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, allowing them to get under furniture with ease and reach cobwebs in corners. What’s more, some sticks are designed to convert into handheld models, and there are cordless vacuum options as well.
These skinny minis might not be able to handle heavy-duty cleaning needs, however, so read on to learn how the best stick vacuum may be able to help around the house and why the models below are considered among the best.
- BEST OVERALL: Bissell ICONpet Pro Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Bissell Featherweight Stick Bagless Vacuum
- BEST UPGRADE: Dyson V8 Absolute Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
- BEST FOR SMALL HOMES: Dirt Devil Power Express Lite Stick Vacuum
- BEST FOR LARGE HOMES: Shark APEX DuoClean Corded Stick Vacuum
- BEST FOR HARDWOOD FLOORS: EUREKA Lightweight Cleaner
- BEST FOR PETS: Shark Anti-Allergen Pet Power Cordless Stick Vacuum
- BEST FOR ALLERGIES: Dyson V7 Allergy HEPA Cord-Free Stick Vacuum Cleaner
- ALSO CONSIDER: NEQUARE Vacuum Cleaner
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Stick Vacuum
Unlike traditional canister-type or upright vacuums, stick vacuums have relatively small collection bins that can fill up rather quickly with dirt, dust, and debris. Before buying a stick vacuum, consider factors such as how often you clean your floors, the size of the living area to be covered, and how much dust, dirt, and pet hair you typically need to banish.
In general, the more often you vacuum, the less dust and dirt you’ll have in the collection receptacle each time you finish the chore. Stick vacuums are well suited to light and frequent use, such as cleaning the carpet in a small apartment every day or so. For folks with bigger spaces who vacuum only once a week and must remove ground-in dirt, a more powerful upright or canister vacuum would be a better option.
Size Versus Strength
Instead of a bulky bag or canister, stick vacuums feature a tube or cup that’s only about 4 inches in diameter to hold debris. Being so compact makes these models 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 pile no higher than a quarter inch. Skip the stick if you’ve got thick, shaggy carpet or floors soiled by a lot of heavy use—it just won’t have enough juice for optimal cleaning performance.
Cord Versus Cordless
A stick vacuum cleaner with a cord offers a steady, unending supply of power and ample suction. Cordless stick vacuums can go anywhere, but the suction level wanes as the battery life drains; typically, a cordless model may need a recharge after 20 minutes. Charging time depends on the power of the battery and ranges from around 1 to 4 hours to reach a full charge. Cordless stick vacuums are prized for their portability, which makes them ideal for vacuuming a patio carpet or a she shed where you’d otherwise have to run a long extension power cord.
If comparing cordless vacuum models, be sure to consider voltage: Higher voltage translates into a longer running time, and stick vacs range from 12 to 40 volts. A model with 20 volts can typically run for about 15 minutes on one charge; this is usually enough time to cover a space smaller than 1,000 square feet. The best cordless stick vacuums use a highly efficient lithium-ion battery, which will charge faster and last longer than NiCD and NiMH batteries. Some cordless stick vacuums come with a second spare battery (or the ability to purchase one), which can double runtime.
Note that higher battery voltage also relates to the ability to operate powerheads and mini powerheads. These features have a separate motor that spins the round brushes very quickly to get deep within the carpet pile. Using the powerheads demands a lot of juice and pulls more energy from the battery than suction-only modes.
In addition to being slimmer, stick vacuums are lighter in weight, which makes them easier to stow in homes with limited storage space. While traditional upright and canister vacuums can weigh upward of 20 pounds, stick vacuums weigh approximately 3 to 7 pounds, making them well suited for carrying between floors or through the house. The configuration—a single stick—is also easier to grasp with one hand, whereas a canister vacuum requires holding the canister’s handle with one hand and the hose and wand portion with the other hand.
Consider any features that make a stick more convenient and easier to use. Some manufacturers offer a stick vacuum that converts into a handheld simply by disconnecting the top portion’s shaft, where the motor is housed. This enables the unit to do various types of cleaning, such as sweeping up floors as a stick and vacuuming stairs, furniture, and car seats in handheld mode. The addition of accessories that fit the handheld version, such as a crevice tool or a dusting tool, add even more functionality.
Some stick vacuums also include handles that can be lowered to a horizontal position so there’s no need to use a wand attachment to reach under furniture. Additionally, stick vacuums with powerheads often have the ability to turn off the rotating brush head to vacuum hardwood floors or bare floors. While powerful roller brushes can scratch the finish on hardwood floors, some stick vacs have brushes with soft silicone bristles designed not to damage hardwood flooring.
Those sensitive to dust, pet dander, and pollen may wish to check out stick vacuums with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These filters can remove up to 99 percent of airborne particulates larger than 0.3 microns. As a comparison, a micron is only 0.00003937 of an inch in length, so a HEPA filter will remove allergens invisible to the human eye.
However, due to their high density, a vacuum with a HEPA filter requires more power to pull air through the filter. In these cases, a corded model may be a better option than a cordless vacuum to prevent the need to recharge frequently.
Stick vacuums emit about as much noise as traditional upright and canister vacuums, which is in the range of about 70 to 75 decibels (similar to a hair dryer or garbage disposal). Vacuums designed to be quieter can still emit approximately 68 decibels. While running a stick vacuum probably won’t damage your hearing, it could wake an infant in an adjacent room or keep family members from being able to hear a conversation or the television.
For many, a home isn’t a home without family members of the furry persuasion. But pets can shed fur and dander (dried skin flakes) that can trigger allergies and leave unsightly hair on carpets and upholstered furniture. A stick vacuum with a roller brush is optimal for getting up pet hair. Some models come with optional mini powerheads that attach to a handheld conversion, making them well equipped for vacuuming pet hair from furniture and carpeted stairs as well.
Our Top Picks
If you’re set on picking up a lightweight appliance to make light work of floor care, check out the quality models here, chosen in accordance with the criteria detailed above.
For the power to quickly pick up dust and dirt and the convenience of cordless operation, check out this option from Bissell. It comes with a powerful lithium-ion battery and a tangle-free rotating brush that spins up to 3,200 rotations per minute to dig deep and remove ground-in dirt from carpets.
This Bissell stick transforms into a handheld vacuum that includes its own mini powerhead and a dusting brush, a crevice tool, and a pet-dusting brush. The powerhead and the crevice tool both feature LED lights that illuminate the floor and dark corners to show hidden messes. The ICONpet weighs in at 7 pounds and boasts a mess-free collection bin that empties at the push of a button.
Those in the market for a stick vacuum that’s easy to tote, store, and maneuver in small spaces may find this Bissell to be a great choice. It’s well suited to quick, convenient cleanups, and it’s corded, so it’s always ready to work as long as an outlet is nearby. While this ultralightweight vacuum doesn’t have a powerhead, its broad suction head covers ample ground.
This Bissell model easily converts to a handheld for use with the suction head, which is ideal for cleaning carpeted stairs and upholstery. An included crevice tool helps reach into tight spots. As this vacuum weighs in at just 2.6 pounds, there’s little effort involved when toting it from room to room, and it features an easy-to-empty bagless dust bin.
For power, versatility, and a runtime up to 40 minutes, consider this quality Dyson model. It runs on a lithium-ion battery, features HEPA filtration, and weighs 5.75 pounds. There are two cleaner heads: one soft roller, which is best suited for smooth surfaces such as hardwood and laminate floors, and one all-purpose brush for deep cleaning carpeting.
Accessories include a crevice tool, a mini-motorized head for ground-in dirt and pet fur, and a soft dusting brush. The dust bin offers easy-release dumping, and the vacuum and accessories all store on a handy docking station that attaches to the wall.
Enjoy the convenience of a lightweight stick vacuum without paying a steep price. This Dirt Devil is a corded stick vacuum that converts to a handheld, simplifying the switch between cleaning floors, stairs, and upholstery.
Dirt Devil’s stick vacuum comes with a roller brush that loosens ground-in dirt and is suitable for hard flooring as well as carpet. It features robust suction yet weighs in at a mere 3.6 pounds. It has an easy-dump dust bin and a washable filter.
The dual-brush roll system of Shark’s stick vacuum is suitable for deep cleaning a big house. As a corded vacuum, it won’t run out of power, which is important when tackling large spaces. The powerhead is designed to keep hair from twisting around the rollers, and both rollers are safe for use on hardwood floors and on carpeting. The Shark features swivel steering, making it simple to maneuver around sofa and chair legs.
There are powerful LED lights to illuminate dark areas behind furniture and in corners. The Shark converts to a handheld model for use with a crevice tool, precision dusting tool, and pet multi-tool for removing fur from upholstery. The vacuum weighs in at 8.8 pounds and features mess-free bin dumping.
To clean hardwood floors without scratching, consider this cordless EUREKA model. It has the ability to switch off its rotating roller brush when vacuuming hardwood floors to prevent damage. The HyperClean also boasts large rubber wheels that won’t scuff flooring.
The easy-to-assemble EUREKA runs for up to 30 minutes before needing a recharge and has a MAX option for jobs that require more power. At 6.5 pounds, this cordless model is easy to carry from room to room. It offers two mess-free options for emptying dirt: either twist off the cap or press the release button.
Get rid of pet hair on carpeting and furniture with this Shark stick vacuum, which features a self-cleaning brush roll with silicone fins that resist hair wrap. This Shark vacuum weighs 7.7 pounds and boasts a powerful lithium-ion battery that will run up to 50 minutes on a single charge. It comes with hypervelocity-accelerated suction for deep cleaning, and the powerhead features bright LED lights for navigating in low-light situations, such as behind furniture.
The vacuum also offers an LED interface that makes it simple to switch the brush roll on or off while vacuuming. Anti-allergen seals keep airborne pollen and dander from recirculating, leaving the air in the room healthier and cleaner. The vacuum converts from stick to handheld for use with an included crevice tool.
Trap microscopic airborne particles that can trigger allergy symptoms with the HEPA filter on Dyson’s allergy-fighting stick vacuum. This cordless operates on a powerful lithium-ion battery that will run for up to 30 minutes on a single charge. It features a no-touch emptying bin and converts to a handheld model for use with the included crevice tool and combination cleaning tool.
The vacuum has a MAX mode that increases suction for deep-cleaning ground-in dirt. Weighing in at 5.29 pounds, this Dyson comes with a docking station that can be installed on the wall to store the vacuum while it’s recharging.
The bright LED lights on this corded stick vacuum will illuminate dust and crumbs that users might otherwise miss when vacuuming in low-light spots. The NEQUARE comes with a multi-tasker head that pivots up to 180 degrees for cleaning around table and chair legs without having to move the furniture. The stick lowers to allow the flexible powerhead to slip beneath the furniture.
The vacuum converts to a handheld model for use with the included crevice tool, dusting brush, and mini cleaning tool. The dust bin detaches for dumping, and the NEQUARE weighs a mere 3 pounds, making it convenient for carrying to any room in the house.
FAQs About Stick Vacuums
After reading about some of the best stick vacuums, some questions may linger. Below are answers to some of the most common questions about stick vacuums.
Q. Which cordless stick vacuum is best for pet hair?
Cordless stick vacuums are great for removing pet hair on a daily basis. In this lineup, the Shark Anti-Allergen Pet Power Cordless Stick Vacuum comes in as the best for pets pick for its long runtime and anti-allergen seals to keep dander from recirculating.
Q. Are stick vacuums worth it?
For those living in a small apartment, a stick vacuum can serve as the primary home vacuum. Those living in larger homes may want to consider a stick vacuum as a second vacuum that’s used mainly for quick, frequent cleaning.
Q. What is the best portable stick vacuum to buy?
Consider both size and weight when shopping for a portable stick vacuum. The Bissell Featherweight Stick Bagless Vacuum, the pick in this lineup for small spaces, weighs just 2.6 pounds, and the stick detaches for easy transport in a small car trunk or floorboard.
A corded stick vacuum can be nearly as powerful as a traditional canister or upright vacuum, while a cordless model is usually less powerful and needs recharging every 20 to 45 minutes of use. Either type can be a convenient addition in the home, but many users still prefer to have a traditional vacuum on hand as well.