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Stick Vacuums Review
Why Buy a Stick Vacuum?
Stick vacuums aren’t meant to be as powerful or as heavy, full-sized vacuums. A good stick vacuum can clean a small apartment, RV, cabin or home and doesn’t require a lot of storage space. Stick vacs have utility you won’t find in larger vacuums because they are more compact and lightweight. Many convert into a handheld vacuum for cleaning your stairs or cars. Most don’t need to be plugged in during cleaning so you have the cord-free convenience to go wherever the mess is.
The Dirt Devil Accucharge, the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award recipient, is the perfect specimen in this category. It is lightweight, has good suction and is able to tackle spills on flat flooring or carpeting with equal ease. It runs for a long time after a short charge and has a folding handle that makes its already-compact size even more compact for storage.
Our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award winner, the Hoover Linx Cordless, has impressive suction, even slightly more suction than the best stick vacuum in our review. It's also heavier than the top product, though, and it doesn't fully swivel so it can be less convenient to maneuver. The performance on suction tests was impressive, though.
If you need to cover a lot of ground on a single charge the best option is the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner, the Black & Decker Lithium Ion. We were able to clean with this stick vacuum for 24 minutes, longer than any other. It also comes with a two-year warranty for peace of mind.
While these units are excellent, you should keep in mind that a stick vac shouldn’t be used for heavy jobs. If there are large pieces of debris or liquids, you are better off using a shop vacuum. For large houses with multiple floors or thicker carpets, consider a full-sized vacuum. Check out our reviews of the best upright vacuums.
Stick Vacuums: How We Tested, What We Found
The most important component of a stick vacuum is its suction power. That is, how many passes it takes to suck up debris and how adaptable it is for cleaning different floor types around your home. We also took into account maneuverability as well as battery power and other portability factors like weight. Beyond this, we considered the overall design and filters.
For our tests, we spread sawdust on several square feet of carpet and then on several feet of hardwood flooring. We then measured how many passes it took to clean up the entire area. Our researchers found that stick vacs are often used for households with pets, so we embedded pet hair in the test carpet and scored each on how well they could clear it off. Since many stick vacs are battery powered, we tested the battery life by measuring the time it took for the vacuum to reach a full charge as well as how long the vacuum ran until the battery died.
What Else Is Important in Selecting a Stick Vacuum?
While our testing results should be leading considerations in buying the right stick vacuum, other features and capabilities should factor into your choice as well. Here’s a rundown of the most important elements, with several key questions you should ask yourself:
Design: Is the Overall Size Important to You?
Stick vacuums all have a similar design. Simply put, they are long sticks, similar to a broom, with a head no more than 10 inches wide. They are meant to be easy to move around, often weighing less than 10 pounds and sometimes as little as 3 pounds. Some heads swivel up to 180 degrees so you don’t have to constantly move them back and forth to change directions. For added convenience and versatility, the best stick vacuums have handles that fold in half, making it easier to tuck away in the corner of your closet.
Cleanup & Filters: How Easy Is it to Empty the Vacuum?
The most common method of emptying your stick vacuum is a detachable bin that collects dirt and dust. You should consider how large of a bin you need and whether HEPA filtration is important to you. If a vacuum is HEPA-certified, that means it can remove 99.9 percent of allergens from the air. Most stick vacs are bagless, but some are not. In addition, many have a button on the bin that opens the container so you can easily empty the canister, but others may require a little more dirty work to empty the bin completely.
Attachments: What Specific Jobs Do You Need Your Vacuum to Do?
Attachments can add a lot of versatility to your stick vacuum. Since these vacuums are meant to not take up a lot of space, the number of attachments is much more limited than other vacuums. At most, you should expect a crevice tool and dusting brush for upholstery. These attachments are helpful when you’re using the hand vac to clean in between your sofa or cleaning out your car.
Stick Vacuums: Our Verdict and Recommendations
Stick vacuums are a lifesaver for those who have a busy family that makes small messes from time to time. They are compact and lightweight and can make a lot of sense when you do not want to lug out the heavy upright for one little cereal spill. You can keep one on the second floor, in a playroom, or in the RV for a cord-free convenient way to keep things tidy.