Best cordless vacuum cleaner 2021 with stick vacs for every budget

The best cordless vacuums have incredible power nowadays and remain incredibly convenient and lightweight

Included in this guide:

Best cordless vacuum cleaner
(Image credit: Getty)

The best cordless vacuum cleaners are, for most peoples' purposes, now the best vacs full-stop. They are bigger sellers than corded vacuum cleaners, and that's because people have realised the convenience and versatility of the best cordless vacs now outweighs worries about battery life. Their cleaning power has also increased greatly in recent years. 

So long as your home is a not a sprawling pile, lined throughout with deep pile carpet, the best cordless vacuums will not let you down in terms of battery life or suction. You can waft them about with such ease, without being hindered by the wire spooling out from the back of a bulky traditional vac. 

There is a lot of choice out there, too. You can still go for one of the best Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners – try our guide to the best Dyson deals – but there are numerous rivals for the title of best cordless vac. While many of these are Dyson-style stick vacs, there are also cordless models that take a different approach, such as the more upright-style Lupe Pure and Gtech Airram.

Get the best deals on cordless vacuum cleaners this Black Friday

Check out the best Black Friday deals if you're after one of the best cordless vacuum cleaners because come the big day there should be discounts on many of the major names. Lookout for the likes of Dyson, Samsung, Vax, Shark and Hoover to all have money off deals available through the likes of Amazon, Best Buy, John Lewis and other online retailers. 

The best cordless vacuum cleaners you can buy today

Dyson V15 Detect on white backgroundT3 Awards 2021 winner badge

(Image credit: Dyson)

1. Dyson V15 Detect Absolute

THE best cordless vacuum cleaner

Power: 230AW
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.84g
Dust capacity: 0.76 litres
Maximum run time: 5-60 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Best ever cleaning performance+Laser headlight reveals all+Lightweight and easy to use+Excellent cleaning heads – and lots of 'em
Reasons to avoid
-Not a huge leap from the V11 Absolute-Some slightly gimmicky bonus features

Dyson has refined its cordless vacuum formula yet again, and this is the T3 Award 2021 winning result. Cleaning power has been improved across all surfaces but the real headline improvement is the addition – finally – of a headlight. But in true Dyson fashion, it's no ordinary headlight. It's a laser mounted at an angle on the front of the hard-floor head and it reveals a borderline horrific amount of dirt and dust.

There's another excellent cleaning head for doing your carpets, although this 'High Torque' head does not contain a laser. Among the various smaller heads the pick is a powered one for doing upholstery that is almost totally resistant to getting tangled in long pet or human hairs. 

Dyson really has thought of everything with this vacuum cleaner. It's the complete package, the best cordless vacuum cleaner in town, and now a T3 Award winner, to boot.

• Find out more in our full Dyson V15 Detect review

Samsung Jet 90 pro on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Samsung)

2. Samsung Jet 90 Pro

The best Dyson clone ever

Power: 200W
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.8kg
Dust capacity: 0.50 litres
Maximum run time: 6-60 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Genuine corded vac replacement+Lots of useful tools+A handy stand too
Reasons to avoid
-Not sure about that spinning mop head

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. 

Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 Pet cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Vax)

3. Vax ONEPWR Blade 4

Best cheap cordless vacuum cleaner for pet lovers

Power: 40v
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 3.1kg
Dust capacity: 0.60 litres
Maximum run time: 'Up to 45 minutes'
Reasons to buy
+Excellent floor cleaning+Much cheaper than a Dyson+Easy to empty bin+Solid battery life+Comes with a motorised pet brush
Reasons to avoid
-Not as good for handheld use as a Dyson-Heavy, in other words-Emits horrendous racket

This new cordless model from Vax – also available as a Pet-specific model – is a lot cheaper than the Dyson V11. 

Now, the Vax doesn't look like it will last as long as a Dyson, and the high speed setting makes a racket like 10,000 banshees escaping from Hell. Oh, and it's less fun to use as a handheld than a Dyson, as it's not balanced as pleasingly, and the brushes are less good. It's also clearly not as chic as a Dyson, but then a lot people just aren't that bothered about how their vac looks. 

All that being said, given how much cheaper the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 and Blade 4 Pet are, there is remarkably little to tell between them and the V11 when it comes to cleaning power. 

Vax itself 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 minimal resemblance to how people vacuum their floors in real life, but even so, there is no doubt that this Vax cleans very well indeed. 

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. The bin is easy to eject for emptying, although putting it back on again is a touch fiddlesome.

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 and Blade 4 Pet generally seem 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.

All in all, the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 and Blade 4 Pet come very highly recommended. 

Dyson V11 Absolute cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Awards 2020

(Image credit: Dyson)

4. Dyson V11 Absolute

Former best cordless vacuum cleaner, and still very good

Power: 28AW-185AW
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.97kg
Dust capacity: 0.76 litres
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 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 cordless vacuum cleaning.

Shark Anti Hair Wrap IZ251UKT cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Shark)

5. Shark Anti Hair Wrap IZ251UKT

Best Shark cordless vacuum – great with pet hair (and human hair)

Power: 25.2v
Power boost: Yes, two power settings
Weight: 4.1kg
Dust capacity: 0.40 litres
Maximum run time: Up to 80 mins (40 minutes per battery)
Reasons to buy
+Excellent suction+Folds in half for easy storage+Tangle-free roller+Comes with two batteries+Long run time
Reasons to avoid
-Fairly heavy in the hand-Almost too many tools

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.

Halo Capsule cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Halo)

6. Halo Capsule

The best bagged cordless vacuum cleaner

Power: 32.4v
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.6kgs
Dust capacity: 1.6 litre
Maximum run time: 'Up to 60 minutes'
Reasons to buy
+Excellent cleaning power+Comes with no fewer than 52 free bags!
Reasons to avoid
-Somewhat rudimentary design-If you don't like bagged vacs, clearly you won't like this

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.

Lupe Pure Cordless cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Lupe)

7. Lupe Pure Cordless

A new high powered upright that converts to a stick in a thrice

Power: 400W
Power boost: Yes
Dust capacity: 1 litre
Weight: 4.6kgs
Maximum run time: 60 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Top notch performance+Intuitive design+Converts to a stick vac+Easy to store
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Quite noisy

Why settle for a cordless stick vac or a cordless upright such as the Gtech AirRam Mk2 (the UK's favourite such vac is further down this list) when you can have a Lupe Pure Cordless, which does both?

Offering Dyson-rivalling battery life and even better cleaning power when used as an upright, the Pure doubles as a stick vac, converting in just a few seconds. The only downside to its stick incarnation is it does remain tethered to the upright portion – rather like the pull out handheld part of a Dyson corded upright, in fact.

However, with a great design and every part serviceable and/or replaceable, the Lupe Pure Cordless should last a lifetime, which is another big plus.

 Read our full Lupe Pure Review

Gtech Mk2 K9 cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Gtech)

8. Gtech AirRam Mk 2 K9

Best affordable cordless upright vacuum for pet owners

Power: 22v
Power boost: No
Weight: 3.5kgs
Dust capacity: 0.80 litres
Run time: 40 mins
Reasons to buy
+Exceptionally easy to use and store+Superb pet hair collector+Excellent run time+Stands up on its own
Reasons to avoid
-Clearly a less versatile device

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 other vacs here 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.

ROIDMI RS60 cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: ROIDMI)

9. Roidmi RS60

A very light and easy to use cordless vac

Power: 150W
Power boost: Yes
Dust capacity: 0.55 litres
Weight: 2.7kgs
Maximum run time: 40 mins
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant handle design+Steers like a dragonfly+Light sensitive LED+Magnetic charging
Reasons to avoid
-The mop attachment is a bit of a gimmick-So is the pet cleaner-The bin’s a bit fiddly

The new ROIDMI RS60 is a very capable cordless vac that takes smooth minimalist Scandinavian design to the max. Let’s start with the rounded lightweight handle. Where most cordless vac handles are quite angular and not especially comfortable in the hand, this one trounces the opposition by dint of a smooth, curvy profile that allows it to be held in different positions and even vacuum the floor using a light-handed back-and-forth swinging motion, if that makes any sense.

There are two small buttons on top: one is to switch it on and the other is for ramping up the suction in three increments from low to high to max. Like most of the vacs here, the middle ‘high’ setting is the one to go for if you don’t want the battery to drain too quickly (a small LED screen on the handle displays real-time battery usage). In our tests we managed to eke out about 40 minutes of serious vacuuming in high mode but just 10 minutes when switching it to ‘max’ – par for the course with most of the models in this roundup.

Uniquely, this model also comes with a rear mop attachment that magnetically snaps onto the rear of the roller brush. Simply fill the small container with some floor solution and it will mop hard floors while it vacs. Some people will doubtless have a use for this kind of innovation but we think it’s probably easier – and more efficient– to simply use a mob and bucket.

Aside from the ultra comfy handle and its overall lightness (just 2.7kgs), the best thing about this vac is the way it steers. It’s just so effortless to manoeuvre around furniture and it’s especially impressive at cleaning along skirting boards. It has an LED headlight too but it doesn’t stay on all the time because there’s a light sensor on the front. Hence, it only switches on in the darkest recesses of the home – a great battery saving device, we thinks. While we’re in positive mode, we also like the very simple wall-mounted magnetic charging base; simply mount the tiny plaque on the wall and rest the RS60 against it.

We gave this one a good innings on a pet hair-strewn rug and a swathe of hard flooring and its velveteen V-shaped motorised roller brush picked up more dust and hair than we expected. However, we did have to run it back and forth a few times to collect the sticky remnants of a paper-shredding session where the Dyson V11 did it one go. The 0.55-litre bin wasn’t that great for pet hair, mind, because half of it got trapped around the suction cylinder and we had to remove the top lid to release it – a minor issue we also had with the Lupe Pure.

The ROIDMI RS60 comes with the usual cluster of detail tools, including a small motorised cleaning head for stairs and the car, plus a weirdly-shaped brush head designed specifically for combing and vacuuming your pet. Sadly we weren’t able to fully test this tool because we had to reach for the Germolene and a plaster after trying it out on the cat.

With so many cordless vacuum brands flooding the market, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell them all apart. To be honest, they all perform very well even though some do require a few more floor passes than others. This model didn’t perform as well as the benchmark (and similarly priced) Dyson V11 but it was a tad more comfortable to use and much easier to charge. It also has that handy light-sensitive LED headlamp. Decisions, decisions.

Miele Triflex HX1 Cat & Dog cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Miele)

10. Miele Triflex HX1

Miele sidles in with a cracker that sucks like a limpet

Power: 25.2v
Power boost: No, three power settings
Weight: 4kg
Dust capacity: 0.50 litres
Maximum run time: About 60 mins on low
Reasons to buy
+Excellent suction power+Superior build quality+Good choice for pet owners+Red-hot, three-way action
Reasons to avoid
-Heavier and less well balanced than arch rival Dyson V11

Outdoing even the Lupe Pure in terms of cleaning options, Miele’s first cordless vac is a 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 Triflex 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 Triflex 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.

Tough as nails, the Triflex will appeal to fans of both Miele's build quality and its renowned reliability record. Available in any colour as long as it’s black.

Ultenic U11 cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Ultenic)

11. Ultenic U11

A cordless stick vac that comes with a standalone stand!

Power: 260W
Power boost: Yes
Dust capacity: 0.65 litres
Weight: 3.7kgs
Maximum run time: 55 mins
Reasons to buy
+Keenly priced+High suction power+Comes with its own stand
Reasons to avoid
-Not the prettiest looker-Heavy-ish

One of the main issues with cordless vacs is that they don’t store away easily because they can’t stand up on their own. This invariably means leaving the vac in a jumble under the stairs or the utility room. Yes, we know that they all come with wall-mounted charging brackets to hold them upright neatly out of sight, but if you’re anything like this writer, you’ll never get round to drilling holes in a wall to mount the bracket because, well, it’s a hassle and sometimes a scary prospect, especially if any water pipes or electricity mains cables lurk beneath the surface.

The designers at Ultenic, a brand few of us have heard of, clearly sussed this issue and produced a cordless stick vac that stores away on its own circular stand. Just plonk the stand somewhere near a mains plug for charging and, well, job done. The support stand is one reason why the Ultenic U11 is such a popular choice on Amazon and the other is that it produces an excellent 25kPA of suction power – a little higher than average.

Design wise, the U11 looks a bit 1970s with all those acute angles but it’s not too heavy in the hand when used above waist height to clean cornices etc. The main motorised brush head is fitted with both stiff and soft nylon bristles for deep pile cleaning and it’s a cracker on hard flooring, too. Another handy bonus is that the brush head is fitted with larger wheels than the norm so grab this vac if you want an easier time when pushing and pulling. For handheld use on stairs, sofas and in tight areas, it also ships with a mini motorised roller head, a nozzle and shelf-dusting brush.

The U11 has a Dyson V11-style three-stage power setting – Eco, Auto and Max – with Auto being the setting of choice for automatic floor surface detection (the power ramps up when it hits carpet) and better battery consumption. In Eco mode you can expect about 55 minutes of runtime. At just 0.65 litres the U11’s bin is a mite bigger than the Vax and Shark and it empties via a simple catch. A four-stage cyclone filtration system – with HEPA – completes a tidy budget-priced vaccy package.

Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

12. Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited

Superb Dyson clone with two batteries

Power: 18v
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 3.5kg
Dust capacity: 0.4 litres
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+Awesomely long crevice tool
Reasons to avoid
-Crappy dusting brush

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.

Tineco Pure One S12 cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Tineco)

13. Tineco Pure One S12

A top stick vac for tech heads

Power: 500W
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 3.1kg
Dust capacity: 0.9 litres
Maximum run time: About 50 mins for each battery
Reasons to buy
+Electronic feedback via large LED screen+Comes with two batteries+Exceptional performer+Quiet
Reasons to avoid
-Almost too many extra attachments

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.

Roborock H6 cordless vacuum cleaner on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Roborock)

14. Roborock H6

Best cordless stick vac for featherweights

Power: Up to 150AW
Power boost: Yes, auto and manual
Weight: 1.4kg
Dust capacity: 0.40 litres
Maximum run time: Up to 90 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Extraordinarily light+Exemplary performance+Superb battery+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Tiny dust collector

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.

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 the best vacuum cleaners (of all kinds) 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.

They're a lot more convenient to use than the best robot vacuum cleaners, especially if you're trying to clean a contained spillage (although robot vacuum cleaners certainly have their uses as well).

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. 

Of course, they're also ideal for cleaning your car, so you'll find some of the same models in this guide also in the best car vacuum buying guide.

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. 

Looking to clean hard floors or windows? Read T3's guide to the best steam cleaners and the best window vacs.

Duncan Bell
Duncan Bell

Duncan has been writing about tech for almost 15 years and fitness ever since he became middle aged and realised he could no longer rely solely on his boyish good looks. He used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."
Pre-lockdown Duncan was widely regarded as the best-dressed man ever to work for T3 – admittedly not saying much. Post-lockdown he is looking forward to wearing clothes other than shorts and hoodies again very soon, assuming he can still fit into them. He currently writes about cycling, fitness tech that isn’t too heavy, and all things kitchen and home related.