Cordless vacuums are stronger than ever — shop the best picks for your budget

Julianne Ross, CNN Underscored
Mon July 29, 2019

Story highlights

  • Cordless vacuums are generally lighter and sleeker and avoid the hassles of a cord
  • We've broken down the top cordless vacuums for every price range

Crumbs don't care where your outlets are, which can make traditional vacuuming a pain. If you're tired of tripping over cords or accidentally yanking the plug from the outlet while angling around furniture, it's time to consider a cordless vacuum.

While not all cordless vacuums are going to be as strong as their corded counterparts, for many people their hassle-free design more than makes up for this. Cordless vacuums are generally lighter and sleeker than standard upright vacuums, making them easier to take out for quick jobs and to store in small spaces.

If you're ready to go cord-free, there are a few things to know. One of the most important things to consider is battery life. Expect a decent cordless vacuum to run for anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes. For any model, though, keep in mind that the company's boasted max runtime will depend on a lot of factors, like what mode or power setting you're using. Most touted ranges are what you'd get on the lowest power setting or when using attachments as opposed to actually vacuuming.

Noise and weight are other concerns, as is how easily the vacuum swivels around angles. Again, all of these issues are ostensibly improved in stick vacs versus standard upright vacuums, but there's still a lot of variation. Having an easily detachable hand vacuum is a nice plus, as is a svelte design that'll tuck away discreetly. Finally, consider what you actually plan to clean the most — i.e. hardwood floors, carpets or both — and whether you have specific needs, like something that's really good at grabbing pet hair.

We've broken down the top cordless vacuums for every price range below.

The best premium cordless vacuums

Dyson V11 Torque Drive ($599.99; dyson.com)

Dyson's latest entry into the world of cordless vacuums is already being heralded by many as the best stick vac of all time. The V11 improves on many features of the company's beloved Cyclone V10 ($499.99; amazon.com) — which remains a great buy — and then some. With a motor that spins at 125,000 rpm, the V11 has "twice the suction of any cord-free vacuum," according to Dyson. It promises up to 60 minutes of runtime, comes with nine cleaning accessories, and automatically adjusts its suction as you pass from carpet to hardwood surfaces. The dust bin is 40% larger than that of previous Dyson V models and lets you eject the remarkable amount of debris you've picked up without getting your hands dirty.

The V11's most innovative feature, though, has to be the addition of a digital screen that tells you how much cleaning time you have left. This might sound like a fun but unnecessary perk, but it's a legitimately useful feature when it comes to managing cleaning time effectively. Remember that all cordless vacs — Dyson's included — can take many hours to recharge, meaning you'll likely want to finish up with whatever you're cleaning in one go. The V11's screen removes lingering anxiety about runtime and actually makes vacuuming seem ... fun? It also displays maintenance alerts, so you can keep your device running smoothly for years.

In all, this is an amazing vacuum, and if money were no concern, it's the one we'd buy for ourselves. Alas, money is a concern, and $700 is a whole lot to throw down on a stick vacuum. Only you can decide if the admittedly cool upgrades are worth the splurge.

Dyson V8 Absolute ($399.99; homedepot.com)

The V8 may be an older model than the V11, but at a little over half the price, it's a great value. In fact, the V8 actually beats the V11 in one important respect: It weighs almost a pound less. The V8 still offers excellent suction (its motor spins at 107,000 rpm), HEPA filtration, and up to 40 minutes of runtime — which, honestly, is more than enough for most people's vacuuming purposes.

The best mid-range cordless vacuums

You can get a clean home without spending a fortune. The mid-range cordless models we've selected aren't quite as luxurious as our top picks, but still have plenty of power for most situations.

Shark IONFlex 2X DuoClean Cordless Ultra-Light ($399; amazon.com)

Shark's IONFlex DuoClean model solves one of the most annoying problems about cordless vacuums: short battery life. The IONFlex comes with a second removable battery and external charging dock, meaning you can be charging a second battery while you clean and simply swap them out if necessary — essentially doubling the roughly 20-minute running time. The vacuum is heavier than the Dyson V8, but can be folded in half and stored standing up (unlike the Dyson V models, which require a mount of some sort). This bendiness also can make it a bit easier to vacuum under furniture, and it's easy to transform it into a handheld vacuum.

Hoover LiNX ($129.99, originally $199.99; amazon.com)

The LiNX looks just like a smaller standard vacuum — which is both good and bad. The LiNX is a bit bulkier than our top picks and doesn't have a fully swiveling head, meaning it's not particularly maneuverable. That said, the LiNX is a very affordable option that performs pretty darn well. It can be used on both carpets and hardwood floors, and while it doesn't specify battery life, many reviewers place it at about 20 minutes. That's typically enough time to clean a few rooms or a small apartment. It even has an external fuel gauge to tell you how much battery life is left (though it's not as sophisticated as the V11's digital screen).

Controls are conveniently located right on the top of the handle, and "edge cleaning bristles" will help you get into corners. The LiNX doesn't come with any accessories, but if you're looking for something simple from a reliable brand like Hoover, it's a good option (and has 6,000 5-star Amazon reviews).

The best budget cordless vacuums

Shark Navigator Freestyle ($119.99; target.com)

The Shark Navigator Freestyle has 3,000 5-star reviews and is a very popular budget-conscious choice. Noted as being especially good for picking up pet hair, the Navigator Freestyle is also very quiet and has a large dust cup, meaning you can clean for longer without worrying about emptying it. It's not the sleekest cordless vacuum around and doesn't come with any attachments, but it'll get the job done at a great price.

Dirt Devil Versa 3-in-1 ($84.99; target.com)

Dirt Devil also makes a decent budget pick if you just need something for occasional light jobs or to supplement a larger vacuum. The Versa 3-in-1 works on all surfaces and easily transforms into a handheld vacuum. It only weighs 4.3 pounds, making it super convenient to haul out for small messes that don't require serious suction. It comes with a two-year limited warranty.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.