Best cordless vacuum cleaners – the top cable-free stick cleaners

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
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  • 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 best cordless vacuums 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?


    Image credit: Bissell

    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 is the best cordless cleaner in 2020?

    After thorough testing by Caramel, we have voted the Dyson V11 Absolute as the best cordless vacuum cleaner in 2020. If you’ve got less to spend, the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 is our best-value cordless vacuum cleaner. The Miele Triflex HX1 Cat&Dog is our favourite premium vacuum cleaner.

    Best cordless vacuum cleaners 2020

    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

    Buy now: Dyson V11 Absolute vacuum cleaner, £599, Amazon

    2. Bissell ICON 25V – best designed cordless vacuum cleaner


    The Bissell really impressed us. It performs really well and the design includes impressive attention to detail.

    Bright headlights on the floorhead illuminate cleaning. Run time is up to 50 minutes but it will be much less on high power, using the floorhead… and the Bissell always starts with both when you turn it on. There are three power levels and the medium one is fine most of the time, but the vac doesn’t remember your last setting, it always starts at top whack, which reduces battery life.

    The floorhead claims to beat the problem of hair tangles and we certainly didn’t manage to get it badly tangled. It’s also smaller than the Shark floorhead. The 0.4 litre bin isn’t the easiest to empty but it’s ok.

    Weighing in at 3.2kg, the design is a top-heavy stick that converts to handheld. It comes with just one tool, a crevice nozzle that converts to a brush. That’s great: you only really need those two tools. Though ironically the designers have given you space to store multiple tools at the charging dock.

    That’s right, that rare beast, a wall hanger that also lets you charge the vac. It’s surprising how few come with this.

    We were even bowled over by tiny design details. For example, built into the inside of the dock is a little spirit level, to make it very easy to mount the dock level. Another one: the tip of the crevice tool lights up when it’s in use. We could go on.

    It’s a mid-priced cleaner but the performance and design combine to impress.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Bissell ICON 25V, £299, Amazon

    3. Miele Triflex HX1 Cat&Dog SMML0 – best premium cordless vacuum cleaner


    Miele’s first cordless claims to be powerful enough to be your only vacuum cleaner. It’s also supremely convertible: you can rearrange the pieces to convert from an upright cleaner (bottom-heavy, perfect when you’re just vacuuming floors, stands up by itself) to a stick cleaner (top-heavy, very manoeuvrable) to a handheld.

    It comes with three tools: crevice nozzle, dusting brush, flat upholstery tool.

    We tested the Cat & Dog model. There’s also a regular model that’s a bit cheaper (no HEPA filter, no headlights on the floorhead, no turbo brush for lifting pet hair from furniture) and a Pro model that’s dearer (comes with a second battery and charger).

    We weren’t convinced that you need the pet turbo brush unless your furniture is plagued with pet hair. But a second battery might be worthwhile.

    The Miele is easy to use, well designed and impressively powerful on floors and more. It really offers the cleaning power you’d expect from a corded cleaner. But the ‘up to 60 minutes’ run time is 34 minutes if you’re using the floorhead (which you probably are) and just 17 minutes at top power.

    Fortunately the lower power setting is good enough and 34 minutes is long enough for a couple of rooms.

    You wouldn’t be able to vacuum a whole house thoroughly on one charge. You’d need a second battery or to clean little and often. Its 0.5-litre capacity is on the small side too. You’ll need to empty the dirt canister regularly, but this is easy and isn’t messy.

    The Miele Triflex HX1 gives Dysons a run for their money. We missed the Dyson’s charging dock and fluffy hard floor roller. But the Miele’s convertibility and sheer cleaning power won us over. If you don’t mind the price, the HX1 is a great buy.

    Ideal Home’s rating 5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Miele Triflex HX1 Cat&Dog SMML0, £579, John Lewis

    4. Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 – best value cordless vacuum


    This stick-style cordless vacuum cleaner has a slight design difference: the cyclone cylinder sits sideways, like its predecessor. But the thing that really stands out is its comfy grip. It’s perfectly shaped and has a soft touch. It feels nice enough in the hand that its 3.1kg weight doesn’t feel too heavy.

    Buttons are under your thumb and responsive. One turns it on and off, another cycles between the two power settings (it remembers which one you were on last time) and the third turns on the floorhead’s powered brush and headlights.

    It boasts triple filtration and runtime is quoted as 45 minutes but it will be much less on high power, using the floorhead. Its vacuuming was impressive on both power settings.

    Tools are impressive too. It comes with a crevice nozzle and dusting brush, both of which are well designed. But at the time of writing it also came with a free Cordless ProKit 2 accessory pack.

    This gives you an extendible, flexible crevice nozzle for tricky gaps, an upholstery tool, a stiff brush for tough dirt and a stretch hose so you can use the tools without the weight of the cleaner in your hand. The toolkit comes with a fabric storage bag too, but it would have been great if this could clip to the Vax.

    The battery comes off and docks in a charger. And the Vax comes with a wall mount, so you can hang it up when not in use. Meanwhile the 0.6-litre capacity dust canister isn’t large but it comes off easily and then is straightforward to empty.

    We were really impressed with the Vax’s comfort, array of tools and cleaning performance for a mid-priced machine. It really gives the Dysons and the Miele a run for their money.

    Ideal Home’s rating 5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Vax ONEPWR Blade 4, £220, Amazon

    5. Henry Cordless – best cordless cylinder vacuum cleaner


    This is unusual: a cordless version of the Henry cylinder vacuum cleaner. It’s almost as large as the mains-powered family favourite and it’s not too expensive.

    Build quality is tough and simple. The three tubes just push together, no fancy controls. We liked the fact that the plastic end of the flexible hose is designed to double as a nozzle for quick cleaning of little corners, no need for an accessory.

    It also comes with three tools: crevice nozzle, dusting brush and upholstery tool. There’s space to store two onboard at any time. Plus you can clip the floorhead to the side of the vac, so the whole thing stands independently. The floorhead is good on carpet and hard floors alike but there’s no powered brush.

    Henry Cordless is bulky compared with all the other cordless vacs on test. With the head clipped to the base and the long (2m) hose snaking out, it takes up more space than an upright cordless. The benefit of the bulk, though, is huge capacity: It stores your dust in 6-litre bags, with two-stage filtration. Tabs close the HepaFlo bags, so you can empty the vac cleanly.

    Cleaning power isn’t as good as the mains-powered Henry, but it isn’t bad. There are two power levels, which you select using a switch on the main body. There are no controls on the handle. Run time is 30 minutes on low power and 20 minutes on high – we found ourselves using high most of the time. Thankfully it comes with a second battery, effectively doubling those run times. You pop the battery out of Henry to charge it in a dock.

    Our only quibble with build quality was the clips that attach the top to the bottom: they’re fussy and don’t always clip fully. Clipped right, though, it’s heavier than other cordless vacs but it pulls along behind you with ease and the weight in your hand (just the tube and attachments) is very light indeed.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Henry Cordless, £199, Currys

    6. 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

    Buy now: Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited, £339.99, Amazon

    7. Vax Blade 32V – best cordless vacuum cleaner for affordable power


    We tested the 32V Blade 3 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

    Buy now: Vax Blade 3 32V cordless vacuum cleaner, £180, Amazon

    8. 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

    Buy now: Dyson V8 Absolute cordless vacuum cleaner, £304, Amazon

    9. Shark Anti Hair Wrap IZ251UKT – best workhorse cordless vacuum


    The Shark is big and heavy (4.1kg) enough that you might forget it’s cordless. So although it’s a top-heavy stick design, you won’t be waving it around. But you’ll also forget because the cleaning

    power is impressive. Its multi-stage powered floorhead whips up dust and hairs brilliantly and boasts ok headlights.

    Battery life is up to 40 minutes and we tested the pet version that comes with two batteries, so you can double it. It also comes with a host of accessories, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing: where are you supposed to store them? There’s a crevice nozzle, brush, upholstery tool, an adjustable thin wand that’s good for getting behind radiators and under furniture, and because it’s the pet model a small motorised turbo brush too.

    The bulky floorhead does a great job of cleaning: the combination of powered brushes seems to lift everything. They’re also designed not to get tangled with long hairs and our test bore this out. There are two power settings under your thumb, one for hard floors and one for carpets. But you can also pull a trigger with your index finger for a temporary power boost.

    Just as impressive was storage: push a button halfway down the tube and the whole vac folds in half so you can stow it away in a cupboard.

    It makes a good handheld vac too, and the dust canister is easy to empty once you remove the tube to convert it. But with the tube we found the machine too heavy for it to feel easy in the hand for cobwebs.

    In all, with two batteries and powerful cleaning, it makes a good replacement for a corded upright cleaner. You don’t have to plug it in but it’s not really lighter or more manoeuvrable than a corded model.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Anti Hair Wrap cordless vacuum with Flexology and TruePet IZ251UKT, £480, Shark 

    10. Halo Capsule – best lightweight cordless vacuum cleaner


    This new contender has an unusual design, with a lightweight (2.6kg) carbon fibre body and curvaceous styling. The handle is unusually positioned at the top too.

    It’s a stick-style cleaner with a powered floorhead (no headlights) and two tools: a crevice nozzle and a dusting brush. They push on to the cleaner with the tube for cobwebs and awkward corners, or straight onto the body for use as a handheld vac.

    It’s a bagged cleaner with a decent capacity of 1.6 litres. It comes with 53 compostable paper bags, enough to last years. The run time is up to 60 minutes, but will be much less on high power, using the floorhead.

    The controls are good. A power button under your thumb turns it on and it always starts at the middle one of the three power settings. You press the other yellow button to cycle between them. This works well as you rarely need the top setting and the low setting is a bit weedy.

    The thin blue button in between turns the powered brushes of the floorhead on. Every time you turn the vac on, you have to push this again. That’s a bit annoying.

    Also annoying is the way the floorhead easily clicks to lock at 90 degrees… this top-heavy cleaner can’t stand up by itself, so what’s the point? It’s annoying when it happens mid-cleaning.

    But the floorhead cleans well, with and without the brushes spinning. And we love the fact that the Halo Capsule is lightweight. Even the charger is petite. It leaves us wishing that the tube was in two pieces, so that the whole cleaner could pack down into a small kitchen cupboard: that would be novel.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Halo Capsule, £250, Amazon

    11. Beldray 29.6 V Airgility Max BEL0813 – best budget cordless vacuum


    This lightweight stick-style vacuum cleaner is keenly priced but it’s not really powerful enough to replace your main vacuum cleaner. It is nippy for quick clean-ups and ergonomic in the hand though.

    It’s light and bagless, with a decent 1.2-litre capacity. The tube pops off so you can convert to handheld cleaning. Battery life is quoted as up to 50 minutes but will be much less on high power, using the floorhead.

    The floorhead has a motorised brush that is always spinning when it’s in use. It also has headlights, but they’re concentrated in the middle and point too high, so they’re not much use. Whenever you switch the cleaner on, using the trigger that sits naturally at your index finger, it starts in the lower of two power levels. Press it again for high and then once more to turn off. Cleaning floors you frankly need the higher power.

    The lower power setting is best for the tool though. The Beldray comes with a single tool: a crevice nozzle that converts to a small brush. It’s a great idea in theory but in practice it’s too small: it gets bunged up easily. We used it to vacuum very small houseplant leaves from a shelf and had to clear the brush repeatedly. It’s fine for dust but a bigger brush would be better.

    It features a HEPA filter and the dust canister pops open with the press of a button.

    One neat feature is that you can store it standing up, pretty small, by removing the body and hooking it onto the bottom of the tube. This is great for storage.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Beldray 29.6 V Airgility Max BEL0813, £150, Amazon

    12. 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

    Buy now: AEG CX7-2-45BM Cordless 2-in-1 cordless vacuum cleaner, £176, Amazon

    13. 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

    Buy now: Hoover Discovery Pets DS22PTGC cordless vacuum cleaner, £169, Amazon

    14. 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

    Buy now: Black & Decker CUA525BHP 45Wh Multipower Pet, £143.45, Amazon

    15. 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

    Everything you need to know about buying a cordless cleaner


    Image credit: Vax

    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.

    How much should I spend on a cordless vacuum?


    Image credit: Halo

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    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.

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