Miele S5381 Leo Canister Vacuum


 Avg. consumer rating = 88/100 

The Miele Leo is powerful, lightweight and quiet - a tough combination to beat.  It is part of the S5 series of vacuums which are Miele'’s high-end machines and they come with a host of features and options.  Consumer ratings are not widely available for this vacuum but those found indicate a high level of satisfaction.

The Leo is fairly distinct given its saffron yellow color and it is also manufactured in Germany – a rarity for vacuums these days.  Miele does significant quality assurance testing and endurance testing on their machines before they are sent to the market and their vacuum cleaners have also been awarded certification by the DMT Air Quality Testing Institution.  Miele vacuums are considered by many to be quality machines but this is also reflected in the price.  The Leo is often seen retailing from $899 to $999.

The Leo is almost always coupled with a powerbrush when sold and this makes it capable on medium to high-pile or plush carpeting, area rugs and all smooth flooring.   There are two common powerbrush options:

On Amazon it usually comes with the SEB236 Electro premium which is an electrically driven powerbrush with 5 height settings (to accommodate different carpet thicknesses). This carpet tool has a swivel neck and is highly maneuverable.  It has a wide cleaning path of 13.4 inches. 

The Leo is also sometimes found coupled with the SEB217-3 Electro Comfort carpet tool.  This has a narrower cleaning path at 10.5 inches and has a floating head.  Like the SEB236 it has a swivel neck and is quite maneuverable.  It should be noted that the SEB236 is more capable on higher pile carpet than the SEB217-3 but it is more expensive (usually about $100.00 more).

A bare floors tool, the SBB300-3 Parquet Twister, is also a standard feature with the Leo.  This tool has a low profile head so it can easily get under furniture.  It also has a 90 degree swivel head and as such is very easily maneuvered.  It is meant for tile, laminate, wood and other hard surface cleaning.

To see the differences between all the Miele S5 vacuum cleaners you will want to check out our comprehensive S5 Feature table in our Miele S5 article.  This article also highlights some of the differences between the S5, S4 and S2 canister vacuum series.

The Leo is at the upper end of the S5 series and several features set it apart from the less expensive S5 models: 

- Deluxe Handle
- Step-on button controls for suction
- Thermal shutoff indicator – turns the vacuum off if it starts to overheat for any reason.  This can save the vacuum motor should there be an obstruction.
- Capable of effectively cleaning medium to high-pile or plush carpeting (depending on which carpet tool it is coupled with).
- Electric hose (useful for power attachments)
- Electric telescopic wand
- Auto cord rewind
- Crush proof hose

It is difficult to make an accurate judgement on consumer satisfaction for the Leo due to the small amount of owner input available online.  In total 17 comments/ratings were found and owner scores are, on average, quite high.  But this is a small sample size.   Comments indicate that those that bought the machine like the adjustable suction, light weight, maneuverability, sealed system with HEPA filtration, durability and quiet operation.  There is little said of the Leo that is negative but there are some comments that the power cord could be longer and the bags, while long-lasting, are a little pricey. 

Ratings Updated March 2016
 Source  Consumer Ratings  #Ratings
 Amazon  4.4 stars out of 5  15
 Viewpoints  4.5 stars out of 5  2


The Leo is powered by Miele’s Vortex Motor which is a 1200 watt high output motor that uses a series of fan blades designed to optimize airflow and increase motor efficiency.  The motor also has lifetime lubricated ball-bearings and a life expectancy of 1200 hours – thus the 7 year motor warranty.  Additionally Miele have noise insulated the vacuum motor and noise optimized the fan.  Motor suction on the Leo can also be controlled by step-on switches (foot switches) located on the canister body itself.  These provide for six stages of suction from 300 to 1200 watts.  Several owners indicate that they really like the foot switches because they don’t have to bend over to adjust suction, but there are some comments that they can be awkward to use.

HEPA filtration is a standard feature on the Leo.  HEPA filtration removes virtually all (99.97%) particles with a diameter of 0.3 microns or more and is a great feature for ridding the air of allergens.  HEPA filtration is popular with asthma or allergy sufferers.  The Leo HEPA filtration is “active” which means it also uses generally activated charcoal (GAC) to remove odors from the air – certainly useful if one has pets.  The HEPA filter is typically replaced after 50 hours of use or after one year, whichever comes first.  Lower cost “Super Air Clean” filters also fit the Leo.

High quality filtration is not so effective if the vacuum canister leaks.  The Leo has “sealed system construction” which is air-tight and ensures that all the air entering the vacuum is passed through the filters before it exits the unit.  Air does not leak around filters or out of cracks in the vacuum housing.  Miele has taken the dust-free approach a step further with their self-sealing dust bags.  The Leo uses a 4.76 liter dustbag that is not only reinforced against bag breakage but also automatically seals upon removal.  These bags also have a large volume (so they typically need to be changed infrequently) and changing is said to be fairly easy.  In addition, there is also a bag change indicator to let you know when a change is needed.

Three accessory tools come standard with the Miele Leo and are all stored on-board the vacuum:
- crevice tool
- upholstery tool
- dusting brush

The Leo is packed with features – several which were mentioned above - including a deluxe ergonomic swivel handle that reduces tension or strain on the wrist, a safety shutoff if the motor should overheat for any reason (like a blockage), an electric telescopic wand, and auto-cord rewind.  Auto-cord rewind is a key feature for many vacuum owners and Miele does exhaustive testing of the system.  The vacuum power cable is pulled out and retracted over 10,000 times.  This is done to ensure the cable reel will perform effectively for years.  The Leo is advertised as having a 33 foot operating radius but the cord itself is 21 feet long which is frankly a little short. 

The Leo is quite lightweight at about 13 lbs and there are comments indicating it is easy to carry up and down stairs for example.  It also comes with a bumper strip to ensure that furniture and walls do not get banged or scuffed.  Canister movement is accomplished via three 360 degree caster wheels.

The Leo carries a 7-year limited warranty on the suction motor and a 1-year limited warranty on the remainder of the vacuum.   The vacuum is designed for a minimum of 1000 hours of use or, at 50 hours per year, a minimum 20 year lifetime.



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About Me


I'm Nigel Russco, a 50 year old professional engineer who loves to review vacuums, and I’ve been doing just that since 2008.  

I strive to write unbiased, intelligent vacuum cleaner reviews and I provide a score for each and every vacuum I investigate.  My goal is to help you find the best vacuum for your cleaning needs.

Also, watch my video reviews on the Vacuum Cleaner Advisor YouTube Channel.