We've tested the latest cordless vacuum cleaners to see which felt like clever time-savers and which felt like too much of a faff to be worth using
Every piece of technology in the home is going wireless – why should vacuum cleaners be any different? Cut the cord and you save valuable time, as there’s no need to keep plugging in and unplugging.
The latest cordless vacs are light and manoeuvrable and make quick work of little clean-up jobs, much more convenient than dustpan and brush. Stick cleaners have a long reach that makes it easy to catch cobwebs and clean curtains. And some have enough cleaning power and battery life to serve as the only vacuum cleaner in smaller homes.
Shopping for home tech? Read more of our definitive buying guides
Why do I need a cordless vacuum cleaner?
Think of a cordless vacuum as a hi-tech replacement for dustpan and brush. Something you’ll use little and often. So power and convenience is good (we like charging stations, so they’re always ready to use.)
Battery life is probably less important but if your home is small, you could consider using a cordless as your main vacuum cleaner – in which case you’ll want it to last more than a few minutes.
What are the different types of a cordless vacuums?
- Stick vacuum cleaners are handhelds that you add a wand to, to extend the reach – then add a brush head to clean floors or a smaller tool for cobwebs and other hard-to-reach spots. They’re fast, manoeuvrable and good for getting under furniture. But the weight is all in your hand, which can be tiring after a while. They often can’t stand up by themselves if you want to pause to move something.
- 2-in-1 upright vacuum cleaners look more like traditional upright vacuum cleaners. The weight is fairly low down, but the middle section pops out and doubles as a handheld cleaner for small stuff. Often the upright’s handle also pops off and doubles as a wand, giving the handheld extra reach for high-up stuff like cobwebs.
What is the best cordless vacuum cleaner in 2019?
After thorough testing by Caramel, we have voted the Dyson V11 Absolute as the best cordless vacuum cleaner in 2019. If you’ve got less to spend, the Vax Blade 32V is our best-value cordless vacuum cleaner.
Best cordless vacuum cleaners
1. Dyson V11 Absolute – best overall cordless vacuum cleaner
The new Dyson promises twice the suction (at the cleaner head) of any cordless vacuum cleaner. But it also costs twice as much as competitors. So is it worth the money?
The V11 is undoubtedly the best-designed and most powerful cordless vac on the market and boasts a quality look and feel. Its elongated body makes the whole thing look long and elegant.
It model improves on predecessors’ battery life, offering (around 15) up to 60 minutes run time. Importantly, use the high torque floorhead and its clever auto mode reduces power on hard floors to conserve battery, increases it on carpeted areas. A bright display shows you not just your power mode but how many minutes cleaning you have left in the current mode, so you can make an informed choice.
It also comes with a superb fluffy hard floor roller and four smaller accessories. You can store two on the excellent wall-hung charging dock and clip the crevice nozzle onto the V11’s wand – together they’re great for cobwebs
Capacity is higher than ever and it’s easy to empty. But the run time and power controls are the stars of the show. If money’s no object, buy the V11: you won’t be disappointed. On a tighter budget, consider the V11 Animal.
Ideal Home’s rating 5 out of 5 stars
2. Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited – best cordless vacuum cleaner for cleaning time
The Bosch has an innovative design. It may look similar to other stick cleaners but its buttons are extra well thought out and the two interchangeable batteries let you extend its run time, much like you would a powertool.
It also comes with not one but two chargers. Its wall bracket includes a neat charger plus space to store the two tools (one upholstery and brush tool, the other a long, flexible crevice tool). There’s also a separate, fan-cooled fast charger.
Unless you’re in turbo mode, run time is 45-60 minutes. But then you can swap to the second battery pack. In fact, charging time is only 60 minutes, so you can keep swapping – and therefore cleaning – for as long as you want.
Our only quibbles were that emptying isn’t effortless and the wheels on the floorhead are loud on hard floors. But the Bosch is light to steer and its suction and brush floorhead are powerful enough for most uses and great in turbo for stubborn dirt. It’s a bit pricey but it’s impressive.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
3. Dyson V8 Absolute – best mid-price stick cordless vacuum cleaner
The V8 is expensive. It’s a cyclonic cordless stick cleaner that costs more than many of us would dream of spending on our main vacuum cleaner. But it promises double the suction of the competition, HEPA filtration and up to 40-minute battery life – where previous cordless Dysons lacked endurance.
We tested the V8 Absolute (officially £520). It comes with two large floor heads: a brush bar for carpets and a big, fluffy roller for hard floors. It also comes with a small, powered brush bar and three detail tools. Filters are washable and a single catch releases the base to empty dirt.
Use it as a handheld or add the wand to clean floors or reach cobwebs. All the tools worked well but it was the hard floor roller that really impressed – it’s highly manoeuvrable, gentle on floors and very effective, even on high suction instead of max.
High buys you 25 minutes with a motorised head, up to 40 without. With max mode you just get 7 minutes for a quick blitz.
The V8 is too top-heavy to stand up by itself but comes with a superb wall-mounted charging station with room to store two of the detail tools.
An outstanding, powerful cordless cleaner, though not quite as good as the V11.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
4. Vax Blade 32V – best cordless vacuum cleaner for affordable power
We tested the 32V Blade with 45-minute battery life but Vax also offers a 24V version (35 minutes).
Its cyclonic stick design is reminiscent of Dyson handhelds, but the chamber is horizontal. Tip it to one side and press a button to empty. Twist the other side to remove the washable filter.
Handling is similar to the Dyson in terms of size, feel and excellent manoeuvrability. But it comes with just one big brush head and two detail tools (a brush and a crevice tool). Fewer tools then, less to store, but we miss the Dyson’s soft head for hard floors.
The trigger is under your thumb and you just press it once, you don’t have to hold it down. Lights indicate charge and there are two extra buttons: one turns boost mode off (the default is on, which increases suction but halves battery life), the other makes the brush bar spin (the default is off).
Cleaning is impressive. It could replace the main vacuum cleaner in a small home and is superb for stairs and quick clean-ups.
Again it’s too top-heavy to stand up on its own. It comes with a very simple wall bracket that doesn’t include the charger – you’ll have to plug it in each time.
An excellent, more affordable alternative to the Dyson but we miss the hard floor head and charging station.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
5. AEG CX7-2-45BM Cordless 2-in-1 –best upright cordless vacuum cleaner
This is a chunky upright, rather than a slender stick, and you need to use a screwdriver once briefly to assemble it the first time. It comes with a floor stand that acts as a charging base and stores one accessory. There are two power levels and run time is 13-45 minutes.
Even away from the stand, get the handle perfectly upright the AEG stands up by itself, which is handy when you need to pause cleaning. Another stand-out feature is the button that removes hair from the brush bar by chopping then vacuuming it up.
We love its manoeuvrability and the little lights on the front of the floorhead when you’re cleaning. The middle pops out for use as a handheld. It’s a shame that there’s no onboard storage for its only accessory, a crevice tool with removable brush.
The AEG is good looking and boasts double filtration, but emptying dirt is fiddly. If you’d like an upright with a pop-out cleaner, this is a good buy. But we find stick cleaners more nimble.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
6. Beko VRT82821BV 21.6V Green PowerStick – best cordless vacuum cleaner for hard-to-reach places
This cyclonic stick cleaner comes with a charging dock that sits on the floor and lets you stow the Beko upright, but it takes up a fair amount of floor space. You can charge the vacuum cleaner in two different ways: plug the power supply straight into the handle or eject the battery and pop it in the dock.
It’s blessed – or cursed – with a lot of accessories. Unpacking, we counted 12 different items. As well as the motorised floorhead, there’s a smaller motorised brush, crevice tool, two other brushes, a flexible hose and an elbow that bends in two places, helping you reach even the most awkward places. The dock has space to stow just two of them.
Run time is 12-40 minutes. It’s cyclonic with a HEPA filter, good for allergy sufferers, and emptying it is very easy. We liked the controls: squeeze for a burst of cleaning or flick a lever to stay on; press a separate button for turbo.
But the floorhead wasn’t great on manoeuvrability and we’d honestly prefer not to be burdened with too many accessories if they can’t be stored well.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
7. Morphy Richards Supervac Deluxe – best cordless vacuum cleaner for awkward spaces
This bills itself as a “3-in-1” upright thanks to its unusual design. Like a 2-in-1, you can use it as an upright (with motorised brush bar floor head) or pop out the middle as a handheld. The third option is adding a separate wand to convert it into a stick-style cleaner.
This means there’s more to store because the charging base has to accommodate an extra wand. But because the upright’s handle doesn’t have to double as a wand, it’s free to do more. Much more.
Controls at your fingertips are for power and brush bar (three different settings) and a clever “backsaver” button that folds the handle by 90 degrees – so the cleaner body can lay flat under furniture without you having to lean down.
Switch to the wand and you can either use the floor head again or one of its two detail tools (a crevice tool and an upholstery brush – there’s no storage for these, sadly). Both upright options can stand up by themselves.
It’s powerful (32V) and the 0.5-litre bin is easy to empty. We liked it best as an upright but found the wand handy for dusting and cobwebs. If you can’t decide between a stick and a 2-in-1, this could well be the cordless cleaner for you.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
8. Hoover Discovery Pets DS22PTGC – best starter stick cordless vacuum cleaner
This 22V cyclonic cleaner has a similar stick design to the Dyson and Vax. The main difference at first glance is that it can stand up by itself. It’s top-heavy, so you wouldn’t leave it like that for ages, but it balances just well enough that you don’t have to lie it down or lean it against something every time you need to let go to shift a piece of furniture. This is surprisingly helpful.
This also makes storage and charging easier: there’s a simple wall bracket and separate charger, but you could just stand the Hoover in a cupboard without the bracket if it won’t get bumped. Another nice design touch is the option to trigger it with your index finger or flick a lever to keep it on constantly. One push of a button and the base of the dust container opens to empty it.
It comes with a floor head (with brush bar), a mini brush bar for removing pet hair, and two versatile tools: crevice tool and upholstery head, both with optional brushes. There’s nowhere to store them but at least four tools in two means less to store. We did find getting tools on and off stiff though.
Powerful enough for quick clean-ups, affordable and we like the versatile tools.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
9. Black & Decker CUA525BHP 45Wh Multipower Pet – best cordless vacuum cleaner for versatility
This 2-in-1, 18V upright clearly wants to replace your corded vacuum cleaner. It’s large and boasts HEPA filtration and battery life of up to an hour. The floor head has a motorised brush bar designed for pet hair, with a sensor that detects floor type and adjusts suction accordingly.
It stands up by itself while not in use and comes with a charging stand (that takes up a fair amount of cupboard space). It comes with two tools and you can store one of them on the top of the handle. You can also add scent.
The handle is just a handle, with no controls. So, using it as an upright, you have to reach down to the middle to turn it on and adjust power.
The pop-out middle doubles as a handheld, cyclonic cleaner. This is a faff: you have to eject it and detach the hose, then add a tool and maybe also the wand (which was the handle) for extra reach. And then, with one hand holding the weight and the other holding the wand, the power button isn’t at your fingertips.
You also need to pop the middle section out before emptying the generous 1 litre bin or washing the filter.
It is not the zipperless experience you might hope for but it’s a pretty effective handheld. And it comes with a nylon belt, so you can wear it and pretend you’re in Ghostbusters.
Don’t buy it as a convertible, it’s too much faff. But if you want to replace your vacuum cleaner with a cordless model and occasionally use it as a handheld for spring cleaning, it’s a good choice.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
10. Hoover H-Free C300 – best cordless vacuum cleaner for on-board storage
This keenly priced cordless Hoover is unlike most cordless vacs. It’s not a stick-style cleaner, nor does it have a handheld that pops out of the middle. Instead the bottom-heavy design tries to ape a corded vacuum cleaner. Run time is up to 60 minutes.
Assembly requires three screws and an ability to endure inscrutable instructions that reminded us of flat pack. But once assembled the design was surprisingly appealing. The weight is at the bottom and it’s chunky, so it doesn’t steer brilliantly but it is easy on the hand. And we love that there are no separate accessories: everything is onboard.
Clipped to the body are a flexible hose, wand and tools for cleaning small stuff and hard-to-reach places. As an upright, it’s effective on floors, though we would have like controls on the handle rather than having to reach down to the body every time.
But using the accessories is far too cumbersome: the hose plugs into the base, the handle pulls out and attaches to the hose, the wand goes onto to the handle, then you add tools. It’s just too much like hard work.
Ideal Home rating 3.5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Hoover H-Free C300, £158.40, Amazon
How much should I spend on a cordless vacuum?
Budget around £150 for a good-quality cordless with decent cleaning power. But you can spend more than three times as much on premium models. More money can buy you powerful suction, longer battery life or better tools.
What other key questions do I need to ask about cordless vacuums?
This probably isn’t your main vacuum cleaner, but if you have allergies it is worth getting a cordless vacuum with a HEPA filter. This removes tiny particles from the air, putting a stop to coughs, sneezes and breathing issues.