Best Stick Vacuums of 2019

Mary H.J. Farrell

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

Stick vacuums' compact size makes them convenient, but that's not their only selling point. “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.”

And cordless stick vacuums are taking over. According to the market 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.

Runtimes 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. Below are the best cordless stick vacuums from CR’s tests, listed in alphabetical order.

How We Test Stick Vacuums

Because stick vacuums don't have the same deep-carpet cleaning capability as full-sized vacuums, CR conducts a carpet surface cleaning test, evaluating how well the appliances pick up sand, rice, and cereal in a certain amount of time. 

Full-sized vacuums face a more challenging embedded-dirt test in which 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. 

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 runtime 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. It operates quietly, but its emissions aren't as clean as some of the other stick vacuums we've tested.

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.  

Shark APEX UpLight Lift-Away DuoClean LZ601
CR's take: A newcomer to our ratings, the corded Shark APEX UpLight Lift-Away DuoClean LZ601 is a winner. It aces all our key cleaning tests—carpet, bare floors, and pet hair—and operates quietly and cleanly. It also cleans along the edges of the wall without leaving any debris behind. This vacuum is self-standing, making it easy to store, and has a self-cleaning brush roll so you can avoid messy hair entanglements. It comes with several attachments that you can store onboard.

Shark Rocket IX140
CR's take: This basic cordless Shark stick vac aces most of CR's pickup tests—cleaning carpet, bare floors, and picking up pet hair—but fell short when we tried to tidy up the edges along the wall in our test lab, earning only a Fair rating on that test. It operates quietly and emissions are fairly clean. As a bonus, it has a trigger on the handle that boosts suction when you need it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an automatic brush roll cleaner like some other Shark models in our ratings.

Shark SharkFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded HV391
CR's take: The corded SharkFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded HV391 is up there with other top-performing Shark stick vacuums and does a superb job at cleaning carpet, bare floors, and cleaning up pet hair. It zips along edges leaving nothing behind and emissions are clean, meaning everything you vacuum up is contained in the bin. It’s a bit noisier than some of the Sharks in our ratings but still earns a Very Good rating on that test so it's not that bothersome. Our testers find this vacuum easy to maneuver and flexible enough to easily move under and around furniture.

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.



More from Consumer Reports:
Top pick tires for 2016
Best used cars for $25,000 and less
7 best mattresses for couples

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2019, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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