You don’t realize how bad your vacuum is until you get a new one — suddenly, you can see all the dust bunnies, spilled cereal, and clumps of fur you missed before. Upgrading to a cordless model might just give you an even bigger rush — since you won’t be tethered to an outlet, you’ll reach all sorts of never-before-cleaned spots. To help with your search, we turned to cleaning connoisseurs, including professional organizers and Strategist staffers, to hear about their favorites, from super-thin sticks to handheld dust-busters.
What we’re looking for
Suction power: It’s alphabet soup once you start getting into vac specs, but the only one to really know is AW, or air watts. This lets you know how powerful it is and how much suction you can expect to get, explains Jon Gibbons, a cleaning consultant for the site Smart Vacuums. (The vacuum-specific measurement is different from watts, which calculates power rather than suction.) He recommends looking for a model with a minimum of 100. It’s important to mention that this number isn’t always listed. When it wasn’t (noted as N/A below), we made sure to ask our experts to detail the suction strength of their picks.
Run time: Any cordless-vacuum owner has experienced this: You’re in the middle of a clean when it abruptly turns off. (This is, naturally, the cost of not being connected to an outlet.) Knowing the run time helps you avoid the aforementioned scenario.
Weight: A vacuum’s weight is the easiest way to assess its practicality — the lighter, the better, especially if there’s a flight of stairs in your way. Generally, cordless models are lighter than their counterparts, like the canister or carpet cleaner.
Extras: Most vacuums on the market have features like multiple cleaning modes (with names like Max and Turbo) and detachable components designed for different types of floors. Here, we’ve made sure to mention the ones that make a model more efficient or easier to use.
Price: In the making of this list, we considered three price points: under $250 (marked as $), under $350 ($$), and over $350 ($$$).
Best overall cordless vacuum
115AW | 40-minute run time | 5.63 pounds | Handheld-convertible | $$$
Dyson’s V vacuum series, which has made appearances across our archives, wins the “most mentioned” title. Though status-y for sure, these are powerful machines, praised for their cleaning capabilities and ease of use. The V8 earned the most votes amongst our experts — and happens to be the one I own, too.
After years of using a taped-up Dirt Devil, I bought the V8 last June. Once I tried it for the first time, I realized how much invisible filth I had missed out on cleaning for so long. The V8 has two suction functions, one called Powerful, the other Max. The former is more than enough to guzzle up everything from fallen planter soil to mounds of hair. Professional organizer Sarah Dunn points out that its roster of tools — including an attachment that’s crevice-specific and another for car seats — also help clean all types of messes. Ann Lightfoot, co-founder of Done & Done Home, knows this all too well: Recently, her 5-year-old grandson dusted baby powder all over the kitchen floor (like a gymnast chalking their hands) before practicing his break dancing, and her V8 Hoovered it all up without a hitch.
But if you’re obsessed with the latest and greatest, the V15 Detect Vacuum is one of the most recent additions to Dyson’s lineup. It has Gibbons’s stamp of approval: It’s the “pinnacle of what a cordless vacuum should be” for its dust-revealing laser, 120-minute run time, and cleaner head that gets even super-fine debris.
Best less expensive cordless vacuum
120AW | 40-minute run time | 10.9 pounds | Three cleaning modes, LED headlights | $
Like Dyson, we’ve written a lot about Anker-backed smart-home company Eufy. Unsurprisingly, in our search for the best cordless vacuums, the brand was name-checked twice. Both design blogger Erin Conway and cleaning influencer Sarah Symonds recommend the S11 Infinity. Conway likes the model for its versatility, with three modes that range from eight minutes of really deep cleaning to the full 40-minute run time on the “Low” setting. But you can also swap in the backup pack of rechargeable batteries to technically get 80 minutes of dirt-sucking power. Symonds points out that the gentler brush works especially well on hard floors without leaving scratches.
Like our best overall best, this comes with a crevice tool and mini motorized brush. Unlike the V8, this one features LED lights on the main head attachment to illuminate dark areas.
Best cordless vacuum for carpet and hardwood
N/A | 45-minute run time | 6.4 Pounds | Motorized floor nozzle, LED headlights | $
The Eureka Stylus topped our guide to the best vacuums tested by Strategist staffers. Former Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson complimented its cleaning power on hardwood and her two semi-thick, shed-prone rugs — the vacuum had no problem on either. Adelson preferred the Stylus to the Dyson Ball Animal 2 she was also tasked with testing, as it allowed her to change direction easily, even doing a 360-degree spin with the flick of the wrist. “It feels like switching to a suitcase with spinner wheels when you’re used to one that can move only forward and backward,” Adelson said.
Best cordless vacuum for pet hair
150AW | 60-minute run time | 5.71 pounds | Handheld-convertible, hair screw tool | $$$
The V11 Animal was named the “best overall” on our list of vacuums for pet owners. It’s designed specifically for removing pet hair, with a cleaner head that automatically clears the brush bar of fur and a tool meant for upholstery. Rebecca Fadden, founder of dog-accessories brand Finn + Me, uses it to pick up after her hypoallergenic goldendoodle who sheds clumps of hair, alternating between the attachments to move over carpets and couches. It’s also a favorite at start-up clinic Bond Vet, with staff members relying on the vacuum for quick cleanups, according to co-founder and chief veterinary officer Zay Satchu.
[Editor’s note: The V11 is currently out of stock, but the similar V10 is ready to ship. We’ll keep checking to see when the former is available again.]
Best cordless vacuum for small spaces
N/A | 60-minute run time | 9.04 pounds | Handheld-convertible, HEPA filter | $$
Shark’s Vertex line is a favorite of several experts we talked to, including Gibbons and professional organizer Brenda Scott of Tidy My Space. But for this title, we went with a vacuum we’ve tried out ourselves: Strategist associate editor Jenna Milliner-Waddell calls it a “game changer” for its MultiFlex feature, which allows you to bend it at an angle (up to 90 degrees) with the press of a button (this makes for easy storage, too). The wand means Milliner-Waddell doesn’t have to move the furniture around to get a deep clean. Scott is another fan of Shark’s flexible wand, as it allows her to reach often-neglected window frames and wall corners. For even more flexibility, the Vertex can become handheld, a feature Milliner-Waddell turns to to “get into tight corners behind my TV stand and reach up to the ceiling to get the cobweb I had been staring at for weeks.”
One other important detail: It comes with a HEPA filter, which helps prevent dust and dirt from going back into the air, Gibbons explains. HEPA — short for “high-efficiency particulate air,” and an acronym you’ll often come across when looking at air purifiers — is the industry gold standard, capturing 99.97 percent of particles like animal dander.
Best less expensive vacuum for small spaces
170AW | 45-minute run time | 15.12 pounds | LED headlights, digital display | $
Strategist junior writer Sanibel Chai used to own a Dyson V7 — which her brother borrowed and never returned — and replaced it with this Greenworks vacuum. “If you’re thinking about buying a Dyson, you should think twice because this one is superior and significantly cheaper,” she says, emphasizing that the clean she gets with the Greenworks is exactly the same quality as Dyson’s. And whereas the V7 only lasts a few minutes on high, Chai uses this vacuum in ten-minute sessions on its most powerful setting to squeeze the most out of its fully charged power. In her tiny apartment, it’s especially maneuverable, getting into deep corners and gliding across rugs. The one downside is that the Greenworks is heavier, she says — but since it performs even better, that’s not such a negative.
Best cordless upright vacuum
N/A | 35-minute run time | 8.6 pounds | Self-standing, multi-surface-specific settings | $
When former Strategist senior editor Peter Martin tried out the Hoover Evolve, he was impressed by how the vacuum slid across hardwood, easily sucking up “the Cheerios and desiccated blueberries that are constantly on our kitchen floor.” The Evolve comes with two other surface-specific settings: one for carpet and another called “hybrid” that switches to a slower-paced roller designed to work across different floors. The carpet feature, contrary to its name, wasn’t actually the best for his needs — it was slightly too forceful for a living-room rug, lifting it from the floor. Martin preferred the hybrid mode, as it rolled off wood easily onto the densely woven carpet under the couch. Overall, Martin described it as best for quick cleanups and light enough to use on stairs.