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Best cordless vacuum cleaner 2021: 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 are the easiest way to keep your home clean, giving you grab and go portability without having to faff around with plugs. Thanks to recent advances in technology, cordless cleaners now come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, designed to suit all kinds of users and jobs.

That, naturally, makes finding the right cleaner for you rather hard, which is where I come in. Trusted Reviews reviews every major cordless vacuum cleaner (and a lot of smaller brands, too), so that we can compare, contrast and test each one.

That makes my list of the best cordless vacuum cleaners the best that you can get, as we have had every single product in for review, and we’ve thoroughly tested each one.

In this guide, which is updated regularly, we’ve listed our best buy vacuum cleaners, with models in all price ranges and every conceivable size and shape.

Learn more about how we test vacuum cleaners

Every vacuum cleaner that we test goes through exactly the same tests. We use both real-world tests and technical measurements to tell the good from the bad. First, we measure suction power in Air Watts (AW), which is a combination of suction and airflow. This lets us compare the raw power of each cleaner.

Actual performance depends on a lot of factors including the quality of the accessories and the ability of a vacuum to agitate dirt. For that reason, we take before and after pictures of dust collection on carpet, hard floors and with pet hair.

We don’t weigh the before and after results, as this test is notoriously difficult to do properly, as vacuum cleaners will pick up fibres from the floor that will add to the weight collected. And, without a super-sensitive set of scales it’s impossible to measure fine differences between machines.

If you want to learn more, please visit our detailed page about how we test vacuum cleaners.

Power, comfort and exceptional cleaning ability make the Dyson V11 Absolute a top cordless cleaner and a model that can replace a corded one.
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Pros

  • Incredible suction power
  • Adjusts suction power automatically
  • Screen shows remaining run-time
  • Great for stairs, carpets, hard floors and pets
  • Good-sized bin with easy emptying

Cons

  • Still only one battery
  • Not cheap

The Dyson V11 is the company’s top-of-the-range cordless vacuum cleaner, designed to replace your regular cleaner. Two factors are key to this: power and battery life. First, this is the most powerful cordless vacuum cleaner that we’ve tested, which it is easily able to pick up dirt from carpets, and hard floors.

Second, with the Dyson High Torque brush head, the vacuum cleaner automatically scans the floor and dirt, adjusting the power on the fly to maximise pick-up while saving battery life. You should be able to clean most houses on a single charge, although it’s a little disappointing that this vacuum doesn’t have a removable battery.

Cleverly, the display on the back shows battery life in minutes, so you know how much time you’ve actually got left to clean with, letting you decide to carry on or dock and recharge before tackling another room.

Sure, this is just about the most expensive cordless vacuum cleaner that we’ve tested, but if you’re looking for a powerful replacement to a plug-in cleaner, then this one will do everything.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Review: Dyson V11 Absolute Review

An extra large bin and floor head makes tackling large spaces easy and fast with the powerful Dyson V11 Outsize.
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Pros

  • Makes short work of large jobs
  • Efficient and powerful cleaning
  • Clever display shows real battery life

Cons

  • Hose is fiddly to use
  • Expensive

If you’ve got a large house the Dyson V11 Outsize is the best choice for you. This extra-large vacuum cleaner is big everywhere. First, there’s the 1.7-litre bin, which you’ll need to empty less often. Then, you get the High Torque XL floor roller, which is 25% wider than the original, letting you clean more floor surface in less time.

With this floor head, the V11 Outsize can adjust power automatically depending on the floor surface, giving you the best combination of cleaning power and battery life. You then get a whole load of accessories in the box for every eventuality. The extendable hose is nice to see, as it lets you get into tight gaps, but it is fiddly to use because you have to hold the trigger down to use the cleaner.

Cleaning performance is everything that we’ve come to expect from Dyson: the power to clean as well as a plug-in cleaner, with the battery life to match. And, this model has a replaceable battery, so you could buy a second. If you’ve got a smaller home, the standard V11 will do the job, but those that have larger homes and want full-on cleaning power from a cordless cleaner should buy this model.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Review: Dyson V11 Outsize Review

The Shark ICZ160UKT is a cordless vacuum cleaner that’s can be used as an upright, with the added flexibility that the Lift-Away mode brings.
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Pros

  • Super flexible
  • Replaceable batteries
  • Excellent performance on all surfaces

Cons

  • No onboard tool storage

If you want the power of a cordless stick vacuum cleaner, combined with the ease of use of an upright cleaner, the Shark ICZ160UKT is for you. In its default mode, you just turn it on, tilt the handle back and you can push it around like a regular upright. As this model is freestanding, it puts little weight in your hand.

The bulky vacuum unit and bin can get in the way when trying to get under furniture, but there’s a clever workaround using Shark’s lift-away mode. This lets you take out the main cylinder and release the hose and stick. You can then use the floor head free from the bulky bin. You can also use the provided accessories to give you extra reach. As you can place the cylinder on the floor out of the way, you get detail cleaning without the fatigue of having to carry the entire vacuum.

Shark’s clever DuoClean head is built to work on hard floors and carpet alike, and it uses anti hairwrap tech, so you never have to unclog the rollers. With a replaceable battery to extend runtime, the ICZ160UKT can either work as an add-on to a plug-in cleaner or, with the addition of a second battery, give you the time to clean an entire house.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Review: Shark Anti Hair Wrap Cordless Upright Vacuum Cleaner with Powered Lift-Away and TruePet ICZ160UKT Review

With its carbon-fibre body, the Halo Capsule is a lightweight and powerful cordless vacuum cleaner that performs well on all surfaces.
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Pros

  • Very light
  • Excellent cleaning performance
  • Large and cheap bags

Cons

  • Battery life could be longer
  • Few accessories

The Halo Capsule is built in Britain and made of carbon fibre, which makes it one of the lightest vacuum cleaners that I have ever tested. It’s also unusual in that it takes bags, rather than using a reusable bin.

Don’t let that put you off. You get a pack of 26 1.6-litre bags in the box, and replacements are a reasonable £25.99. Certainly, I can’t knock the value of them and Halo isn’t trying to make a load of money by overcharging for these replacements.

Using bags can be good, particularly if you have people with allergies in the house, as you pull out a used bag and throw everything away with no mess.

Performance from this vacuum cleaner is fantastic, too, with the middle setting (Performance) able to deal with most mess, with only a little bit of Boost mode required. Battery life is rated at 25 minutes in Performance mode, which is a little short: cleaning quality means you can clean a surprising amount of space but you’ll likely need at least one charge in the middle of cleaning a house.

Successfully taking on the big brands, the Halo Capsule is a great lightweight cleaner, which takes large and cheap bags.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Review: Halo Capsule Review

The Shark Anti Hair Wrap Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner with Flexology and TruePet IZ251UKT is powerful, flexible and offers excellent cleaning performance.
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Pros

  • Powerful cleaning on all surfaces
  • Flexible cleaning and storage
  • Lots of accessories

Cons

  • Protruding bin can make contact with some tools tricky
  • Doesn’t stand up when extended

If there’s one thing you can rely on Shark for, it’s power and clever design. The Shark ICZ251UKT fits into both categories, with this stick cleaner featuring the company’s flexology technology. This lets you fold the top half over completely, letting you store the vacuum cleaner standing up; sadly, it won’t stand up when extended, so be careful if you pause cleaning.

Flexology also lets you use the bend in the wand to clean under furniture without having to bend over, which can make some cleaning jobs much easier. We also love the DuoClean floor head, which gives you two brushes to cover hard floors and carpets without having to change heads. And, this vacuum has Shark’s excellent anti hairwrap technology, which stops the brushes from getting tangled with hair.

Cleaning performance is excellent on all surfaces, and will last for up to 80 minutes thanks to the dual batteries included, both of which can be charged at the same time. Cleverly, the vacuum turns on in low power mode, which is good for most jobs, but there’s a trigger to quickly engage the Max mode, which gives you a boost of power for tough jobs. Having this on a trigger means you can use Max mode when you need it without running out of power.

Our only minor complaint is that the large bin can make it a bit tricky to get the right type of contact when using some of the accessories. That all said, this is a powerful and flexible stick cleaner.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Review: Shark Anti Hair Wrap Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner with Flexology and TruePet IZ251UKT Review

A bargain cordless vacuum cleaner, the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 has the power to compete with the far more expensive competition
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Pros

  • Powerful
  • Excellent price
  • Swappable batteries

Cons

  • Base model has few accessories
  • Doesn’t stand up by itself

An update on last year’s model, the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 takes everything we loved about that vacuum and adds in a replaceable battery. Not only does this expand runtime, but the batteries are compatible with other ONEPWR products, so you can swap out between the range, which includes a hard-floor cleaner and carpet spot cleaner.

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. Look out for the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 Pet if you have pets, as this model has an antimicrobial coating on its main floor brush and comes with a smaller, powered pet brush.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Review: Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 Review

A decent mid-range cordless vacuum cleaner, the Hoover H-Free 300 has a neat trick: it can stand up by itself.
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Pros

  • Very light
  • Exceptionally quiet
  • Can stand up by itself
  • Good range of tools in the box

Cons

  • Battery life with motorised tools is average
  • No tool storage

If you already have a good plug-in cleaner, then what you may want from a cordless model is one that’s light and easy to use. Step forward the Hoover H-Free 300, which is exceptionally lightweight and has one clever trick: you can stand this cordless cleaner up by itself. This is the only cordless cleaner that we’ve seen that can do this job. You can only really stand the cleaner up for quick tasks, such as answering the door or moving some furniture out of the way, but it makes the H-Free 300 a lot more convenient and easy to use.

In the box you get a good array of accessories, although it’s a shame that there’s no onboard storage for any of the tools. Performance is generally good, too, although you may need to up the power to pick up tougher spills, which reduces battery life. As a result, this is a useful add-on cleaner that you can grab and go, rather than a full-on replacement for a plug-in model. Still, if you need something light and easy to use, this cleaner is exceptionally well priced.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Review: Hoover H-Free 300 Review

A simple grab-and-go vacuum cleaner, the Hoover H-Handy 700 is a powerful tool for dealing with minor spills and dirt.
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Pros

  • Small and compact
  • Neat storage
  • Powerful

Cons

  • Small nozzles only

Thanks to improvements in battery technology and motors, it’s possible to have a tiny handheld vacuum cleaner, such as the Hoover H-Handy 700, that’s as powerful as a big cleaner. This simple grab-and-go cleaner is your friend for smaller spills, such as cleaning up after cooking or quickly tackling a sofa.

As well as being neat and small, the charging stand contains everything and has space for the three-in-one accessory: a crevice tool, dusting brush and upholstery tool all in one. Each nozzle is rather small, so large areas can take a bit of time to cover; this really is a tool designed for quick clear-ups.

Performance is excellent, though, with the vacuum able to cope well with carpets and hard floors, while doing a decent job with pet hair; if you’ve got pets that shed a lot the Pet version of this cleaner comes with an extra motorised brush. Battery life is just 12-minutes, but this is enough to deal with pretty much every small spill, so you shouldn’t need more.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Review: Hoover H-Handy 700 Review

We’ve reviewed

313

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What type of cordless vacuum cleaner do you want?

Stick cleaners are the most common. These have a main vacuum unit, controlled via trigger, that you connect the wand and floor head to for regular cleaning, and accessories for detail work. These are quick and easy to use, but put all of the weight in your hand.

An upright replacement has to be carried where you want it, but these are easier to push around and most of the weight is on the floor. You can connect accessories via a hose, although you don’t quite get the reach that a stick model gives you.

Finally, handheld or spot cleaners are much smaller, and are designed to be grab-and-go for dealing with quick spills, such as mess in the kitchen after cooking.

What floor head do you need?

Motorised floor brushes help agitate dirt for easier pick up, but make sure you get one built for your type of flooring: carpet or hard floors.
What other accessories do you need? 

You should get a crevice tool for working around the edges of a room and a dusting brush, as a minimum. Upholstery tools make it easy to clean curtains and sofas. If you have pets, a motorised pet tool helps remove pet hair from a variety of surfaces.

How much battery life do you need?

Battery life is measured in minutes, usually topping out at around 45-minutes. This should be enough to clean a small house or flat in one go, as you only use power when the vacuum is on. If you need more run-time, look for a vacuum with removable batteries, so you can swap out and keep cleaning.

How much power do you need?

Our reviews tell you if a cordless cleaner can replace a plug-in model entirely, or if the vacuum acts as a convenient back-up to a bigger one.

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