Best Cordless Vacuum Cleaners 2019: the best cable-free cleaners

What’s the best cordless vacuum?

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.

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We’ve thoroughly tested all battery-powered vacuum cleaners that we’ve reviewed to help you the quality cleaners from the mere convenient. Cordless vacs from all the leading brands, including Dyson, Vax and Bosch, make it into our list. Each page features a summary review of the model, but click the links to read our full in-depth reviews.

Top scoring best cordless vacuum cleaners in this round-up

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 collates 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 there 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 fully 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.

Click the dropdown list above or hit the ‘Next’ arrow to see our mini reviews of the best cordless vacuums, or see the names at a glance below.

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 means 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, focussing 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 vacuum that can clean, too?

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 are 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, only you can more easily use this tool 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?

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 sessions. You’ll either have to adjust your routine to allow for charging inbetween 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?

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 run-time 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.

Bagged or bagless?

Most cordless vacuum cleaners are bagless models, collecting dust in a bin that you can empty and reuse over and over again, but there are 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.