Best cordless vacuum cleaner 2019: easier cleaners for your car, shelves, hard floors and carpets

The pick of the cordless vacuum cleaners do battery-powered battle

Best cordless vac 2019 for spills, routine cleaning, big rugs… and your car

With home living spaces getting smaller, carpets getting less deep pile and cordless vacuum cleaner tech improving beyond all recognition in recent years, the best cordless vacuum cleaners are now easily as effective as traditional vacs. They're also much more versatile – making them among the best vacuum cleaners you can buy.

Just a few years ago, there weren't many contenders for best cordless vacuum. You could choose a Dyson cordless vacuum, which weren't bad, but felt overpriced (unless you found a Dyson deal to take the edge off), and then you had a chasing pack of wannabe products. They were fine for cleaning up little spills, and using on shelves, surfaces and in your car, but cordless vacuum cleaners couldn't really do floors.

That all changed with the arrival of the Dyson V8, which was the first cordless vacuum that could really take on a corded vac for floor cleaning. Since then, plenty of other brands have raised their game, and the result is a huge boom in sales of cordless vacuum cleaners.

Looking for a really cheap cordless vacuum? Check out the best July sales deals, some of which may not be appearing in the widgets below.

What is the best cordless vacuum?

Our top choices come from Vax and Dyson (twice). The best cordless vacuum cleaner overall, and just the best vacuum cleaner, if your house isn't enormous, is the new Dyson: Dyson V11 Absolute. This will quite happily take over from your corded vac and although the 15 minutes or so of cleaning that you get on its highest setting seems rather fleeting, the two lower suction settings last much longer. 

I just keep it plugged in when not in use and it has literally never run out of juice in mid-clean, so theoretical arguments about how long it does or doesn't last seem rather moot. Also, the V11 adds, for the first time, a battery meter that actually counts down the time to the next required charge, so if nothing else, you can't claim to be taken by surprise.  

Those wanting a proper handheld-type vac (that's what cordless vacuum cleaners ALL used to be, before Dyson started making ones with long tubes, designed to be pushed around more like a lightweight upright) should consider the Dyson V8.

It's smaller, and way more manoeuvrable than the V11, and hence much better for using on tables, shelves, car boots and so on. It's no slouch when it comes to doing floors, though.

Those seeking a cheap Dyson alternative should get the Vax Blade 2 Max. This pretty much matches the Dysons when it comes to floor cleaning. It's not as good as the V8 for handheld use, but it's fine. It also has a Dyson-beating UPS – a bloody great LED headlight – and usually a much lower price.

How to buy the best cordless vac for your space 

The best cordless vacuums come with one obvious advantage: no cord. This makes them so much easier to push around than their corded brethren and they're also light enough to clean everywhere from the ceiling to the skirting board, as well as sucking up kitchen spills from worktops, dust from shelves (high and low), and so on.

Because of the way they've developed since Dyson made them a more premium, versatile product, they're good for everything from traditional uses, such as cleaning out the footwell of your car, to properly vacuuming large expanses of carpet.

Cordless vacs do come with disadvantages. In order to keep the weight low enough to make them useful, the lithium-ion batteries they use can't be all that big and heavy, and so their battery  life is invariably quite short – usually no more than 20 minutes at full power, up to 40 or so at the lower power settings (that nobody uses). Dyson has addressed this by gradually improving its batteries over the years, but now some other brands are taking a rather simpler approach to the problem and including two batteries.

A lot of homes' floors can be given a good enough clean in 20 minutes, especially if you're using your handheld daily to maintain a dust-free domicile. Your other option, of course, is to buy a corded vac for the weekly/monthly/annual Big Vacuuming and use the handheld for smaller tasks.

If you live in a house with lots of carpets and two or more bedrooms, a cordless vac is still a great supplement to your mains one. If you have a flat with mainly hard floors, you can probably forget about a cylinder or standup. 

Nearly all cordless vacs are bagless, which seems like a great feature initially. Then, when you come to empty their often small, usually translucent dust bins, you may initially find yourself cursing the day you ever bought one. With practice, if the vac is sufficiently well designed, this will become less of a problem, but the only one we'd unreservedly recommend in this department is the Dyson V8. Its bin emptying mechanism is sheer poetry in motion.

Finally, most stick vacs come with a range of heads for different surfaces, crevices, pet hair and so on. You can usually also buy cheaper versions of the vacs with just one or two basic heads, but, as the old saying goes, more heads are better than some. 

The best cordless vacuum cleaners in order

Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Dyson V11 Absolute

The all-conquering V11, with its three battery/power modes

1. Dyson V11 Absolute

Best cordless vacuum cleaner, thanks to extra suction 'at the head', smarter power management and a battery gauge

Specifications
Power: 28AW-185AW
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.97kg
Maximum run time: About 20-60 mins depending on power setting
Reasons to buy
+Replaces your corded vac+Doubles well enough as a handheld+More powerful and longer battery life than previous range-topper the V10
Reasons to avoid
-Heftier than the old-but-still-great V8-Could be described as a tad pricey

This looks a great deal like the V10 (#4 in this list) but adds more suction, especially on carpet, better battery management and a power gauge that tells you when to start panicking because the battery is running out. A clock actually counts down, based on estimates determined primarily by what power mode you're using.

The good news is that, although you aren't likely to get more than 15 minutes of suck out of this if you only use the highest, 'Boost' setting, the 'Auto' mode, which adapts suction based on use conditions such as whether you're on carpet or hard floor, lasts a lot longer and is highly effective. The 'Eco' mode which can last for up to an hour, is also not bad at all.

For a mid-sized, modern-ish home with a mix of carpets and hard floors, I can't really think of how a vac could be better than the Dyson V11 Absolute. 

Due to its size it's not as satisfying to use as a handheld (for shelves, surfaces, the car etc), as the older V8 but it works well enough when doing that. Also, the increased bulk is balanced by the fact it allows for much more suction power, and a bigger bin. Granted, the bin is still hardly gargantuan at 0.76 litres, but it's sufficiently easy to empty to make that a non-issue.

The 'Dyson premium' is well worth paying for the V11 Absolute. Sell your corded vac to contribute towards the cost. The cheaper V11 Animal, incidentally is excellent but alas, lacks the Absolute's High Torque head, which is one of the real killer features here. So you will have to go all in if you want the current state of the art in vacuum cleaning. The Vax at #2 is great anyway, so if you can't afford this, that's fine.

Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Vax Blade 2

2. Vax Blade 2 Max

Best affordable cordless vacuum cleaner

Specifications
Power: 40v
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 3.1kg
Maximum run time: About 15-40 mins depending on power setting
Reasons to buy
+Excellent floor cleaning+Cheaper than a Dyson+Easy to empty bin+Solid battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Not as good for handheld use as a Dyson-Emits horrendous racket

This new cordless Blade from Vax is generally about £40-£50 cheaper than a Dyson V8 and over £100 cheaper than a V10. That's a handy saving when you consider that it comes to cleaning floors, it seems at least as good. 

It's a similar story with battery life, which again seems at least as good as the V10. It's hard to declare a precise battery life for cordless vacs because of the varying real-world ways they get used, but the Blade 2 generally seems to last longer than the Dyson in both Max Power and standard modes.

On both hard and carpeted floors, in my view, the Blade 2 outperforms any Dyson. Its spinning brush bar is highly effective, apart from a few occasions when it sprays stuff around rather than diverting it down the Vax's suction tube, and suction is very good even if you turn it off. Perhaps the Blade 2 Max's real pièce de résistance is its headlight, which activates alongside the brush bar and really helps with cleaning in dimly lit areas. The bin mechanism isn't as ingenious as Dyson's but it's easy enough to empty.

The main drawback of the Vax Blade 2 compared to Dysons (the V8 in particular) is that it's much less fun to use as a handheld, when cleaning surfaces other than your flooring.

Also, the Blade 2 is clearly not as chic as a Dyson. It's not hideous, though, and I dare say most people probably aren't that bothered what their vac looks like anyway. It does make a much more horrible racket, though.

That aside, the Blade 2 comes highly recommended.

Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Dyson V8

3. Dyson V8 Absolute

The ultimate 'old style' cordless vac, as good on tables and in cars as it is on floors

Specifications
Power: 21.6v
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.6kgs
Maximum run time: About 10-40 mins depending on power setting
Reasons to buy
+Genuinely works as both handheld and 'proper' vac+Solid battery life+Compact and stylish 
Reasons to avoid
-The V10 has even more POWER

Dyson has been making cordless vacs for quite some time now, but 2016's V8 was where it finally really cracked it. It is also still the best option if you want a vac to use mainly handheld, rather than as a floor cleaner. Although it is also pretty damn good at that.

Another great feature is that it's sufficiently attractive and compact to just leave lying around in the kitchen or hallway – or attached to the wall with its well-made mount. So when a spill occurs or you notice a messy bit of floor, you don't have to go and retrieve it from 'the special cupboard'. It is the ultimate 'clean a little, but often' vac.

Those with large houses or a more 'traditional' attitude to cleaning might find it a bit underpowered. The number of extra tools required to make it as versatile as it it can initially leave you scratching your head figuring out which one to use for what (although, in my experience, the 'main' head is just as good as the 'spongey' one for hard floors, and the pet hair sucking one is probably overkill if you don't have allergies or a near pathological aversion to pet hair (remind me, why did you buy that golden retriever, then?) 

The V8 was the first Dyson that really started to solve the problems previously inherent in cordless vacs. Firstly, the bin. Emptying this used to involve digging around it with a chopstick, which just doesn't feel that premium. With the V8, you just pull up a red latch and the entire motor and filter arrangement lifts out, as the bottom hatch opens, emptying everything into the bin, with nothing stuck to the filter. Push the filter and motor back into place and anything stuck to it is squeegeed off by its housing. Then just flip the lid shut.

The V8 can go for 40 minutes as a handheld, with the basic but well designed brush and crevice tools, and 15-20 with the extension tube and powered floor brushes fitted. That's on the standard power setting. With the turbo setting on, it's more like 10 minutes or so, but you do find that is sufficient, if you use it little and often and leave it on charge when not wafting the V8 about.

Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Dyson V10

4. Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute

Very similar to the V11 and worth a look if it's on sale

Specifications
Power: 28AW-125AW
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.68kg
Maximum run time: About 20-60 mins depending on power setting
Reasons to buy
+Sucks like a high quality corded vac+Doubles niftily as a handheld+More powerful, longer battery and bigger bin than the V8
Reasons to avoid
-Bulk and weight make it less versatile and fun to use than the V8

The Cyclone V10 is a slightly odd device in that it successfully addressed many key issues that users have had with previous Dyson cordless vacs, yet ended up being only just better than its predecessor. 

And then Dyson put out the V11, which looks almost identical, but is better. It's the neglected middle child, then, but it's still a fine cordless vac.

Should you buy a Dyson Cyclone V10? If you have loadsa carpets, and want a cordless, it's still worth a look. It's noticeably more powerful and has a better carpet-cleaning head than the V8, although the much cheaper Vax rival (#2) does at least as good a job. 

It's entirely possible that sales – Black Friday for instance – will see this discounted. It does sit rather awkwardly in the range. If the price is right, it's still well worth considering.

Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited

5. Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited

Superb Dyson clone with two batteries

Specifications
Power: 18v
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 3.5kg
Maximum run time: About 15-25 mins per battery depending on power setting
Reasons to buy
+Two batteries make running out of juice unlikely+Excellent cleaning performance+Awesome 'big crevice' tool
Reasons to avoid
-Actually manages to be more pricey than a Dyson-Crappy dusting brush

• Buy Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited from Amazon

Previous Bosch cordless vacs have been a bit iffy in terms of heft and looks. To be brutally frank, they were fatty boom booms. Not so the BCS122GB Unlimited, which is, if I may again speak frankly, a Dyson clone. But a very, very good one.

There are three absolutely fantastic things about the BCS122GB Unlimited and only one egregiously crap one. Firstly, although its battery life is fairly pitiful, Bosch gets around this by the ingenious means of… including a second battery. 

As they charge fully in about an hour, these 18v cells should keep you vacuuming indefinitely, so long as you're judicious about charging one while using the other. Interestingly (or not, perhaps), they are also the exact same batteries and charger used in all Bosch's 18v power tool range, so you could use the same cell to drill a hole in a wall, and then suck up the debris.

The other selling points are that cleaning performance on carpet and hard floor is excellent, and well up to Dyson standard in real-life, day-to-day use (I try not to get too bogged down in seeing which vac can suck up one square metre of rice crispies or flour the best.) It's even pretty passable without the turbo mode engaged.

Oh, and the long crevice tool. This looks absolutely ridiculous, turning the vac into a sort of robot anteater, but it is fantastically useful for cleaning skirting boards, footwells, down the back of the washing machine and so on. But seriously, just look at it.

Now THAT is a crevice tool

The only real debit, if you ignore the rather premium price and slightly excessive weight, is the duster tool. Dyson has perfected this over the years and it's essential for cleaning dust, crumbs and, I dare say, one square metre of rice crispies off of surfaces in a hurry. The Bosch one is rubbish.

That aside, a near perfect cordless vacuum cleaner, and one that will run and run.

Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Philips Speed Pro Max

6. Philips Speed Pro Max

Superb Dyson clone with a headlight

Specifications
Power: 25v
Power boost: Yes, three power settings
Weight: 2.73kg
Maximum run time: About 20-65 mins depending on power setting
Reasons to buy
+Excellent cleaning performance+Awesome 'big crevice' tool
Reasons to avoid
-Actually manages to be more pricey than a Dyson-No dusting brush

• Buy Philips Speed Pro Max from Amazon

This is what I was alluding to in the intro about the chasing pack catching up with Dyson in the best cordless vacuum cleaner stakes. There is very little to tell between the Dysons at the top and the Dyson rivals from Bosch (above), Shark (below) and this one from Philips.

Once again, cleaning performance is excellent here. However, while the weight is spot on, on paper, the slightly odd design makes it more usable as a push-along floor cleaner than a traditional handheld – it's going after the V10 more than the V8, basically. It's even got a headlight on the excellent floor-cleaning brush, to show you just how gross your hard floors are, even in low light.

I feel like this one falls just short of the Bosch due to the presence of only one battery (albeit a far more powerful one than the pair that Bosch provides). Also, while the handheld 'duster' brush provided by Bosch is a bit rubbish, at least there is one – Philips has painstakingly copied Dyson's approach to vacuum building, yet mystifyingly failed to include such a brush. 

Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Shark DuoClean Cordless

7. Shark DuoClean Cordless

Splendid Dyson clone with a headlight AND two batteries AND a bendy tube to clean under your bed!

Specifications
Power: 25v
Power boost: Yes, three power settings
Weight: 4kg
Maximum run time: About 20 mins per battery depending on power setting
Reasons to buy
+Excellent cleaning performance+Fantastic under-furniture cleaning 
Reasons to avoid
-Emits piercing whine-Small bin, even by cordless standards-Odd balance, and quite weighty-Has been struck with ugly stick

Especially given it's a bit cheaper, this is another superb option for those seeking a Dyson-esque cleaning experience without buying an actual Dyson.

I love the way that all Shark vacs have the look of having been put together by a nutty professor, in their shed. They always have unique design features that range from pointless but fun to genuinely useful and none more so than the DuoClean Cordless, which as well as 'DuoClean' – which just means the excellent floor cleaning brush can switch between hard floor and carpet modes and do an equally good job on both – this also boasts 'Flexology'. Okay, get a load of this.

Best cordless vacuum cleaner

Woah

• Buy Shark DuoClean Cordless from Shark

Have you ever seen anything like that? Remarkably, Flexology is both easy to activate and end – you just push a button to turn the straight suction tube into a bent one, then flip it back up to resume normal service – and actually works. The volume of dust removed from under my wardrobe, the first time I tried it, was truly terrifying to behold.

You also get a pair of powerful batteries for up to 44 minutes of near-seamless cleaning. They do seem to take a good few hours to fully charge, so you can't necessarily rotate them quite as easily as the Bosch, but 44 minutes is fine. There are a plethora of very competent cleaning heads, too. Oh, and there's a headlight, and very handy it is. 

Overall cleaning performance is pretty much up to par with the Dyson, Philips or Bosch. The only reservations I have here are that is this Shark is both considerably uglier, harder to lift and more prone to sliding over when left leaning against a wall than its more premium foes. The small bin also fills up extremely fast, although you could say that is testament to how good is at cleaning. Unlike some of Shark's corded vacs, it's at least easy enough to empty, thankfully.

Best cordless vac: Shark DuoClean Powered LiftAway

8. Shark DuoClean Powered LiftAway

The most powerful cordless vacuum cleaner – another innovative, hideous vac from Shark

Specifications
Power: Not quoted
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 5.7kg
Maximum run time: 20-50 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Unusually powerful cleaning for a cordless+Innovative upright/handheld dual design
Reasons to avoid
-Better as an upright than a handheld

Another day, another eccentric-but-effective Shark design. This one resembles a (rather ugly and brutish) lightweight upright in normal use, but with the push of a button the bin and hose lift away for handheld use on stair, shelves and so on. Although for whatever reason, Shark also seems to be suggesting you should use it on floors like, erm, an upright.

Best cordless vacuum cleaner

Woah!

The good thing about this approach is that improved floor cleaning, thanks to Shark's excellent DuoClean head. 

The not so good thing about this approach is that it requires you to use both hands when using it handheld. The bin is still only 6 litres in size so it's not like you're gaining much in that department, but unlike a normal, Dyson-style cordless, the bin is separate from the main unit.

Even so, it's an excellent vacuum cleaner. We prefer the less powerful but more usable 'bendy' Shark DuoClean listed above, but clearly there's a market for this ugly sister product too.

• Read T3's 4-star Shark DuoClean Powered LIftAway review

Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Gtech AirRam Mk 2

9. Gtech AirRam Mk 2

Best upright-only cordless vacuum

Specifications
Power: 22v
Power boost: No
Weight: 3.5kgs
Run time: 40 mins
Reasons to buy
+Exceptionally easy to use+Efficient pet hair collector+Excellent run time
Reasons to avoid
-Clearly a less versatile device

Taking a totally different approach to Dyson and co, the AirRam Mk 2 is a traditional upright vac, stripped down to the lightest, simplest form possible, yet still highly effective.

Its 22-volt Lithium Ion battery provides up to 40 minutes of vacuuming – enough charge for a two bedroom house – and although it takes about four hours to charge, that means I don't obliged to leave it habitually plugged in, as I do with the Dyson.

The dirt collection system, like Dyson's is great. All detritus is compressed into a cylindrical capsule positioned just behind the front roller brush. To clean, you just remove the bin, flip it open above a bin and slide an ejector arm across to pop the compressed dirt out of the side.

If you're used to dragging a standard vac around, the AirRam is a revelation. It's so light to manoeuvre – all the weight’s at floor level – and the vertically adjustable handle articulates to the sides for literally 'steering' around corners. It can also go very low to the ground, to get under beds and other furnishings with legs.

Use the AirRam on a hard kitchen floor or a dog-hair strewn carpet and it will collect more dirt and hair than you'd think possible. It's at least as good as the Dyson. And one thing it has that the V8 lacks is a bright LED headlamp, which is extremely useful – it's actually slightly chastening to see just how much dust is on the floor, when it's suddenly illuminated by a bright LED light.

The only surfaces the AirRam struggled with are thin rugs, as the fast-spinning rotary brush is positioned at a low, non adjustable height, it tends to suck them up into its maw. A lot of vacs do that, but the thing about the AirRam is it only has one power setting, so you can't really get around it

That small limitation aside, the AirRam is great. It's quick, effortless and proficient for both quick shufties round the living room and full house jobs, and the small footprint and upright design mean it’s a doddle to store.

Of course the AirRam's massive failing compared to the V8 is that it is just an upright, so you can forget about doing shelves, mantelpieces, behind the TV and up on the ceiling with it. 

However, if you invest in the cordless Gtech Multi handheld at the same time as the AirRam you do get a 50 discount. The Multi is nowhere near as good as the V8, but it's also by no means bad, and the bundle price is considerably less than the price of the V8 on its own. Hmm… decisions, decisions.

Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Gtech Pro

10. Gtech Pro

Yet another great Dyson alternative to date – and with a bag, no less

Specifications
Power: 22v
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.4kgs
Run time: 40 mins
Reasons to buy
+Very good cleaning performance+Powerful headlight+And it's got bags!
Reasons to avoid
-Hang on, why has it got bags?-Rather unwieldy

The big 'selling point' here, at least according to Gtech, is that this is a bagged vacuum cleaner, which is brilliant, whereas most cordless vacs – including, er, all its other ones – are bagless, which is rubbish.

I am not quite sold on this point, but I dare say the market will decide.

Whether you like bags in your vacs or not, what's hard to argue with here is the cleaning performance. It is comparable to the V8 for a considerably lower cost, with the same trick of cleaning floors – hard floors very well, carpet surprisingly well – with a larger, powered brush head, then polishing off spills and surfaces as a handheld. The battery life (20 minutes on max power, 40 minutes on standard) compares favourably to the V8 as well.

There are some caveats to that, ie: it is quite breathtakingly ugly, and everyone will just assume you can't afford a Dyson. It also pulls off the not inconsiderable feat of feeling more unwieldy than the V8, despite being lighter than it. This is particularly true when using it as a handheld.

That aside, this is another online-only bargain blockbuster from Gtech with perhaps its crowning glory (unless your a bagged vac fundamentalist, of course) is its array of LEDs, which throw an awesomely wide and bright headlight in the path of the Pro as it cleans the filth from your floors.

Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Dyson V6

11. Dyson V6 Animal

Best cheap Dyson – well, cheap by Dyson standards

Specifications
Power: 22v
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.2kgs
Run time: 20 mins
Reasons to buy
+Similar to the V8 but cheaper+Great for dusting and spills
Reasons to avoid
-Less adept at cleaning whole floors

The V6, which comes in various forms, looks very similar to the V8 and costs somewhat less. Here's what you need to know.

• It's less of a complete replacement for a corded vac than the V8, especially if you have lots of carpet. But it will do a job.

• For handheld dusting/spill-cleaning/stair/car duties it's almost exactly as good.

• The battery life is never more than 20 minutes and can be somewhat less than 10 on the higher power setting, with the floor brush tool, so it's best to keep it on charge in its wall mount or just shoved away somewhere.

• Emptying it invariably involves opening the hatch on the bottom of the bin, letting some crud fall out and then using a chopstick or similar to prise the rest out. This does not feel high-end.

• MIne's still going strong (okay, it doesn't get used much nowadays, but it's still going) after nigh on 5 years.