV681UKT weighs in at 6.7kg, which is quite heavy. However, when you are using it in lift away mode, it comes in at half that weight which makes it way easier to use.
When it is in its full form, you don’t need to lift it at all, and pushing it around doesn’t take a great deal of effort.
The handle is very comfortable to hold, as well as padded, which make the vacuum a lot nicer to handle as your hand won’t get sore or tired over time.
The movement is smooth and flexible, which makes for relaxing cleaning, and actually made it quite an enjoyable experience. It was great at getting around furniture and reacted quickly to my movements.
Dust Canister and Filter
It has a 1.1L capacity, which some find to be on the small size, but I think it’s perfect. It can do my house twice over quite easily, and the emptying process is nice and simple.
On top of that, it’s really easy to clean as well, with hardly any need for your hands to go in there unless absolutely necessary. The bin release button on the main body is also easy to find and clearly labelled.
It has the same filtration as every Shark vacuum cleaner, meaning that there is a large sponge with a rubber seal underneath.
This is able to absorb an incredible amount of dust, and while Shark advises that you wash it every three months, I can assure you that monthly cleaning is much more effective when preventing loss of suction.
The HEPA filter is located by the motor, muffling the sound, and also creating a solid seal to prevent dust from getting in. This only needs to be washed once or twice a year, and both filters should be cleaned with water only.
How Well Does It Clean?
It actually does really well across a whole range of floor types, and with hard floors, I was really pleased. A lot of vacuum cleaners end up snowploughing large debris, which means that you need to run over the area a lot in order to pick it up.
Despite there being no dedicated hard floor head, it didn’t snowplough at all and picked pretty much everything up on the first pass. The Shark NV681UKT performed exceptionally on carpet as well, collecting even the finest debris in just a couple of passes.
Some feel that this is too much because the super high-wattage vacuum cleaners could do it all in one pass, but it’s not that accurate. Even those vacuums often needed more than one pass to grab the finer stuff.
For the stairs, you can use it in its full upright form because of the stretchy hose. If you have a short flight of stairs, then this is likely to be more than enough.
However, you also have the lift away option for better reach and flexibility while you are cleaning. I found both forms to be really effective, although I still prefer using it in lift away mode.
While the wand can be a little heavy at first, it is surprisingly easy to wield, and you can slip the attachments on the end for simple floor to ceiling cleaning. Reach up high to grab the cobwebs and other dust, as well as your blinds and curtains.
How Well Does It Cope with Pet Hair?
It did really well with pet hair, and I was impressed with the suction. On hard floors, it picked up all the clumps and stray hairs, even reaching right down into the grooves of my tiled kitchen to suck up the finer stuff.
I did miss the precision of the brush roll that comes with the duo clean Sharks, but this one still did a great job. On carpets, it was also effective, reaching down and pulling up hairs and dirt that had been stomped in after a long walk.
Of course, it took three or four passes to really clean it all up, but that’s normal, and it didn’t take a particularly long time to do.
The pet tool is, as expected, the thing I was looking forward to using most. It was amazing on my dog’s bed, really scrubbing it and leaving it looking fresh from the store.
The furniture benefitted too, as did the inside of my car, and the tougher spots on my carpet. The little motor worked hard, and I could not have asked for better results, and it was really easy to attach.
As I mentioned in the above section, the Shark NV681UKT comes with an excellent pet tool that is effective and superb at picking up hair. There is also an upholstery tool for your furniture and car interior. This attaches easily, and also works really well on the stairs.
The duster tool and crevice tool are connected together, with the former being on a slider so that you can switch the brush on and off.
It is quite long, but I find that handy for reaching right into those high corners. The length isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, but I don’t think it’s a negative.
As a fun side fact, the tools all have 35mm attachment points, which means that they can be interchanged with those from a number of other brands; including Miele. So, if you have old attachments you love, why not consider using them?
How Does It Compare?
Here are some other, similar, models of vacuum cleaner for you to consider, just in case you want to look at other options before you commit to a Shark NV681UK or NV681UKT.
Vax Air Reach
￼Vax is another excellent brand of vacuum cleaner, and one that is trusted by many.
This particular model has been designed for homes with pets, and it is superb at picking up even the smallest hairs.
It has an excellent range of tools, as well as easy handling and a pretty reasonable price tag. All of these features make it an ideal addition to any house.
Another model from Shark, this vacuum cleaner is lightweight and easy to handle, as well as exceptionally powerful suction thanks to the multi-cyclonic technology.
It works seamlessly across both hard and carpeted floors, and can pick up every last strand of pet hair with minimal effort. The price is a little higher than the Shark model here, but it’s worth it.
We hope that this Shark NV681UK and NV681UKT guide has helped you to learn more about what each vacuum cleaner has to offer, as well as which is going to work best for your home.
Both of them have the same features, with the one difference being that the UKT comes with a pet tool. I often feel it is worth picking up the pet vacuum as it’s quite a handy feature.
Some have felt that the bin capacity is small, but 1.1L is a good amount for a sweep around the home (maybe even two). I thought it was pretty adequate personally.
I was a little sad that there was no hard floor attachment or duo-clean, but it still did an excellent job reaching around the home and getting rid of pet hair.
The flex tech that is included was amazing for reaching under low furniture, and I swear my house has never been cleaner. It would have received a perfect score if it hadn’t been for the short cable, which is why it gets a 4.5/5 from me. More 10m cables, please!
What did you think of our Shark NV681UK and NV681UKT reviews? Do you agree with our thoughts on the vacuum, or are there others that you think are better suited to the task? We love hearing from you, so make sure you leave us a message in the comments below.
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.