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Best cordless vacuum cleaner 2020: Powerful portable cleaning

Cut the cable not your cleaning quality: Trusted Reviews uses its in-depth testing to bring you the definitive list to the best battery-powered vacuums

Cordless vacuum cleaners have gone from being basic additions to plug-in models that you use for occasional spills, to powerful devices that can clean entire houses. Far easier to carry around and use on all surfaces, getting the best cordless vacuum cleaner can help you cut down on cleaning times and keep your house cleaner.

The main benefit of a cordless model is that you cut down on the faff of constant plugging and unplugging of a vacuum cleaner, getting the cable within reach of where you want to go; with a cordless model, you just pull it from the dock and carry the unit where you want to go. While all cordless cleaners are convenient to use, there are more factors that come into play, including battery life.

We’ve thoroughly tested all battery-powered vacuum cleaners to help you sort the quality cleaners from the merely convenient. Cordless vacs from all the leading brands, including Dyson, Vax and Bosch, make it into our list. We’ve summarised our findings below, but scroll down to read more detail and find a link to our full comprehensive review of each. If you want a different type of cleaner, check our guides to the best vacuum cleaners and best robot vacuum cleaners.

  • Best all-rounder cordless vacuum: Samsung Powerstick Jet with Spinning Sweeper
  • Best overall cordless vacuum cleaner: Dyson Cyclone V11
  • Best upright replacement: Shark ICZ160UKT
  • Best value Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner: Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute
  • Best cordless vacuum cleaner for ease of use: Shark IZ251UKT
  • Best value cordless vacuum cleaner: Vax ONEPWR Blade 4
  • Best lightweight cordless vacuum cleaner: Hoover H-Free 500
  • Best handheld cordless vacuum cleaner: Vax ONEPWR Cordless Hand Vac
  • Best cordless vacuum cleaner and mop: Bissell CrossWave Cordless
  • Best for power: Lupe Pure Cordless

How we test vacuum cleaners

The most important thing for a cordless vacuum cleaner, or any vacuum cleaner for that matter, is its ability to clean across a variety of surfaces. For that reason, we put all of the models that we test through a rigorous set of tests.

  • We test each cleaner on carpet and hard floors to see how well they pick up our sample dust (a mix of carpet freshening powder, baking powder and talcum powder).
  • We start testing on low power, which will also deliver the longest (and manufacturer-quoted headline battery life). If a vacuum cleaner does a good job on low power, it highlights that it will most likely be suitable to replace a bulky plug-in cleaner. Having to up the power levels reduces battery life, shortening the cleaning time available.
  • We place some dirt right next to the skirting board to see how close to the edge a cleaner can get: these are usually the areas where dust collects in your home. We test how well each cleaner can deal with pet hair, too, as this is a common requirement for UK homes.

Cordless cleaners also get their own range of tests, designed specifically for these models. We look at usability, and how well balanced each cleaner is; after all, these are models that you have to carry around.

Being able to reach different areas of your home is important, so we test how easy a cleaner is to lift up for high-level cleaning and how easy it is to clean stairs.

We test battery life to see how long each cleaner can last on different power settings, too. Finally, we test the quality and range of accessories and nozzles, as well as measuring how noisy each cleaner is.

With the most in-depth tests, our cordless vacuum cleaner reviews can be relied on. Find out more in our full how we test vacuum cleaners article.

1. Samsung Powerstick Jet With Spinning Sweeper

An excellent all-rounder that can also mop your floors

Samsung PowerStick Jet VS9000 hero

After a few years where Samsung vacuum cleaners were hard to find and not particularly good, comes the brand-new Samsung Powerstick Jet With Spinning Sweeper. This model isn’t just a cordless vacuum cleaner, it’s also (as you can tell from the name) a hard-floor cleaner, using two spinning microfibre cloths to wash floors as well as vacuum.

Results from the mopping are excellent, picking up stubborn stains and leaving floors free of ground-in marks and stains that a vacuum cleaner can’t pick up.

Don’t worry about vacuuming performance, as the Samsung Powerstick Jet With Spinning Sweeper is also an excellent vacuum, complete with all of the accessories that you could need. It picked up all of our test dirt with ease, showing that this is a very powerful vacuum cleaner.

It comes with a huge variety of accessories, too, letting you clean into pretty much every area of your home.

There’s a removable battery, too, and you can buy a second battery if you want to extend runtime for the cleaner. Cleverly, the stand can charge one battery inside the cleaner, and there’s a spare charging slot for charging the second battery, too.

If you want one device to vacuum and clean your floors, there’s nothing else quite like this versatile vacuum. With the Powerstick Jet With Spinning Sweeper, Samsung has one of the most practical vacuum cleaners that money can buy.

Vacuum cleaner type: Cordless vacuum and mop, Size: 250 x 1136 x 215mm, 2.8kg, Provided heads: Motorised floor head, small motorised brush, crevice tool, upholstery brush, angle tool, mop, Bin capacity: 0.5-litres, Bagless: Yes, Run time: 60-minutes

Read our full Samsung Powerstick Jet With Spinning Sweeper review

2. Dyson V11 Absolute

The best vacuum cleaner, full stop (Trusted score: 5/5)

Dyson V11 Absolute standing up

Last year’s Dyson Cyclone V10 was a pivotal moment: it marked Dyson’s shift away from developing new corded models, with only new cordless models to come. This year, we’ve got the second product to come out, the Dyson V11. Although it looks very similar to the V10, the V11 has several improvements.

First is the screen on the back. This may seem like an odd thing to include, but it shows you the battery time remaining in minutes, which is far more useful than the V10’s set of LEDs that only show rough charge remaining. This display also shows you which power mode you’re in (Eco, Medium or Burst), and can show you what to do if your vacuum develops a problem.

Dyson has boosted the power of the V11, making it a step up from the V10. There’s a larger battery, too, which now delivers up to an hour of cleaning using the motorised floor head; the V10 had up to an hour of battery life but only with non-powered heads. And, there’s now the High Torque brush head, which sends feedback to the main unit to adjust power on the fly to suit the surface: you get more suction on the carpet and a gentler suction on hard floors.

Most importantly, the V11 is an excellent performer, cleaning up everything that we could throw at it. With this model, you can safely throw away your corded model and go battery powered. This is not only the best cordless vacuum cleaner but the best vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum cleaner type: Cordless vacuum cleaner, Size: 1286 x 250 x 261, 3kg, Provided heads: Motorised floor head, soft roller, mini roller, crevice tool, dusting brush, combination tool, Bin capacity: 0.76-litres, Bagless: Yes, Run time: 60 minutes Eco, 12 minutes Max

Read our full Dyson V11 review 

3. Shark ICZ160UKT

A supremely flexible vacuum cleaner that can replace a traditional upright

Shark ICZ160UKT hero

Shark has done some incredible things with vacuum cleaners, coming up with new designs. With the Shark ICZ160UKT, the company is bringing one of its most-loved features from its corded range: lift-away mode. This cordless vacuum cleaner operates like a standard upright vacuum cleaner, but with lift-away mode, you can pull out the main cylinder and carry just this around.

The benefit of this system is that once you have the lift-away section where you want it, you can get spot and detail cleaning without having to support the entire weight of the cleaner. Not only does this mean that you can get into hard-to-reach areas with the long hose, but there’s less fatigue from cleaning. If you struggle to continuously lift a handheld vacuum cleaner, the Shark ICZ160UKT is a great alternative; even if you find handheld models easy to use, the ICZ160UKT is still a brilliant option and very flexible.

As well as being flexible, the Shark ICZ160UKT is powerful, too, easily sucking up all of our test dirt on carpet and hard floors, and making short work of pet hair. It’s nice to see the anti hair wrap tech on the main roller, too, which stops hair clogging on the floor head. You can buy this model with one or two batteries, with the latter doubling run time to give you powerful whole-home cleaning. If you want a flexible cordless vacuum to replace a plug-in one, this upright replacement is an excellent choice.

Vacuum cleaner type: Cordless, Size: 1080 x 250 x 260mm, Provided heads: DuoClean floor head, upholstery tool, crevice tool, brush, mini motorised tool, Bin capacity: 0.6-litres, Bagless: Yes, Run time: 50-minutes

Read our full Shark ICZ160UKT review

4. Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute

Better value than the Dyson V11

The Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute is the pinnacle of cordless technology. In fact, Dyson is so sure of the capabilities of this cordless vacuum that it is no longer developing new corded models. Fortunately, the Cyclone V10 Absolute lifts up to its claims, and isn’t just one of the best cordless vacuum cleaners that we’ve tested; it’s one of the best vacuums full stop.

The new digital motor is 20% lighter and 20% more powerful than the one fitted to the Dyson V8. At full speed it runs at 125,000rpm, generating the kind of suction that you’d expect from a plug-in cleaner. With the battery lasting at up to 60 minutes, the Cyclone V10 Absolute will last long enough on a single charge to tackle most homes.

The Absolute ships with all of the tools that you need, but the motorised heads for carpets and hard floors particular impress. In our tests, the Cyclone V10 Absolute managed to pick up all of the mess from our carpet, hard floor and pet hair tests. And, the handheld body makes tackling everything from cars to sofas simple, too. With the cleaning power to outdo plug-in vacuum cleaners, the Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute is the future of vacuums.

Vacuum cleaner type: Cordless vacuum cleaner, Size: 1286 x 250 x 261, 2.6kg, Provided heads: Motorised floor head, soft roller, mini roller, crevice tool, dusting brush, combination tool, Bin capacity: 0.76-litres, Bagless: Yes, Run time: 60 minutes Eco, 12 minutes Max

Read our Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute review 

5. Shark IZ251UKT

A dual-battery powerful vacuum cleaner for whole-house cleaning (Trusted score 4.5/5)

Shark IZ251UKT hero


Shark has taken everything that we love about its corded vacuum cleaners and put them into this powerful cordless model. One of the best features on the Shark IZ251UKT is the DuoClean head, which is designed to work on both hard floors with the soft roller and carpets with the brush. It works brilliantly and gives you full cleaning performance on all surfaces, without having to change heads.

This floorhead also uses Shark’s Anti Hair Wrap tech, which means that long hair and pet hair doesn’t get wrapped around the roller, so there’s no messy cleaning job to do here.

Shark has its Flexology tech here, too. With this, the handle can be flipped over for storage, with the vacuum cleaner standing upright by itself (it can’t stand upright with the handle extended, sadly); the flippy handle can also be used to get the floor head under furniture without having to bend down.

Shark includes two batteries in the box, both of which can be charged at the same time in the dual battery charger, giving up to 80 minutes of runtime on the lowest power setting. This should give enough power for even a large house. Cleverly, the vacuum turns on in low power mode with a switch, but there’s a trigger to quickly engage Boost mode when you need a bit more oomph. This setup helps save battery life, as you only ever engage Boost mode for a short period.

If you’re looking for a powerful all-rounder to replace a corded vacuum cleaner, this is an excellent choice.

Vacuum cleaner type: Cordless, Size: 1180 x 260 x 245mm, 4.1kg, Provided heads: DuoClean motorised floor head, upholstery tool, crevice tool, dusting brush, anti-allergen dusting brush, motorised pet brush, Bin capacity: 0.4-litres, Bagless: Yes, Run time: 80-minutes (two batteries)

Read our full Shark IZ251UKT review

6. Vax ONEPWR Blade 4

Great value option suitable for whole-home cleaning (Trusted score: 4.5/5)

Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 hero



Last year’s Vax Blade 2 Max was a surprisingly powerful cordless vacuum cleaner pretty much capable of managing your entire home. This year, the company is back with a refined, better model, the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 Max. Effectively the same cleaner as last year, with the same powerful cleaning option, this year’s model now has a removable battery and is part of the ONEPWR family.

Not only does this mean that you can add extra batteries into the mix to extend battery life, letting you go beyond the maximum 45 minutes that the included battery provides, but you can swap batteries between other products in the range. This not only gives you more flexibility but means that the ONEPWR Blade 4 is now capable of handling even large homes if you buy extra batteries.

The main stick comes with a motorised brush head that’s great for multiple surfaces and has a handy light to highlight any dirt. You also get a crevice tool and brush in the box, but that’s it: you have to pay more for the additional tools accessory, although Vax offers a free accessory kit if you buy direct.

Operation of the vacuum is easy, with a button to turn the cleaner on – there’s no pistol grip that requires continuous pressure here. Although the wall mount doesn’t charge, that’s not an issue here, as you can remove the battery and drop it onto the charging dock.

Well-priced and with powerful cleaning, you have to spend a chunk more to get more powerful suction and a greater range of tools.

Vacuum cleaner type: Cordless, Size: 1140 x 240 x 185mm, 3kg, Provided heads: Motorised floor head, crevice tool, brush (optional toolkit include upholstery tool with a clip-on stiff brush, extendible crevice tool and a flexible extension hose), Bin capacity: 0.6-litres, Bagless: Yes, Run time: 45-minutes standard, 12-minutes turbo

Read our full Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 review

7. Hoover H-Free 500

An incredibly small vacuum cleaner that’s easy to store (Trusted score: 4.5/5)

Ninja Health Grill & Air Fryer AG301UK small storage

To some degree all cordless vacuum cleaners are small and lightweight when compared to plug-in models, as they’re all designed to be portable. However, there are variations and we’ve seen some rather chunky cordless models that aren’t well balanced. If you want something really light that’s easy to wield, the Hoover H-Free 500 could be for you.

This tiny model weighs just 2.2kg, so it’s easy to pick up and move around, whether you’re cleaning the floor or need to get up high around your ceilings. It’s also one of the easiest models to store, with the bin section clipping onto the wand to make the vacuum half-height to fit in a cupboard. It’s quite an impressive storage method and means that you can pretty much place the vacuum where you want it.

This model ships with a single battery promising up to 45 minutes of life, although you can buy additional models if you’d like to extend run time. Depending on the size of your house, you may need to do this, as we found that the H-Free 500 needed frequent bursts of its max power mode to really clean up. Cleaning was impressive, though, across all of our usual tests: carpet, hard floor and pet hair.

Our one minor complaint about this model is that the floor head has fiddly slide-in strips to convert it from carpet to hard floor mode. That aside, the quality cleaning and small body make this vacuum a winner, particularly for those struggling to use a larger model.

Vacuum cleaner type: Cordless, Size: 1179 x 252 x 195mm, 2.2kg, Provided heads: Motorised floor head, crevice tool, combination dusting tool and furniture brush, Bin capacity: 0.45-litres, Bagless: Yes, Run time: 45-minutes

Read our full Hoover H-Free 500 review

8. Vax ONEPWR Cordless Hand Vac

A superb and powerful handheld vacuum cleaner that’s brilliant for those small jobs

Vax ONEPWR Cordless Hand Vac hero

Sometimes, it even feels like too much hassle to walk to the hall cupboard to grab the cordless vacuum cleaner, which is where the Vax ONEPWR Cordless Hand Vac comes in. A throwback to the Dustbuster days of vacuum cleaners, this vacuum is small and easy to store where you need it, ready to go for those smaller jobs, such as cleaning up in the kitchen after cooking.

Using the same battery system as Vax’s other ONEPWR range, you can swap battery packs in and out between the other tools. Using the same batteries tells you something else important about this product: it’s extremely powerful. In fact, in our tests, this cordless vacuum cleaner was just about as powerful as a regular vacuum cleaner, sucking up all of our test dirt with ease.

Vax doesn’t sell this model with a battery, so it’s comparatively cheap. However, this does mean that it’s best paired with another product in the Vax range so that you’re getting the best value and have devices to swap batteries between. That’s not a problem, as the ONEPWR range is excellent, with everything from traditional stick cordless vacuums, to a carpet cleaner and a hard floor cleaner.

If you need a vacuum cleaner that’s ready to go when you need it, then the Vax ONEPWR Cordless Hand Vac is an excellent choice and comes highly recommended.

Vacuum cleaner type: Cordless hand vacuum, Size: 420 x 120 x 155mm, 1.1kg, Provided heads: Crevice tool, Bin capacity: 0.3-litres, Bagless: Yes, Run time: 25-minutes

Read our full Vax ONEPWR Cordless Hand Vac review

Buy now from Vax for (£49.99)

9. Bissell CrossWave Cordless

A fantastic way to vacuum and clean your hard floors

Bissell CrossWave Cordless

One of the pains of dealing with hard floors is that you first of all have to vacuum them and then you have to mop them. Not so with the Bissell CrossWave Cordless. This all-in-one unit can vacuum and clean at the same time, giving you a quick way to deal with your hard floors without having to turn to multiple tools.

The CrossWave Cordless deals well with all types of spill, wet or dry, removing large chunks, dust and liquid from the floor in one go, sucking everything up into the bin. There’s a trigger to fire cleaning detergent onto the roller, too, so as well as removing lose dirt, the spinning soft roller can clean up trod-in stains, too.

In our tests, the CrossWave Cordless did a good job on all of our test stains, leaving our light floor looking clean and dirt-free, saving time in the process. The main downside of this cleaner is that it doesn’t have a hose or attachments, so you’ll still need to use a regular vacuum cleaner to get around the edges of  a room and into those hard-to-reach areas.

Floor cleaner type: Cordless vacuum cleaner and mop, Size: 1180 x 330 x 350mm, 8.82kg, Provided heads: Multi-purpose roller, Detergent capacity: 0.82-litres, Bin capacity: 0.62-litres, Run time: 25 minutes

Read our full Bissell CrossWave Cordless review

10. Lupe Pure Cordless

An extremely powerful cordless vacuum that promises a long life

Lupe is a brand-new vacuum cleaner company, started by a couple of engineers that used to work at another well-known vacuum company. The Lupe Pure Cordless is the company’s first product and it looks as though it’s set to be around for a while. According to Lupe, it will not roll out iterative updates to products and will only create new ones that are worth it.

Certainly, the Lupe Pure Cordless should last for some time. It’s one of the most powerful vacuum cleaners that we’ve tested, sucking up pet hair with ease, and flying through our hard floor and carpet tests. This upright model can also convert into a smaller handheld unit similar to Shark’s Lift-Away mode, although it takes a little longer here.

You get two detail nozzles in the box, but we felt the lack of a motorised mini tool as we have pets; if you don’t, then this isn’t so much of an issue. The main problem here is the high price and the Lupe Pure Cordless is more expensive than a top-end Dyson. If you’ve got the cash, this is a very powerful cleaner, but you can save a fair amount by shopping elsewhere on this list.

Read our full Lupe Pure Cordless review

Vacuum cleaner type: Cordless upright vacuum, Size: 1145 x 175 x 260mm, 4.6kg, Provided heads: Motorised floor head, 2in1 crevice tool, 2in1 upholstery tool, Bin capacity: 1-litre, Bagless: Yes, Run time: 15/30/60-minutes

Why buy a cordless vacuum cleaner?

Cordless vacuum cleaners are a great idea. While most aren’t as powerful as corded vacuum cleaners, cutting the wire is hugely useful and convenient. They let you clean in a completely different way. Instead of doing a big clean every week or so, it’s easy to get a cordless machine out to do quick spot cleans whenever you need.

Improvements in efficiency also mean that cordless vacuum cleaners are also getting better all the time. In fact, Dyson is so confident that cordless is the future that the company is no longer developing new corded cleaners, focusing on battery models, entirely.

In many cases, the quality of a cordless cleaner comes down to is accessories, with motorised heads, for example, helping lift up dirt and keep your home clean.

Not being tethered to a socket means cleaning takes less time, too. That means less back bending, plus cordless vacuums are lighter too, so they’re a good option if you have a bad back. They’re typically easier to use on stairs, and most are great to use in cars, making them even more versatile.

Should I get a cordless vacuum cleaner with replaceable batteries?

We’re starting to see more and more cordless vacuum cleaners that use replaceable batteries. There are two good reasons to go for a model like this. First, if you buy (or have) additional batteries, you can extend the runtime of your cleaner. Just swap out the dead battery for a fully charged one and you’ll get double the run time, or even longer if you have three or more batteries. If you’re going completely cordless, then this can be handy to make sure that you have enough battery life to make it through your entire home.

The second main advantage is that as your battery starts to age, you can just take it out and replace it with a new one. For vacuum cleaners that use an integrated battery, you may have to send it off or take it to a dealer to have a dodgy battery place. For longevity and ease, then, replaceable batteries are best.

Beyond that, it’s sometimes possible to buy ‘barebone’ cleaners. That is, cleaners that use batteries but don’t ship with one. If you’re buying into a system that uses the same batteries, such as the Vax ONEPWR range, this can work out cheaper, as you buy multiple devices but only one or two batteries. Think of it like power tools, where you may have a couple of batteries to share between a drill, saw and sander.

That’s not to say that integrated batteries are useless. Far from it, in fact. With integrated batteries, you get one advantage: you can have a charging dock for the entire vacuum. Rather than having to remove the battery to charge it, you just drop the entire vacuum onto charge and leave it, so you’re ready to go for the next clean. That can be easier than faffing around with taking batteries in and out.

Ultimately, the most important things are run time and cleaning quality. If you have a vacuum cleaner that meets both requirements, you’re all good.

What style of cordless vacuum cleaner is best?

When cordless vacuum cleaners started to appear, they were all roughly the same size and shape, which we’d now call stick models. These have a handheld unit that you can attach accessories to. When you want to use the vacuum as a traditional model for cleaning floors, you attach the wand and floor head, and off you go. In terms of versatility, these models are still the best, letting you clean a wide variety of surfaces and really getting to where the dirt is whether that’s on the floor, on a shelf or even above a cupboard.

The downside of this type of model is that the weight is all in the handheld unit, which can make them slightly more tiring to use and not ideal for people with mobility or grip problems. Fortunately, there are other types of cordless vacuum cleaner.

Upright models are becoming more popular. They aim to mimic a traditional upright vacuum cleaner, only in cordless form. These models have elongated bodies and can often stand up by themselves. With the balance spread throughout the body, you use them as a traditional vacuum, pushing them along the floor. As such, you get the convenience of not having to have a cable but the simplicity of having a model that’s easier to push around.

These models are best suited for cleaning floors. While they usually have accessories, using them means picking the entire vacuum up two-handed, which makes them clumsy to use.

Finally, there are mini handheld models, which are similar to the old Dustbuster. These small, low-power cleaners are really designed for light spills: you make a bit of a mess when cooking and want to tidy up, but you can’t be bothered to get the big vacuum out. These models work alongside other cleaners and aren’t suitable for cleaning an entire house.

Should I get a cordless vacuum that can mop?

We’re starting to see more models that don’t just vacuum but also clean hard floors. These can be simple systems using water on a microfibre cloth or more in-depth, including spinning cloths and steam cleaning. These products are designed to not only pick up surface dirt, but they can also clean hard floors of stains and harder-to-remove marks. So, should you buy one?

Our reviews tell you how good each product is at vacuuming and mopping, but the main choice will come down to how much area you have to cover. If you’ve got a lot of hard floors, then you may well be better off with a dedicated hard floor cleaner, using this after you’ve vacuumed. Typically, you’ll get better overall results, and you won’t waste the battery on your vacuum cleaner trying to do two jobs.

For smaller areas or for more infrequent use, a cleaner that can vacuum and mop can be really handy. For example, if you’ve got a kitchen floor that constantly looks messy, then you can use one of these products to quickly whip it back into shape, cleaning up mess and spills that would otherwise need some manual labour.

It’s worth pointing out that these types of device tend to leave the floor less wet than using a mop, as the control of water is better. In turn, that’s better for the environment as you use less water to clean, as well.

Space is also an important consideration, as you can store a vacuum cleaner and mop combination in the same space as a vacuum cleaner. For those with smaller flats or houses, this could well be the selling point that makes you choose this type of vacuum.

What accessories do I need?

Cordless vacuum cleaners are largely about the accessories that they ship with, extending the quality of the clean and making a vacuum more flexible. It’s possible to find different accessory bundles with the same cleaner, with the more expensive packages offering more.

In general, the minimum you should look for is a motorised floor head, which spins a brush to agitate dirt from hard floor and carpet; a soft brush for cleaning more delicate items (these typical convert into a harder brush for upholstery); and a crevice tool that lets you get right into the corners of a room.

While these will cover the basics, you can go a bit further if you get more tools. A small motorised brush does the same thing as a floor one, but you can use this tool more easily on stairs and upholstery. Look out for a soft roller if you have hard floors, as these improve dust pick-up where you don’t have carpets. An extendable crevice tool can improve reach, such as for the back of radiators. Look for an extendable hose, too, as you can improve the reach of some of the handheld tools. A soft dusting brush can be useful for clothes and more delicate fabrics, where the normal upholstery tool is a bit too harsh.

Carefully weigh up how you’ll use each tool and only buy the package with the accessories that you’ll use: while more accessories increase cleaning flexibility, you still need somewhere to store them all.

Will I still need a corded vacuum cleaner?

When they first launched, cordless vacuum cleaners were largely designed to complement a traditional vacuum cleaner: the battery-powered model was the one you grabbed for quick jobs or to reach up high or get into a smaller space. Today, things are changing, and cordless vacuum cleaners often now have the power and stamina to clean an entire house to the same level of quality as a plug-in model. If you buy one of these more powerful models, then you don’t need a plug-in cleaner for day-to-day cleaning.

However, if you still have a powerful plug-in vacuum cleaner that you’re happy with, it might make sense to buy a cheaper, less powerful battery model for when you need to clean out the car or for quickly cleaning up a spill.

Even if you buy a cordless vacuum cleaner designed for whole-home cleaning, you may still want a plug-in vacuum for dirtier jobs. For example, sucking up DIY dust or cleaning out a fireplace can clog a cordless cleaner, but a more powerful plug-in cleaner will do a better job. It’s worth looking into wet and dry vacuum cleaners for these types of dirty jobs, as you can suck up liquids and harsher dust without clogging.

Think of it this way: most cordless cleaners are built for household dust; if you want to do something else, a corded cleaner designed for the job may be a better choice.

What are the weaknesses of cordless vacuum cleaners?

Cost: A good cordless vacuum cleaner doesn’t come cheap. You can buy cordless vacuums for around £100 or so, but they generally don’t clean well enough to justify the expense. That means the cheapest machines in our round-up designed for general cleaning cost upwards of £200.

All of the vacuums in this round-up clean well, but with one or two exceptions, they don’t clean as well as corded machines. For example, few can collect dirt trapped up against skirting boards, so you’ll need to go around with a crevice tool to get right into the corners.

Battery life: this varies, too. Most corded cleaners have multiple power settings, with the lowest power modes giving you a longer run time at the expense of cleaning performance (typically 30 minutes plus); high-power modes can suck the dust out of anything, but sub-ten-minute runtimes are par for the course.

Run time: to get the most out of a cordless cleaner, you need to balance the power modes you’re using. Don’t worry too much about run time, as 30 minutes or more is quite a lot of time, particularly when you’re only using the vacuum in comparatively short bursts. The main downside is that for larger houses, the run time of a cordless cleaner may not be good enough for a single cleaning session. You’ll either have to adjust your routine to allow for charging in between cleaning or opt for a corded model for larger jobs.

Auto-shutoff: cordless cleaners also tend to have one major weakness for some jobs: they typically have an auto-shutoff when the cleaner is clogged, or air is not moving through them properly. That’s generally very clever, but there are a couple of scenarios where this isn’t the best option. First, if you use vacuum bags for storage, then a cordless cleaner will turn off before it has sucked the air out and compressed everything. And, if you have a drill vacuum attachment to suck out dust, preventing it falling to the floor, then a cordless vacuum cleaner may turn off. Plus, many have triggers making it impossible to turn them on constantly.

What power mode is best for a cordless vacuum cleaner?

All cordless vacuum cleaners have several power modes available, with low-power modes designed to increase battery life at the reduction of suction power; more powerful settings up the suction power but reduce battery power. There’s often a setting or two in the middle, so which one do you go for? While this varies between cleaner to cleaner, we can give some basic guides here.

  • First, the high setting, often called Turbo or Max, will generate a lot of suction but gives you a runtime in minutes. Use this for sucking up stubborn dirt that’s left behind by the other modes. Only use this mode sparingly, as you’ll run out of battery before you manage to clean everything. The standard (the lower setting of two on some cleaners, or the middle option on others) is good for general cleaning up, and you should find that this works well on most surfaces for a regular clean.
  • Try the lowest setting or Eco mode if available on surfaces where high suction isn’t as needed. For example, on hard floors, the dirt tends not to get trapped in the flooring, so you can get away with less suction and still pick up everything.

Should I get a bagged or bagless cordless vacuum cleaner?

Most cordless vacuum cleaners are bagless models, collecting dust in a bin that you can empty and reuse over and over again, but there is an increasing number of bagged models coming out. So, which is best? Well, the answer depends on your needs.

Bagless cleaners have the advantage that you don’t have to pay for bags, so once you’ve bought the cleaner, you can just keep emptying it and using it time and time again.

The downside is that the bin can get quite dirty and you can spill dust when you’re emptying it. If you’ve got allergies, having dust go everywhere isn’t particularly helpful: you may end up vacuuming up dust again to clear up the mess caused by emptying. The second downside is that the dust tends to fill up the filters quicker, so you have to keep an eye on these to make sure that you get maximum suction.

Bagged cleaners have the disadvantage that you have to pay for additional bags, throwing away one when it fills up. This is an extra hassle and cost. If you forget to buy new bags, then you can’t use your cleaner. However, there are a couple of advantages. First, bagged cleaners are easier to empty, and they keep the dust sealed in, which can be useful for allergy sufferers. Secondly, the bag acts as a secondary filter, so you’ll typically need to clean your vacuum’s other filters less regularly.

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