Stick vacuum buying guide

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While stick vacuums aren’t generally as powerful as traditional upright models, they’re easier to maneuver and take up less space. They come cordless and corded and have a wide range of features to consider, depending on your needs.

Compare some of the best stick vacuums

Name Average price Type Run time (minutes) Weight (pounds) Purchase
Dyson V8 $350 Cordless 40 5.75 Buy now
Shark Navigator Freestyle $90 Cordless 24 7.5 Buy now
Dirt Devil SD20505 $39 Cordless Not listed 6.67 Buy now
Shark Rocket $129 Corded N/A 7.6 Buy now
Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute $525 Cordless 60 5.88 Buy now
Bissell 3 in 1 $49 Corded N/A 3.9 Buy now
Data obtained April 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

What is a stick vacuum?

A stick vacuum is essentially a lightweight version of its upright counterpart. While most models aren’t as powerful as upright vacuums, and don’t come with as many accessories and tools, they can be ideal for small homes with limited storage space.

Stick vacuums are bagless and use canisters to collect dust that can be directly emptied into your bin. This will save you the trouble and cost of having to buy and replace vacuum bags, but may require more maintenance.

Generally, bagless models have filters that require regular checking and cleaning to maintain suction power. Also, dust can leak out into the air when emptying the canister or removing the filter for cleaning. Look for an easy-open canister that can be removed and cleaned freely.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Compact and easy to store
  • Many models can convert into handheld vacuums
  • Suitable for those with back problems, as there’s no need to bend down

Cons

  • Generally not designed for heavy-duty cleaning
  • Not tailored for high-pile carpets or large cleaning spaces
  • Smaller dust storage capacity than upright models
If you want to compare the different types of vacuums, check out our guide to the best vacuum cleaners.

Cordless vs. corded stick vacuums

Most stick vacuums are cordless. Cordless vacuums run on rechargeable batteries and can be easily moved around without getting caught on furniture or having to switch sockets. However, they have a limited run time and need to be charged regularly.

Corded vacuums tether you to a wall socket, but can run for an unlimited amount of cleaning time, making them better suited to bigger spaces. Corded models typically hold more dust than cordless versions, so you won’t have to empty them as often.

How to compare stick vacuums

A stick vacuum can cost you from $99 up to $999, depending on the brand, model and range of features you want.

When looking for a stick vacuum, consider these key features:

Battery life and recharge time

Rechargeable vacuum cleaners typically have run times between 15 and 40 minutes. For extra convenience, some models have removable batteries so you can continue to vacuum while the other battery is recharging.

To stay charged for longer, look for a model that uses a high-voltage lithium-ion battery.

Suction power

Cordless vacuums generally have a lower wattage — and less suction power — than corded vacuums, around 20 to 200 watts versus 1,000 to 2,000 watts.

A stick vacuum with good suction power should be able to pick up a range of messes, such as hair, dust bunnies, chunkier debris and even carpet crumbs.

Filters

There are two main types of filters for stick vacuums: micro-filters and HEPA filters.

  • Micro-filters. Commonly used in most basic vacuum cleaners, micro-filters are disposable or washable. However, they release dust particles back into the air, so they’re not advised for asthma sufferers or those with allergies.
  • HEPA filters. A HEPA or high-efficiency particulate air filter can be useful for those with asthma, allergies or dust sensitivities. These filters capture small particles and pollutants remove up to 99.97% of particles, including pollen and dust mites. However, they need to be regularly cleaned or replaced.

Hand-vac conversion

Having a two-in-one vacuum that includes a handheld detachment is useful to clean up small messes and areas that are hard to reach with your main vacuum cleaner.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Pet hair. If you have a furry companion who sheds, it could be worth investing in a model with a powerful turbo rolling head designed to brush and suck hair from carpets. Some models also include mini turbo heads to pick up hairs from sofas or inside cars.
  • Noise level. Some models are tailored for quiet cleaning. Consider this if you want to clean during nap or TV time.
  • Nozzle size. Opt for a wider nozzle to clean larger areas in one pass or a narrower nozzle for easy cleaning of tight spaces, such as around dining room furniture.
  • Cord length. Corded vacuums are restricted in the space they can reach without having to find another power socket, so a longer cord will have a wider reach.
  • Carpet brush. Some models have a rotating brush that combs through carpet fibers and can be used with carpet stain removers for deeper cleaning. However, these vacuums are generally pricier and may scratch hard surfaces such as hardwood, tile and laminate.
  • Storage. Many cordless models include wall-mounted or standing docking stations. If you have limited storage space, look for a model with a fold-down or removable handle. Also check that your storage area has a power socket in reach for more-convenient charging.
  • Accessories. To remove debris from any nooks and crannies, a model that includes a crevice tool or wand attachments is likely the way to go.

Bottom line

Stick vacuums can be a convenient option if you’re short on space and looking for something lightweight. Start comparing your options now to find the perfect fit for your home.

How did we choose these products?

To choose our list of the best stick vacuums, we conducted online research to determine some of the most popular models currently available. We compared features such as type, size, weight, price and effectiveness, taking third-party product reviews into account.

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