We purchase every product we review with our own funds—we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
A few crumbs on the floor hardly necessitate getting out a heavy vacuum, unwinding the cord, and juggling attachments.
Cordless vacuums are not only convenient, they take up less space, are easily transported anywhere in the house, and have no cords to trip over.
When the first cordless vacuums appeared on the market, they were hampered by limited battery life and poor performance.
Improvements in battery technology and vacuum efficiency, however, mean today cordless vacuums are in high demand.
But with so many of these popular vacuums available, how do you choose the cordless vacuum that’s right for you?
That’s where we come in!
At BestReviews, we never accept free products or perks from manufacturers, so our reviews are always unbiased and honest. We do the research, test the products in our labs, interview the experts, and ask existing customers.
Our goal is to help you make informed shopping decisions.
If you’re ready to click buy, check out the matrix above for our five favorite cordless vacuums.
But if you want to know more before you buy, including the features to look for in a cordless vacuum and how much you should pay, just keep reading.
Allen Rathey is a cleaning expert who promotes healthier indoor spaces. He is past-president of the Housekeeping Channel and the Healthy House Institute, and principal of the Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI) culminating more than 30 years of experience in making indoor places cleaner. He has been tapped as an expert by the New York Times, Real Simple, U.S. News & World Report, and other national media.
There are three types of rechargeable batteries used in cordless vacuums. Each type has its pros and cons, from shelf life to power to cost.
NiCad batteries are the least expensive of the rechargeable battery types and work best when completely drained before recharging. With a limited shelf life and a lower charge capacity, they need to be replaced more often than the other types.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Hoover Linx Cordless
The Hoover Linx Cordless runs on a powerful 18 volts and comes with a brush that can be turned off for hardwood floors. It’s lightweight and easily maneuverable for those who struggle with arthritis or wrist strength. Easy to assemble and great for room edges and stairs, it adds to your cleaning power without taking up space. Two of its best features are the battery indicator on the handle, which tells you how much battery is left, and its long runtime.
Li-ion batteries are lightweight, have a long shelf life, a high energy capacity, and charge quickly. However, they can be sensitive to overcharging and are more expensive than NiCad batteries.
NiMH batteries work best in appliances that are used often and require a lot of power. They’re expensive, but because of the amount of power they hold in each charge, they are cost-effective in the end. While their shelf life is limited, their performance makes them one of the top rechargeable batteries.
It’s best to avoid vaccuming up small objects like coins or hairpins, which can clog or cause damage to your vacuum.
For cordless vacuums, power is measured in volts. The higher the voltage, the more powerful the vacuum.
Rotating brushes or “power” modes, which can help pick up more dirt and pet hair, require a higher voltage and will eat up more power.
Stick vacuums, like robotic vacuums, are more portable but generally less powerful. They are not a replacement for a full-sized vacuum if you care about deep cleaning and your floor’s longevity.
Before you purchase a cordless vacuum, consider how long it takes for the battery to charge. This will vary by model because of differing power demands.
Battery type will also affect the runtime. Most cordless models can run for 15 to 20 minutes on a single charge, but there are a few that can go 60 minutes at a time.
Be sure to read the owner’s manual before charging your cordless vacuum’s battery for the first time. Some batteries need to be completely drained before charging, and other batteries need to charge for four hours or more before first use.
Cordless vacuums have a dust container rather than a bag. The ease of emptying the dust container varies by model. One-button release systems are the easiest to use.
Others have a more complicated removal process that may require reading through the manual.
Whatever type you choose, be sure to hold the vacuum over a garbage can while removing the container as some vacuums open upon release.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Dyson Animal Cord-free Vacuum
Superior suction power and the ability to handle tough pet hair sets the Dyson V8 Absolute Cord-Free apart from the field. It may be pricey, but it won’t disappoint. It comes with two cleaner heads, one meant specifically for hardwood floors. With power modes that tackle pet hair and give greater suction, you won’t shy away from many messes. Lightweight and easy to empty, the Dyson works for small apartments or multi-level homes where you don’t want to carry a heavy full-size vacuum. It can also convert into a handheld vacuum for even more versatility.
Cordless vacuums take up less space than full-size vacuums.
Some come with a docking station that needs to be mounted on a wall or in a closet. Others have a plug-in charger that can be placed anywhere in the house.
If space is a concern, there are vacuums that fold down to make their footprint even smaller.
Check your owner’s manual to see how often your filters need to be changed. Keeping filters clean helps the air in your home stay clean as well.
Cordless vacuums are lighter than traditional corded uprights, which makes it easier to clean stairs, under furniture, and other hard-to-reach places. Some extras that add even more convenience to a cordless vacuum include:
HEPA filtration systems trap dust and allergens and are great not only for allergy sufferers but for pet owners as well.
Rotating heads can move around furniture and corners as well as reach underneath furniture.
Be sure to turn off a rotating brush on hardwood floors as the brush could scratch or damage the wood.
Nozzles, swivel heads, crevice cleaners, and extension heads are just a few of the attachments that can come with a cordless vacuum.
Before buying a vacuum with a long list of attachments, check to see how they are stored — onboard or separate.
Specialized Performance Settings
Some vacuums include a power boost that increases the rotation of a brush or increases suction in short bursts. This gives you extra power when you need it, without draining the battery as fast.
Prevent dust and dirt from entering your home by placing mats at the entrances. This can extend the life of your carpet and vacuum.
A rotating brush is an absolute must for pet owners. Some vacuums turn the brush on or off, which you’ll need if you have hardwood floors.
Converting to a handheld vacuum makes cleaning spills easier and adds a greater degree of versatility. This feature is ideal for spot cleaning in the house or car.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Dirt Devil Accucharge
The Dirt Devil Accucharge is a budget model with extras that make it ideal for those who want a vacuum for occasional spills and light dirt. Closer to a full-size vacuum than other cordless models, the Dirt Devil has a folding handle that allows it to be stored in a closet or even under a bed. It successfully takes on dander and other allergens. Though it doesn’t have the extra features of other cordless vacuums, this 14-volt vacuum does a quick job on small messes.
For under $50, you’ll find basic cordless vacuums that are lightweight and have a good amount of power.
They don’t usually have the extra attachments and features of higher priced models, though. You may also notice a difference in the runtime and battery life.
Take the time to occasionally clean out hair or string wound around a rotating brush. If it isn’t removed, it can quickly wear out the motor.
Between $60 and $150 are larger cordless vacuums with more features, like crevice tool attachments and swiveling heads.
You can find a few that convert to a handheld vacuum and some that are specialized for picking up pet hair.
At $150 and above are the Cadillacs of the cordless vacuum world. These vacuums have powerful motors, plenty of attachments, and impressive conversion abilities.
They often use more expensive batteries, like the relatively new NiMH batteries, for longer runtimes. However, all the extra features might also result in a shorter battery life.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.