Updated May 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 buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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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.

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Buying guide for Best stick vacuums

Stick vacuums are lightweight, portable devices that rival the cleaning abilities of their upright counterparts. These versatile tools can either serve as a secondary option or be the first-string vacuum in your home. However, the staggering assortment of models available can make choosing the best one for your needs somewhat difficult.

You want a stick vacuum because it's readily available to clean anywhere, so going cordless is the better option. You need a powerful battery that can last long enough to get the job done and charges quickly. A wide range of attachments or accessories is highly recommended, and if you need a model that can handle getting a little wet, choose wisely because not all stick vacuums can.

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

Cord or battery?

The power source directly affects the suction power and portability of the vacuum. In general, the more power, the better the suction.

Corded stick vacuums

Corded stick vacuums used to offer the most power and suction. Traditionally, corded models have also been lighter than those with batteries. Recently, better battery design has led to lighter battery models with impressive power, though their runtime may be limited.

Corded models are still lightweight, but a cord does limit when and where they can be used.

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

Battery-powered stick vacuums

Battery-powered stick vacuums offer the best portability. This type is the easiest to carry between floors, use on stairs, or get into other hard-to-reach areas of the home. However, they start to lose suction as the battery runs out of power. (There are some models specifically designed to run at full power until complete battery depletion.) Depending on the type of battery used, battery-powered vacuums may be heavier than a corded model. Keep the following characteristics in mind if purchasing a battery-powered stick vacuum:

  • Voltage: Vacuums with a voltage of 18V or higher tend to perform better.

  • Price: Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries are the least expensive. However, they need to be replaced more often. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries both hold a charge better and longer, but are more expensive to purchase.

  • Battery life: Batteries will eventually lose the ability to hold a charge after two or more years. 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 they’re easy to access.

  • 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.

  • Sustainability: Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are more environmentally friendly than either nickel-cadmium (NiCd) or lead-acid batteries.

Stick vacuum features

Brush and suction

Brushless models rely solely on suction for cleaning, which means you’ll need at least 18V to clean effectively. Brushless models are best suited for picking up dust and surface dirt on hardwood floors. Models that include a brush can be used on either carpet or a smooth surface. Keep in mind that stick vacuums don’t usually perform as well on carpet as a traditional vacuum. If you have hardwood floors, be sure the brush can be shut off, so it doesn’t scratch the floor.

Removing and emptying the canister

Stick vacuums use a bagless canister. The canister should be easy to remove and empty. One-handed disposal features, like quick one-button release, add even more convenience.

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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.

Filter cleaning and replacement

Filters should be easy to access, remove, clean, and replace. For homes with pets or allergy sufferers, look for a model with a HEPA filter that removes most allergens.

2-in-1 feature

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.

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 head offers easier maneuverability around tough corners and under furniture.

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

On/off switch

An on/off switch is easier to use than a trigger that requires constant pressure. This is especially true for those with arthritis or other mobility issues.  

Wet/dry option

A few stick vacuums can also clean small amounts of wet material. The dry bin and wet bin will need to be cleaned separately, and all parts should be adequately dried to prevent mold.

Tools and accessories

At the bare minimum, look for a vacuum with a crevice tool to use between cushions and at the crease of stairs. Other tools that may be included are 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.

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

How much do stick vacuums cost?

Under $30

In this price range, you’ll find basic, corded models with a small head, including at least one tool. Many at this price point are lightweight and portable. They tend to have less suction power, and they may lack the durability of more expensive models.

$40 to $100

At this price, you can find many high-quality, battery-powered and corded models. Many Li-ion vacuums can be found in this range with excellent suction, great cleaning power, and included accessories. There are also many 2-in-1 models with good versatility at this price point.

$100 to $200

In this range, you’ll find well-designed stick vacuums, some with up to 22V for impressive suction. Swivel heads, motorized brush heads with multiple speed options, and 2-in-1 capabilities are common and should be expected of a vacuum at this price.

$200 and higher

Expect battery-powered stick vacuums with high brush speeds that can last for up to 20 minutes of continuous use. The battery power should last even longer at normal speed. Automatic floor sensing technology, fade free power, and extensive toolkits are available.

If you're interested in a premium stick vacuum from a top-shelf company and are not concerned about cost, we suggest looking at our in-depth review of the Dyson V11 Torque Drive. It costs around $600, but satisfied owners say it is well worth the price in terms of suction power and ease of use.

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2-in-1 models with their handheld vacuums work well to reach the nooks and crannies often found in a vehicle.


Q. I have arthritis in my fingers and hands. What should I look for in a stick vacuum?

A. Most stick vacuums are already lightweight, but the lightest models will be around four or five pounds. Ergonomic handle design helps 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 nice feature that reduces fatigue. Avoid trigger switch designs that require you to apply constant pressure when running the vacuum.

Q. What features works best on stairs? Drapes? Under furniture?

A. 2-in-1 models with a removable handheld vacuum work well on 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 a vacuum with a crevice tool that can reach into the corners of stairs. For drapes, extension tubes with a brush tool work best. A swivel head that folds close to the ground works well to reach under furniture.

Q. How much run time can I expect out of a battery-powered stick vacuum?

A. It depends on the type of battery used. In general, you can expect at least 15 minutes of constant use from NiCd batteries, and 40 minutes or more with some Li-ion or NiMH batteries. Vacuums with power boost or brushes will use battery power faster than those that only use suction. As the battery gets older, it will begin to lose power faster, and it may not hold a full charge.

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