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 from one of the best Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners, or check out the best best Dyson deals, or settle for a chasing pack of wannabe best cordless vacs that were certainly cheaper, but also certainly worse. However now, those other brands have raised their game. The result is a huge boom in sales of the best cordless vacuum cleaners and a range of choices to suit most budgets.
A lot of these cordless vacuum cleaners turn up in sales and there are always cordless vac offers and deals to be had. Cordless vacuums will definitely be among the Amazon Prime Day deals.
Cordless vacuum cleaner Amazon Prime Day deals
The Amazon Prime Day sales, in October this year, should be a good source of cordless vac deals. In particular, Shark vacuum cleaners tend to see large discounts, and to sell extremely well. Older Dyson models might also see their prices trimmed, and plenty of other brands besides.
Other likely bargains to watch out for are on the elderly but much loved Gtech Airram, and probably some of the Vax stick vac range too.
What is the best cordless vacuum?
Our top choices for best cordless vac come from Vax and Dyson (twice). The best cordless vacuum cleaner overall, and just the best vacuum cleaner period, 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.
The closest thing to a true 'Dyson killer' so far, Samsung's Jet 90 Pro is also a cordless vac I unreservedly recommend.
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 ONEPWR Blade 4 Pet, which pretty much matches the Dysons when it comes to floor cleaning. Another excellent affordable option is the UK's Halo Capsule, which is a bagged, cordless vac that costs just £250, is made of carbon fibre, and sucks like a big sucking thing.
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
1. Dyson V11 Absolute
Best cordless vacuum cleaner, thanks to extra suction 'at the head', smarter power management and a battery gauge
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
This looks a great deal like the V10 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 Bissell and Vax at #2 and #3 are great anyway, so if you can't afford this, that's fine.
2. Samsung Jet 90 Pro
The best Dyson clone ever
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Ever since Dyson started making a mint by selling premium cordless vacuum cleaners that could, in many homes, replace corded ones there have been two types of cordless vac. On the one hand, Dyson cordless vacs, and arrayed against them, vacs that are just like Dyson cordless vacs but not quite as good. Nearly always more affordable, and always somewhere between a bit crappier and a lot crappier. Now though? I'm not so sure.
Nearly all the other products in this list will do an excellent job as a 'Dyson alternative' but this Samsung one matches it in practically every way, and will almost certainly end up being cheaper.
You already get a lot for your money. The Jet 90 Pro comes with a proper stand to hold and recharge it when not in use – it's perhaps not as neat as the Dyson wall mount, but it's considerably more substantial, and you don't have to screw it in to a wall, which a lot of people will prefer. It also has attachments for 4 tools instead of the Dyson's endlessly irritating limit of two.
Then you get a revolving mop head for wet and dry cleaning of hard floors, a bendy attachment for going under beds and other furniture, a main suction tube that you can extend to the length of your choice – admittedly more useful for adjusting to your height or for storing away, rather than reaching up particularly high, but still a neat touch.
You also get all usual, Dyson-esque stuff, with an efficient HEPA filter and attachments for dusting and 'crevices' – does anyone actually use crevice tools? The battery life is between 6 minutes and 60 minutes, depending on which of its tools and three power settings you use, while a screen shows you what setting you're on, and how long you have left. All just like the V11 above, in fact.
The only minor failing of the Jet 90 Pro is it doesn't seem to clean quite as well as the Dyson – that's based on abstract tests such as sucking a pile of ricicles, as well the more general feeling gathered during day-to-day use. There's very little in it, though.
I am not sure the mop head attachment spins quickly enough to be really effective, but again it certainly isn't bad – and Dyson doesn't even make such a thing, so it's a USP of sorts.
In summary, I still narrowly prefer the look and cleaning performance of the Dyson, which also has a bin that's slightly bigger and slightly easier to empty. The Dyson also handles better when used for dusting surfaces but again not by much. Actually it might just be that I'm more used to the Dyson. Samsung hasn't cut any corners with the Jet 90 Pro, and if you see it at the right price in the widgets above – ie: that bit cheaper than the Dyson V11 Absolute – I would not hesitate to recommend it.
3. Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 Pet
Best cheap cordless vacuum cleaner for pet lovers
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
This new pet-specific cordless model from Vax is a lot cheaper than the Dyson V11. While it doesn't look like it will last quite as long as a Dyson, there's remarkably little to tell between them in terms of cleaning power. In fact, Vax is adamant that it's 'Proven to clean carpets better than the UK’s Top 3 best selling cordless vacuums, with the cleaning performance of the best selling corded uprights.'
Okay, most tests for vacuum cleaners are ridiculous and bear no resemblance to how people actually vacuum their floors, but we'll just say this Vax definitely cleans very well. The Blade 4 Pet’s antimicrobial brush bar is just 22cm in width so it will require a few more sweeps per session, but it picks up pet hair and everything else in between exceptionally well. If things get really hairy – like the dog bed, sofa or car seats – with this model you have an extra motorised pet tool to hand that genuinely makes an impression, removing pretty much all signs of canine life.
The 0.6-litre dust collector is of above average size for a cordless stick and the three-stage filtration system does a grand job of keeping dust and musty carpet smells to a minimum. But while the removable bin is easy to eject for emptying, it’s a bit fiddly putting it back on again.
Battery life seems at least as good as the V11. 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 4 Pet generally seems to last as long if not longer than the Dyson in both Max Power and standard modes. That's particularly impressive given that, unlike any Dyson to date, the Blade 4 Pet incorporates an LED headlight, which activates alongside the revolving brush bar and really helps with cleaning in dimly lit areas.
The main drawback of the Vax Blade 4 compared to Dysons is that it's much less fun to use as a handheld, when cleaning surfaces shelves and cars, rather than your flooring. In a nutshell, it feels too heavy and unbalanced to use for long periods in this configuration.
Also, the Blade 2 is clearly not as chic as a Dyson, not that most people are remotely bothered what their vac looks like. The high speed setting does make a much more horrible racket, though. Seriously, it is like 1,000,000 banshees escaping from Hell. That aside, the Blade 4 Pet comes very highly recommended.
4. Shark Anti Hair Wrap IZ251UKT
Best cordless vacuum for pets (and humans) with long hair
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Please note that the number IZ251UKT refers to the version of this vac that comes with two batteries and pet-friendly air filtering and additional tool. Also available are the IZ251UK, which has two batteries but no pet-specific features, and IZ201UK which only has one battery.
Shark enjoys a significant presence in the vacuuming arena which is of no surprise given the general effectiveness of their products and the great prices. This new, very well engineered pet-specific model comes with a tranche of clever design flourishes, including a folding main tube for easy storage. This is a major plus because a common issue with most cordless vacs is that they’re so top heavy they can’t stand up on their own; hence they either need to be stored on a provided wall mount or left loose in a jumbled mess in the cupboard under the stairs. Another cool byproduct of the articulating main tube is that it allows the cleaning head to reach deep under beds, sofas, chairs and cupboards. If you wish to do some detailed cleaning simply remove the main tube and use it as a hand held.
If you’re concerned about battery consumption then the good news is that this model comes with two, plus a charging station that accommodates both batteries at the same time. Shark states a combined running time of 80 minutes and this writer won’t argue with that.
Bar the Miele reviewed below, practically all cordless vacs of this nature site the motor housing and dust collector near the top just below the handle, and this of course adds extra weight on the wrist and forearm. This model is no different but in its favour it does feel fairly light in the hand, especially if you use it at the end of a relaxed arm. The anti-allergen dust collector is of average size – ie quite small – and super easy to empty without creating too much dust in the process.
One of the main selling points of this model is that it comes with Anti Hair Wrap tech that uses a series of prongs to prevent long hair and threads from wrapping around the cleaning roller; it works extremely well. And speaking of rollers, this one comes with two – a front mounted towel-covered one for catching larger detritus and a brush roller behind it for deep cleaning.
This writer has two dogs and three cats and the ravenous Shark collected a remarkable amount of hair and other stuff I didn’t recognise after just a few sweeps. The steerable head – replete with LED headlights – was easy to manoeuvre, too, and surprisingly easy to push around.
The Shark comes with two suction levels plus a ‘Boost’ trigger under the handle that ramps it up to near mains-powered levels of suction. In fact, I did most of the test using the lowest suction level with only occasional need for the boost. Very impressive. As is the case with all cordless vacs, the Shark comes with an assortment of tool attachments – almost too many – for detailed cleaning of stairs, shelves and crevices.
If you’re in the market for an impressively specced, well designed and remarkably quiet pet-specific cordless vac that truly sucks in the real sense of the word, then make a beeline for this proficient contender.
5. Lupe Pure
A new high powered upright that converts to a stick in a thrice
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
When it comes to cordless vac design, most manufacturers still prefer the stick method since it offers the best of both worlds: general hard floor and carpet cleaning duties plus handheld vacuuming of awkward areas like stairs, edges, corners and hard to reach places. However, the drawback with cordless stick vacs is that all the weight of the unit’s battery, motor and dust bin is in the user’s hand making them feel heavy and a bit cumbersome, especially when cleaning areas above head height. Also, you can’t store most stick vacs in an upright position.
By contrast, an upright model like the Gtech AirRam Mk2 K9 reviewed below – and to some degree the newer Miele Triflex HX1 – feels much lighter in the hand because all the weight is on the floor. It’s also very easy to store in an upright position. However, the drawback with the Gtech – and uprights in general – is that it can’t clean to the very edges, in corners or places like shelves, bookcases and sofas.
Well here comes an ingenious 3-in-1 cordless upright that excels in all disciplines. The brainchild of two former Dyson employees, the new modular Lupe Pure is a breakthrough in the pantheon of cordless vacs. The first thing to mention is how simple it is both to set up and use. There is no reason to refer to the manual with this model because everything about it is self evident. After all, it’s only comprised of eight main parts – brush bar head, motor body, dust collector, battery, handle, hose and two detail attachments. All parts click into place with zero fumbling and all buttons, latches and controls are clearly highlighted.
Unlike the majority of stick vacs that aren’t worth repairing when something internal gives up the ghost, this one has been designed to last possibly forever. According to its designers, every part – both internal and external – is available for easy, cost-effective replacement.
In upright form, the Lupe is a pleasure to use – while its real world weight is heavier than the majority of stick vacs, it actually feels lighter in the hand and it has arguably the best steering mechanism and comfiest handle in vac land. This vac is just so manoeuvrable and effortless to push around, even in confined spaces. And because it stays upright when not in use, you can leave it where it’s standing if your session is suddenly interrupted. Its small form also makes it a doddle to store under the stairs or even in a cupboard if the handle is removed.
So how well does it clean? Extremely well, it must be said. Granted, the majority of vacs we’ve tested have performed competently enough even though sometimes it’s taken a few more sweeps back and forth. The Lupe is definitely up there in the higher end of cleaning performance. Its power head seamlessly moves from one surface to another and is unique in that it’s comprised of a soft black rubber front roller which snatches items while increasing suction power, and a reverse spinning rear brush that agitates the carpet, flinging debris into the extra large one-litre collection bin which, incidentally, is biggest on test and easy to remove for emptying. However, the vac's bin design isn't really suitable for pet hair because it gets jammed in the top half beyond finger reach. Yes, you can unclip the top, pull out the filter and get to the hair that way, but it's a right faff. Bear this in mind if you have pets.
The Lupe's suction is extraordinarily powerful so I’d advise hitting the big ’minus’ button if being used on thicker carpet and some rugs. The filter system is noteworthy, too, and difficult to clog even when vacuuming fine particles like flour. Yes, the Lupe is noisy in full-blast mode but we’ve heard worse.
To use the Lupe Pure as a stick vac, simply remove the handle and plug in one end of the hose. You can now reach high shelves, do the stairs and sofa with the detail attachments. Although it isn’t motorised, the combination brush did a sterling job on the dog’s bed, so a big high five there. However, you will need to hold the main component in your other hand, because too long a stretch of the hose will cause it to fall off its feet. But this is a small price to pay for such convenience. In terms of battery life, this writer got the stated 60 minutes out of it using the lower but perfectly adequate Eco setting. The battery is easy to charge, too.
But here comes the crunch. The Lupe Pure is expensive, as in £100 more expensive than the very expensive Dyson v11 Absolute. Not many folk can justify that kind of outlay on a vacuum cleaner. But in the Lupe’s favour, it cleans amazingly well, is incredibly intuitive and super easy to store. It’s also a joy to use – if vacuuming could ever be considered a joy.
6. Tineco Pure One S12
A top stick vac for tech heads
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Although you may not have heard of the brand, Tineco is fast becoming a major force in the floor cleaning arena and this mighty white assemblage of high tech wizardry is the Chinese company’s flagship cordless stick.
You certainly get your money’s worth with this futuristic piece of kit since it comes with two batteries, two main brush heads, plus an assortment of five smaller attachments, including one that is designed specifically for cleaning the filter. If you like lots of tools with your vac then this one’s your nirvana, my friend. But that’s just the half of it because there’s a whole lot of science going on under the attractive matt shell of the S12’s admittedly weighty hand unit.
Where other sensor- and processor-based models like the Dyson v11 and Roborock H6 monitor battery usage and the type of surface the brush head is on, this one goes even further to include information on whether the brush roller is tangled or if an air channel is blocked with debris.
However, the really clever bit – which could be construed as a bit of a gimmick – is that it uses sensors to detect the level of dust it’s in the process of devouring. This is beautifully illustrated in real time with a ring of light that surrounds the four-inch circular LED display above the handle. Depending on how much dirt is detected, the circle of light changes from mauve to red, or it stays blue if everything’s spick and span. I tried this out and, amazingly, the motor ramped up the suction and the colour changed from blue to red just as the brush head reached the prearranged section of heavy detritus. There’s even an app for this thing that provides a resumé of its performance though we’re not sure why you’d want to use it.
Unlike the Roborock and Dyson, battery countdown on the S12 is in percentages. I managed to get between 40 and 50 minutes out of each battery, which amounts to a lot of vacuuming.
The S12 always starts up in Auto mode, adjusting suction when necessary. However, you can easily override this by using the tactile finger slide which goes all the way to full power. In fact, it’s only when at full power – which is way too much for most cleaning tasks – that you realise how quiet this vac is. In fact, the main brush head makes more noise than the motor and air flow.
The two main motorised cleaning heads are comprised of the aforementioned noisy brushed version with ribbed spindle that batters along the carpet agitating the dirt in the process, and a smooth velvet roller that is better suited to hard floors. Both rollers picked up everything in their path, including large clumps of dog hair. They’re also equipped with LED headlights – handier than you think.
There’s a lot of other kit involved here, including two nozzles (one extendable), a combination brush and a smaller motorised tool for sofas and stairs. We tried this tool on a dog bed but it failed to make an impression, most likely because the revolving bristles are way too soft. Our final tool is the one that cleans the filter. Simply remove the spare one inside, pop in the dirty one, attach the tool to the handle unit and switch it on. The filter is spun at high speed against internal brushes that remove all traces of dust.
Despite the myriad of bells and whistles, when it came down to the tasks in hand, the Tineco proved to be exceptional in practically all disciplines, whether on carpets, hard floors, curtains, sofas or stairs. If you like tech for the sake of tech even if it’s a bit gimmicky, then this is the vac for you – it’s remarkably powerful, efficient and keenly priced for what it offers.
7. Roborock H6
Best cordless stick vac for featherweights
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Roborock is best known for its very good robotic vacuum cleaners so this stick vac is a first for them. Without further ado we’ll just tell you that it’s an absolute cracker.
If you find most cordless stick vacs are simply too heavy to use, especially in hand-held mode, then consider this powerful, quiet and very effective model that weighs just 1.4kgs (at least one kilo less than any other model here).
Despite its weight and size, this aesthetically pleasing model is no slouch in the power department: its 50-watt motor delivers 150 air watts against the benchmark Dyson V11’s 185AW. The battery is another talking point. Where many cordless vacs use Lithium Ion batteries, this one is equipped with a built-in Lithium-Polymer that, aside from being generally safer and more efficient, produces a running time of up to 90 minutes in Auto mode. Very impressive.
At 23cm, the revolving brush head is a tad wider than many others and it picked up pretty much everything we threw in its path. Aside from the main brush bar, the Roborock H6 comes with a motorised mini brush for dog detritus, a dusting brush, crevice tool and a short flexible hose for reaching awkward areas deep under furniture and beds. It also comes with a handy charging stand that mounts to the wall.
You get three power modes with this vac: an Eco mode for light dusting; a clever Auto mode that detects the difference between hard floors and carpets, ramping up the power automatically when required; and a full-blast, battery-sapping mode that creates black-hole proportions of suck. You can also lock the trigger in the ‘on’ position so you don’t need to keep a finger on it.
Few other cordless sticks provide such visual feedback as this thing. On top of the handle is a small OLED screen that provides second-by-second battery levels while you hold in the trigger. We like this a lot.
Furthermore, the Roborock H6 is equipped with a five-stage twin-HEPA filtration system that expels sweet smelling air even when used on a dusty and hairy dog carpet. It is said to remove all micro crap down to 0.3 microns. All filter sections can be washed under the tap.
So, what’s not to like about this little whizzbang? Well, let’s just say you’ll be visiting the dustbin a lot because its dust collector holds a measly 0.40-litres of muck (about enough space for one large rug if a dog's been on it). Also, while the lid opens easily, you may need to reach in with fingers to coax out the last vestiges of carpet matter, especially if there’s dog and cat hair involved.
Nevertheless, if you want a stick vac that’s not only ultra light and extremely efficient but better looking than most other models, then this one comes wholeheartedly recommended, even if it is more difficult to track down in the UK. It’s this writer’s new go-to carpet toy for quick whizzes around the home.
8. Miele Triflex HX1 Cat & Dog
Miele sidles in with a cracker that sucks like a limpet
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Miele’s first cordless vac is tough as nails and embodies a clever three-in-one system that allows you to configure it in a number of ways. If you have the strength of Hercules, you can use it with the main power unit-cum-dust collector positioned near the top of the suction tube. Most cordless vacs use this method but many of them suffer as a result of the extra weight on the wrist and forearm – that’s the case with this model which is about 1kg heavier than the average Dyson.
Just as well, then, that Miele’s engineers gave us another option to mount the power unit to just above the cleaning head. This method is not only far easier on the wrist and forearm, it enables the unit to stand up on its own for easy storage and behave more like a standard upright cleaner. However, it doesn’t provide quite the same level of flexibility (getting under sofas and into tight spaces, etc). The third configuration involves removing the main suction tube and using it as a hand vac for stairs, shelves and hard-to-reach areas.
For some reason (maximum battery efficiency apparently), Miele recommends the very first charge is carried out while the battery is attached to the power unit (oops). From thereon in the battery can be removed and charged separately. Unfortunately, there’s no status light on the battery or the charging plug (an oversight) so we’d recommend always leaving it attached to the power unit which at least has a row of battery status lights.
As the moniker suggests, the Trifolex HX1 Cat & Dog is designed for pet owners. It certainly passes much muster in the pet hair arena though the small bagless dust collector does fill up very quickly, especially if your pet is of the long-haired variety. On the plus side, the collector is a doddle to empty.
Suction is excellent but you do have to keep the main brush head moving on carpets or it may stop spinning (a byproduct of the design that allows you to stand the unit upright while still on if pausing between sessions). Power wise, the Trifolex comes with three levels of suction and runs for about 60 minutes on the lowest setting and about 17 minutes on the highest. Mind, the suction on even the lowest setting is ample for most vacuuming duties.
This pet-specific model comes with two heads: the main revolving Electrobrush Multi Floor which features LED headlights and a smaller ‘Electro Compact’ head with long revolving bristles for removing obstreperous pet hair. It also comes with the obligatory trio of small crevice tools. A long-life HEPA filter completes a very efficient but pricey package that will appeal to fans of both the brand’s build quality and its renowned reliability record. Available in any colour as long as it’s black.
9. Halo Capsule
Dyson is no longer the only Great British cordless vac
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
This British-made vac delivers similar cleaning power and innovation to its compatriots at Dyson – although Halo's styling and marketing budgets are clearly somewhat lower than Lord Dyson's stable.
This is for some reason made of carbon fibre, which seems to be the go-to design idea for brands with no aesthetic sense and a desire to seem high-tech. Unlike almost every other cordless vac it uses little tiny bags rather than being bagless, and the dirt collection area is not a cunningly designed capsule that pings out at the press of a button. Instead, it is held on by a clamp, a bit like something you'd take on a camping holiday circa 1978.
However, that all rather fades into insignificance when you clean floors with it, as it performs supremely well. The Halo Capsule is far cheaper than the Dyson V11 and it doesn't emit a horrific shrieking sound as works, unlike its budget rival Vax. On hard floors in particular, cleaning performance is comparable to both, as is overall battery life.
For cleaning spills, car interiors and surfaces as a handheld, the shape and weighting of it mean it's nowhere near as good as the Dyson or Vax. It also feels a bit ridiculous to be using bags in a vac in 2020. Still, given that Halo throws in no fewer than 52 of them with every purchase, you at least can't complain that the brand is milking you by selling its hardware cheap and its software expensive.
If you're in the market for a cordless vac under £250, this is definitely well worth considering.
10. Dyson V8 Absolute
Best cordless vacuum for handheld use on surfaces and spills
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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.
11. Gtech AirRam Mk2 K9
Best upright-only cordless vacuum for pet owners
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Taking a totally different approach to Dyson and co, the AirRam Mk2 K9 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 you won't feel obliged to leave it habitually plugged in, as this writer does with both the Dyson v11 and V8.
The dirt collection system is one of the very best. All detritus is compressed into a cylindrical capsule positioned just behind the front roller brush. To clean, you just remove the 0.8-litre bin, flip it open above a dustbin and slide an ejector arm across to pop the compressed dirt out of the side. Being able to see how much it's picked up is a satisfying bonus.
If you're used to dragging a standard vac around, the AirRam Mk2 K9 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 Mk2 K9 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 v11 Absolute in this respect. And one thing it has that the v11 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 Mk2 K9 is one of the very best at removing pet hair. 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 Mk2 K9's massive failing compared to the v11 and 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 discount. The Multi is nowhere near as good as the Dyson V8 or v11 in handheld mode, but it's also by no means bad, and the bundle price is considerably less than the price of the v11 on its own. Hmm… decisions, decisions.
12. Bissell Icon
Very good, relatively affordable cordless vacuum cleaner
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
If this Bissell came out about 12 months ago, it would have been a sensation, offering Dyson-like cleaning for way less money. However, the sad fact of the matter is that a lot of brands have now caught up with Dyson in terms of cleaning, and the likes of Vax are offering it for less money than what Bissell is asking.
I also have no idea what the brand is thinking of giving this the clunking name of 'Icon'. Surely an icon is meant to be something unique, or exceptional? This Icon is neither. Sure, I know Bissell can't call their vac 'Competent Dyson Rival' but that would be way nearer the truth.
That is not to underestimate the Icon, however. It sits very neatly in the gap between the Dyson V11 and Vax Blade 4 in the most important ways: price, build quality and looks.
It's very light but the Icon feels better made than the Vax. It also offers a headlight not only on its main cleaning head but also on its small dust tool. I think that is a first. Okay it is arguably not very useful, and the dust tool overall is quite poor, due to its vertical-rather-than-horizontal shape… But it is a first.
Other than that, everything about the Icon is good to excellent. The bin is easy to empty, after a little practice, there are three power settings so you can balance suction and battery life and it looks quite handsome.
Overall cleaning performance is generally very good, even if it falls short, on average, of the vacs above it in the list. If you have hard floors there's nothing to complain about but it can struggle to pluck debris out of carpets at times.
It was overpriced at launch, but for the price it's now being sold at, the Bissell Icon is a very worthy contender. It's a textbook example of a cordless vacuum cleaner in 2020.
- Read our full Gtech AirRam Mk 2 K9 review
13. Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited
Superb Dyson clone with two batteries
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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.
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.