October 17, 2021

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Best stick vacuums 2021 – Top 10 cordless vacuum cleaners

9 min read
Best stick vacuums 2021 - Top 10 cordless vacuum cleaners

Stick vacuums are cordless vacuum cleaners that, err, look like sticks. They’re designed to be lightweight, easily manoeuvrable and gentle on your back, with no tiresome cord to keep plugging in.

They all run on rechargeable batteries but some are more powerful than others, with a longer battery life and a more generous range of included tools. Consider your personal needs before you buy – techy features can be tempting, sure, but a simpler, more affordable model may suffice if your home is smaller and you don’t have pets.

What is the best stick vacuum?

There are many stick vacuums on the market, all vying for your cash, so our expert testers put 43 of the best to the test. Behold our top 10 picks for carpet, hard floors, pet hair, cars and more:

Why buy a stick vacuum?

Stick vacuums are the modern, convenient choice, and that’s what we favour here at Digital Spy. Traditional uprights or cylinders (we’re looking at you, Henry) feel heavy and bulky to lug about in comparison, and many sticks can convert into handhelds for use in cars and awkward spaces.

Slim sticks are compact for easy storage – some fold down and others can be wall-mounted – with small dust canisters that are simple and mess-free to empty. Their batteries usually recharge within a few hours, and their suction power is getting stronger by the day, in line with exciting new tech developments.

Not quite sold? Sticks also tend to come with an array of useful tools for versatility – think an upholstery tool for ridding your sofa of biscuit crumbs, or a crevice tool for cleaning every nook and cranny.

How to choose a stick vacuum

Stick vacuums vary in price quite dramatically, with the models on our round-up costing between £120 and £650. Before you splash out on a top-of-the-range vac, consider how important the following features are to you:

Weight: Unless you’re particularly strong, prolonged use of sticks over 3kg will make your arms ache, especially after carrying them up stairs. Bottom-heavy vacs will be gentlest on your muscles.

Battery level indicator: OK, so this may be standard for most tech, but not all sticks offer it yet. The Dyson V11, however, counts down your remaining juice in minutes and seconds, meaning it shouldn’t die on you suddenly, moments before guests arrive.

Sensory tech: This is pretty cool – the floorhead senses whether you’re vacuuming carpet or hard flooring, before auto-adjusting the power for efficient battery usage.

Smart tech: Some sticks can connect to your phone, allowing you to monitor its battery life and usage that way. Should a fitness incentive help, most of these apps also show you how many calories you’re burning while cleaning.

Headlights: Perfectionists, listen up – LED lights built into the floorhead illuminate dark spaces, such as underneath furniture, to help you banish every speck of dust.

How we test

Our expert testers tried 43 stick vacuums on carpet, laminate and floorboards. Firstly, they laid down a set volume of dust, before weighing how much each model had collected after a set number of sweeps.

Next, they ground pet hair collected from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home (yes, they’re committed) into carpet and noted how well each stick lifted it without tangling. They ran the same test with small residue, such as crumbs.

Our dedicated testing team then put each stick to work inside a car and noted how well it tackled crevices. They tried it out on stairs to gauge how easily it manoeuvred and also considered its ease of use, the clarity of its instructions, any innovative features and its overall design.

Ready to shop our trusted top 10?

1

Winner

Dyson V11 Absolute Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Dyson
johnlewis.com

£599.00

The V11 is the jewel in Dyson’s crown with good reason. It wowed our testers with its flawless pick-up of everything from Rice Krispies to pet hair, on both carpet and hard flooring, and they appreciated the sensory tech that adapts the suction level to suit the floor type. This helped conserve the battery life, which is handy as the ultra-powerful boost mode only lasts for 12 minutes (don’t panic, you get up to an hour of juice in auto, and there’s a LCD display that counts down how much you’ve got left). 

It was a breeze to assemble and comes with all the most useful attachments. It impressed our testers just as much when used as a handheld, but if you’re looking for a lightweight stick, note that it’s slightly heavier than the also excellent V10 below.

Key specs
Capacity:
0.76 litres
Weight:
3.05kg
Running time:
Up to 60 minutes
Recharging time:
4.5 hours
Included tools:
High torque cleaner head, soft roller cleaner head, crevice tool, combination tool, mini soft dusting brush, mini motorised tool

2

Runner-up

Hoover H-FREE 500 Pet HF522UPT Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Hoover
argos.co.uk

£229.99

Your back will thank you for investing in this featherlight Hoover that’s a steal for its relatively affordable price tag. It earned perfect scores in nearly all our pick-up tests, and the rotating brush in its floorhead picked out pet hairs with aplomb. 

It features LED highlights, and the three included attachments can be stored on board. The crevice tool is a bit stumpy, the turbo mode only offers six minutes of power, and it takes a sluggish six hours to recharge – but it stands up on its own at just 69cm high, and can be mounted on the wall to save floor space. Overall, it feels like great value for money. 

Key specs
Capacity:
0.45 litres
Weight:
2.2kg
Running time:
Up to 40 minutes
Recharging time:
6 hours
Included tools:
Crevice tool, 2-in-1 dusting and upholstery tool, mini turbo brush

3

Best for pet hair

Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Dyson
johnlewis.com

£399.99

The V10 might not be Dyson’s freshest launch, but it’s that bit kinder on the bank balance while still delivering a first class performance on all types of flooring. It excelled at lifting pet hair, removing ground-in fur in a single sweep, and our testers found it lightweight to carry and manoeuvre. 

Its suction power is hard to fault, and although it only lasts for eight minutes in boost mode, it can run for up to an hour on auto. The ‘point and shoot’ canister takes seconds to empty, and the quick release mechanism makes changing heads easy. 

One tip: angle the mini motorised tool slightly away from the floor, or else it pushes crumbs away instead of sucking them up. 

Key specs
Capacity:
0.76 litres
Weight:
2.68kg
Running time:
Up to 60 minutes
Recharging time:
3.5 hours
Included tools:
Direct drive cleaner head, soft roller cleaner head, mini motorised tool, mini soft dusting brush, combination and crevice tool

4

Best for hard floors and best under £200

Vax ONEPWR Blade 3 Pet Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Vax
amazon.co.uk

£219.00

This mid-range Vax was at its best when cleaning dust and dirt from laminate and floorboards, but it gave a solid performance on carpet, too. It grabbed every pet hair in two sweeps max, and its mini motorised pet tool proved ideal for freshening up cars and upholstery. 

It can’t stand up on its own and is quite cumbersome as a handheld, but our testers liked being able to check the remaining charge by pushing a button on the battery. It doesn’t have the longest run time, but it recharges faster than any other model on test, in just two and a half hours. 

Key specs
Capacity:
0.6 litres
Weight:
3.1kg
Running time:
Up to 40 minutes
Recharging time:
2.5 hours
Included tools:
Crevice tool, dusting brush, mini motorised pet tool

5

Best for carpet

Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 Pet Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Vax
johnlewis.com

£199.00

Our testers raved about the boost mode on this smartly-built Vax – just one swipe left our carpets (and hard flooring, to be fair) looking suitably shipshape. It’s been designed with pet owners in mind, hence the effective mini motorised pet tool, and it performed well as a handheld when collecting small stones and leaves from car floor mats. 

It’ll topple over unless leaned against a wall, but that’s our only niggle of note. It’s a foolproof choice for everyday family use. 

Key specs
Capacity:
0.6 litres
Weight:
3.1kg
Running time:
Up to 45 minutes
Recharging time:
3 hours
Included tools:
Dusting brush, crevice tool, mini motorised pet tool

6

Best for cars

Hoover H-FREE 800 HF822OF Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Hoover
amazon.co.uk

£119.99

Cars don’t stay clean and tidy for long, especially if kids are in the picture. Happily, this Hoover stick converts into a handheld and comes with a long, flexible crevice tool that makes light work of awkward areas. 

Our testers were delighted by its pick-up across all floor types, with the rotating brush removing all pet hairs in one sweep. If you’re a sucker for some sweet tech, its WiFi connectivity function lets you monitor its filter condition and battery life from your phone. Its 35-minute running time is a let-down, but it delivers a lot of bang for your buck – there’s even a specific head for dusting radiators.

Key specs
Capacity:
0.7 litres
Weight:
2.75kg
Running time:
Up to 35 minutes
Recharging time:
5 hours
Included tools:
Crevice tool, 2-in-1 large dusting and furniture brush, mini turbo nozzle, radiator tool, deep cleaning brush

7

Best for hard-to-reach spots

Shark Anti Hair Wrap Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner

Shark
amazon.co.uk

£299.00

The only Shark vac to make our list is a winner when it comes to cleaning hard-to-reach spots, thanks to its innovative ‘flexology’ pole that helps it slide into tight gaps. Its anti-hair wrap feature proved effective against fur and it sucked up big crumbs with ease, but our testers found it heavy and average at lifting dust from carpet. 

It only lasted 17 minutes when used on max power with a single battery pack – make it go much further by using up both batteries on the lowest power setting. It’s gentle on hard floors and folds down to save space, so bar a few qualms, it ticks a lot of boxes.

Key specs
Capacity:
0.7 litres
Weight:
4.1kg
Running time:
Up to 80 minutes (40 minutes per battery)
Recharging time:
3.5 hours
Included tools:
Crevice tool, upholstery tool, dusting brush, motorised pet tool

8

Best for battery life

Miele Triflex HX1 Cat and Dog Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Miele
amazon.co.uk

£579.00

This Miele model claims to boast the power of a full-size vac, whether used as an upright, a stick or a handheld (yes, it’s 3-in-1). There’s no escaping its sky-high price tag, but it aced every pick-up challenge our testers threw at it and left them floored – no pun intended – by its remarkable 17-minute battery life on full power. 

Being able to shift the motor and canister towards the brush head makes cleaning floors more comfortable, especially as it’s quite a weighty bit of kit – but its silicone wheels sometimes pull dirt across carpet. There’s not much to complain about here, as we’d expect for nearly £600.

Key specs
Capacity:
0.5 litres
Weight:
3.64kg
Running time:
Up to 60 minutes 
Recharging time:
4 hours
Included tools:
Motorised rotary brush with headlights, crevice nozzle, dusting brush, upholstery nozzle

9

Best for tech features

Dyson V15 Detect Absolute Vacuum Cleaner

Dyson
johnlewis.com

£599.00

The new kid on Dyson’s block is all about ease of use, with extensive tech features including lasers to highlight debris and an LCD screen that updates you on its remaining battery life. It pulled up pet hair without tangling, but its ultra powerful suction proved both a blessing and a curse – it’s so strong it makes it hard to glide the floorhead over long-pile carpet. 

The lasers worked well on laminate, but we could see the dust without them, so they’d probably only make a difference to those with a visual impairment. What’s more, the lack of a continuous power button means you have to keep your finger on the trigger all the time, causing it to ache – an inexcusable flaw for such a premium product. 

Key specs
Capacity:
0.76 litres
Weight:
3.1kg
Running time:
Up to 60 minutes 
Recharging time:
4.5 hours
Included tools:
Hair screw tool, combination tool, crevice tool, soft dusting brush, wand clip

10

Best for dust canister capacity

Dyson V11 Outsize Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Whether you own a large home or simply want to get all your vacuuming done in one go, Dyson’s bigger V11 is an investment worth making for families. Its huge dust canister, coupled with a wide floorhead, means less time cleaning when you could be bingeing on Netflix. 

It earned high praise for its pick-up across the board, be it on carpet or in cars, and its extension hose attachment was a godsend in fiddly spaces. Once again, there’s no continuous power mode and it’s fairly bulky as a handheld, but it’s hard to beat if you’re fed up with always doing chores. 

Key specs
Capacity:
1.7 litres
Weight:
3.5kg
Running time:
Up to 60 minutes 
Recharging time:
4.5 hours
Included tools:
High torque XL cleaner head, soft roller cleaner head, mini motorised tool, crevice tool, combination tool, mini soft dusting brush, extension hose, wide nozzle tool, up-top adaptor

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