Customer Reviews: Miele S5381 Leo Canister Vacuum Cleaner w/ S236 Power Nozzle
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on August 28, 2010
I've had this vacuum for a couple of months now and I'm in love. Everyone I know tried to steer me to a Dyson and I'm so glad I didn't listen.

With the press of a button I can adjust the suction and go from area rugs to throw rugs to my drapes. It tackles my Weimaraner's short hairs imbedded in the fabric of the couch and rugs with ease. But I can also vacuum my plant leaves without shredding them. As a previous upright owner, the canister took a little getting used to but it's 3 swivel wheels spin 360 degrees making it very manueverable. It's surrounded by a rubber bumper that protects my walls and furniture. I can clean under my sofa and loveseat which was impossible to do with my previous uprights. It's also very light and portable which makes cleaning my stairs so easy that I actually clean them weekly. All parts of the hose attachment are easily detachable making it a breeze to change from the power head to the floor attachment or suck up the cobwebs in the corners. The onboard attachments are easy to access and fit nicely on the suction handle for tabletops and lampshades. Changing the bag is a cinch and all the dirt is kept in it's little bag with a seal. A must for allergy sufferers. I've also noticed a dramatic decrease in dust collecting on my table surfaces since the wool/silk area rug is the cleanest it's been in years.

I was very hesitant to pay that much and I'm even a little embarassed when people ask me how much I spent on a vacuum, but they just don't make machines that last more than 3 years any more. I'm hoping I save in the long run if this lasts me at least 10 years.
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on December 7, 2009
***My original review:***

I am smitten.

We had a Panasonic last us a dozen years, once upon a time, and in the decade since, we've gone through at least half a dozen vacuum cleaners. I've "splurged" on high-end Bissell machines, and I've taken my chances on a $30 clearance-rack machines (the WORST was that Dirt Devil upright...unbelievably loud, smelly, eegads...fortunately it burned out after a mere three months). At best, they've lasted a couple of years, limping along with broken plastic parts for most of that time.

This time around, I thought I'd take the plunge and see if maybe, just maybe, spending REAL money would save in the long run. After a stainless-steel, American-made Metropolitan vacuum arrived with a broken and terribly frail powerhead, I went off to the vacuum superstore and looked at everything else. I made my choice with confidence after the salesman encouraged me to jump up and down on the Miele Leo, stomp and twist the hose, bend the cover over the tool storage compartment, and yank on the retractible cord.

With 11 kids in the house, a dog with long, thick fur, four cats, and various other critters, we are not a lightweight-vacuum household. And even Miele's nozzles are by far the sturdiest I've ever seen.

Moreover, the Leo (I actually got a Gemini, the equivalent model available through Diamond dealers) is exceedingly quiet, it's casters are extremely agile, and every part snaps on soundly and firmly. The bags are thick, quilted things complete with self-closing flaps for clean disposal. The exhaust smells like fresh air. It's not heavy, but it is solid. It just feels like a luxury machine. Even the kids and the husband are smitten with it.

The downside, of course, is price. That S236 Power Nozzle alone costs more than most of the other machines we've owned. A simple upholstery nozzle is an eye-popping $30. I've had to install shelves and hooks in the basement, to keep these treasures stowed in a worthy manner.

But overall, I'm feeling spoiled rotten, with little doubt that this machine will last well past the 10 years I figure it will need to become cost-effective (based on the cumulative price of all those throw-away machine's we've owned). Miele's own philosophy (one I heartily applaud) is that everything they make should last for 20 years. If only more companies would operate on the same principal!

***Update, three years later***

My Miele is still going strong. We're down to 9 kids in the house, same hairy dog, one of the four cats has been replaced by another, and a rabbit and two chinchillas (if you own a chin, you know exactly what I'm getting at) have joined the household.

The S236 Power Nozzle has an issue with the foot release (the thingy that makes it stand up or flop). This is annoying, since I know it's going to cost a lot to fix/replace. But for now, it can be made to work.

I did pony up a couple hundred for an "annual maintenance service" at the local vac store. I can't recommend this service, based on the rip-off price, and won't be doing it again. If I get motivated, I'll open it up and brush out all the lint myself and hope for the best.

Exhaust no longer smells like fresh air. It smells like somewhat sour air. Considering what I'm vacuuming up around here, it's no surprise. I'm not using any of the fancy-pants filters in the bag compartment; just the flat white pad that comes with the bags. The HEPA filter was replaced as part of that maintenance service and that's all.

The machine still performs really well, and it's still quiet and pleasant to use. As for bags, I've found that in our high-use household, we're using only four boxes per year, and most of y'all will use far fewer.

I'm still very happy with this machine, and it looks like it'll last a lot more years.
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on June 10, 2011
I would have Rated this Five Stars but I do not like the Handle and the Hard Wood Floor Attachment. Let me explain because Miele Top End VACS are the best...

First of all this is my second Miele canister Vac. The first one I purchased in 1997 and still works. I only replaced it because I lost the power hose with the wiring for the power head that I never used. It was lost in my last move but now I needed one. Could have just bought a replacement but wanted to buy a New Vacuum.

Apples to Apples the two have the same power but the new Leo is smaller in body and the wiring for the power head is intergrated into the hose.. So there are no wires or extra power hose to purchase as is what I did for the first one. Price seems to be the same but I may have paid slightly more for my first one because I paid for the Power Head separately.

OK the dislikes first: I do not like the handle because it feels awkward to me. Not a major issue but may fatique your Arm and the hose from canister to handle does not swivel. Probably because it is plugged in due to the intergrated wires needed for the Power Head.

Second dislike: The Hard Wood floor attachment. Same problem with this one as the first but The first one was adjustable to use between carpet and hard wood flooring. The New one has no adjustment. It is what it is and probably should not be used on any rug or carpeting with a pile. Major issue is only because of having Dogs. Dog Hair gets stuck on the brush part and just gets pushed along until you stop while it is on and pluck the hair out into the suction hole. If you shut the Vac off then the hair will just fall back on the floor and you will just have to start all over again..

OK the Positives::: Everything else. I would say that Miele makes the best Vacuums because of the Powerful motor and because it is very very very quiet!!!! It is amazing how powerful the suction is. However very controlled. The Suction is controlled by several easy to use functions. Variable power at the push of a button makes you control the suction. You can actually vacuum drapes with out sucking the fabric into the hose or a small area rug with out lifting it off the floor.

The Power Head: Saved me over a thousand dollars just by restoring one of my carpets. I was just going to rip the Rug out and replace it because the Dogs got it all matted up with Hair and my Cat created little puff balls of material because he scratches his claws once in a while. You can imagine??? So I put the Power Head on the Vac and went for it. In ten minutes I was done and the Carpet restored. That is all I had to do.. Now I need to keep the Cat out of the room. Not worried about the Dog hair.

OK???? So now I just, justfied spending all of this money for my second Miele Vacuum??? I would do it again. Because the Miele has the filtering system. Part due to the Bags and also the HEPA or regular filter. Your dust will be cut down and not get recirculated like other vacuumm do... So that means less frequent dusting. I am all for that!!! Must mention this. " There is no Pet Hair Problem using the power head on carpet. It gets sucked right into the bag..

Before I purchased my first Miele Vacuum in 1997 I went through three vacumms in one year. Note I am no cleaning Lady!!! The 1997 Miele still works great. Besides the minor problems I mentioned? I do not think you can go wrong with a Miele. You may want to try one out in a store first and then shop around on line for a better price.

Good Luck!!! Hope I was helpful??
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on January 18, 2010
I was so hesitant to spend this much money on a vacuum. This is worth every penny. This is the vacuum you need if you have asthma, allergies or pets. I could not find any other vacuum that had a sealed hepa filter of this quality. Other vacuums have hepa filters but dust, etc can escape around them and back into your air. The bags are high quality with 9 layers and instantly seal when you have to change the bags to provent anything from escaping. The Vacuum is very light and easy to use. The handle is very comfortable and adjustable so your back does not ache. I like that I control all the settings with my foot and I do not have to bend over and the canister is insulated so it reduces the noise while vacuuming. The Miele is a well engineered high quality vacuum. I highly recommend this vacuum.
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on January 29, 2011
So my mother bought a Miele vacuum years ago to replace her aging Kirby which would belch a ton of dust from the bag each time you turned it on - plus it was as loud as a jet engine. Her vacuum is about 15 years old and still going strong. The construction of Miele vacuums make them worth so much more than the the relatively high price (which, admittedly, can be hard to swallow). The coolest thing about the Miele is how quiet it is - you can listen to music or someone can still watch TV while vacuuming. The adjustable power settings make it easy to vacuum things like bathroom mats without sucking them up the pipe! The dust bags are fairly expensive, but the filtration system is second to none - and my first bag lasted 3 months! Everything snaps together well, and the entire assembly feels very solid and robust.

I'm more accustomed to an upright, and I sometimes get a bit tangled up, but the unit is very light and I often find it easy to simply carry in one hand while I vacuum. The suction of this unit is great, and what's cool is with the very quiet operation you can actually hear the dirt getting sucked up the tube.

My biggest complaint about this model is the way the power switch operates. It's kind of hard to press because it's on the edge of the vacuum - sometimes you have to hit it 3 times before the vac turns on or off - sort of because when you press it the vacuum scoots sideways. The retractable cord works great, but I really wish it was longer.

I purchased the optional powered motorized carpet head (the most powerful model), and I would certainly recommend that over the standard model. It's very maneuverable but somewhat light, so compared to my old upright it sort of feels like it isn't gripping the carpet as well - but the carpet is coming out clean, so it must be doing the job. The hard floor tool is excellent, and also very maneuverable. Vacuuming stairs is so easy because you can attach the floor tool directly to the handle and hold the vacuum in one hand.

In short, I'm very happy with this purchase - you will be too.
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on August 4, 2011
I have spent more than my share on over-priced, frivolous house gadgets. This is definitely not one of them. Without a doubt, the best vacuum I have ever owned or tried, period. Extremely powerful suction and excellent design features. I debated a long while over the cost but kept remembering all the vacuums that had either crapped out or just plain disappointed me with their poor performance. Plus, I knew Amazon would let me return it if I was not pleased.

It is important to note that the Miele S236 power head is a significant reason this particular combination works so well. It has completely renewed the crushed/matted pile areas on my fairly new carpet that my current upright (Oreck) wouldn't touch. It has an easy height adjustment that allows you to really dig deep if required. Very quiet too. Almost unbelievable how quiet this machine is for the power it holds. The air whooshing through the hose makes more noise than the machine does. The swiveling smooth floor brush is amazing just by itself. In fact, I just bought the larger one because I liked the small one so much. The telescoping wand is so effortless to use. I specifically chose this model because I did not want all the controls on the hose handle. The power head does have its switch on the handle and that is enough for me. A tap of my toe easily adjusts the vacuum level and the main power switch on the canister. I figure it may be less to give trouble down the road.

I always hated canister type vacs but I have to admit, I now think a canister simply works better because the vacuum and the power head are designed seperately and have more room to operate in. I feel rather silly being excited about a stupid vacuum but this thing does something few things do anymore... It friggin works a lot better than I ever expected! Highly recommended.
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on April 25, 2012
I just returned my Capricorn before the 30 days was up and exchanged it for a Leo, plus EXTRA wand, hose and standard handle. Here's why:

I want to be able to have more flexibility and ease of use w/ the vacuum as well as to be able to reach higher, etc. Plus I have tendonitis and tennis elbow in the arm I use the most. I liked that if I spent a little extra to get a second set of parts (non-electric wand and hose that are thinner, lighter-weight and I think even a bit longer, as well as the standard non-electric handle rather than the oddly cumbersome "deluxe" handle and wand/hose that these higher-end vacuums come with), I'd still have foot controls on the canister. With their Capricorn you wouldn't really have the option of using the lighter parts cause there aren't any controls/settings on the canister itself except the on/off button (because it's designed to go with the deluxe handle that has all the settings on it). If you went with these lighter options - which are indeed compatible in terms of fitting - you'd be stuck vacuuming only in the highest suction mode (I called Miele to confirm) and that would, well, suck! ;)

With the Leo, it's all right there, at the tap of a foot, super easy. The canister's never THAT far away and once you get used to what settings work with what parts of your house, you don't have any reason to switch the settings. And I disagree with the reviewer that says tapping your foot on the control buttons on the canister is awkward (?). Couldn't disagree more - I've been paying attention to ease of use. This is why I think the Leo is the best vacuum Miele makes: because it's the most versatile. Even for those of you who don't have pain in your arm or shoulder or wherever, it's so much more fun to vacuum when everything's lighter and faster feeling. Now if you only have carpets and rarely plan on using it for hard floors, upholstery, dusting, etc, then I take everything back and would suggest the Capricorn for the convenience of having the controls on the handle.

Ever since switching to the Leo w/ the non-electric parts, I'm now a vacuuming fiend!! And when I need to do my rugs, I just swap out the hoses at the canister. I keep the heavier, electric wand, hose and handle all connected and ready to go, in the closet. It stores nicely too cause the heavy duty powerhead brush (for carpets) holds the rest of it in an upright position.

Other things I like about the Miele Leo (and probably any of the Miele canisters that are in the upper end):

- How much easier this is to use than an upright (applies to all canisters I'm assuming)!
- Super powerful, but the lower settings - of which there are many to choose from - also work really well and sometimes better depending on the job.
- Surprisingly quiet compared to other vacuums.
- The ease of use re. how easily/quickly the wand adjusts to different lengths (and how tall the wand telescopes!) and slides so smoothly and snaps into place so smartly and how it feels very well-built. Same goes for the attachments. They snap on and off so easily.
- The handy storage of the attachments and the fact that they're all incredibly useful (especially now, having the lighter wand, hose and standard handle)! I've bought a few extras to keep on hand e.g. the dusting brush that can be adjusted to aim downward from high above, to get the tops of fan blades for and ceiling light shades for instance as well as the larger upholstery cleaner with its own rotating thing (belt?) cause it makes vacuuming a king sized bed happen a lot quicker (though I use the small angle tool to get inside the mattress circle thingies).
- The way the 3 wheels work to keep the vacuum from flipping over and otherwise being disobedient.
- The bumper to protect furniture, molding and paint, etc.
- The fact that you can really pull hard on the hose if you wanted to and yank the canister around the room without having to worry about damaging it.
- How easily the cord comes out and goes back in
- The fact that it's 99.99% hepa filter plus has extra filters and seals to really hold in the dust. I live in a hundred year-old house and there's lead paint still around, and I have kids. This was one of the primary reasons I got this vacuum (plus my fear of bed bugs - I figured it would do a better job with cleaning beds than the average vacuum) as well as pet hair. When I used to vacuum, I'd smell all kinds of funky smells after but now I vacuum and the house smells almost as if it'd been cleaned with some sort of solution or someone opened the door and let in fresh air. I know I sound ridiculous but it really does take away normal, basic odors (not bad odors even) that you didn't even realize were there before, it seems. Makes everything feel, smell and BE super clean.
- I like that it has vacuum bags. They do a much better job than the bagless kinds which I know from experience. People complain about their cost but I don't think they're unreasonable for what you get, and they couldn't attach more easily which is another big bonus for me.
- The vacuum's very attractive and durable looking - that doesn't hurt considering how much you spend on it.
- German made and Miele name. They stand behind their products though they rarely if ever need to be repaired. All the parts on the vacuum, big and small, seem to be of good quality. No cheap plastic that's about to break off, for example. I have a Miele Optima dishwasher and I swear - having 3 kids and a 4th of you count the husband - the thing's changed my "stay at home mom" life. Ugh - gross - I hate sounding like such a superficial housewife but there it is. It saves a lot of time and hassle - but I'll save that for another review! Can't wait to go back to the days when I'm able to review things like books, films and restaurants - haha.
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on November 10, 2011
Last week I gave it a one star rating; this week it's up to three stars. I figured out why I wasn't getting enough suction on my wall to wall carpeting (wrong setting on power brush); and I appreciate how easily the different wand sections come apart and go together when needed (Kenmore's sections always stuck). I still don't like that the small icons on the canister are almost invisible against the yellow. I guess I am going to have to memorize them. And I still find the power brush to be very heavy and almost impossible to use on stairs. But I like that the power brush turns off when you stand it upright, and back on again when you lower the angle. And now that I have it on the correct setting (#1), lowest and closest to the carpeting, it does do a good job of cleaning and raising up the nap on the carpet, which looks much better now.
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on May 18, 2011
I am absolutely shocked much better my allergies are. I was going to go with the $600 model, but several of my friends ended up upgrading to the S236 power head after the purchase, which brought it to $900. It's the same price at the store and they threw in a cleaning at one year.

The bags are expensive, but I had a bagless and it's difficult to clean. Everything is so easy on this vaccum and it is powerful.
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on June 27, 2011
Never had we paid so much for a vacuum. Have only had it 2 or 3 years but it keeps going strong and we still can't find anything wrong with it, except that the bags and filters are expensive. But the exhaust after the filters make it worth it.

We did the "Rainbow" light test on the exhaust and it was a clean as the "Rainbow". My 2nd favorite thing about it is the retractable power cord. It is fast, efficient, and has yet to tangle.

Next is the noise, it is so quiet that could even have the music playing at normal levels and hear fine. The grand-kids and pets don't run away or attack it.
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