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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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HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

30
Models
Considered
122
Consumers
Consulted
16
Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for best stick vacuums

Stick vacuums are lightweight, portable cleaning appliances that rival the abilities of upright vacuums and canister vacuums. These versatile tools can either serve as a secondary option or be the first-string vacuum in your home, depending on how much space you need to clean. However, the staggering assortment of models available can make choosing the best one for your needs somewhat difficult.

A stick vacuum is ready to clean anywhere, and the best cordless vacuums offer even more flexibility, though a long-lasting battery can be expensive. A wide range of attachments or accessories is highly recommended, and if you deal with wet messes often, you may find wet/dry models worth the extra price.

vacuum claner
Stick vacuums work particularly well in small apartments, condos, and homes with low-pile carpeting and hardwood floors, and powerful, expensive models may be able to replace a traditional upright vacuum.

Why choose a stick vacuum?

Stick vacuums excel at versatility, but they aren’t usually as powerful as their larger counterparts, especially upright vacuums. Choosing the best vacuum cleaner for your needs means considering your floor type, the size of your home, and what messes you need to clean up.

Stick vacuum pros

  • Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Compact and easy to store
  • Small cleaner heads reach places that others can’t—under furniture and other tight spaces
  • More thorough and less expensive than robot vacuums

Stick vacuum cons

  • Less suction power than upright and canister vacuums
  • Expensive compared to handheld vacuums and even some upright vacuums

If you already have an upright or canister vacuum, a stick vacuum will allow you to clean up small messes and help you pick up debris from the tighter areas of your home. If you have a small home with limited storage space, a stick vacuum alone may be sufficient.

stick vacuum
Expert Tip

When using a stick vacuum, keep the filters clean and cleared out to increase efficacy.

Tia Daniel

BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Corded stick vacuums

Corded stick vacuum cleaners are lighter than battery-powered models, and in the past, they offered the most suction power. But improved battery designs have led to lighter corded vacuums with impressive power, though their runtime may be limited. Corded vacuums are still the lighter of the two, but a cord limits where you can clean.

Cord length determines how far you can go before it’s time to find another outlet—and in some cases, where you can clean. Most cords stretch between 15 and 25 feet, but a 30-foot cord allows you to easily cover large rooms and sometimes clean two rooms before you have to find a new outlet. To save time and space, look for corded vacuums with retracting cords that spool inside the machine.

stick vacuum
Expert Tip
Don't overcharge the batteries of your stick vacuums. When unpacking your new vacuums, read over information about the battery life.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Cordless stick vacuums

Cordless stick vacuum cleaners are easy to carry between floors, use on stairs, and access hard-to-reach areas of your home. However, their battery life can vary, and some batteries lose power as they deplete. Depending on the type of battery used, battery-powered vacuums may be heavier than corded models. Keep the following characteristics in mind in your search for the best cordless stick vacuum.

  • Voltage: Vacuums with a voltage of 18V or higher offer sufficient suction power for most surfaces.
  • Cost: Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries are the least expensive; however, they require replacement more often. A nickel-metal hydride battery (NiMH) or a lithium-ion battery (Li-ion) will hold its charge better and longer, but the prices for these batteries is greater.
  • Battery life: Batteries eventually lose the ability to hold a charge after five or more years or a certain number of charging cycles (charging and depleting the battery), usually several hundred. At that point, you’ll need to decide if it’s worth replacing the battery compared to buying a new stick vacuum.
  • Charging/docking station: Some models can be plugged directly into an outlet for charging, while others have a charging or docking station. Wall-mounted docking stations save floor space and mean that your vacuum is always charged if it’s been docked for a long period.
  • Charge time: Unless you have a backup battery, look for a model that has a quick charge time. Some models may take up to eight hours or more to reach full power.

If you opt for a cordless stick vacuum, battery life is one of the most important features to consider, and it primarily depends on the type of battery used. In general, you can expect at least 15 minutes of constant use from NiCd batteries and, in some cases, 40 minutes or more with a lithium-ion battery or a nickel-metal hydride battery. Vacuums with power boost or brush rolls will gobble battery power faster than those that only use suction power to clean. As a battery grows older, it will begin to lose power faster, and it may not hold a full charge.

What features should I look for in the best buy?

Once you know whether a corded or cordless stick vacuum is right for you, consider additional features to make cleaning as effortless as possible.

Brushes and suction power

Stick vacuums without a rotating brush roll rely solely on suction for cleaning, which means you’ll need at least 18V to pick up dirt and dust effectively. These vacuums are best suited for picking up dust and surface dirt on bare floors.

Stick vacuums with a brush roll can be used on either carpet or a smooth surface. Keep in mind that stick vacuums don’t usually perform as well on carpets as traditional vacuum cleaners do. To get an idea of how powerful a brush is, check its rpm, which the manufacturer should list in the product specs. If you have hardwood floors, be sure the brush roll can be deactivated so the bristles don’t scratch the floor.

Removing and emptying the dustbin

Stick vacuums use a bagless canister, usually called the dustbin. The dustbin should be easy to remove and empty. One-handed disposal features, like quick one-button release, add even more convenience. Some dustbins have a compression feature that compacts collected debris to reduce how frequently you must empty the dustbin. This can also reduce dust when emptying debris into the trash.

Stick vacuums with a docking station may automatically empty the dustbin into the station — of course, you’ll have to empty the dustbin located in the station itself, but these typically have much larger capacities than the dustbin of the vacuum itself.

Most dustbins can be hand-washed in the sink. This helps prevent dirt and dust from getting stuck in crevices, which ultimately reduces the debris capacity of the bin. Additionally, filters should be easy to access, remove, clean, and replace. For homes with pets where allergen exposure is a concern, look for a model with a HEPA filter that removes most allergens, such as pet dander.

Vacuum weight and agility

There are stick vacuums that weigh as little as 4.5 pounds, and many that have an ergonomic design for easier use. Stick vacuums provide a good option for those who have limited mobility or medical conditions that weaken joints, such as arthritis. A swivel cleaner head offers easier maneuverability around tough corners and can reach places that are out of reach for other vacuums.

vacuum cleaner
Testing stick vacuums
We spent 7 hours researching 23 stick vacuums before picking our top 5. We then purchased our number one choice and tested it in our lab.
STAFF
BestReviews

Other important stick vacuum features

Additional features like LED lights and handheld modes can go a long way toward helping you clean your floors in one pass.

Wet or dry cleaning

A few stick vacuums can clean up wet messes. The dry bin and wet bin need to be cleaned separately, and all parts should be adequately dried to prevent mold. Some stick vacuums also have a mop function. You employ the machine’s water tank mode to wash your floors and then dry them with the vacuum mode.

Cleaner head lights

Lights on stick vacuums aren’t actually for cleaning in the dark. They’re for illuminating your floor at a low angle to highlight debris and dust. Most models with lights feature LED lights, which are typically long-lasting and bright enough to highlight messes.

Handheld mode

Some stick vacuums include a handheld vacuum that can be separated from the main body. A handheld vacuum works well on stairs, behind furniture, and in vehicles. There are models that also include an extension hose for the handheld vacuum so it can be used to clean drapes and upholstery.

Power modes

Vacuums with different power modes allow you to adjust suction to handle different types of messes and surfaces — what works on an area rug may be overkill for hardwood floors. High-end stick vacuums may even be able to detect the surface you are cleaning and adjust power automatically.

Stick vacuum cleaning tools and accessories

Cleaning tools allow you to get a deep clean rather than a spot clean — and they’re essential if your stick vacuum is your primary cleaning tool. At the bare minimum, look for a vacuum with a crevice tool to use between cushions and at the crease of stairs. Other cleaning tools that may be included with your purchase include a dusting brush, pet hair brush, extension tube, or a squeegee tool. Keep in mind how accessories and tools are stored, as built-in storage is the most convenient but may add weight.

vacuum cleaner
Expert tip
If you notice a lack of suction, clean the brushrolls and check the battery level. Stick vacuums need the brushrolls cleared more often than other types of vacuums.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

How much do stick vacuum cleaners cost?

Inexpensive

Up to $100, you’ll find basic, corded models with small heads that include at least one tool. Many at this cost are lightweight and portable. They tend to have less suction power, and they may lack the durability of pricier models. More expensive stick vacuums in this range are high-quality battery-powered and corded models. Many Li-ion vacuums can be found in this range with excellent suction, reliable cleaning power, and included accessories. There are also many two-in-one models with good versatility.

Mid-range

For $100 to $200, you can buy well-designed stick vacuums, some of which offer up to 22V for impressive suction. Swivel heads, motorized brush heads with multiple speed options, and two-in-one capabilities are common and should be expected of a vacuum at this price. Some of the best mid-range vacuums we have seen come from makers like Hoover, Shark, Eureka, and Black + Decker.

Expensive

Expect battery-powered stick vacuums with high brush speeds that can last for up to 20 minutes of continuous use to cost $200 and up. The battery power should last even longer at normal speed. Automatic floor sensing technology, fade-free power, and extensive toolkits are available with these vacuum cleaners.If you're interested in a premium stick vacuum from a top-shelf company and are not concerned about cost, we suggest you look at products from premium brands such as Dyson. You might pay as much as $600, but satisfied owners say it is well worth the price in terms of suction power and ease of use.

vacuum cleaner
Models with handheld vacuum modes work well to reach the nooks and crannies often found in vehicles.

FAQ

Q. I have difficulty holding and maneuvering appliances for long periods. What should I look for in a stick vacuum?

A. Most stick vacuums are already lightweight, but the lightest models are around 4 or 5 pounds, so we recommend looking for one of these products. A vacuum with an ergonomic handle design can help prevent fatigue and pain in the hands and wrists. An on/off switch that can be reached with one hand while holding the handle is another helpful feature that reduces fatigue. Avoid trigger switch designs that require you to apply constant pressure when running the machine.

Q. What features work best on stairs, drapes, upholstery, and under furniture?

A. Look for two-in-one models with a removable handheld vacuum for use on the stairs and in vehicles. Another option is a stick vacuum with a small head that can vacuum stairs with one swipe. You’ll most likely want something with a crevice tool that can reach into the corners of stairs. For drapes and upholstery, an extension tube with a brush tool works best. A swivel head that folds close to the ground works well to reach under furniture.

Q. Do battery-powered stick vacuums lose suction as the battery depletes?

A. Not usually. Most cordless stick vacuums use Li-ion or NiCd batteries, which discharge evenly regardless of their remaining charge. However, no rechargeable battery lasts forever. After being charged and depleted over the years, all batteries eventually diminish in capacity. Most manufacturers sell replacement batteries on their website, though you’ll find that they are not cheap to replace. You might also be able to find a replacement through an online retailer like Amazon.

 

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