The Best Cordless Stick Vacuum (2024)

The research

  • Why you should trust us
  • Who this is for
  • How we picked and tested
  • Our pick: Dyson V12 Detect Slim
  • Other high-end Dyson models worth considering
  • Our pick: Ryobi 18V One+ HP Cordless Pet Stick Vac Kit with Dual-Roller Bar
  • Budget price, great features, major caveats: Kenmore Elite CSV Max Cordless Stick Vacuum DS4095
  • Other good cordless stick vacuums
  • The competition
  • What to look forward to
  • Care and maintenance
  • Sources

Why you should trust us

The Best Cordless Stick Vacuum (1)

Staff writer Sabine Heinlein has been a journalist for over two decades. With a menagerie of rabbits and cats, she obsesses over how different types of fur adhere to upholstery and how to remove hairballs from heirloom rugs. Liam McCabe wrote the previous versions of this guide, testing more than a hundred vacuums for this and other vacuum guides.

For this guide:

  • We’ve tested more than 100 models since 2011 (25 of them in 2023).
  • We’ve interviewed experts, including present and former engineers at Dyson, Lupe, and Shark; product managers of major vacuum manufacturers; and vacuum collectors and repair specialists.
  • We’ve read dozens of articles about vacuum history, design, and engineering.
  • We’ve analyzed thousands of customer reviews on Amazon using the FindOurView artificial-intelligence-driven tool, pored over owner reviews on online forums, and talked to dozens of real-life cordless vacuum owners.

Who this is for

At their best, cordless stick vacuums are versatile, shape-shifting creatures that transform into different configurations with the help of useful attachments. They promise to clean everywhere, all at once, untethered by cords. Most cordless models are lithe and comfortable to use, even in cramped spaces or on stairs. Because cordless vacuums are compact and often packaged with either a wall-mountable charging dock or a floor stand, it’s common to store them within arm’s reach in plain sight.

But even the priciest cordless stick vacuum can’t match the suction and deep-cleaning power of a good upright or canister vacuum, especially if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, lots of rugs, or shedding pets. Their batteries typically last 30 to 40 minutes on a full charge, enough to clean a room or two but unlikely to tackle your whole home top to bottom. Cordless stick vacuums also have a shorter life expectancy than good plug-in vacuums. For most people, a cordless stick vac should be a sidekick to a plug-in vacuum.

How we picked and tested

In our most recent round of testing, we tried 25 cordless stick vacuums. Here’s how we evaluated them:

Suction and airflow

We first measured each vacuum’s airflow with an anemometer and evaluated its suction with a specialized suction gauge. You need high airflow because suction alone can’t move debris up the wand and into the bin, explained James Brown, service specialist and museum curator at Mr. Vacuum Cleaner. “If I put a penny on my hand, put the nozzle over the penny, switched the machine on, switched it off and let it wind down, the penny would still be there because there’s no air moving down the tube to take it to where it needs to go. But you can still feel the pressure of it pulling your hand to the nozzle.”

Cleaner head design

We paid special attention to each cleaner head, ruling out models without a motorized brush roll, because suction and airflow alone can’t remove dirt. “You need agitation, which is what the brushes do,” explained Brown. “They vibrate and sweep the carpet and dislodge the dirt. The airflow takes it away.” We also preferred models from which we could easily remove the brush roll for detangling and cleaning without special tools.

Cleaning performance

We then tried each vacuum on different types of rugs and on bare floors strewn with Cheerios, fur, baking soda, birdseed, and glitter. We looked for models that didn’t snowplow (when a vacuum’s low-riding cleaner head pushes around heavier debris instead of sucking it up), dump (when debris falls back out of a vacuum that’s turned off), or jam (when the motorized brush seizes on certain types of rugs and rug pads). We also checked each model’s anti-tangling technology by vacuuming up colorful hair extensions. We then ran the top performers in a multi-person, multi-pet, multi-rug home for several weeks to see how they handled a variety of surfaces and messes (cat and bunny litter included).

Comfort, convenience, and ease of use

We tested the comfort and maneuverability of each vacuum. To measure the performance of above-floor attachments, we tried them in a dirty car, a sewing room, and a laundry room, as well as on different types of upholstery. We also examined other sources of delight or dismay, including the dustbin emptying process, the vacuum’s ability to stand up on its own, and the presence of any extras such as a headlight or an LCD screen. We also measured each vacuum’s noise level with the SPLnFFT app.

Run time and charge time

Several company spokespeople told us that advertised run time is typically measured on a vacuum’s low power setting in handheld mode. That number rarely holds up in real life: Running a cordless stick vacuum’s motorized brush on bare floors and rugs draws more power and depletes its battery faster. We considered anything over 30 minutes an acceptable real-life run time.

We looked for batteries that charged within four hours or less, and we considered it a plus if a vacuum’s run time exceeded 30 minutes and its battery could also work in a variety of tools from the same company.


In addition to suffering from battery failure on occasion, cordless stick vacs are prone to the same clogs, cracked plastic, and other mechanical failures as plug-in machines. We combed through owner reviews provided by an AI-assisted analysis service called FindOurView to pinpoint obvious design flaws or quality-control issues. We called customer service for each of our top performers to experience the process and to determine how easy it was to order new parts.


We favored models with a warranty of more than two years. Damian Lee, a former engineer at Dyson and Shark, agreed that a long warranty is meaningful when you’re making a buying decision: “[It] gives you confidence that a company is standing behind their product.”

HEPA filtration

Most cordless stick vacuums have HEPA filters, but the existence of such a filter wasn’t a major factor in our decision-making. Even with a HEPA filter, a cordless stick vac is likely to expose you to dust and other allergens when you empty the bin. If you have serious allergies or asthma, you’re better off with a vacuum that collects debris in a self-sealing, disposable bag.

Our pick: Dyson V12 Detect Slim

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Our pick

Dyson V12 Detect Slim

Light, nimble, and powerful

This nimble, high-tech model is light, powerful, and easy to maneuver. But it doesn’t stand up on its own, and its dustbin is small.

Buying Options

$650 from Dyson

$550 from Amazon

$650 from Walmart

Of all the models we’ve tested, the nimble and powerful Dyson V12 Detect Slim comes closest to being the ideal cordless stick vacuum.

It’s lithe and graceful. Weighing just over 5 pounds, the V12 Detect Slim maneuvers easily in awkward spaces and on stairs. Though most of its weight sits on top, we found the V12 Detect Slim comfortable for our hands and wrists. Its cleaner head swivels 180 degrees, allowing it to reach into tight corners, around table legs, and between furniture better than other vacuums we’ve tested. It’s also very quiet (73 dB) compared with other models. Whereas previous Dyson models featured an uncomfortable trigger-style switch that you needed to squeeze for operation, the V12 Detect Slim has an on/off button.

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It sucks (in a good way). The V12 Detect Slim offers powerful suction and airflow, and it excels at picking up dust and debris on both bare floors and rugs. In our controlled rug-cleaning test, it devoured almost 100% of the baking soda we had spread out on medium-pile rugs—a clear sign that it is capable of targeting deeper-sitting dust and dander that other cordless sticks might miss. (One competitor picked up only a bit over 40%.) It also extracted fur from rugs well.

The V12 Detect Slim has three suction modes: eco (lower suction, which conserves battery), boost (stronger suction), and auto. The auto mode is particularly helpful, as the dust sensor detects dirt and triggers increased suction power when necessary; for example, in our tests the V12 Detect Slim regularly went into boost mode near a cat litter box.

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It has two effective cleaner heads for different types of flooring. Designed to deep-clean rugs and carpet, the V12’s Motorbar cleaner head has tooth-like rubber vanes that, Dyson claims, automatically clear wrapped hair during cleaning. In our testing, the head readily captured 6-inch strands of hair, but the brush was less effective with 18-inch-long hair. (You can remove the brush, and you can cut off long locks with scissors or a box cutter.) On bare floors, the Motorbar head efficiently cleaned baking soda and seeds, but it tended to snowplow Cheerios.

The second cleaner head, the Laser Slim Fluffy, is made of soft microfiber fabric and is specifically designed to snag dust and fur from bare floors. It features a laser light that spookily illuminates dark corners—one moment the dust is spotlighted, the next it’s gone.

In our testing, we found that the Fluffy head picked up larger debris that the Motorbar head tended to snowplow. The Fluffy head swallowed everything we presented it with, aside from a large mound of Cheerios (which it choked on) and a huge co*ckroach (which got stuck in the brush housing).

It converts to a handheld vacuum with useful attachments. The V12 Detect Slim easily converts into a handheld vacuum and comes with helpful attachments for tasks around the home and in the car. Its mini motorized brush tool was one of the best we tested for removing pet hair from couches, cat beds, and car upholstery. Its combination tool allowed for quick switching between a wide nozzle and a brush; we found the brush particularly handy for dusting bookshelves and windowsills.

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It has a decent warranty, and its battery and many of its parts are replaceable. Dyson’s two-year warranty on this model is decent, though that’s less coverage time than we’ve seen for many other high-performing cordless sticks. The V12 Detect Slim uses swappable, click-in batteries, and you can buy spare packs to extend the run time—though we’ve noticed that they are routinely out of stock. (You can find cheaper knockoff batteries, but we don’t recommend them.) The battery is one of the most common failure points on cordless stick vacuums, so Dyson’s swappable design means you won’t have to toss the whole vacuum if the battery goes bad. Many of its other parts, including its washable filter, are replaceable, as well.

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It has cool features. The V12 Detect Slim’s LCD screen shows animated maintenance reminders, troubleshooting tips, and, most important, a battery-life countdown. Its chief gimmick is its particle counter, which estimates the number of differently sized particles collected and displays the tallies in a bar graph—supposedly to help you feel confident that you’ve deep-cleaned your flooring. We don’t know how accurate or useful the particle counter is, but it can be a fun motivator.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • It’s expensive. Typically around $600, the V12 Detect Slim is pricey. During our testing, it gave no indication that it would be more durable than other, more affordable cordless vacs like our other top pick—let alone plug-in vacuums, which typically clean better and cost less.
  • It has a tiny dustbin. The V12 Detect Slim’s roughly 12-ounce dustbin is minuscule, capable of storing less than half as much debris as that of our other top pick. In our tests, we had to empty the dustbin at least three times when cleaning a 650-square-foot space with pets. The V12 Detect Slim ejects debris from the bin like a mini T-shirt cannon, an action that can easily lead to spills. We also found that debris often gets stuck in the dustbin’s upper segment, requiring you to reach in and pull it out.
  • Switching between cleaner heads can be annoying. Though we appreciate the versatility and effectiveness of the Motorbar head (for carpet) and the Laser Slim Fluffy head (for bare flooring), switching them can be annoying, especially if you just want to give your half-carpeted dining room a quick once-over.
  • It doesn’t stand on its own. The V12 Detect Slim’s inability to stand on its own is a source of irritation. You’ll need to find a secure spot to prop it up if you have to answer the doorbell.

Other high-end Dyson models worth considering

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In general, Dyson is a reliable brand with a well-earned and particularly devoted following. If the Dyson V12 Detect Slim isn’t for you, the Dyson line includes other options (although they come with triggers).

We reviewed the Gen5detect and it is a great cleaner that is equipped with a couple of meaningful upgrades, like a suction bleed valve, a longer runtime, and a (relatively) large dustbin that is twice the size of the V12’s. But it is heavier than the V12 and feels less comfortable and less convenient to maneuver and store than its smaller cousin.

The V15 Detect’s dustbin is also twice the size of the V12 Detect Slim’s bin. Even though the V15 Detect’s motor has more muscle, it did not clean significantly better than the V12 Detect Slim in our tests.

The V8 Absoluteis less powerful than the V12 Detect Slim and the V15 Detect, but it’s still a good value. Its bin capacity lies between that of the other two models, and it comes with many useful attachments.

The Outsize Plus has a wider brush and an even larger bin than the V15 Detect, but its motor is slightly less powerful.

Our pick: Ryobi 18V One+ HP Cordless Pet Stick Vac Kit with Dual-Roller Bar

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Our pick

Ryobi 18V One+ HP Cordless Pet Stick Vac Kit with Dual-Roller Bar

Hefty, convenient, larger dustbin

This sturdy, versatile vacuum has several useful attachments and a large dustbin. It stands on its own and recharges quickly, but it’s heavier and less agile.

Buying Options

$299 from Home Depot

The Ryobi 18V One+ HP Cordless Pet Stick Vac Kit with Dual-Roller Bar isn’t as lightweight, nimble, or snazzy as the Dyson V12 Detect Slim, but it stands out in several ways—and it costs much less.

It’s an excellent cleaner. In suction and airflow, the Ryobi 18V One+ HP vacuum performs almost as well as its most powerful competitors. We tried it on rugs, bare floors, car seats, and upholstery, and it did an excellent job of picking up all kinds of debris. In our baking-soda cleaning test, this Ryobi model extracted 96% of the debris—nearly as much as the Dyson V12 Detect Slim picked up.

The Ryobi 18V One+ HP vac has two cleaning modes, eco and boost. We found that eco worked fine for most surfaces and dirt—and it saved battery life—but we also appreciated boost mode when confronted with a dry, set-in hairball in a Tibetan rug.

Its all-in-one cleaner head is effective on a variety of surfaces. In contrast to our pick from Dyson, this Ryobi model has a headlight on its single cleaner head, with a plush roll in the front for bare floors and a stiff-bristled brush in the back for rugs. Unlike with the V12 Detect Slim, you don’t have to swap between cleaner heads to optimize this vacuum’s cleaning performance. In our tests, it was equally effective at picking up Cheerios on slippery tiles and pet fur on a medium-pile rug.

Despite the cleaner head’s size—about double that of the V12 Detect Slim’s Motorbar—it swivels smoothly around corners and furniture. With the help of a quarter, you can easily remove the brush rolls from the cleaner head to clear tangled hair.

It has an extra-large dustbin. The dustbin of the Ryobi 18V One+ HP vacuum holds 27 ounces—more than twice the capacity of the bin in the V12 Detect Slim. Emptying the dustbin is easy, and you can clean and replace the filter.

It has an okay run time, and it charges especially quickly. This model runs for about 35 minutes in eco mode, enough time to vacuum a small or medium-size apartment and plenty of time for quick cleanups. Its battery recharges in under two hours—faster than that of any other vacuum we tested in our latest round. The battery has a helpful charge-level indicator light.

It stands on its own. The vacuum stands unsupported, so no need to scramble to find a place to prop it up if you get pulled away.

It morphs into a handheld vacuum and has useful attachments. The Ryobi 18V One+ HP vacuum easily transforms into a handheld vacuum, and its attachments are versatile and better designed than those of other models we’ve tested. In our experience, the crevice tool and pivoting brush worked great in a car’s tight storage compartments, and the motorized mini brush was one of the few tested tools that made a dent in the thick layer of fur on a car’s clingy trunk upholstery. This Ryobi vacuum also includes a micro crevice tool with thin, flexible straws that we found ideal for cleaning the interior of a dusty sewing machine and a dryer vent.

It has a generous warranty and replaceable parts. Ryobi’s three-year warranty on this model is longer than the coverage on most other stick vacuums, including Dyson’s. (Of all the cordless stick vacs we’ve tested, only the Shark models and the Lupe Pure Cordless Vacuum Cleaner have longer warranties, but those are considerably more expensive.) This Ryobi stick vac is made from thick plastic and metal, and it feels sturdier in construction than the Dyson V12 Detect Slim.

Its battery and most of its parts and accessories are replaceable. The battery is compatible with many other cordless Ryobi tools.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • It’s heavy, and it may be uncomfortable to use. The Ryobi 18V One+ HP vacuum isn’t quite as clumsy as it looks, but it is top-heavy: Its weighty battery sits behind the handle, with the motor directly below. This design can feel uncomfortable to use, and we found ourselves switching hands frequently while vacuuming.
  • The plastic tab that allows the vacuum to stand upright broke. Twice during long-term testing, the plastic tab on the cleaner head that allows the vacuum to stand up on its own broke off. Both times, Ryobi sent us a replacement cleaner head. Ryobi told us that it has fixed the problem on current models. Customers with vacuums whose tabs broke while still under warranty (three years) should contact customer service to get it replaced at no cost.
  • It’s had availability issues. Ryobi products are sold exclusively through Home Depot. The Ryobi 18V One+ HP kit (which includes the battery and charger) has gone out of stock at times, sometimes for several days or weeks. We haven’t seen stock issues with the vacuum-only model, so if you already own a compatible Ryobi battery and charger, it could be an option. (Buying the vacuum and charger and battery individually is much more expensive than buying them as a bundle.)
  • Ordering replacement parts is inconvenient. Confusingly, Ryobi’s replacement-parts ordering portal isn’t linked on Ryobi’s homepage, and it took us multiple calls and an email to the marketing department to find the part we were looking for. The Ryobi ordering portal is also more difficult to navigate than Dyson’s parts website.

Budget price, great features, major caveats: Kenmore Elite CSV Max Cordless Stick Vacuum DS4095

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Budget pick

Kenmore Elite CSV Max Cordless Stick Vacuum DS4095

Good cleaner, major caveats

This model is cheap, lightweight, and agile, and it cleans a variety of floor types well. But its non-replaceable battery and one-year warranty are disappointing.

Buying Options

$150 from Amazon

We tested four cordless stick vacuums under $200, and all of them were terrible, with the exception of the Kenmore Elite CSV Max Cordless Stick Vacuum DS4095. It’s the only cheap cordless stick vacuum we’ve considered recommending—and we’re doing so with major caveats.

It’s a powerful cleaner, with an excellent brush roll. The DS4095’s ability to effectively pick up fur and debris nearly matches that of the Dyson V12 Detect Slim. You can easily remove its single-roller brush bar (no tools required) to clear out tangled hair, and the brush bar is surprisingly versatile, working as well on rugs as on bare floors.

It has a big dustbin. This model’s 33-ounce dustbin is much larger than those of our picks. In our tests, we were able to vacuum a fur-ridden 650-square-foot space without having to empty the dustbin once.

It’s cheap. The DS4095 typically costs nearly a quarter of the V12 Detect Slim.

It’s lightweight. Weighing less than 6 pounds—about as much as the Dyson V12 Detect Slim and considerably less than the Ryobi 18V One+ HP vacuum—the DS4095 feels almost buoyant to use.

It’s foldable. The wand folds in half with the click of a button, a feat that proved helpful when we were rounding up dust bunnies from under the couch.

It has a decent run time. The DS4095 has a real-life run time of 38 minutes—shorter than that of the Dyson V12 Detect Slim (45 minutes), but a bit longer than that of the Ryobi 18V One+ HP vac (35 minutes). It recharges in four hours, which is standard. It’s also the quietest stick vac we tested (68 dB) in our latest round.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • It has a weak warranty. The DS4095 comes with only a one-year warranty. A two-year warranty is standard for cordless stick vacs.
  • Its battery is not replaceable. The DS4095’s single biggest flaw is that its battery can’t be replaced. If—or, realistically, when—the battery dies, the entire vacuum becomes useless. Chris Kobrick, director of Kenmore product management, told us that the battery will last roughly four years with normal use, but some Amazon reviewers have complained that their unit’s battery gave out after just three months. Once your vacuum is past the one-year warranty, it may be on borrowed time (though supervising editor Arthur Gies, who has been using the DS4095 for more than a year, reports that it’s working great). If you want a cordless vacuum that is more likely to last and less likely to end up in the landfill, choose either of our two top picks, both of which have replaceable batteries and other parts.
  • It comes with just one attachment. Though the DS4095 easily converts to handheld mode, it comes with just one basic attachment, a tool designed for crevices and dust. In our tests, the attachment worked decently, but pet owners may miss having a motorized brush for getting fur off upholstery. (In comparison, the Dyson V12 Detect Slim comes with three attachments, and the Ryobi 18V One+ HP vacuum has four.)
  • It feels flimsy and doesn’t stand up on its own. The plastic housing and the flexible hose that connects the stick and the cleaner head feel cheap, and the DS4095 can’t stand unsupported.

Other good cordless stick vacuums

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If you’re a Miele devotee: You might like the . This model, which cleans about as well as our picks, is beautifully designed, nimble, and a pleasure to maneuver. It can work in three configurations: as a handheld vacuum cleaner, with the bin and motor (the heaviest part) below the handle, or with the bin and motor directly above the cleaner head. (We found the last configuration to be the best.) But it’s expensive, priced around $700 at this writing. Its cleaner head jammed easily on certain rug and rug pad combinations in our tests, and we found opening the dustbin to be a hassle. On top of all that, its 25-minute real-life run time and its two-year warranty are disappointing.

If you frequently vacuum up long hair: Consider the Shark IZ862H Stratos Cordless Vacuum. It’s the only stick vacuum in our test group whose brush was able to handle 18-inch-long hair without requiring us to manually untangle it. This model is an excellent cleaner with an impressive five-year warranty. But we didn’t like the strong, artificial smell of its odor-neutralizing cartridge. The manual advises to avoid direct contact with the fragrance pod and to keep it away from children and pets, and Shark wouldn’t give us information about its ingredients.

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If you want a vacuum that’s designed to last longer than most: The Lupe Pure Cordless Vacuum Cleaner may be for you. It has a five-year-warranty, much longer than the coverage on other vacuums. We preferred the Lupe model’s cool, futuristic design over that of the Dyson sticks. Manufactured by a company that prides itself on its high ethical and environmental standards, the vacuum consists of parts that are almost all replaceable, and the company offsets its carbon footprint with each sale. In our tests, the Lupe vacuum was a great cleaner, performing about as well as the Ryobi cordless pet stick vac, but it typically costs more than twice as much as that model, about $700—a price that we find hard to justify despite Lupe’s environmental aspirations.

The competition

We found the Dyson V15s Detect Submarine wet-and-dry vacuum cleaner to be heavy, awkward, and, at nearly $1,000, ridiculously pricey. Like the V15 Detect—its much lighter, vacuum-only cousin—this model has a trigger instead of a button. Its mopping performance pales in comparison to an old-fashioned mop; it’s also leaky, and its five separate parts need to be painstakingly disassembled to be cleaned.

The Tineco Pure One S11 was our previous top pick, and we still think it’s a decent stick vacuum. But our current picks are better cleaners. We also tested the new Tineco Pure One S15 Pet and the Tineco Pure One Air, its lighter, less powerful cousin, but both models allowed heavier debris to drop back out when we shut them off. Tineco’s product team told us that they were working to improve the issue.

The pricey Samsung Bespoke Jet comes with a freestanding (and bulky) charging and auto-emptying station. But when we tested this model, it wasn’t any better than the Dyson V12 Detect Slim or the Ryobi 18V One+ HP vacuum.

Although the Hoover OnePwr Emerge Pet+ is similar in looks and performance to the Ryobi 18V One+ HP model, it costs more, has a smaller dustbin, and runs for a meager 25 minutes. We also tried the Hoover OnePwr Evolve Pet Elite, but we found it to be less versatile than the Emerge Pet+ because it lacked attachments for cleaning shelves, stairs, and ceilings. In addition, we were unable to disassemble the Evolve Pet Elite for storage after using it because its stick wouldn’t detach from its body. (We ran into a similar problem with the Bissell ICONpet Turbo Edge: After we emptied its bin, reinserting the bin was impossible.)

For its price, around $350 at the time of our testing, the Electrolux WellQ7 felt flimsy. It was a worse cleaner than our picks, too.

Several contenders—including the Greenworks 24V Cordless Green Stick Vacuumand the Fabuletta FSV001 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner—had cool LED displays or LCD screens but were incapable of sucking up and holding in debris effectively.

In our tests, the Dreametech T30 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner emitted a high-pitched whine and struggled to pick up medium and large debris. Its uncharacteristically long wand may make it awkward to use for shorter people.

The Black+Decker PowerSeries+ 16V Max Cordless Stick Vacuum snowplowed debris and dumped some back out once we switched it off.

The Shark Wandvac Self-Empty System comes bundled with an auto-emptying station, which in our testing failed to extract all of the debris from the vacuum’s teeny dustbin. Emptying the dustbin manually was awkward and easily led to spills.

What to look forward to

We plan to test several new cordless stick vacuums next: The Electrolux Ultimate800 Complete Home has a blade built into the brush roll to cut through tangled hairs and fibers. The Tineco Pure One Station Furfree Smart Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner is advertised as a hands-free self-cleaning unit that empties its dustbin and cleans its brush roll and filters automatically, and the LG CordZero All in One Cordless Stick Vacuum empties its dustbin into a bag at its docking station. The Bissell Cleanview XR Pet 300W Stick Vacuum is a simpler, more traditional model.

Care and maintenance

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Vacuum owners often think that their machine is broken when all it needs is a cleaning. Cordless stick vacuums are sold on the convenience of not needing bags, but they do require regular maintenance. “The number one problem is that people buy [cordless stick] vacuums, but they never clean the filter,” said vacuum repair specialist and collector Tom Gasko. Our full article on how to clean a vacuum cleaner has information for cleaning all types of vacuums, but here are six ways to keep your stick vacuum clean and maintained:

Wash or replace the filter. Check the manufacturer’s guide for specific instructions on cleaning the filter. The Dyson V12 Detect Slim, the Ryobi 18V One+ HP Cordless Pet Stick Vac Kit with Dual-Roller Bar, and the Kenmore Elite CSV Max Cordless Stick Vacuum DS4095 (PDF) all have washable filters. “Remember that the motor is trying to draw air to breathe through the filter,” said Gasko. “Clean the filters often, like at least every other use.”

Empty and clean the bin. An overstuffed bin inhibits airflow and suction. Hold the bin over a trash can and tap it until it’s empty. If the bin gets grimy, pop out the bin and clean the whole bowl (consult the manual first). Let it dry fully.

Check for clogs. Anything oversized or slightly sticky runs the risk of gumming up the works. Peer into the mechanism and pull out anything that’s stuck. If any part of the vacuum cleaner is clogged up, the machine loses suction power.

Clean the attachments. It’s important to clean out any fur, hair, or strings. (And in my house, hay.) Tangled-up brushes don’t just affect cleaning performance but also reduce battery life. “A brush clogged with hair means the motor is going to draw a lot more juice out of the battery and really reduce the amount of time that you can get out of the vacuum,” Gasko explained.

Don’t run your vacuum on high for more than a minute or two. Keep it on low or an “eco” setting as much as possible and save the high-power or “boost” mode for spot cleaning. Running your vacuum for long periods on the high setting can damage the battery, said James Brown, service specialist and museum curator at Mr. Vacuum Cleaner.

Maintain the battery and charger. Unplug your vacuum once it’s fully charged—or better yet, charge it only when you need it. Keeping the battery in the charging dock can shorten its lifespan, said Matthew Childe, director of energy storage at Dyson. Make sure that the charging contacts are clean and that the power adapter is in working order.

This guide was edited by Ingrid Skjong and Courtney Schley.


  1. Damian Lee, engineer at Ember and former engineer at Dyson and Shark, Zoom interview, January 31, 2023

  2. Tom Gasko, vacuum cleaner collector and repair specialist and owner of Mid Missouri Vacuum, Zoom interview, February 1, 2023

  3. James Brown, service specialist and museum curator at Mr. Vacuum Cleaner, Zoom interview, December 30, 2022

  4. Chris Kobrick, director of Kenmore product management, email interviews, February 15 and 16, 2023

  5. Matthew Childe, director of energy storage at Dyson, email interviews, March 21 and 22, 2023

  6. Pablo Montero-Cowell, co-founder of Lupe Technologies, Zoom interview, December 23, 2022

The Best Cordless Stick Vacuum (2024)


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