Buyer’s Guide: Stick Vacuums
Depending on your type of flooring, a stick vacuum may be your ideal tidy-up tool. Here’s the scoop on their attributes and features—plus our top three choices—to help you pick the perfect stick.
Thanks to its smaller motor, a stick vacuum is thinner and far more lightweight than its upright and canister cousins. Stick vacs, as the name implies, also have a longer reach than handheld models, letting them get under furniture with ease to clean floors or reach cobwebs in the corners of your ceilings. What’s more, some sticks are designed to convert into handheld vacuums, giving you the best of both worlds. But these skinny minis might not be able to handle heavy-duty floor cleaning needs. So read on to learn whether the best stick vacuum can really help around your house—and which top-rated model might meet your needs.
Size Versus Strength
Instead of a bulky bag or canister, stick vacuums feature a tube or cup to hold debris that’s only about four inches in diameter. Being so compact makes them easy to store, a boon to anyone with limited supply closet space. But their small motors simply can’t deliver the power of full-size vacuums. A few swipes of a stick vac can clean dirt and debris from hardwood, concrete, and tile, and a bristled rolling brush can help it handle low-traffic carpet with a pile no higher than a quarter-inch. Skip the stick if you’ve got thick, shaggy carpet to clean or floors soiled by a lot of heavy use, though—it just won’t have enough juice to get the job done.
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Cord Versus Cordless
A stick vacuum with a cord offers a steady, unending supply of power and non-stop suction. Cordless versions can go anywhere, but the suction level wanes as the battery drains—after 20 minutes, your cordless may need a recharge.
While stick vacuums usually weigh in between five and seven pounds, corded versions tend to be the lightest. That’s worth factoring in because an extra pound can feel pretty when you’re reaching up to clean curtains or cobwebs from a ceiling.
If comparing cordless models, be sure to consider voltage: Higher voltage translates into longer running time. Stick vacs range anywhere from 12 to even 40 volts; for reference, a model with 20 volts can typically run for about 15 minutes on one charge, which is usually long enough to cover a space smaller than 1000 square feet. Also be aware that the best stick vacuums without cords use a highly efficient lithium-ion battery, which will charge faster and last longer than NiCD and NiMH batteries.
Consider a Combo
Some manufacturers offer a stick vacuum that converts into a handheld simply by disconnecting the shaft from the top portion, where the motor is housed. This enables the unit to do various types of cleaning—floors as a stick and furniture, car seats, and hard-to-reach nooks and crannies in handheld mode.
Set on picking up a lightweight appliance to make light work of floor care? To help you in selecting the best stick vacuum, we’ve rounded up the top-rated and best-selling models on the market today that meet some of the considerations outlined above as well as wow consumers. Consider the following stick vacuums the cream of the crop.
Dirt Devil Reach Max Multi Cordless Stick Vacuum, $130
The product review team at Wirecutter praises the Dirt Devil Reach Max, a multi-function cordless vacuum that converts from stick to handheld with the simple release of a shaft. Recognized by the team as the best stick vacuum on a budget, this model boasts a 24-volt lithium-ion battery, which runs for at least 20 minutes before needing a recharge. With two speeds and brushes/attachments designed to dust, tackle stairs, clean crevices and more, this 6.4-pound multipurpose tool can handle a number of jobs around the house. Available on Amazon.
Bissell PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Vacuum, $70
More than 6,000 Amazon reviewers are big fans of the Bissell PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Vacuum, designed specifically to pick up pesky pet hair as well as household dirt to keep hardwood, tile and concrete floors spotless. This corded model, weighing in at 7.1 pounds, has a 20-foot cord, an innovative V-shaped base to capture dirt and debris without an extra brush attachment, and a swiveling head to easily work around tricky furniture legs and odd angles. Available on Amazon.
Dyson V8 Absolute Cordless Stick Vacuum, $450
This high-end model scored with Home Depot shoppers, thanks in part to its impressive 40-minute runtime, HEPA filtration, and overall versatility. Running on a 21.6-volt lithium ion battery, the Dyson V8 weighs just 5.8 pounds and comes with two cleaner heads: one soft roller best suited for smooth surfaces, and one all-purpose (and all-powerful) brush. While its price tag is steep, it offers a 90-day return policy with Home Depot and a two-year warranty on parts and labor. Available at The Home Depot.