Tineco Pure One S11
The Tineco S11 is one of the lightest, most comfortable-to-use vacuums that also have enough cleaning power to work pretty well on most rugs (though it’s not quite the best we’ve tested). A unique dust sensor makes it easy for you to focus your efforts on areas that are actually dirty.
The Tineco Pure One S11 is our top pick because it’s pretty good (not great) at the important stuff, and it doesn’t have any major flaws. It sort of wins by default, because every other cordless stick vac with a similar battery life and cleaning ability has some kind of serious downside. The S11’s best trait is how comfortable it is to handle even during long cleaning sessions (you can realistically get about 30 minutes on a fully charged battery pack), as it feels lighter and easier to steer than any of its close competitors.
For the price, it did an above-average job of cleaning rugs and bare floors in our testing. While it won’t pull as much dust or hair out of rugs as some other models near this price (including the Dyson V8 series, one of our runner-up picks), the S11 is strong enough that we’re comfortable recommending it considering its other advantages over its competitors. And based on an AI-assisted analysis of customer reviews, we’ve found that most S11 owners are perfectly satisfied with its cleaning power. The S11 also has a built-in dust sensor, which we found to be surprisingly helpful: Whenever you roll over debris, an LED ring changes colors to give you a visual cue that you’re actually vacuuming something. On big messes, the S11 automatically bumps up the suction, too. Like most cordless vacuums now, the S11 works with extra battery packs that you can buy to extend the run time (though they’re $90 each), and it can function as a handheld vacuum, too.
Dyson V8 Absolute
The Dyson V8 is better than nearly all other cordless vacuums (besides other Dysons) at deep-cleaning rugs. Though the trigger-style power switch and built-in battery can be frustrating for some people, this vacuum has had excellent reviews from owners over many years. Try to wait for a sale, when it costs less than $400.
If you want a cordless vacuum that can actually deep-clean your rugs, the Dyson V8 series–which includes the V8 Absolute, the V8, and the V8 Animal–will come closest to doing the job for less than $500. The thicker the rug and the clingier the debris, the bigger the advantage Dyson has over any other competitor at this price.
But Dyson sticks aren’t our top pick (anymore) because we don’t think their rug-cleaning power is so superior that it offsets their disadvantages compared with other cordless vacuums. Although they’re quite light, their trigger-style power switch can feel uncomfortable because you need to keep it squeezed constantly to make your vacuum run. Dyson sticks are fine on bare floors but nothing special. Their battery lives are about average and, we think, ample for most uses (roughly 35 minutes for the V8), but they use built-in (or screw-in) battery packs, so it’s impractical to swap in a spare battery as some owners would like to be able to do. The V8 in particular is overpriced and also seems to be about two to three times as prone to premature battery malfunctions as a typical cordless vacuum, according to our AI analysis of owner reviews.
Black+Decker Powerseries Extreme 20V Max
We haven’t found another cordless vacuum for less than $200 that cleans carpets as well as this Black+Decker. Another plus: It uses common, affordable Max batteries, which are interchangeable with loads of other Black+Decker power tools. The dustbin is a pain, though.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $179.
If you want a decent cord-free carpet cleaner but don’t want to spend much, the Black+Decker Powerseries Extreme 20V Max is (usually) the least-expensive model we’d recommend. For a stick vacuum at this relatively low price, it’s surprisingly effective on short- and even medium-pile rugs—at least for gritty types of debris like crumbs or sand. (It’s not as great at digging out pet hair or fine dust.) This vac also runs on the same batteries as a lot of Black+Decker power tools, so spares are plentiful and affordable. On the downside, the atrocious dustbin falls off the vacuum anytime you bump it, replacement filters aren’t always in stock, and its bare-floor cleaning is just okay. But we regularly see the Powerseries Extreme going for $150—and at that price, it’s the cheap stick to beat if you want to be able to pull debris out of your rugs rather than just tickle the tops of the fibers.
If you’re looking for an even-cheaper stick that you can use for quick cleanups, you can pick pretty much anything. We don’t love any of the current options, but we do have a few leads to help you on your search.
Dyson V15 Detect
If you want a cordless vacuum that fully replaces a plug-in, a high-end Dyson is as close as it gets. The Dyson V15 is actually better than lots of plug-in vacuums at cleaning rugs. Owners love the auto-adjusting suction.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $750.
Dyson’s top-of-the-line models (including the V15 Detect and Outsize) all clean better than any other cordless vacuum we’ve tested. They actually work better than a bunch of the plug-in vacuums we’ve tested, too.
The V15 Detect is particularly excellent. Beyond the superb cleaning performance, it’s packed with features that make it a treat to use, including a real-time battery-life countdown, suction that automatically increases when it senses dirt, a comb built into the carpet-cleaning brush that shreds hair tangles, a second cleaning head with a soft-fabric brush for bare floors, a laser headlight to illuminate dust and other hard-to-see debris, and animated maintenance reminders and troubleshooting tips right on the vacuum display. There’s even a built-in dust-particle counter, which is a feat of engineering and also kind of a gimmick. And, yes, the V15 is wildly expensive. The trigger-style power switch can get uncomfortable to squeeze during long sessions, too, and we’re not confident that the V15 is more reliable than cheaper sticks from Dyson or any other brand.
You could also consider the pricier, bulkier Dyson Outsize models, which have larger bins and wider brushes than the V15, plus an extra battery pack, but otherwise perform similarly.