Last Updated On January 4th, 2019
Those with large families (or with shedding pets) most likely have at least one upright or canister vacuum in their cleaning arsenal. They may even have a central system. In the event of a small spill or unexpected visitors, however, dragging out a big machine is likely to be overkill. In those situations, cordless vacuums can be invaluable. Their small size and footprint also make them perfect for people who live in a small flat, a home with little available storage space, or areas without ready access to mains power.
Choosing the best cordless vacuum can be problematic. You would think that their size would make these units much less expensive than larger, traditional ones but that’s not always the case. There are those that cost twice the price of popular standard canister types, and handsticks that provide special functions or are convertible into even-smaller handheld vacuums may also carry a premium pricetag. Many different types of accessories can come with higher-level stick vacuums, and the type of batteries they use for power will not only have a major effect on their run and recharge times, but also their cost.
When you set out to purchase a cordless vacuum, all of these variables come into play. You must assess “how much” you’re going to need, and how much you’re willing to pay. Our rankings of cordless vacuums are meant to help you through the process, reviewing the most important pros and cons of each model and giving you the knowledge base you’ll need to arrive to an informed decision.
Top 10 Best Cordless Vacuums Comparison Table
Full Buying Guide
Our first item of business is to define what we’re talking about when discussing cordless vacuum cleaners. We use the term (or the similar terms “stick vacuum” and “handstick”) primarily referring to thin upright models and not smaller handheld units. We’ll also include some slightly heavier upright ones in our rankings, if they run on battery power instead of mains. Obviously, these don’t have cords, some stick models don’t have beater bars or rollers, and most rely on removable dirt canisters instead of removable bags. Emptying the canisters can create a bit of a mess, but they eliminate the expense and hassle of buying an endless supply of dust bags.
Cordless vacuums are lightweight and can be stored almost anywhere, which makes them a true godsend for just about any household. That convenience unfortunately has a downside; it’s relatively easy to make a “simple” vacuum, so many manufacturers cut corners and sell handsticks that fall apart or break down quickly. Unless you know someone who’s had a good experience with a no-name company’s products, it’s best to stay with brands you know and trust – or ones we’ve reviewed and recommend here. Otherwise, be ready to replace yours regularly.
Two of the most important considerations when shopping for cleaners are the model’s battery power and recharge time, with some only good for a 15-20 minute quick sweep while others able to clean for nearly an hour. Run and charging time largely depend on the type and size of battery that’s used, with large lithium-ion batteries the best option for longer running time and shorter charging periods, but likely to increase the selling price. Power and capacity are also major factors to look at since a more powerful model will be more effective at picking up dirt, and larger the capacity, the less often you’ll have to empty the collection canister. The majority of today’s stick vacuums can hold anywhere from 0.2 to one litre of dirt, compared to the 2-3 litre capacity of most standard cleaners.
Many of the latest higher-level cord-free units are able to do more than clean up tracked-in dirt or spilled food. Some of the new two-in-one models have a detachable handle which allows you to use the body as a handheld to clean out cars or cupboards. Others have special tools designed to snag the stubborn pet hair which eludes most standard and wireless models. And just as with canister or upright models, you can find some with all sorts of crevice tools, or brushes designed for scrubbing hard surfaces or sensitive areas. The accessory packages included with an upright model can be a determining factor in whether the model is right for your needs.
Finally, weight and cost will naturally come into play. Nearly all, regardless of brand and make, will be significantly lighter than their corded brethren, but you can find a difference of several kilos between different models. More importantly, you will see many handsticks on sale for ridiculously low prices in the £20-30 range; those are the units likely to break down or fall apart soon after their purchase, however, so we haven’t included them in our cordless vacuum reviews. You’ll still find a large variation in the costs of our listed models, largely based on their capacities, power and features – we just don’t believe any of the super-cheap units on the market are worth the expense.
Here come the reviews.
Top 10 Cordless Vacuum Reviews
This is a cord-free model that’s basically an upright rather than a stick, but it’s quite lightweight for a machine with a big base, only a little over 3.5kg. Let’s deal with the negative first: it’s bigger, so it’s tougher to store than a stick. Yep, that’s it; the rest of the details are all positives. We’ll start with convenience: the dirt is collected in the head and actually compressed into small bales that are simple and un-messy (is that a word?) to dump into the trash bin. Suction is very strong even though the AirRam only uses 100W of power, supplied by a lithion-ion battery that runs for a little over half an hour on a four-hour charge. It cleans both hard surfaces and deep rugs exceptionally well, is almost as easy to use as a stick – and we think it’s the best on the market.
The V6 Absolute is a real stick vacuum, and you might be surprised that a handstick is the priciest choice on our list if you didn’t know it was a Dyson. There’s a ton of technology inside: a direct-drive head that digs deep into carpets, two-tiers of radial cyclones, an advanced closed filtration system to capture allergens and a washable filter that lasts for life. A power trigger helps save battery power by letting you turn the machine on and off in a flash, and the stick comes off easily to turn the Dyson into a handheld device. It’s heavier than most sticks, at 2.7 kg, but then again it’s got a lot more to offer than most sticks. The only drawback is run time, which is about 20 minutes for regular vacuuming but only about six for tough jobs. The V6 also comes with great pet attachments, making the V6 an outstanding everyday home tool and the best choice for pet hair. Check out our full Dyson V6 Review for a more detailed look.
Bosch bills this model as an upright, but it has most of the attributes of a handstick with the added benefit of the longest runtime we’ve seen in a cordless model: up to an hour depending on settings (there’s a six-hour charge time to build up that much juice, though). Settings, you ask? There are three attachments available, for normal, difficult and stubborn jobs, and all of them are handled well by the Athlet. It’s not a lightweight machine (3 kg) but it manoeuvers well on flat surfaces, on carpets and in corners, and comes with a plethora of attachments in addition to the standard (and cool) nozzle brush roll that gets into crevices and carpet to pick up dust that most competitors miss. Great performance at a reasonable price.
This is the first of two less-expensive Morphy Richards sticks on our list that’s worth the buy, and they’re 2-in-1 types that allow you to detach the head and use it as a portable vac. It’s not quite as rugged as the Gtech, Dyson or Bosch even though it’s around the same weight (3 kg) but it still does the job satisfactorily with high and low power selections and a a little over half an hour of runtime (on a five-hour charge). So, we hear you ask, why is the Supervac offered at a lower price? It’s mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t have as much suction as the other brands’s offerings as well as the smaller (0.3 litre) dust canister which needs to be emptied frequently. We wouldn’t recommend this model for heavy-duty jobs but it’s more than fine for quick sweeps on wood floors and tiles.
The 732000 is cheaper yet very similar to the 732005 we just reviewed, with three exceptions: it’s a little heavier (we can’t figure out why, though), it only has one speed, and it only runs for a maximum of 20 minutes before needing to be recharged. That aside, the pros and cons are pretty much the same; they are each compact 2-in-1 cleaners with collapsible handles, they manoeuvre easily, and they handle fast-and-easy cleanups well.
This is a brilliant little machine from AEG (made by Electrolux) that’s affordable and comes with several features that we really like. First, the specifics: it’s light (2.5 kg), slim and compact, there’s a 0.5 litre dust canister, it runs a maximum of half an hour (on a 3½ hour charge) before needing a battery recharge, and it’s best suited to lighter work rather than digging dirt out of deep carpet. Now, for the features we really liked. The AEG’s “brushroll clean technology” is activated by a foot pedal, and a separating bar removes all of the hairs and fibres that normally accumulate on the brush roll, depositing them right into the dust cup; it saves you from the annoying task of peeling off all of the hairs by hand and is simply wonderful. There’s also an “EasySteer” swivelling head that manoeuvres 180° for perfect steering, as well as LED dust finder headlights on the front of the head. For easier cleaning jobs, we love the AEG.
And we love the AG5022 twice as much – as in twice the power and almost twice the battery life, but less than twice the cost. This cord free stick model is very close to a standard upright machine when it comes to suction and overall performance, and nearly on a par with the Gtech. There are three selectable power choices, the large 25V lithium-ion battery gives you a maximum of 1 hour of cleaning time, and the easily-removable battery is mounted on the outside so you can buy a second battery and switch them out in the middle of a big job. The AG5022 also has the great “brushroll clean” and “EasySteer” features (and the LED lights). Because of its somewhat-small dust container it may not be the best, UK or anywhere else, but it’s definitely in the running.
This lower-priced model is good buy if you’re looking for one you can take for a quick spin around the house, extremely lightweight and able to fit into small areas with a collapsible tube (also handy for storage). It’s not quite as sturdy as most of the products we’ve discussed so far, and we’re not crazy about the large cyclone mechanism that’s built into the somewhat-awkward handle, but it’s fairly powerful for its price range and has decent maximum run time and a decent-sized collection bin (0.5 litres). This isn’t suitable for everyday, but it’s a convenient tool to have around.
Another relatively-inexpensive model, this stick vac is once again best for spot cleanups around the house rather than a tough cleaning job. Its best attribute is that it’s a 2-in-1 model; however, it’s somewhat heavier than we’d expect (about 3.5 kg) with a maximum almost half an hour before a long recharge (as long as ten hours). On the bright side, it has “dirt separation technology” which compresses collected hair and fibres for easy removal.
This is a larger and heavier (4.5 kg) model than the Vax just reviewed. The U86-AL-BA is not a stick, but rather a more expensive, upright model with a removable cleaning wand and swivel head that runs for about half an hour or so per charge. The suction is very strong, even on pet hair, and it has a sizeable collection cup (1.05 litres) and a washable filter (which requires regular cleaning). We wouldn’t choose this Vax to replace a corded upright because of its relatively short battery life; we’d prefer several of our top-rated cordless vacuums for that. But it’s still well worth considering as a “backup” home machine.
It’s a Clean Sweep
We’ve given you our top ten choices, as well as all the information you need to fight your way through the vast array of models on the market to find the best cordless vacuum for your home. Some are extremely lightweight stick models best suited to cleaning up an accidental spill in a jiff, while others are ready to tackle tough vacuuming tasks or even might be able to replace your existing Hoover.
The other key decisions you’ll have to consider are whether to select a 2-in-1 model that can easily convert to a handheld model, and how much you want to spend on a vacuum which may very well be your “second machine.” We hope our descriptions have given you the details required to buy one which you’ll be happy with for years to come.