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Cordless stick vacuums are small but mighty cleaning tools that are quickly taking over the market. They're a superb solution for those living in an apartment or condo, where there isn't much room to store a bulky, upright-style vacuum. They're also a quick fix for everyday messes that may find their way onto your hardwood floor, carpet, or couch. While they may not feature a spacious dust bin or a heavy-duty floor head, cordless stick vacuums promise to be convenient, maneuverable, and full of the latest technology in cleaning supplies.
To see what cordless stick models actually deliver on this promise, we purchased 11 vacuums from a variety of brands and retailers and put them to the test in The Lab. We timed how long their setup process is and noted whether their instructions were clear—or not. After, we evaluated their suction power and effectiveness on four types of flooring, and noted how many passes it took them to suck up popcorn kernels, hair, and Cheerios. To wrap up the test, we navigated the vacuums through our living room obstacle course, emptied the dust bins, and rated each pick's weight and portability. It's clear that not every pick is designed to do it all. For instance, some cordless stick vacs are made for expansive hardwood floors, while others are spot-cleaning machines.
One thing remains true for most cordless stick vacuums, though: they're a more convenient option. They give you the freedom to reach under low-sitting tables, and clean far away from the outlets in your house. "They are often lightweight compared to corded vacuums, making it easier to carry up and down stairs, and in and out of different rooms," says Lauren Simonelli, cleaning expert and co-founder of ThreeMain. When shopping, you'll want to consider each model's battery life, compatible floor types, and dust bin capacity to make sure it remains the most convenient option for you.
Here, the best cordless stick vacuums for your household, backed by our testing.
Best Overall: Shark IZ462H Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum
Powerful suction on all surfaces
Very long battery life
Easy to maneuver in tight areas
Noisy when picking up larger items
Canister can fill up pretty quickly
The Shark Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Cordless Stick Vacuum was a standout product in our testing. It wasted no time sucking up all of the materials during our test, and proving its power on each and every surface. Our tester gave it 5 stars for its cleaning effectiveness, noting that it "requires very little effort to move and use." In fact, the vacuum almost pulls itself toward the messes, before capturing them in a pass or two. When it came to assembly, this vacuum was also pretty easy to put together, and was only docked because it needed to be charged and the pieces were wrapped individually.
However, the vacuum quickly made up for the setup process with its amazing maneuverability. It easily slipped under the low-sitting couch and coffee table we set up in The Lab, and was able to navigate all the tight corners. While the canister did fill up rather quickly, our tester called the movement of this vac "flawless" and was totally impressed with the painless emptying process. Notably, this vac has a longer battery life at 60 minutes, which makes it suitable for spot cleaning and whole-house cleaning alike. Its handle folds in half for easy storage, and the cleaning machine is generally quite quiet. In our testing, it was only noisy when picking up the popcorn kernels, which is why it received a 4.5-star rating for noise level.
Dimensions: 46.46 x 9.65 x 10.24 inches | Weight: 9.04 pounds | Battery Life: 60 minutes | Bin Volume: 1.4 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 10.63 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, multi-surface, and hardwood
Best Budget: BLACK+DECKER HSVB420J POWERSERIES 2-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum
Hidden attachment storage
Has a light on the floor head
Effective on high-pile carpet
Struggled to pick up the cereal
Could use more settings
If you're sticking to a budget, you'll want to opt for the BLACK+DECKER POWERSERIES 2-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum that's not only effective, but also comes with a built-in handheld vac. To assemble it, you just have to click the handheld vac into the handle of the stick vac. From there, the handheld vac turns into the dust bin. Our tester was so impressed by the thoughtful design of this model, and was pleased to see hidden storage within the handle for attachments. They were able to assemble everything in just three minutes, and gave the setup process a 5-star rating.
When it came to testing this vacuum on the different surfaces, it wasn't as effective on the hardwood. It pushed around the Cheerios a lot, and our tester called it "sloppy." However, it performed great on high-pile carpet and medium-pile carpet, which is typically a weak spot for cordless stick vacuums. Our tester also concluded that the handheld vac could pick up any leftover messes that the stick vac left behind. It all worked out! Not to mention, the floor head had a light that made finding messes in dim corners a total breeze, and the entire model stood up on its own. While the vacuum received a 4-star rating for cleaning effectiveness, it excelled in the emptying department and was generally a pleasure to use.
Dimensions: 22 x 8.3 x 6.5 inches | Weight: 5.84 pounds | Battery Life: 30 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.52 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 9 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, laminate, hardwood, tile, and vinyl
Best Wet-Dry: Shark VacMop Pro Cordless Wet/Dry Stick Vacuum
Has a light on the floor head
Easy to change the cleaning pad
Glides over the surface
Battery life is pretty short
Must continuously hold the power button
Wet-dry vacuums can only be used on hard surfaces. However, if you're living space has even one large hardwood, tile, or laminate surface, then you'll want to invest in the Shark VACMOP. This product earned 5-star ratings across the board from our tester, because it's designed thoughtfully and cleans so easily. They were instantly impressed with how it glides over surfaces and picks up all the dirt, dust, and debris right on a disposable cleaning pad. To start using this vac, you just have to click the pieces into place. It took our tester just two minutes to do so and they didn't even need to reference the instructions—it was that easy. From there, you need to fill up the tank with the provided Shark cleaning solution and attach a cleaning pad.
Our tester was only disappointed in the fact that you have to hold the power button for the entire time it is in use. This could get tiring and annoying over time, especially if you're cleaning a larger room. Plus, it is important to note that the battery only lasts for 20 minutes at a time. However, this vac does operate quietly, and changing its cleaning pad is straightforward and mess-free. To release the pad, you just tap a button on the floor head, which is also outfitted with a light. This vacuum is also very lightweight, so it won't become tiring to carry from room to room. It's a must-have if you're looking to complete two tough jobs at once.
Dimensions: 47.87 x 9.5 x 5.3 inches | Weight: 5 pounds | Battery Life: 20 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.03 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 10 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl
Best for Carpet: Samsung VS15T7032R4 Jet 70 Pet Cordless Stick Vacuum
Has multiple power settings
Can transfer surfaces easily
Very quiet operation
Hair gets caught in the filter
Not very effective on hardwood
Finding a vacuum that'll remove the dust and debris from the fibers of your carpet can be difficult. When it comes to cordless stick vacuums, it can be even more difficult, as these picks are often designed for a hard-surface floor first. The Samsung Jet 70 Pet Cordless Stick Vacuum excels at cleaning carpet and is sure to make your space feel fresher, though. In our testing, it picked up all the materials in just a couple passes when used on carpet. While it received a 2-star rating for effectiveness on hardwood, it received a 5-star rating on the low-pile carpet and a 4.5-star rating on the medium and high-pile carpets. We had to push it a bit more on the high-pile carpet, but enjoyed the high-power setting on this surface.
Our tester kept calling this vacuum "solid," because it wasn't outstanding in certain areas, like swiveling around tight corners, but was reliable and effective nonetheless. Our rater gave it a 4-star rating after it was brought through the living room obstacle course, noting that it made the transition from a concrete floor to carpet well and could easily slip under a low-sitting couch. The vacuum was quiet, but emptying it was rather tough as there is no quick-release button and hair gets caught in the filter. There are some flaws to this vacuum for sure, but it's ultimately a great sidekick in the pursuit of cleaning carpets.
Dimensions: 44.2 x 9.8 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 5.8 pounds | Battery Life: 40 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.84 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 9.87 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, laminate, hardwood, tile, and vinyl
Best for Hardwood: Dyson Outsize Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Great suction power
Has an interchangeable battery
Wider cleaning path width
Handheld version is too heavy
Struggled a bit with large debris
The Dyson Outsize Cordless Vacuum Cleaner solves many problems that other cordless stick picks have, including battery life and small dust bins. It features an interchangeable battery pack that you can swap out when the battery is running low and a 2.4-quart dust bin. These features make it a really quality pick for larger homes, or those who are frequently cleaning up after pets. Notably, this vacuum also excels at cleaning hardwood, and was able to easily pick up all the materials we placed in its path. Although it did struggle a bit with the popcorn kernels, our tester said, "I feel like the vacuum does most of the work for you," noting that very little elbow grease was required on their part. They ultimately gave the vac a 4.5-star rating for effectiveness, maneuverability, and its emptying process.
They also noted how efficient it is at picking up hair and dust. Plus, you can track the life of your battery on the LED screen on the top of the handle. The only major downside of this vacuum is that its handheld version is quite heavy. Our tester couldn't hold it over their head and would not recommend relying on it for spot-cleaning jobs around your home. This is a bit disappointing given the price point, but the power of the vacuum is definitely worth investing in.
Dimensions: 15.7 x 13.7 x 12.1 inches | Weight: 7.85 pounds | Battery Life: 120 minutes | Bin Volume: 2.4 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 12.5 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hardwood, carpet, laminate, and tile
Best for Pet Hair: Bissell 22889 ICONpet Cordless Stick Vacuum
Super effective at picking up hair
Has a light on the floor head
Good swivel steering
Doesn't stand up on its own
Attachments are a bit confusing
Pet owners need a vacuum in their cleaning closet that's ready to tackle tough and hairy messes. Enter, the Bissell ICONpet Cordless Stick Vacuum. This vacuum was particularly skilled at picking up hair in our tests, and was rated 4.5 stars for its overall effectiveness. While it pushed around the popcorn kernels a bit, it was able to pick up hair in just a pass or two on the lowest setting, and on every single surface. It's also very easy to assemble—we gave it 4.5 stars for its setup process, because the attachments were a bit difficult to figure out, but the vacuum itself came together in just three minutes.
You really shouldn't overlook the noise level of this vacuum in particular. It's super quiet when running, making it a great option for pet owners who like to clean on a daily basis, early in the morning, and late at night. The handheld iteration is uncomfortably heavy, so you will want to add a separate dustbuster to your cart for cleaning couch cushions or messes that are tightly tucked into a corner of your house. Notably, this pick does have great maneuverability, though. It swivels super well and can navigate low furniture with ease, even if it doesn't stand up on its own.
Dimensions: 44.25 x 11 x 7.75 inches | Weight: 7 pounds | Battery Life: 30 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.52 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 10.5 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet and hardwood
Best for Attachments: Dyson v11 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Has a boost mode
Very quiet operation
Easy to turn and maneuver
Trigger is sensitive
No spot for attachments
If you want to complete a variety of cleaning tasks within your house on a daily basis, then having a full set of attachments ready to go is essential. The Dyson v11 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner comes with a mini motorized tool, dirt brush, and crevice tool that'll be a major help to pet owners and non-pet owners alike. You can use the mini motorized tool to extract hair from a couch, while a crevice tool helps you get into tight corners of your home. While there is no storage on the vacuum for these attachments, the pick does include a storage clip, so you can keep them fairly handy.
In our testing, the v11 Animal was very effective at cleaning up materials on all surfaces. It surprised our tester with how easy it could make turns, and capture debris underneath a low-sitting couch and coffee table. The Dyson stick vacuum earned a 5-star rating for noise level, since it was extremely quiet. It was very easy to empty this vacuum, as well. Although, our tester noted that it was almost too easy, and the trigger was very sensitive. Overall, you'll find this vacuum to be versatile and ready for anything.
Dimensions: 10.28 x 49.65 x 9.84 inches | Weight: 6.68 pounds | Battery Life: 60 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.8 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 9.84 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hardwood, carpet, laminate, and tile
After thoroughly testing 11 cordless stick vacuums in The Lab, the Shark Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Cordless Stick Vacuum (view on Amazon) is our top pick. This vacuum excelled on every surface and has a 60-minute battery life that makes it a good fit for spot cleaning and whole-house cleaning. Its handle is also flexible, making it easy to maneuver and store. If you're sticking to a budget, you can't go wrong with the BLACK+DECKER POWERSERIES 2-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum (view on Walmart) either. This model has a built-in dustbuster and storage for attachments, and is very easy to empty.
How We Tested the Cordless Stick Vacuums
We tested 28 vacuums side-by-side in The Lab in Industry City, Brooklyn—11 of which were cordless stick vacuums. We started our testing with unboxing and setup, timing how long it took to assemble each vacuum and rating how clear the instructions were. Then, we put them through their paces to see how effective they were at cleaning up measured amounts of hair, popcorn kernels, and cereal on a hardwood surface and three types of carpet. We evaluated such categories as the vacuums’ weight and portability, how well they transition from smooth floors to carpeting, and how long each model stayed charged.
While testing, we noted how many passes were needed to clean up the materials and if any hair was tangled in the brush roll. We also designed a living room obstacle course and ran the vacuum through it to see how they maneuvered under low-sitting couches and tables. Our testers wrapped up by emptying the bins and rating how messy or complex the process is. Our editors took the testing data and boiled it down to the seven cordless stick vacuums we believe are the very best.
What to Look for in a Cordless Stick Vacuum
The first thing you want to consider when shopping for a cordless stick vacuum is the battery. The longer lifespan it has, the more cleaning you'll be able to get at one time. The batteries on cordless stick vacuums can have a runtime anywhere between 15 and 120 minutes. A vacuum that runs for about 20 minutes is typically suitable for a small apartment or living space. When considering your model's battery life, though, know that it's not always cut and dry. For instance, if you use the max or boost mode on your vacuum, the battery can drain quicker than advertised each session. You'll also need to take the charge time into account. Some models take a few hours to charge up, while others will be ready for use much quicker than that.
Dust bin capacity
The dust bins on cordless stick vacuums are significantly smaller than those on upright vacuums. It is for that reason that many people will opt for a bulkier vacuum, so they can tackle more messes at one time, and before they have to make a dash to the trash can. However, you can find stick models with pretty spacious dust bins, at nearly 2 quarts. If you want to streamline your routine, it's in your best interest to pick out a cordless stick vacuum with a dust bin capacity of at least 0.5 quarts—or more.
Compatible floor types
Thanks to included attachments, specialty floor heads, and thoughtfully designed brush rolls, some cordless stick vacuums are more suitable for carpet or hardwood. When shopping, you'll want to not only consider the types of surfaces in your home, but also what surfaces the cordless stick vacuum is compatible with. For instance, a wet-dry model can only be used on hard floors, but will complete two jobs at once. A pick with a motorized cleaning head will be most effective on carpet as it'll help to loosen the debris and dust, before sucking it up into the canister.
Are there bagged cordless stick vacuums?
Cordless stick vacuums tend to be bagless, due to their slim and minimal design. They rely on built-in dust bins and filters to contain the dust, dirt, and debris they suck up. For this reason, "they aren’t the best choice for those with allergies," says Simonelli. "They require more frequent emptying and exposure to dust."
Like with a bagged vacuum, though, it's important to empty your stick vacuum regularly to ensure optimal performance.
Do all cordless stick vacuums have docking stations?
Docking stations are a common two-in-one charging and storage solution for cordless stick vacuums, but there is a chance that your model of choice won't come with one. Instead, it'll either have a charging cord that connects to either the handle or based, or use replaceable batteries. Models that don't come with docking stations may fold up or break down for easier storage.
What can I expect from a cordless stick vacuum in terms of suction?
While most cordless stick models offer powerful suction in a relatively compact package, you shouldn't expect the average stick vacuum to perfectly match the kind of suction you'd expect from an upright vacuum. In general, cordless stick vacuums work best on low-pile rugs and hard floors. This makes cordless stick vacuums the better choice for small homes or quick, supplemental cleaning, as opposed to deep cleaning.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Marisa Casciano is a senior commerce editor for The Spruce, and was in The Lab for the entirety of our vacuum test. She has researched the ins and outs of air purifiers, dishwashers, cooktops, wine fridges, and more in the home space. She has first-hand knowledge of how our vacuum tests were developed and performed, as well as where each product excelled or fell short. Before conducting testing, she scoured brand and retailer websites, and considered price, verified customer reviews, features, and design when selecting the vacuums to test. She also considered real-world cleaning situations and the latest technology.
For additional background, we consulted with cleaning expert Lauren Simonelli. As the co-founder of ThreeMain, a subscription-based, eco-friendly cleaning brand, she knows the ins and outs of all that it takes to maintain a clean, healthy home.