Best Stick Vacuums of 2019

Mary H.J. Farrell

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

“In the past few years, stick vacuum suction has gotten a lot stronger, especially in battery-powered stick vacuums,” says Frank Rizzi, a senior Consumer Reports test-lab engineer. “If you don’t have wall-to-wall carpet, these machines can do a lot of cleaning.”

Stick vacuums are taking over. According to the marketing research firm Gap Intelligence, more than 100 different cordless stick vacuums are currently on sale at major retailers compared with less than 30 corded stick vacuums.

Run times for cordless stick vacuums, which are powered by rechargeable batteries, vary widely. In Consumer Reports’ tests, some stick vacs lost power in as little as 15 minutes and others ran for 47 minutes. Some manufacturers provide an extra battery with their cordless stick vacuum so you can have one charging while you’re cleaning with the other.

Consumer Reports has tested dozens of stick vacuums from such brands as Bissell, Black+Decker, Shark, Dirt Devil, Hoover, and Dyson, plus newcomers from Tineco and LG.

How We Test Stick Vacuums

Because stick vacuums don't have the same deep-carpet cleaning capability as full-sized models, CR conducts a carpet surface cleaning test, evaluating how well the appliances pick up sand, rice, and cereal in a certain amount of time. (In the more challenging embedded-dirt test for full-sized vacuums, our engineers try to clean up sand that's been ground into pile carpet.)

In our bare-floor cleaning test for cordless stick vacuums, we scatter litter on a tiled floor with grout grooves, which increases the difficulty. We also conduct a pet-hair removal test on medium-pile carpet as well as a clean emissions test to see whether a vacuum is releasing the dust that was just sucked up. 

Read more in this handy guide about how CR tests vacuums. Below are the best cordless stick vacuums from CR’s tests, listed in alphabetical order.

Best Stick Vacuums From CR's Tests

Bissell Air Ram 1984
CR’s take: For an affordable price you get a top-notch and self-standing cordless stick vacuum. The Bissell Air Ram 1984 scores an Excellent rating on our carpet cleaning test and is just as good at bare floors. It has the longest run time among the cordless vacuums in our labs, with a charge that lasts 47 minutes. Even though it's a basic model, the Bissell Air Ram has held its place near the top of our ratings for some time. But unlike other stick vacs, it doesn’t convert to a hand vacuum or come with any accessories.

Dirt Devil Power Stick SD12530
CR's take: The well-priced slim Dirt Devil Power Stick SD12530 is no slouch when it comes to cleaning carpet and bare floors, and picking up pet hair, and it earns an Excellent in all three tasks. The corded model gracefully glides along edges, picking up dust as it goes, and it operates quietly. But its emissions aren't as clean as some of the other stick vacuums we've tested.

Kenmore Elite Complete 10441
CR's take: The cordless Kenmore Elite Complete 10441 receives top scores in our bare-floor, edge-cleaning and pet-hair tests. It left a little debris behind in our carpet test but still earns a Very Good rating. It comes with two brush rolls, one with bristles for carpet and one that’s soft for bare floors. It has a telescoping wand and converts to a hand vac. You can cut tangled hair from the brush roll with the touch of a button. The charger has to be mounted on a wall, but it’s compact. The filter isn't as easy to remove as some in other models.

LG CordZero A9
CR's take: The cordless lightweight but pricey LG CordZero A9 gets top marks on all CR performance tests including an Excellent rating for bare floors. And it operates very quietly. It comes with two brushes, one soft roller for hard surfaces and a brush for carpets. The LG is equipped with two batteries so you can charge one while vacuuming with the other. The charging stand is self-standing so there’s no need to hang it on a wall. The washable filters are easy to change and clean.

Shark Apex DuoClean Corded ZS362
CR's take: The Shark Apex DuoClean Corded ZS362 aces all of CR's cleaning tests, including earning an Excellent rating on our difficult carpet test. The DuoClean power head includes a bristle roller and a soft roller so you can easily move from floor to carpet and back again. And this cleaning machine cleans itself by automatically clearing hair from the brush roll. The little vac is easy to maneuver under furniture, and an LED lights the way. The dustbin pops in and out with ease and the vacuum stands on its own, making it easier to store. In our member survey, Shark stick vacuums earn top marks for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

Shark IonFlex 2X DuoClean Ultra-Light Cordless IF251
CR’s take: One of the best stick vacs in our ratings, the Shark IonFlex 2X DuoClean IF251 can get around tight corners with ease, and it's stellar at picking up pet hair from bare floors and carpets. In terms of picking up debris on carpet, this stick earns a Very Good rating, meaning it picks up most of the embedded talc in our tests. Like other Shark stick vacs, it has a dual brush roll that includes a bristle brush roll and a soft brush roll, which helps it excel in our carpet and pet-hair tests. Shark vacuums earn our top ratings for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

Shark IonFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light IF201
CR’s take: While it’s called ultra-light, the Shark IonFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light  weighs 8.7 pounds, which is average for models in our cordless stick vacuums 6 pounds and over, but it's several pounds heavier than the truly lightweight models in our tests. This well-rated Shark cleans up pet hair like a champ, earning an Excellent rating on that test. And like the top-performing corded SharkFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded HV391, it has two cleaning speeds and converts to a hand vacuum when you need to get into tight spaces. But you can’t remove the brush roll for cleaning, so you’ll need scissors to cut away strands of hair and fur. The battery runs an average of 15 minutes when fully charged, on the skimpy side. But unlike some stick vacs, you can vacuum at any speed without sacrificing run time. Shark vacuums earn our top ratings for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

Tineco Pure One S12
CR's take: An all-around excellent performer, the high-end Tineco Pure One S12 is feature-filled and its cleaning ability is impressive, earning top marks on all our cleaning tests including an Excellent for pet hair. An LED panel on the top of the handle displays the power level and battery time remaining, and lets you know if you have a clog or tangle. You can adjust the power settings by swiping up or down on the screen, and a dust sensor detects the amount of debris and adapts the suction power accordingly. It runs very quietly, and emissions are clean.

Inside the Vacuum Test Lab

In the market for a new vacuum cleaner? A CR expert, Sue Booth, shows "Consumer 101" TV show host Jack Rico how Consumer Reports puts models through the paces.



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