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Updated November 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Pros
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HOW WE TESTED

After going through an intensive research process to narrow down our short list of top products in this space, we tested the Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuums to be sure that it’s worthy of our recommendation. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter and test to verify manufacturer claims.

30
Models
Considered
207
Consumers
Consulted
16
Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for best cordless vacuums

Untether yourself while cleaning and reach those tricky spaces around the home with a cordless vacuum. With a lightweight, compact frame, cordless options are great for tackling messes, which may lie just beyond the reach of a corded vacuum, quickly and effectively with the convenience of a rechargeable battery.

Think about the types of messes you intend to clean: bigger messes require more power and better brushes and attachments. The most important considerations for finding a capable cordless vacuum include the power (measured in volts), the dustbin size, and of course, the battery life. The greater your space, the more battery life you will require to thoroughly clean up your space. Batteries come in nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion forms, both of which can offer around 15 to 20 minutes of use on a single charge – and sometimes more.

cordless vacuum
Know where you want to use your cordless vacuum. If you want to vacuum stairs, one that converts to a handheld is nice. If you want to vacuum drapes and upholstery, an extension tube would be a good feature.

Notable features of the best cordless vacuum cleaners

Battery type

There are three types of rechargeable batteries used in cordless vacuums, each with its pros and cons, from shelf life to power to cost.

Nickel-cadmium

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 of batteries in these vacuum cleaners.

Lithium-ion

Li-ion batteries are lightweight with a long shelf life and a superior energy capacity – and what’s more, they charge quickly. However, they can be sensitive to overcharging and are more expensive than NiCad batteries.

Nickel-metal hydride

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.

cordless vacuum
Testing cordless vacuums
We spent 37 hours researching 93 cordless vacuums before picking our top vacs. We then purchased our No. 1 model and tested it in our lab.
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Power

For cordless vacuums, power is measured in volts. The higher the voltage, the more powerful the vacuum. Notably, rotating brush rolls or “power” modes, which help pick up more dirt and pet hair, require a higher voltage and consume more power.

Battery charge

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.

cordless vacuum
Expert Tip
Avoid overcharging your cordless vacuum cleaner battery, as this could ruin your battery runtime.
Best Reviews Cleaning Expert

Dustbin

Cordless vacuums have a dustbin 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 of vacuum you choose, be sure to hold the dustbin over a garbage can while removing the container, as some dustbins open upon release.

Storage

Cordless vacuums take up less storage space than full-size vacuums. Some come with a charging dock 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.

Other features to consider

Cordless vacuums are lighter than traditional corded upright vacuum cleaners, 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 the following:

Filtration system

HEPA filtration systems trap dust and allergens and are suitable not only for allergy sufferers but for pet owners as well. Look for a vacuum with a HEPA filter if this sounds like you.

Rotating/swivel head

If ease of use is a concern, look for a cordless vacuum with a rotating or swiveling head. The “swivel” feature allows the machine to easily maneuver around furniture and corners as well as reach underneath furniture.

Included attachments

Nozzles, swivel heads, crevice cleaners, and extension cleaning 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.

cordless vacuum
Did you know?
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.
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Specialized performance settings

Some vacuums include a power boost that increases the rotation of a brush or increases the suction in short bursts. This gives you extra power when you need it without draining the battery as fast.

Brush

A rotating brush is an absolute must for pet owners dealing with pet hair. Some vacuums turn the brush on or off, which you’ll need if you have hard floors.

Handheld conversion

Converting a vacuum cleaner to a handheld mode makes cleaning spills easier and adds a greater degree of versatility. The ability to transform your machine into a handheld vacuum is ideal for spot cleaning in the house or car.

cordless vacuum
Expert Tip
Remembering to clean the brush roll will help with suction and give you more pick-up power. Also, avoid vacuuming up small objects like coins or hairpins, which can clog or cause damage to your vacuum.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

How much do cordless vacuums cost?

Inexpensive

For under $50, you’ll find basic cordless vacuums that are lightweight and have a good amount of power. These are often cordless stick vacuums that don’t have the extra attachments, cleaning heads, and features of higher-priced models. You may notice a difference in the runtime and battery life, which correlates with price. For people with minimal cleaning needs, an inexpensive vacuum like this is often the best buy. That said, if you have a lot of carpet in your home, you may wish to keep an upright vacuum cleaner in your closet as well.

Mid-range

Between $60 and $150 are larger cordless vacuums with more features, like crevice tool attachments, a variety of brush heads, and swiveling cleaning heads. You can also find a few that convert to a handheld vacuum and some that are engineered to pick up pet hair. In this pricing bucket, you will find top picks from companies including Tineco, Eurkea, and Bissell.

Expensive

At $150 and above, you will find the “Cadillacs” of the cordless world – the best cordless vacuum cleaners in their appliance category. These vacuums have powerful motors, plenty of cleaning heads and attachments, and impressive conversion abilities. They often require more expensive batteries, like the relatively new NiMH batteries, and they frequently deliver longer runtimes than average. That said, all of these extra features could also result in shorter battery life. Look for top picks from the likes of Shark, Tineco, and Dyson here.

cordless vacuum
For your safety
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.
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Tips

  • Recharge your vacuum cleaner between cleanings. Many companies advise consumers to allow the machine a complete charge before the next use. There can be many reasons for this. In the case of the Dyson V11, a complete recharge is advised to help boost the Dyson’s algorithm, which in turn leads to a better and more thorough cleaning. But not all vacuum cleaner batteries can be left on the charger all of the time, so consult your user manual to be sure.
  • Empty the dustbin regularly. Cordless vacs are bagless. Instead of collecting debris in the traditional vacuum cleaner bag, they filter debris into a canister often known often as a “dustbin.” It’s easy to empty the dustbin; simply detach it and dump the contents into a waste basket or garbage bag. Note that if you don’t do this often enough, clogs can form within the machine, reducing effectiveness and cleaning power.
  • Cordless vacs are made for all types of pile carpet. That said, low-pile carpet may be easier to clean with this type of machine, especially if you have opted for an inexpensive one. If you’re looking to clean high-pile carpet reminiscent of the 1970s, check the product literature first to make sure the product you’re considering offers enough suction power for that.
  • Use care when you clean up area rugs. If your home features area rugs over bare floors, you can clean up these rugs with your vacuum cleaner, too – but take care when you do. To protect the integrity of the area rug’s backing, vacuum in the direction of the carpet pile, and watch what you’re doing so the edges don’t get caught in the brush roll.
  • Note that a warranty is not always automatic. To reap the benefits of a product warranty, you may have to register your product first. Read the product literature carefully to make sure you don’t miss out on important warranty details.
cordless vacuum
If you are a consumer with weak or arthritic hands, you may wish to look for a cordless vacuum cleaner with an option to lock the “on” button so you don’t have to continuously hold the button down.

FAQ

Q. Are robot vacuums considered part of the cordless vacuum cleaner family?

A. Yes and no. While robot vacuums are certainly a type of vacuum, they technically do not have cords. While they are most certainly vacuum cleaners,  they are unique enough to be considered in a class of their own. The best robot vacuums are made by reputable companies including iRobot, Roomba, Eufy, and Shark … and robotic vacuums offer some distinct advantages over manual vacuum cleaners, the most obvious of which is that the human owner does not have to do much of the physical work.

The cordless vacuum cleaners of which we speak in this review are still manually operated, but they operate on battery power, so the length of time you can use one is dictated by the battery life of a single charge. It’s good practice to keep your charging dock in an easy-access location so, after cleaning, you can return it to the charging dock so it’ll be ready for your next cleaning session.

Q. Do cordless vacuum cleaners have as much cleaning power as corded vacuum cleaners?

A. Traditionally, battery-operated appliances offer a little less oomph than their electrically corded counterparts, but the technology is changing – and improving. As such, it is quite possible to obtain a cordless vacuum cleaner that satisfies your cleaning needs as well as a plug-in vacuum cleaner would.

That said, it’s critical that you take note of a cordless vacuum’s suction power if you want something that works as well as a plug-in machine. Whether you purchase a cordless vac from Amazon, Walmart, or similar online retailer, take note of customer reviews. And of course, our matrix of the top five recommended cordless vacuum cleaners is a great place to start your product search.

Q. Can I clean up my upholstery with a cordless vacuum?

A. Yes. There may be a specific upholstery cleaning head included with your vacuum, depending on the type of machine it is. If not, consider using your machine’s crevice tool. If it has a soft brush attachment, this would also be an appropriate choice. But regardless of which cleaning heads you use, be sure to work carefully, reducing the suction power if necessary to protect any delicate fabrics in your upholstery.

 

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