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Best stick vacuums: Cordless, portable and high powered vacuum cleaners

We spent 40 hours testing stick vacuums for 2018, and our top pick was the Hoover LiNX Cordless, a low-priced but strong stick vacuum that did an excellent job in our testing. It only needs three hours to fully charge, which is quick in the world of stick vacuums. This cord-free model has a large dust cup, so you can run it for a long time without stopping to find a new outlet or empty it out.

Best Overall

Hoover LiNX Cordless

Hoover LiNX Cordless

The suction is strong, especially on hardwood flooring.
It can recline to get under low-slung furniture.
A cord-free design and large dust cup add a lot of range.
There are better options for carpet.
Battery life isn’t the best.
There is no folding handle for compact storage.

The Hoover LiNX Cordless strikes the perfect balance of cord-free convenience, strong suction and a fair price. While it is not a traditional stick vacuum with the main body perched atop a long tube, the LiNX is still tiny compared to a traditional upright. It weighs about half what our tested full-size uprights weigh. It is also much more slender.

This Hoover vac behaves like a stick vacuum. It's easy to carry to the mess without any fuss – no heavy lifting or searching for outlets. And it can clean up anything with its impressive suction. There are other vacuums with better battery life, but the large cup capacity means you won’t need to empty often. It had the same level of suction, or better, as much newer stick vacuums that cost twice as much. The LiNX struggled a little on carpeting, though, so if you have more carpeting than anything else, this might not be the best option. Fairly often a stick vacuum is used on kitchen floors for quick cleanups, though, and this is perfect for that. It is also noticeably quiet compared to the more expensive models.

There are some drawbacks with this unit, including the lack of a swiveling head. It is light enough to just pick up and position better for cleaning different messes, so that's not a huge issue. The LiNX is easier to maneuver than others in some ways – it can recline almost to the floor and keep vacuuming, going under beds and other low-slung furniture without any extra tools.

Best Value

Shark Navigator Freestyle

Shark Navigator Freestyle

It’s inexpensive.
Suction on carpeting was very strong during our tests.
Cordless design offers versatility.
This tied for the heaviest model we tested.
This is one of the bulkiest models we tested.
There is no hose or attachments for cleaning anything but flooring.

The Freestyle falls into that middle ground between full-sized and stick vacuum cleaners. It ties for the heaviest model we tested, but it has smaller proportions than a full-sized vacuum cleaner.

It could still fill that spot in a cleaning arsenal that other stick vacs do – the second vacuum for the second floor, the smaller vacuum you send away with your kid to college, or even the RV vacuum. In spite of its weight, it earns stick vacuum cleaner credibility for its cord-free design. It also earns respect for its suction. There was only one model we tested that had stronger suction on carpeting. If you plan to use your stick vacuum quite a bit on carpeting, this is a great choice. It was not quite as good at cleaning hard flooring, but it was still competitive, especially considering its price.

This machine has a conveniently large dust bin. However, it lacks all the other extras we appreciated in other stick vacuums we tried. It lacks a built-in handheld vacuum, and it doesn't have a hose and hand tools, so it really is just for flooring.

Read the full review

Best Splurge

Dyson Cyclone v10 Absolute

Dyson Cyclone v10 Absolute

The suction is unsurpassed on all surfaces we used for testing.
It doubles as a hand vacuum cleaner for your car and other small jobs.
The included tools help clean different surfaces.
The $600 price tag is not for everyone.
This one is not self-standing like some competitors.
Other stick vacuum cleaners are quieter.

A $600 vacuum cleaner is not for everyone. A $600 stick vacuum cleaner makes even less sense since most of the time they serve as a secondary household vacuum cleaner for quick cleanups. But this one is so good on every surface. It is lightweight, easy to use and the suction was excellent, even on its normal settings.

When you flip the switch over to the max setting, amazing things happen. We used it to clean up our laboratory after testing all the other stick vacuums. It also has impressive versatility. When you remove the tube, it becomes a powerful hand vac for your car and other small jobs. There are competing units with built-in hand vacs, but they don't have anything approaching the suction of the Absolute. This vacuum also comes with brushes and other tools for even more cleaning tasks.

This machine does have a few minor design drawbacks. It can’t stand upright on its own and it does not fold any smaller for storage. When in charging mode it seemed top-heavy, bulky and awkward next to the smaller machines with folding handles that were self-standing. It does have a wall hanging mount. If you install that, most of these issues disappear. It was a little louder than average, but that is hardly surprising with all of the suction it offers.

Best for Hardwood Floors

Black & Decker Lithium Ion Stick

Black & Decker Lithium Ion Stick

This stick vacuum tied for the fastest removal of debris from hardwood flooring in our lab.
Since the dustbin is small, you must empty it more often.

The Black & Decker Lithium Ion Stick tied for the highest score on our hardwood floor tests of stick vacuum cleaners.

Each candidate cleaned sawdust and pet hair off of the carpeted area and the hardwood floor area in our laboratory, but the Lithium Ion Stick did it in fewer passes than any, at least on the wood. It stood out because some of the other units pushed the sawdust off the edge of the test area or blew it out of the way. The Ion Stick cleaned it up without incident. This is also one of the cord-free models so it’s more convenient. And, it comes with a hand-vacuum you can unsnap and use to clean independently. It also operates more quietly than average – generating just 78 decibels of sound. Its dustbin is one of the smallest, so empty often, and there is no claim of HEPA filtration so it isn’t the best for those with allergies.

Fastest Charging Time

Bissell BOLT

Bissell BOLT

The BOLT tied for the shortest recharge time, so you can get right back to cleaning.
This machine took a few more passes than others to clean test messes.

The Bissell BOLT recharges faster than any of the other cordless options we tested so you can clean faster.

A recharge time of three hours might not sound that fast, but if you compare it to some of the competing models, which took up to 6 hours to recharge, the BOLT stands out. It also ran for longer than some units which is impressive. You get less than 20 minutes of run time after charging for four hours on another unit. BOLT recharges for 3 hours and gives you more than 20 minutes. This one was average in terms of performance, but all the vacuums we tested were able to clean up our test messes. The BOLT just took a few more passes than the others.

Best Stick Vacuums

ProductPriceOverall RatingVacuuming PerformancePriceDesignEase of UseWarranty & Support HardwoodPet HairCarpetCleaning PathSwivel SteeringFolding HandleWashable FilterBagless CleanupDirt CupCharging StandCharge TimeRun TimeNoise LevelWeightDust Bin VolumeLengthRemovable Hand VacCrevice ToolDusting BrushBrush Roll Shut-offHEPA FiltrationWarrantyOnline ManualPhoneEmailOnline FAQ
Hoover LiNXView Deal4.5/
Black & Decker Lithium Ion StickView Deal4.5/
Hoover Cyclonic Corded BaglessView Deal4.5/54.851.73.45901009011N/AN/AN/A84.591.2252
Cyclone V10 Absolute Cordless Stick Vacuum CleanerView Deal4.5/553.854.13.49510010010YES660835.90.1249.22
Shark NavigatorView Deal4.5/
Dyson V6 Animal Cord-Free Stick Vacuum - Slate GrayView Deal4.5/54.44.444.24.490100708.2Yes3.520954.50.547.50
BISSELL BOLT 2-in-1 CordlessView Deal4.5/544.944.14.3551008510No32184.55.30.5441
FullerView Deal4/53.952.53.4590606510N/AN/AN/A807.71.4451
Shark IONFlexView Deal4/
Hoover - REACT QuickLift Bagless Upright Vacuum - WhiteView Deal4/53.54.653.43.790504510No330797.30.6244.93
Miele Swing H1 QuickStepView Deal3.5/53.352.80.9545508510N/AN/AN/A8191.221.81

Why Trust Us

ShopSavvy has been testing, examining and ranking a wide variety of home appliances for performance, quality, noise, accessories and a host other features since 2010. When it comes to stick vacuums, we have spent more than 100 hours testing these particular products for more than three years. We first research a wide range of products within a category, looking at a number of important characteristics, different brands and price ranges to get a strong sense of what is available, and what would serve consumers best. After that, we narrow the field by scoring them using a proprietary system that helps determine which products to include in our final list. This system helps us narrow our picks down to the best on the market.

We also interview those with expertise in the field to learn about what people are looking for, and what makes a quality stick vacuum cleaner.

Caitlin Wagner, Product Manager for upright vacuums at Shark, works to develop upright models, but says stick vacuum cleaners definitely have their place. She has one in her home.

"Deep cleaning is for uprights. Quick cleaning is for sticks," Wagner said.

Keith Quimby is a Utah-based vacuum dealer and repairman with more than 30 years of experience. He agrees that stick vacs have their place – mostly on hard flooring for quick pick-ups. He said even some of the less expensive ones work well, but they don't last long, they tend to get clogged, and the brushes wear out quickly. They can also seem pretty heavy if you use them for very long.

"Most of these are for a quick pick-up," Quimby said.

The folks at Dyson would like to change that perception. With the release of the V10, they are hoping people can start to use their stick vacuum as their only vacuum. Josh Mutlow, Senior Design Engineer at Dyson, said as people start to do more of what he calls ‘reactive cleaning” throughout the week – more often, but for less time – they won't need to do a long vacuuming session on the weekends. He said the increased run time, suction and bin capacity on the latest Dysons should get you through some pretty long cleaning sessions, too, though, if you need them.

"We as a company definitely believe the cord-free machines transform the way you clean, and change your habits, so much that the conventional full-sized machines are now sort of obsolete," Mutlow said.

Mutlow said they have worked hard to remove some of the reasons traditional stick vacuums have not replaced full-sized vacuum cleaners already – they can seem heavy after a while, and the battery inevitably degrades over time. They've been working to distribute the weight in the best possible way and engineer the battery to last.

All of that progress comes at a cost. Some of the latest stick vac models from Dyson cost $600. There are still lots of stick vacs available in many different price ranges, though, and we looked at some lower cost models as well, for those still seeking just an inexpensive second vacuum. We tested those costing $60 to $500. The most expensive stick vacuum really was the best for suction, but we also found a few that were almost as good and cost dramatically less. Our top three did a great job of cleaning and cost right around $100.

How We Tested

To conduct our tests, we spread a reasonably heavy amount of sawdust on several square feet of hardwood flooring and carpeting in our testing lab, and started vacuuming. The ones that cleaned the sawdust in the fewest passes scored the best.

We also discovered that consumers who buy stick vacuums are pet owners who want these machines to quickly clear away pet hair without having to haul out a big, heavy upright vacuum cleaner to do deep cleaning. So, we worked pet hair into our carpeting sample after the sawdust tests were complete, and tested each stick vacuum on embedded pet hair removal.

We took note of how many passes it took to completely clean an area and scored each machine accordingly. We also tested the charging time and battery life of battery-powered stick vacuums.

In addition, we noted how low each machine could go to get under furniture such as couches or beds. We also noted how the machine felt and moved as we used it to clean.

Things to Look For in a Stick Vacuum

Most stick vacuums aren't designed to do deep cleaning, but are one solution when you need to clean up spilled cereal, a thin layer of dust or some pet hair in the carpet that gives your otherwise attractive room a slightly scruffy look. These qualities are great to have:

Stick vacuums are meant to be simple, but some are more versatile. It's great to get one with strong suction that is still lightweight so you can whip it out, quickly clean and put it away easily. You undoubtedly want a stick vacuum that is easy to maneuver, and can go into tight spots and corners. It's great if you get one that can be lowered as flat as possible to reach under furniture. If storage space is at a premium, look for one with a handle that folds or collapses so it takes up less space.

Cleanup & Filters
Most stick vacuums come with a removable bin that collects the dust and debris on your floors. You simply detach and empty it, and it's always helpful to get a vacuum with a big dust bin so you don't have to empty it frequently. If anyone in your house has allergies, a HEPA-certified vacuum will give you filters that clear the air of 99.9 percent of allergens, which can be a great relief.

Attachments & Tools
Little extras can make a huge difference. A crevice tool and a dusting brush are excellent for cleaning furniture, and some stick vacuums come with a detachable handheld vacuum that you can use to clean tight spots like between the banister railings on your stairway.