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Published Jul. 28, 2021

The best stick vacuums are lightweight cleaning tools that fit into tight spots and suck up small messes. Designs range from lightweight stick vacuums that weigh under three pounds to multi-surface stick vacuums that effortlessly transition between hardwood floors and carpet. 

These smaller versions of a traditional upright vacuum weigh a fraction of their full-size counterparts. They’re a popular option for the second story of a two-story home, as well as folks with low strength or mobility. Plus, they’re a great tool for quick clean-ups or in-between cleanings with a larger, more powerful machine. Many stick vacuums include features like one-handed dustbin emptying, conversion to a hand vacuum or stair vacuum, or cordless operation.

When choosing the best stick vacuum, consider dustbin size, suction power, and head design. The size of your family and home floor plan could make a difference in the model that works best, too. 

Ultimately, it comes down to a vacuum that feels good in your hand, provides enough suction power to eliminate messes, and fits in your storage space. Keep reading to see which models stand out on performance, along with a few tips to help you make your decision. 

Features to consider when shopping for best stick vacuum

The best stick vacuums typically have a good blend of features, including suction control, dustbin design, and battery life. The right mix gives you portable cleaning power that makes it easier to keep a neat, tidy home.

Battery life, run time, and charging time

A vacuum’s power type significantly influences the reliability of the suction and how easy it is to maneuver. A cordless vacuum cleaner lets you clean around furniture and move upstairs without tripping over a cord. You’re also not tethered to an electrical outlet while you clean. Unfortunately, you have to give up some power when you choose a cordless over a corded model. Corded models provide weaker power that may fade as the battery dies, though some models are designed to provide full suction up until the battery runs out. 

The best stick vacuums typically have a 12 to 40-volt lithium-ion battery. However, the vacuum needs at least 18 volts to provide decent power. The battery’s run time corresponds with the number of volts. Higher voltages mean longer run times. Run times range from 15 to over an hour per charge. Keep in mind that different settings and control features will use up power faster than a model with a single suction setting. Conditions like extreme cold or hot temperatures can also prematurely use up power.

It can take anywhere from two to six hours for the vacuum to recharge. Something to think about—a model with a short run time and long recharge time could be more of a hassle than a help. 

Suction and Brush Action

Stick vacuums may not offer the same power as a full-size upright or canister vacuum cleaner, but their suction and brush action can still do a great job of removing allergens, pet hair, and general debris. Some models rely solely on suction, in which case they need at least 18 volts to remove regular dust. 

Others bring suction and brush action to the cleaning game. Models with both will do a better job of cleaning pet hair off of different flooring types. To protect delicate hardwood, look for a model that lets you turn off the brush or has specially designed soft bristles. If you’ve got pets, a pet hair vacuum with extra suction settings and brush will remove more of your fur baby’s leftover fluff. 

Consider the vacuum’s weight

Stick vacuums are almost always lighter than a full-size model. However, their weight can range from ten to around three pounds. Lightweight models are easier to maneuver and carry around the house. They’re an excellent option for people with limited strength or mobility. 

Cordless vacuums are often heavier than corded models, so if weight is a big issue for you, opt for a corded model. Keep in mind that lighter stick vacuums may not have a brush or provide as much power as a heftier model. However, they provide light, portable cleaning power for places where large vacuums dare not tread.

Versatility—Conversions and Attachments

Some vacuums are better at cleaning hard floors, while others are at their best on the carpet. However, the best stick vacuums often work on both because of special attachments or conversion options. Attachments like pet cleaning heads, crevice tools, and extension tubes or hoses add versatility and help the vacuum work on varied surfaces. 

Many models convert into a hand vacuum, while a few convert to a stair vacuum as well. Extra conversions expand the vacuum’s uses and reduce the number of cleaning tools needed in the home. 

Brush and Suction Control

If you’re wondering how to clean hardwood floors without scratching them, a stick vacuum with adjustable power and brush control offers one option. Brushrolls can scratch hardwoods with their stiff bristles. These models let you turn the brush off, using suction only on hardwood floors. Another option is a model with extra soft bristles or silicone “fins” that clean without scratching. These models stir up dust and debris with the bristles or fins and suck it into the vacuum cleaner. They’re safe for use on hardwood floors, even though you cannot turn off the brushroll.

Best budget stick vacuum: what you can get for under $50

Some of the best stick vacuums can cost just as much or more than a full-size vacuum—with more power, capacity, and features. These stick vacuums perform beautifully and offer lightweight cleaning power, but don’t fret if you’re on a budget. Cheap stick vacuums exist, and they’re great for small messes and light use. Will they clean thick carpet like an upright? No. But as long as they have adequate power above 18 volts, they work well for the jobs they were designed to do, namely small-scale cleaning. 

The best stick vacuum

Best cordless stick vacuum: Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Excellent Battery Life

The Dyson’s long battery life and decent recharge time comes with great suction that works on multiple flooring types. Dyson

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The Dyson offers an impressive 42-minute battery life, plus the power to handle pet hair on carpets and hard floors. The only downside is the price. 

Dyson makes one of the best cordless stick vacuums for the price. It weighs just above six pounds and includes an impressive 42-minute run time with a relatively short four-hour charging time. Add to that excellent suction on both carpet and hardwood floors, and you’ve got a cordless model that’s worth the investment. This model can also handle pet hair without losing power and runs a little quieter than the average stick vacuum. 

Best stick vacuum for pet hair: Shark IZ363HT Anti-Allergen Pet Power Cordless

Hair and Dander Containment

The Shark’s self-cleaning, silicon-finned brushroll captures pet hair but doesn’t get tangled like traditional brushes. Shark

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The best stick vacuum for pet hair includes a brush with silicone fins that trap fur without it tangling around the brush. This vacuum also offers a long run time, HEPA filtration, and allergen containment. On the downside, this model’s price rivals a full-size vacuum. 

The Shark IZ363HT features a self-cleaning brushroll that removes pet hair but doesn’t get clogged like a traditional brush. The brush’s silicon fins maintain contact with the floor but are gentle enough for delicate surfaces. With a 50-minute run time, this model maintains suction and keeps going to clean a sizable house. A HEPA filter and special anti-allergen seal on the dustbin prevent pet dander from re-entering the home. 

Best lightweight stick vacuum: MOOSOO K17 Cordless Vacuum 2-in-1 Stick Vacuum

Lightweight and Maneuverable

This model only weighs 2.84 pounds and converts to a hand vacuum. Moosoo

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This lightweight, 2.84-pound stick vacuum offers impressive suction in a featherweight package. The two power modes let users adjust it according to their needs, and it still provides 30 minutes of run time. Among the few cons is that the filters get filled quickly. 

The MOOSOO K17 weighs in at only 2.84 pounds, making it one of the lightest stick vacuums available. The cordless version (and there is a corded model, too) can run up to 30 minutes per charge. The light weight improves maneuverability, so it’s easy to move while in use or carry around the house. There are two power modes and a washable HEPA filter to round out the list of features. Plus, it converts to a hand vacuum for use on stairs and in the car. 

Best multi-surface stick vacuum: EUREKA NEC222 HyperClean Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Power and Reliability

The nozzle and brush design transition smoothly from bare floor to carpet while maintaining power and suction. EUREKA

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The Eureka NEC222’s configuration options and brush and nozzle design transition between flooring types with equal precision. A range of tools and a relatively lightweight design complete a reliable vacuum with power to clean carpets and hard floors. However, a small percentage of these vacuums may lose suction after only a few months. 

The Eureka NEC222’s configuration options—a short hand vacuum configuration and the stick configuration—add versatility of use. The brush design and powerful suction help it transition seamlessly from hardwoods to carpet or area rugs. An upholstery brush and crevice tool that can attach directly to the power unit or wand extension adds further uses on furniture, curtains, and stairs. It also offers two ways to empty the dustbin and includes a washable filter to save filter costs over the life of the vacuum. 

Best stick vacuum for hardwood floors: NEQUARE Cordless Vacuum

Soft but Powerful Cleaning

The three tools and soft bristles work together to create a versatile vacuum that works well on hard floors and carpet. NEQUARE

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The NEQUARE’s attachments and configuration options work well on carpet, hard floors, upholstery, and stairs. 

The NEQUARE Cordless Vacuum comes with three attachments (crevice tool, upholstery brush, and extension tube) that help it function as a stick, hand, or stair vacuum.  Each of the tools can attach directly to the power unit or to the adjustable tube for added length and reach. There’s also the option of onboard tool storage. While this model doesn’t offer brush control, the soft brush works as effectively on hardwood floors as it does on carpets. There’s no need to clean the brush since it can be removed and replaced with the included replacement brush. Plus, it only weighs 4.8 pounds and can self-stand.

Best budget stick vacuum: Bissell Featherweight Stick Lightweight Bagless

Affordable and Lightweight

Convenient configuration options and lightweight maneuverability make this affordable model a strong contender. Bissell

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The Bissell Featherweight’s three-pound weight and three configuration options provide convenient cleaning at an affordable price. It doesn’t have the most suction power, but for light messes, it’s a low-priced winner. 

The Bissell Featherweight really is lightweight, weighing in at just three pounds. However,  that’s not the only impressive aspect of this little model. In short, stick vacuums don’t come much more compact than this one. For an extremely affordable price, the Bissell offers three configuration options: stick, hand vacuum (with crevice tool), and stair vacuum. The 15-foot cord doesn’t provide much length, but the corded design keeps up consistent power. 

FAQs

Q: What is the difference between a stick vacuum and an upright vacuum? 

The difference between a stick vacuum and an upright vacuum comes down to power, weight, and size. Uprights have more power and larger, heavier designs. With more power comes better suction, larger bags or dustbins, and a larger vacuum to store away. Stick vacuums are lightweight, designed for small messes, and may reconfigure into hand or stair vacuums. 

Q: How long does a stick vacuum battery last? 

A stick vacuum battery, even a high-quality one, lasts anywhere from two to five years. At the end of the battery life, models with a built-in battery are kaput. However, those with a replaceable battery option can work for many more years with a fresh battery. 

Q: How to use a stick vacuum?

Remember the purpose of these models when determining how to use a stick vacuum. They’re meant for light, spot cleaning rather than whole-house vacuuming like a traditional vacuum. Stick vacuums are great for tidying up between deep-cleaning vacuum sessions, vacuuming up small spills, and cleaning hard-to-reach areas like stairs. 

A final word on shopping for the best stick vacuum

The best stick vacuum for you depends on the flooring in your home and how you want to use the vacuum. Lightweight, battery-powered stick vacuums offer enhanced portability, while heavier models can run for up to 50 minutes. If you go the cordless route, look for a model with at least 18 volts. Corded models offer more raw power, and there’s no chance of power running out before you’re done cleaning. Finally, for greater versatility, models that offer several configurations provide a wider range of convenient cleaning options. 

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