Cordless vacuums are all about convenience. Their lightweight, cord-free design makes them easier to store and maneuver than their corded counterparts.
There was a time when cordless vacuum cleaners fell short compared to corded models. Nowadays, they’re just as capable of leaving any floor spotless — all without a bulky bag, a large dust bin or, of course, that dreaded cord that always seems to tangle or fall out of the outlet as you zoom around the house.
Cheap cordless vacuums are sometimes criticized for having weak suction power and poor battery life. However, there are now plenty of cordless vacuums that have enough battery life and power to dig dirt out of thick carpets and tackle any amount of pet hair with ease on a single charge.
Cordless vacuum cleaner buying guide
When shopping for a cordless vacuum, consider its battery life as compared to the size of your home. You want to be able to clean as many rooms as possible with a single charge. Suction power, as well as dust bin capacity and filter, are also important. Finally, the type of flooring in your home will affect which vacuum is best for you.
• Battery. Cordless vacuums have a runtime between 15 minutes to a bit over an hour before needing to be recharged. Note, however, that this advertised runtime indicates how long the battery will last when you use the vacuum at its lowest suction setting, over hardwood or tile floors. Using the vacuum on thick carpets, or with suction power at the maximum level, can easily shorten the battery life of some models by as much as half.
If you typically need a long time to vacuum or your home has tons of carpets, look for models with lithium batteries that can provide around an hour of battery life in a single charge. Recharging a cordless vacuum’s battery can take two hours or more — possibly making for an annoyingly long break in your cleaning schedule.
Cordless vacuums with top-notch, long-lasting batteries typically cost over $300. If you live in a small apartment or don’t have carpets, you can probably save $100 or more by getting a vacuum with only a 30-minute battery life.
• Suction power. Suction power can be difficult to compare between models since manufacturers don't use a single metric or measurement. While many believe a motor’s watts is a strong indicator of a device's power, this is not completely true. A high wattage means the vacuum will consume more energy. This may be an indication of higher suction power, but it's not always the case. In the end, the suction capacity of a vacuum is determined by its engine and overall design.
For maximum suction power, expect to spend over $300. Cheaper cordless vacuums may still provide a good clean but will perform poorly with thick carpets and large amounts of debris.
• Dust bin. Instead of a bag or a large dust canister, cordless vacuums have a small dust bin located near the unit’s handle. Some dust bins quickly fill up after vacuuming a single room, while others are large enough to handle three or more rooms without having to be emptied. How fast the dust bin fills up will also greatly depend on the amount of dirt, hair or type of debris you encounter.
Manufacturers use several metrics to measure dust bin capacity — from gallons to ounces and liters — so, if you’re comparing models, you might have to do some conversions. There are models with larger bins of up to 0.5 gallons (ideal for bigger homes), but most models are between 0.1 to 0.2 gallons. However, whatever your vacuum's dust bin's size, emptying it at least once while cleaning is recommended to maximize performance and prevent clogs.
• Filter. Aside from the size of the dust bin, consider the quality of the filter. Some models have high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that completely seal the dust bin, preventing small dust particles from escaping back into the room. Cheap models are known to let around 20% of dust back into the air.
• Attachments. Most models include at least three attachments: the standard floor rolling brush, a dusting brush and a crevice tool. If you’d like additional ones, manufacturers usually sell them separately. However, it's also possible for a company to sell several versions of the same model, one with standard attachments and another with one or more additional attachments and accessories.
For example, Dyson offers different versions of a model with terms like “Animal,” “Absolute” or a “+” sign to distinguish them. The only difference between the versions is how many cleaning attachments are included.
The additional attachments don’t necessarily have to be for cleaning. Some companies may throw in an extra battery, a filter cleaning tool or a docking station, for example.
Best cordless vacuums
1. Best overall: Dyson V15 Detect
The V15 Detect is Dyson’s most powerful cordless vacuum to date. Not only does it outperform other cordless vacuums in the market, but it also includes some advanced features never seen before on models from any company.
Many vacuums have LED lights on their cleaning heads. The V15, on the other hand, has a laser that does a much better job at highlighting even the finest particles on all types of flooring.
In terms of suction power, many models have two or three settings to choose from, and the V15 does as well. However, it’s also capable of detecting the amount of dirt and the size of the particles the vacuum picks up. The built-in sensor allows the vacuum to adjust its suction automatically based on how dirty an area is, guaranteeing the deepest clean and optimizing battery life.
The V15 can pick up everything from fine dust to long hair without tangling. It comes with 10 cleaning attachments, including a floor cleaning head designed for hardwood and tile floors, an anti-tangle brush for pet hair, a soft dusting brush and a crevice tool.
2. Best overall runner-up: Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Dyson vacuums are often lauded for having the kind of suction that picks up absolutely anything — from small dust particles to big clumps of debris — and its latest cordless model, the V11, is no exception.
The V11 delivers the best performance of any cordless vacuum out there. Its suction capacity is perfect (or as close as it can get) over hard floors, leaving them spotless in a single pass. The performance is equally powerful on carpets, providing a deep clean that’s on par with corded models. In fact, some users mention that the V11 goes so deeply into the carpets (thick ones particularly) that pushing the vacuum gets a bit difficult.
Even more impressive, this model has a sensor that detects the type of surface underneath it (whether hard flooring or carpet) and self-adjusts the suction power. This optimizes the battery life to deliver around an hour or more of runtime on a single charge. As you move around, the LCD displays how much battery life you have left, down to the seconds.
The V11’s capability does come with a steep price tag ($600). So, if you're looking for Dyson quality and performance for a bit less, the brand’s previous models are still worth looking into (the Dyson Cyclone V10 or V8 Animal, for example). However, do note that the older models generally have weaker suction power and shorter battery life.
3. Editor’s pick: Shark IZ462H Vertex Cordless Stick Vacuum
Few, if any, vacuums, are as powerful as Dyson machines. But for nearly half the price of the Dyson V11 (see above), the Shark Vertex gets close enough. The Vertex ($450) is the most powerful cordless vacuum in Shark's lineup. With an estimated one-hour run time, it can clean both hard surfaces and carpets with ease.
Most vacuums have a single rotating roller that picks up dirt and dust. The Vertex, however, features what Shark calls DuoClean technology, incorporating two rollers to create a better seal and increase suction power. One roller, designed to always remain in contact with hard floors, is soft (similar to a paint roller) to prevent scratches. The second roller has rubber wipers that dig deep into carpets and pick up hair of all lengths, without tangling.
The Vertex’s suction power can be adjusted for hard floors or carpeting. It also features a suction boost, which you can activate as needed by pressing a trigger on the handle. The dust bin is large enough to clean several rooms before having to empty it, and the HEPA filter is completely sealed to prevent dust and allergens from sneaking back into the room.
The unit bends in the middle, making it easy to vacuum hard-to-reach places without having to bend down. There’s also a LED light in front of the cleaning rollers, which helps you get a better view as you vacuum under sofas and beds.
4. Best for low prices: TINECO PWRHERO 11
The TINECO PWRHERO 11 packs a lot of power and battery life for its low price.
The PWRHERO 11 allows for up to 40 minutes of cordless zooming. It also has three suction settings to choose from, so you can crank it up whenever you need to clean large debris, like rice or cereal. However, keep in mind that running any cordless vacuum at maximum capacity can decrease its battery by 50% or more.
Its rolling brush has an LED light to help you spot dirt under furniture or dark corners. This vacuum also converts to a handheld unit, ideal for cleaning hard-to-reach spaces like cars or stairs with the included dusting brush and crevice tool.
Additional features include a HEPA-filtration system and a trigger lock so you can vacuum large areas without having to hold down the trigger button.
5. Best handheld cordless vacuum: Black+Decker 20V Max Dustbuster AdvancedClean
Courtesy of AmazonMost cordless vacuums have detachable suction tubes that quickly turn them into handheld models. Even so, they’re often heavy and hard to maneuver as they’re mainly designed to operate as stick vacuums. If you’re really just interested in a handheld model for small, quick cleanups — perhaps in the car or the sofa cushions — the Black+Decker 20V Max Dustbuster AdvancedClean+ offers plenty of power and practicality.
Weighing just over 2 pounds, this vacuum is very lightweight while still having enough suction to handle even the tough dirt. It features a built-in crevice tool that extends by over seven inches, perfect to reach tight spaces such as in between car seats.
The battery life is pretty limited (around 10 to 20 minutes), but bear in mind that this is fairly standard with all cordless handheld vacuums.
6. Best wet/dry cordless vacuum: TINECO Floor One S3 Cordless Smart Wet Vacuum
Vacuuming a whole house is both strenuous and time-consuming, and not many people want to mop afterwards. Luckily, the TINECO Floor One S3 can help you tackle both tasks at once.
The S3 can vacuum dirt, dust, hair and liquid spills while releasing a cleaning and deodorizing solution at the same time. There’s no need to adjust the settings while using it. A built-in sensor detects what it needs to clean and tweaks the suction power and water flow accordingly.
Its LED display tracks cleaning progress (a light goes from red to blue to indicate an area is properly cleaned), blockages and battery levels. The machine also provides voice prompts for maintenance reminders such as when it’s running low on cleaning solution or when the dirty water tank is almost full.
And don't worry about cleaning messy liquid spills from inside the device. The S3 features a self-cleaning cycle to eliminate odors and debris on the brush roller and inner tubes while the vacuum is set on its charging station.