The 5 best cordless vacuums for 2024

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Old-school vacuums left a lot to be desired, and cordless vacuum cleaners are here to right many of those wrongs. The latest models tend to be thinner, lighter and easy to maneuver around a home, and you don’t really have to sacrifice suction power anymore to get those benefits. Dyson isn’t your only option anymore either — like the robot vacuum space, there are dozens of cordless vacuums to choose from today. Variety is great, but it can also lead to decision fatigue and confusion. We at Engadget can help make that decision a bit easier. After testing a bunch of the most popular cordless stick vacuums available today, we’ve come up with our top picks, plus loads of buying advice to help you figure out which cordless stick vacuum is right for you.

Most of the cordless vacuums you’ll find today have stick designs, with a handle at the top attached to a debris bin, which has a space to connect different attachments at one end. These designs are more versatile than old school vacuums of yesteryear because, while you may use the long stick attachment most of the time to clean your floors, many cordless vacuums come with other attachments as well. Some allow you to clean hard to reach spaces like the interior of your car, while others make it easier to vacuum furniture and clean inside crevices.

Bin volume is worth keeping in mind when you’re choosing a cordless vacuum. The larger the bin, the more debris it can hold, but it might also mean a heavier machine. All of the cordless vacuums we tested had a bin size between 0.1 and 0.8 gallons and all were able to handle cleaning an entire one-pet home (roughly 2,000 square feet) in a single run without needing to be emptied. Anything smaller and you may have to deal with more frequent emptying during each cleaning session.

Some cordless vacuums also have removable, replaceable battery packs, which is super handy. That means you can buy a replacement battery and install it easily, without needing to seek out professional assistance. Also, these extra batteries cost around $150-$200 a pop — expensive, yes, but nowhere near as costly as buying a whole new cordless vacuum.

Cordless vacuum suction power is typically measured in air wattage (AW), but you’ll see some that list the power of the motor in wattage (W) instead. Typically the higher the air or motor wattage the stronger the suction power, and often strength is proportional to price — more expensive cordless vacuums tend to have stronger suction power. A general rule of thumb is that those with precocious pets or mess-making children would benefit from a cordless vacuum cleaner with stronger-than-average suction power.

Most cordless stick vacuums will have two different power modes: a “normal” or default power mode that balances suction power with battery life, as well as a “max” or stronger mode that kicks suction strength up a notch. Some vacuums, like those from Dyson, also have an “eco” mode, or one that prioritizes run time over strength.

Separate from power modes you can select yourself, some cordless vacuums will automatically adjust motor strength depending on the detected floor type or the amount of mess in its wake. Not only is this convenient, but it also ensures that the machine is working its hardest only when you need it.

The best cordless vacuums will be able to clean any standard floor type — hardwood, tile, carpet and everything in between. As mentioned previously, some can even detect floor type and adjust suction power accordingly. That said, it’s still worth thinking about the types of flooring you have in your home. If you primarily have carpet, you may want to consider a cordless vacuum with the most powerful suction you can afford, since there are more nooks and crannies for debris to get suck in with carpet.

Obviously, battery life is important since you’ll probably want to clean more than one room in a shot. All of the cordless vacuums we tested had a battery life of at least 40 minutes in standard cleaning mode. I tested each by cleaning all three floors of my home (upstairs, downstairs and basement) on a single charge with the machine running in its standard (“auto”) mode and none of them ran out of juice before I could finish the third floor. That said, extra battery life can come in handy if you’re switching between power modes since “max” or high-power programs use more energy.

Most cordless stick vacuums come with some sort of base or mount where the machine lives when you’re not using it. Wall mounts are the most common, but some have free-standing bases where you dock and charge the vacuum. Consider the space in your home where you want the cordless vacuum to live, since it will have to have an outlet or another power source nearby.

Some high-end cordless vacuums come with self-emptying bases that act much like those included with expensive robot vacuums. After cleaning and returning the vacuum to the base, it will automatically empty the dustbin into a larger dustbin that you can then detach from the base when you need to empty it. This kind of base adds an extra layer of convenience into the mix, since you typically will only have to empty the larger dustbin every month or two.

Yes, some cordless vacuums have “smart” features like Wi-Fi and app connectivity. But before we get into those, let’s talk about the extra perks scattered among these devices. Some models, like the latest from Dyson, include particle sensors that show you how many different sized pieces of debris it’s sucking up in real time. Dyson’s, for example, is a piezo acoustic sensor that detects particle size and frequency and displays that information on the vac’s LCD screen. Tineco’s iLoop sensor is similar, controlling its vacuums’ automatic suction power adjustment and changing a circle on the display from red to blue as you fully clean an area.

Higher-end cordless vacuums may also have companion apps that show things like battery level, filter status and cleaning logs. It’s an added level of convenience, but by no means necessary. Unlike the best robot vacuums, or even the best budget robot vacuums, which rely on their apps to set cleaning schedules, manually control the machines and more, cordless vacuums that you operate yourself really don’t need Wi-Fi or an app connectivity.

Cordless stick vacuums range in price from $150 all the way up to over $1,000. The best ones for most people lie in the middle, in the $400 to $700 range. You’ll notice most of our picks land in the higher end of that range, but for good reason: More expensive machines tend to have more sucking power, which means less time wasted going over the same spots over and over. But does that mean everyone needs the most premium cordless vacuum? Definitely not. We’ve come up with top picks at various price points that should work well for people with different budgets, lifestyles, home sizes and more.

Engadget doesn’t have a dedicated lab in which we can test cordless vacuums, but I used each model in my home for weeks. I ran them over hardwood and tile flooring, as well as low-pile carpet. And my first runthrough consisted of cleaning all three floors of my home on a single battery charge. I performed the same cleaning job as many times as possible, but also intermittently cleaned a single floor as needed, or sucked up isolated messes like crumbs, cat litter spills and tufts of pet fur. Over the course of many cleanings with each model, I made note of how loud the machine was, how easy it was to maneuver around my home, how easily it sucked up pieces of large debris (or if it pushed it around my floor instead) and if they got warm or hot.

The Dyson Gen 5 Detect has a single-button start and stronger suction power than our top pick, but it’s otherwise quite similar. However, since the Gen 5 Detect is more expensive at $950 (although it does receive discounts at Dyson online), the V15 Detect still provides greater value for your money. The Gen 5 Detect is arguably best for those who want the latest Dyson, or care about getting a more future-proof machine, since it came out just last year.

The Shark Detect Pro provides a lot of value for the money, but it was ultimately beat by the Tineco Pure One S15 Pet for our runner-up slot thanks to the Tineco’s stronger suction power. The kicker for the Detect Pro is that it includes a self-emptying base in its $450 price, which is super handy. It’ll automatically dump the contents of the vacuum into the larger bin in the base after every cleaning, and you only need to empty the base’s container every month or so. The Detect Pro did a good job cleaning up messes across different types of flooring, and it’ll auto-adjust suction power depending on the amount of debris and whether you’re cleaning hard or carpeted floors. However, it’s not as smooth to use as any of our top picks and its main cleaner head is a bit tall, making it difficult to use to clean under low furniture.

Most cordless vacuums will run for at least 30-40 minutes on a single charge, but you can find cordless vacuums with battery lives of up to 60 or 70 minutes. Manufacturers will outline an estimated battery life for each model, and they’re usually based on using the vacuum’s standard power mode for the entire runtime; if you switch between modes or prefer to use a higher-powered program for improved suction, you’ll drain the battery faster.

Cordless vacuums do sacrifice a bit in overall power when compared to corded models, but that doesn’t mean they can’t handle everyday messes just as well. If suction power is your biggest concern, we recommend springing for a high-powered, high-end cordless vacuum since, typically, the more expensive a cordless vacuum is, the stronger the suction. Also, cordless vacuums have the edge over corded models when it comes to weight and convenience: cordless vacuums are much lighter than their corded counterparts, and you’ll never have to worry about placement or picking a fight with a cord while cleaning your living room.

Yes, cordless vacuums can handle pet hair well, but we recommend getting a model with strong suction power to get the best results. It’s also wise to get one with a larger bin, since pet hair can quickly fill up smaller bins, which may force you to stop cleaning to empty the vacuum before finishing.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

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