Cordless vacuum cleaners, when they first came on the scene, were not as powerful as their mains-powered counterparts. But new technology, such as long-lasting lithium-ion batteries, means that some models can now offer the same cleaning capabilities in a much lighter and more manoeuvrable format.
Since they take up less space they're obviously good for small flats, but now that some leading models offer up to an hour of run time and, in some cases, the same capacity and power as an upright or cylinder vacuum cleaner, they can work very well for big houses too.
Since I bought a cordless (sometimes called ‘stick’) vacuum cleaner, I haven’t looked back. There are no cords to get in the way of cleaning, and no dust bags to worry about – you can simply pick up a cordless vacuum and spot clean as needed. They're far more portable than traditional vacuum cleaners, and easier to use than a robot vacuum. If you need a vacuum for pet hair removal, especially from sofas and beds, a light and handy cordless makes a lot of sense.
There are a few factors to consider when shopping. The first is suction power – for obvious reasons, as a vacuum cleaner that can’t suck up dust and dirt can’t do its job. (The right vacuum should be able to tackle most dirt, grime and surface stains, but for more persistent staining you may need a carpet cleaner). The second factor is weight, as some of the heavier cordless vacuum cleaners make hoovering your sitting room seem like an upper-body workout.
The third is battery life: the vacuum cleaner you choose will need to last long enough to get round your home on one charge, otherwise it will take just as much effort to clean with as a corded model. It’s also worth bearing in mind any extra features you want – I consider extra tools, such as a dust brush and crevice tool, to be essential. And, as you’ll see below, some models offer extra batteries, light-up floor heads and other extras to make cleaning easier than ever before. For these, though, you’ll likely pay a premium.
How I tested
I compared them for weight, battery life, ease of use and power on wooden floors, carpet, linoleum and tiles. Never has my flat been so spick and span. I also conducted a semi-scientific flour test on a grey rug, spilling a couple of tablespoons of flour and then hoovering it up to test performance (you can see one result above). All the vacuum cleaners that have made it onto this list of the 'best' performed well in this test, by which I mean they were able to remove all traces of flour in one sweep.
I also took value for money and any extra features they offer into account. Here’s what I found on my hunt for the best cordless vacuum cleaners, starting with my favourite…
At a glance: the best cordless vacuum cleaners for 2022
- Best overall — Dyson V15 Detect Complete
- Best for pet hair — Shark Anti Hair-Wrap
- Best value — Vax ONEPWR Blade 4
- Lightest — Hoover H-Free 300
- Best for rugs and carpets — Halo Capsule
- Best looking — Miele Triflex HX1
Read on for our full reviews
The best cordless vacuum cleaners for 2022
1. Dyson V15 Detect Complete cordless vacuum cleaner
£599.99, John Lewis
Best for: performance
We liked: it's quite simply the most impressive cordless vacuum cleaner on the market
To address the elephant in the room, the Dyson V15 Detect Complete is a significant outlay – just shy of £600, to be exact. But – and I say this without any doubt – it really is worth it.
At just 2.74kg, it’s extremely lightweight without compromising on suction power (which is an impressive 230 AW in Boost mode).
The first significant development that the V15 has on previous Dyson models is the addition of a laser in the head that illuminates dust (even the smallest, microscopic particles) as you clean. It works a charm. The laser hunts out dust in nooks and crannies, and then the motor auto-adjusts to ramp up the power for dustier areas and lessens it to save battery life in cleaner areas. Smart.
The LCD screen at the top of the handle shows you how many particles have been sucked up, displaying real-time ‘scientific proof of a deep clean.’ It also has a sophisticated battery indicator that tells you when to charge. It’s the first Dyson vacuum to have an upgraded HEPA filter to trap microscopic particles as small as 0.1 microns – that’s as small as pet dander and diesel soot.
The V15 has three power modes: ‘Auto,’ which intelligently adapts to different floor types, ‘Eco,’ which saves power, and ‘Boost,’ for intensive cleaning. It also races ahead of competitors when it comes to battery life, with a maximum run time of 60 minutes. The battery is removable – spares are available to buy from Dyson should you wish to double your run time.
Additionally, it comes with a wide range of seven attachments including a dedicated tool for long hair and pet hair that I didn’t know I needed, but now can’t live without, and a fluffy brush bar which makes light work of hard floors. It even comes with a LED-lit crevice tool for getting behind appliances and in between furniture. Every feature is well thought out, from the easy-to-empty 0.7 litre bagless bin to the lower-profile floor head for reaching under low-lying furniture.
None of this negates the fact that £600 is an awful lot to spend on a vacuum cleaner. I do believe it’s worth it – but if that’s out of budget, Dyson’s other models are well worth a look. I’ve owned a Dyson V7 (£249, Dyson) for several years and highly rate its cleaning power, decent battery life and reliable performance.
2. Shark Anti Hair Wrap cordless vacuum cleaner
Best for: pet hair
We liked: the flexible wand
So, this vacuum cleaner’s full name is: 'Shark Anti Hair Wrap Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner with PowerFins, Flexology & TruePet.' Slightly wordy, but don’t be put off – behind it is some very clever tech. Shark is the favourite brand of celebrity cleanfluencer Mrs Hinch; if you want a home as clean as hers, I’m confident that this Shark vacuum is the way to get it. It’s powerful, flexible, comes with an excellent range of accessories, and is especially good for cleaning up pet hair.
Back to that technology: the ‘PowerFins’ are specially angled ‘fins’ on the dual brush roll to pick up extra dirt and ‘Flexology’ is a genuinely very innovative feature whereby the vacuum bends at the mid point, so you can get under furniture without having to bend over (a lifesaver for getting right under the sofa). It also has Shark’s famous anti hair-wrap technology, which is remarkably good at stopping hair from wrapping round the brush roll.
After trying it for myself, I can say with confidence that it’s deserving of the hype. This was the last model I tested, so I (naively) thought there would be no more dust in my flat for it to remove, but the powerful suction vacuumed up more dust and hair than any of the others in just a few seconds (bar the Dyson). Shark says it’s 50 per cent better at sucking up dirt and debris than previous models, and I saw this in action.
While most vacuum cleaners have one motorised roll in the brush head, this one has two, plus a light, so you get extremely efficient performance. It comes with a great range of attachments: a crevice tool, an anti-allergy brush, ‘multi surface’ dusting tool and dedicated pet tool.
The fact that it comes with two batteries is a particular advantage, as you get up to 120 minutes of run time (it also comes with a dual charging dock). It also has an LED display that shows battery level and allows you to switch between suction level and floor type. I found it very easy to set up and use, although slightly more cumbersome than my top choice, the Dyson, as it weighs a reasonably hefty 4kg.
3. Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 cordless vacuum cleaner
Best for: value for money
We liked: the easy to empty bin
This cordless vacuum cleaner has lots to offer – I was hugely impressed with its 45 minute battery life (and the fact that it comes with an extra battery to double runtime), powerful suction, easy-empty bin and extra features. Put simply, it rivals more expensive models for a far better price.
It performed exceptionally well on hard floors and carpets alike, and it has a handy illuminated floor head and hardy brush mode that made light work of leeching dust and debris from my rugs. At 3.1kg, it’s a touch heavier than some of the other models on this list, but still plenty light enough to use for cleaning surfaces and corners as a handheld device. It only comes with a crevice tool, but if you order from Vax direct they throw in an extra £50 worth of attachments including an upholstery brush and an extended crevice tool. It has an extra-powerful ‘Turbo’ mode, but I didn’t find I needed to use it often as it offers ample suction even on the standard setting.
Also of note is how incredibly easy it is to use and empty. You can charge the 4.0Ah battery in a charging dock – no need to plug the whole machine into the wall – and the 0.6l bin has an easy release mechanism that makes emptying quick and tidy.
It is also worth mentioning that Vax offer a two-in-one cordless vacuum and floor cleaner: the Vax ONEPWR Glide hard floor cleaner (£199.99, Vax). This is a lifesaver for reluctant cleaners, as it gets the whole job done in one go, but its actual vacuuming performance is slightly lacking compared to the Blade 4, with 30 minutes battery life. You simply pull the trigger to coat the roller in antibacterial cleaning solution and vacuum as you would normally. It does a great job of cleaning my kitchen floor, sucking up dust and grime then scrubbing it clean in a fraction of the time such a job would normally take.
4. Hoover H-Free 300 cordless vacuum cleaner
Best for: manoeuvrability
We liked: the lightweight design
The original and best Hoover brand that has become synonymous with the act of vacuuming itself. I was hugely impressed by this affordable cordless model; it has a lithium-ion battery that can run for 40 minutes at a time, a lightweight, compact design, simple controls and an easy-empty dust container.
It’s suitable for all types of floor and can be converted to a handheld Hoover for spot cleaning or use in a car. You can also switch between 90 and 180-degree cleaning angles to get around furniture and into tight corners.
It’s also very light, at just 2.5kg, and can be clicked into a vertical position for temporary storage (while it’s not in use for longer periods of time, Hoover recommends you store it on the supplied wall mount).
I was similarly impressed by the premium features that punch above its price tag, including LED lights in the head to illuminate hidden dust, but the 65 AW suction power (when in ‘medium’ mode) is a fraction of Dyson’s. For a more budget-friendly cordless vacuum cleaner, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it – but on suction power it doesn’t quite cut it for the top spot. This was reflected in the flour test – it was able to suck up the flour efficiently, but didn't quite get every trace at the edges of the brush head.
5. Halo Capsule cordless vacuum cleaner
Best for: cleaning rugs and carpets
We liked: the large dust capacity
The Halo Capsule isn’t like the other cordless vacuum cleaners on this list as it has a removable dust bag, rather than an easy-empty bin. It differs from the leading brands in that respect but, despite the faff and expense of having to replace the bag every so often, I really rate it. It offers the capacity of a full-size upright vacuum (1.6 litres) with the manoeuvrability of a cordless design and replacement bags aren’t pricey (they can be purchased from Halo for £25.99 for 26, and don’t need to be replaced often).
It has an ultra-lightweight 2.6kg carbon fibre construction. I was struck by the excellent battery life (60 minutes in eco mode) and easy-to-use controls, but was most impressed by how well the rotating brush head performs on carpets and rugs. It doesn’t only pick up dust from the surface but seems to get deeper, for a more thorough clean.
It comes with two additional attachments – a dust brush and a crevice head – but given its price tag, it would be nice to have a few more. The other thing to note is that, due to its top-heavy design, it’s just slightly more cumbersome to use than some of the other vacuums on this list – especially as a handheld cleaner for getting into nooks and crannies.
6. Miele Triflex HX1 Pro cordless vacuum cleaner
Best for: sleek good looks
We liked: that it has the power of a conventional vacuum in a cordless design
The first thing that struck me about this vacuum cleaner is the sleek design, with its grey pearlised body and metallic accents. Of course, you wouldn’t spend this much on a vacuum for looks alone – but, luckily, this model has impressive performance credentials too.
It’s a 3-in-1 design that allows you to switch between an extra-long vacuum for getting into corners and under furniture, a standard length for everyday cleaning and a handheld option for surfaces and nooks and crannies. It comes with a great range of attachments: an upholstery nozzle, crevice nozzle, dusting brush and floorhead with light are all included, along with an extra battery, which doubles the cleaning time to an incredibly impressive 120 minutes.
It’s among the heaviest of the models I tested, at 3.6kg, and you do notice the difference. But it more than makes up for it in suction power: despite being cordless, this vacuum has the same Vortex Technology technology as the most powerful of the conventional Miele vacuum cleaners. On testing, it is tangibly more powerful than most other cordless vacuums and sucked up more dust and grime than I thought possible across linoleum and wooden floors and carpets alike. The only reason it doesn’t rank higher on this list is cost – although it is currently on sale at Amazon.
Why should I get a cordless vacuum?
When cordless vacuum cleaners first came out, they weren't very good: they had a low run time and poor suction. Over the past few years, however, they have improved dramatically. These days, you can get suction as effective as a corded device; battery life of up to an hour; and a whole host of attachments for versatile cleaning – but you do have to pay a little more to do so.
However, the biggest draw is convenience – a cordless vacuum cleaner allows you to clean little and often rather than doing one weekly deep clean, and to easily spot-clean dust or spillages without the faff of dust bags and cables.
A good cordless vacuum cleaner should come with further attachments like crevice tools for skirting and other tight corners; dusting brushes; and a docking and charging station. You could use a brush for table tops, for example. Just attach it to the handheld section and get rid of all those crumbs in no time at all.
The best I tested were equally comfortable on thick carpet, wood, sofas and skirting; and the very best were just as efficient as corded varieties.
What's the battery life like?
There's quite a big range in battery life. While some last under 10 minutes on the maximum setting, others go for much longer. The Dyson V15, for example, will function for an hour on the lowest setting, without losing power as the battery life diminishes. And, for what it's worth, the lowest setting on the best devices was more than enough: I didn't really find the need to use any on the max setting.
Charging the batteries is straightforward. You'll get a plug to charge wherever you like, but you can also connect it to a wall mount (which has to be attached to your wall, and will become your charging station). Trickle charging ensures the battery won't be depleted by being left on the charger like, say, an iPhone.
You'll also get useful lights on the handheld section of the machine, to tell you how long you've got left. If you're worried about the battery life, unless you have a huge home which you want to clean in one go, you should be fine. Never did I run out of battery, albeit in a small three-bed flat.
Do they have good dust capacity?
Aside from the Halo Capsule, the machines I used are all bagless. Instead, they have dust canisters. A smaller canister can fill up quickly if you're cleaning your whole house, but emptying is as simple as flicking a switch or clicking a button.
A bagged option might be better for dust allergy sufferers, or asthmatics, as there is a danger of breathing in particles when emptying the canister. It is also important to maintain your device properly by taking the filter out and cleaning it to prevent blockages and a decline in performance. Cleaning the filter is as simple as running it under the tap and leaving it to dry.