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The Best Stick Vacuums for Household Messes Big and Small

Ain’t technology great? The dust-blasting 40-pound bag on wheels your grandma used to push around the carpet is now a sleek cordless shaft of plastic and engineering. If you want a new stick vacuum, here are the best.

What’s a stick vacuum? Thanks to improved vacuum technology and compact rechargeable batteries, there’s a whole slew of ultra portable vacuums on the market that are perfect for daily tidying. You can leave the big upright vacuum in the hall closet for the whole house deep cleaning and bust out the stick vacuum to suck up dust bunnies and spilled cereal with way less hassle, cord wrangling, and clean when you’re done.

With that in mind, do note that stick vacuums work best for smaller homes and smaller areas, because of narrower frames and short running times on cordless models. If you have a large area to cover, or you need to do so on a regular basis, an upright model might be better for your needs. But if you want something light and easy to use for fast cleaning sessions, check the picks below. We’ve also selected the best models for pet owners, for those who need a full corded model, and those on a budget.

Best Overall Pick: Dyson V7 ($250)

Yes, the hype is real. Dyson’s obsessive engineering make each of its successive vacuum designs better, but what they all have in common is crazy-powerful suction and refined aesthetics. The V7 model isn’t the latest or most feature-packed in the range, but at $250 retail for the standard model it will give you all the basic functionality without breaking the bank.

The V7 includes a powered roller head for more aggressive dirt pickup and a dust bin that empties directly into the trash without any disassembly, and comes with attachments for short and long-range cleaning on other surfaces. The basic version is lacking a soft-head roller option (which can be found on more expensive Dyson models) or a hot-swappable battery (which isn’t found on any Dyson stick vacuums). Those looking for truly massive sucking power, a quieter electric motor, or longer battery runtime should check out the V8 and V10 models, but be prepared to pay for the premium.

Best Flexible Cleaner: Shark ION 2X DuoClean ($400)

Stick vacuums are already versatile, but if you want to take it to the next level, Shark’s top-of-the-line model offers flexibility that would make a gymnast jealous. In addition to a ball-style swivel mount on the vacuum head, the shaft can be bent at its central hinge, allowing for easy access under and around furniture without moving it or bending over.

The central head even lets the vacuum bend over and stand freely, no wall-mounted holder required. The powered roller comes with both standard bristle and soft heads in the box, making this model ideal for both deep carpet and hard floor cleaning. Though the batteries are removable and rechargeable on the included cradle, both of them combined will only get you about 40 minutes of runtime, and the motor unit gets hot with extended use.

Best Corded Option: Shark DuoClean Rocket Complete HV382 ($200)

Including a cord with a stick vacuum definitely cuts down on the handiness of the form factor. But if you prefer not to have to worry about a battery, or simply have a cleaning area too large for limited sessions, the Shark DuoClean Rocket Complete should be your pick.

The “Complete” HV382 model shines thanks to bristle, soft, and pet roller attachments, a 30-foot cord, and a hand mode for cleaning non-floor surfaces. The lack of a powered roller is a bummer, but the flexible head should make navigating around most furniture and corners easier. This model is heavier and louder than you might expect from a stick-style vacuum, but the extra power in the electric motor makes it worth the inconvenience.

Best Vacuum For Pet Owners: Dyson V8 Animal

The upgraded suction, HEPA filter, and deep-reaching roller in this upgraded Dyson model make it worth the extra expenditure if your pet leaves hair all over your home—seen above, with the stick tube-extension removed, it’s clearly at home tackling pet hair stuck to your furniture and more. With a 75% boost in suction over the V6 above, the V8 can handle even tougher messes, though it’s still offering only 30 minutes use maximum.

The powered head and deep-driving “max mode” will get pet hair out of even deep carpeting, and the bigger battery lasts for 40 minutes (though it’ll be less with the primary head attached). Unfortunately this model is designed with only carpets and spot cleaning in mind: if you want a soft roller for hard floor surfaces, you’ll have to upgrade to the “Absolute” model for about $50 more at the time of writing.

Best Budget Option: Dirt Devil Power Express Lite 3-in-1 ($36)

To be perfectly honest, if you want to save money, you’re better off with a conventional upright vacuum than a stick model. But if you want the lightweight flexibility of the form factor and you want to spend as little as possible, this Dirt Devil model is a solid choice.

It’s more of a hand vacuum with a full-sized attachment, but that added functionality lets it handle light cleaning duty in a small home without needing to store a larger machine. The powered brush head is a particularly nice touch at this size and price. It’s corded, so it has no batteries to manage, and at under $40 it’s cheap enough that even students won’t have an excuse for a messy dorm room. Be prepared to clean the washable filter on a regular basis.

Michael Crider Michael Crider
Michael Crider has been writing about computers, phones, video games, and general nerdy things on the internet for ten years. He’s never happier than when he’s tinkering with his home-built desktop or soldering a new keyboard. Read Full Bio »