The 5 best cordless vacuums we tested in 2021 – and Dyson didn’t make the cut

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Cordless vacuums are convenient, but they shouldn’t sacrifice cleaning power or comfort.
  • The Shark Vertex DuoClean Cordless Vacuum picks up all kinds of particles on a variety of surfaces.
  • It reaches low and deep under furniture and has a cleaning path light. It’s also reasonably priced.

Compared to a clunky corded vacuum, a sleek cordless stick vacuum is a lot more convenient. Cordless vacuums tend to be lighter and more compact, and they don’t have a long cord to trail behind you or trip you up. While the downside is that they have a limited battery life, we still love cordless vacuums for making the dreaded task of cleaning a bit easier – maybe even enjoyable.

As with any other type of vacuum, the cleaning ability and suction power of a cordless vacuum are top considerations. The best cordless vac for most people should handle all kinds of small particles on a variety of surfaces, from smooth hardwood to thick carpet. Some cordless vacs are better suited to pick up pet hair or excel on hardwood floors, so it’s also important to think about where and when you’d use your vacuum the most, and shop accordingly.

Josh Mutlow, the Design Manager at Dyson, said, “The motor, cleaner head, cyclone, and filtration are the main key technologies that achieve the essential jobs of a vacuum cleaner.”

“Some [other] basic things to consider when you begin your search are the vacuum’s dimensions, weight, canister size, and how long the cordless vacuum can run between charges,” said Chris Doscher, a rep for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

Learn more about the differences between corded and cordless vacuums, additional features to consider, and vacuum FAQs.

For our first major rewrite of this guide, we tested seven cordless vacuum models and landed on the top five. We’re planning to test many more down the line. Here’s how we tested the contenders on cleaning ability, ease of use, and battery life.

Here are the best cordless vacuum cleaners in 2021

Our testing methodology

best cordless vacuums 2021 testing methodology

1. Vacuuming ability: I tested each of the vacuums against five materials (flour, ground coffee, cat litter, whole Cheerios, and dog hair) on three different surfaces (carpet/rug, hardwood, and tile). I scattered half a cup of each material on each surface — resulting in 15 tests for each vacuum — and rated each vacuum on its ability to suck up the material powerfully, cleanly, and thoroughly. If the vacuum came with attachments, I also tested the attachments on appropriate surfaces (e.g. crevice tool on furniture cushions and car seats) and rated their effectiveness. 

An example of one of the test results:

Cat litter test Carpet Hardwood Tile
Shark Anti-Allergen Cordless Vacuum 3/5: Powerful and thorough, but could only push forward. Got stuck when I tried to move backwards 5/5; Sucked up all particles completely and quickly, cat litter did not fall back out of cleaning head 5/5; Sucked up all particles completely and quickly, cat litter did not fall back out of cleaning head

2. Battery life: I used each vacuum until its battery died and compared the actual battery life to the advertised battery life. 

3. Comfort and ease of use: I noted the ergonomics of each vacuum: how tiring it is to hold, how easy it is to maneuver, and the effort required to activate the power button. I also noted whether it could fit under low spaces and any additional helpful features like a headlight to illuminate your cleaning path. 

4. Disposal method: I evaluated the cleanliness and ease of emptying the dustbin after a cleaning session. How is the bin opened? Do I have to reach inside and touch dirt and dust that didn’t empty out completely? 

5. Storage: I noted how the vacuum breaks down into multiple parts and whether it comes with a wall mount or docking station. 

6. Warranty and customer service: I registered each vacuum, noted warranty terms, and spoke to customer service reps to evaluate the ease of registration and quality of service.

The best cordless vacuum overall

image of a hand holding the shark vertex cordless vacuum, our pick for the best cordless vacuum overall in 2021

The Shark Vertex DuoClean Cordless Vacuum is a strong performer all around, picking up particles of most sizes on a variety of surfaces in a smooth and efficient fashion. We also love the light that illuminates your cleaning path and the flexible hose that lets you reach under low spaces better than any other cordless vac.

Pros: Versatile, strong suction, cleaning path light, great for under-furniture cleaning, comes with attachments 

Cons: Loud and high-pitched noise, thick grip that may be uncomfortable for small hands, weaker on high-pile carpet and rug  

This Shark vacuum isn’t perfect and we can’t guarantee it’ll pick up every size particle you throw its way, but it gets pretty close and has the best overall cleaning performance of all our contenders. 

On hardwood and tile, it picked up every last bit of flour, cat litter, ground coffee, and dog hair with no problem, and it was the best at sucking up whole Cheerios (most of the other vacuums just pushed these large crumbs around). On a high-pile rug, it had a little difficulty moving back and forth smoothly, so you should only get this vacuum if you have low-pile rugs and carpeting, or if you’re okay with buying a second vacuum for your carpet. 

It has a thick grip and somewhat heavy dust bin, making it a bit uncomfortable to use for long cleaning sessions. However, several other features make up for the slight discomfort. There are distinct settings for hardwood and carpet located near the grip and they’re easy to slide between. There’s also a power boost trigger that you can hold down whenever you need some extra suction power. 

Rolling the cleaning head around hardwood and tile feels very smooth and soft, instead of clunky and abrasive. The cleaning head also has two useful features: a light that shows you exactly what you’re cleaning and highlights small particles you might’ve otherwise missed, and a green alert button that turns red when a blockage occurs, so you can address the problem right away. 

My favorite part of using the vacuum is how low and flat it can get. In other cordless vacuums, the stick can’t be moved or repositioned, meaning you still have to bend down to reach under furniture. The Shark has a great design where you click a button in the middle of the stick and it bends into a flexible hose “elbow,” allowing the entire bottom half of the stick to lay flat and get under beds, couches, chairs, and other tricky spots. Instead of bending my knees or waist, I could just drop my arm and continue cleaning with little disruption.

The best cordless vacuum on a budget

image of the hoover onepwr cordless vacuum our pick for the best budget value cordless vacuum in 2021 in front of a pile of coffee grounds

This affordable Hoover vacuum impressed us with its quiet but strong cleaning power. It feels light and easy to maneuver since the dust bin is located at the base of the vacuum, though this design also prevents you from cleaning under low spaces.

Pros: Quiet, cleans well on all surfaces, less tiring to use because dust bin is located at base of vacuum, large dust bin 

Cons: Doesn’t come with attachments, dust bin location means you can’t get under low spots, a little heavy 

You won’t compromise cleaning ability and price in this budget-friendly vacuum. Though it may not come with bells and whistles like a storage dock and extra attachments and batteries, it picks up most small and fine particles effectively on carpet, hardwood, and tile. Faced with Cheerios, its performance is disappointing and it merely pushes the cereal around, so you’ll be better off sweeping up with a broom. But for all other materials, the vacuum does an easy and thorough job. 

The vacuum is on the heavier side compared to others, but it doesn’t feel like it because the dust bin is located near the cleaner head, rather than the handle. This makes vacuuming feel more comfortable and less tiring. It’s also really quiet and smooth as it cleans, and you can barely tell it’s picking small particles up (rest assured, it is). 

The dust bin placement does have its drawbacks. It obstructs access to low spaces under furniture, so you’ll need to figure out another way to clean under your bed and couches. In addition, the power and various mode buttons are located on top of the dust bin, so you need to bend down any time you want to turn your vacuum on and off or change modes. 

Still, I loved this vacuum for its consistent and reliable cleaning ability, reasonable battery life (that’s actually longer than the Shark’s), and quiet motor. If you don’t want to spend more than $200 or you only need a basic vacuum, this vacuum will meet your needs and exceed your expectations. Along with our other Hoover pick in this guide, it’s part of Hoover’s ONEPWR collection, which was a 2020 Product of the Year winner

The best cordless vacuum for pet owners

image of the tineco vacuum our pick for the best cordless vacuum for pet hair in 2021 in front of clumps of dog hair on a rug

Owners of constantly shedding pets will benefit from the lightweight yet powerful Tineco Pure One X, which picks up fine pet hairs from floors with its standard cleaning head, but also comes with attachments to get hair off of furniture, car seats, and delicate decor.

Pros: Really light, quiet, regular cleaning head and attachments all work well with fine pet hairs 

Cons: Small dust bin, feels a little cheap, weaker on high-pile carpet and rug  

For the pet hair portion of the test, I spread clumps as well as individual hairs of my friend’s Pekingese dog over various surfaces. All the vacuums I tested actually did a thorough job of picking up these long, fine hairs, but the Tineco stood out for its super lightweight and useful attachments. 

As any pet owner knows, you spend a lot of time picking up after your constantly shedding pets, which is why we recommend a vacuum that’s comfortable to carry around and comes with specialized tools for those especially stubborn bits of hair.

The Tineco has the smallest cleaning head and dustbin of our best picks, so you might need to empty it out a few times if you’re cleaning a large house. However, the light weight and easy maneuverability more than make up for it. While you must press down the trigger every time to start the vacuum, there’s a locking mechanism you can use if you don’t want to hold a trigger the whole time. 

I knew exactly when I picked up dirt, hair, and other particles because there’s a ring that lights up red when the vacuum is sucking up something and turns blue once the cleaning path is clear again. This vacuum also has a cleaning head light to illuminate your path. It’s generally pretty quiet, but I noticed the wheels squeaked a little from time to time. 

The attachments also make cleaning pet hair from every surface other than your floor more manageable. The mini power brush is strong and goes deep into fabric upholstery and mattresses to pick up particles and hair you didn’t even know were there, while the dusting tool lets you pick up errant hair sitting on shelves and blinds. The crevice tool fits into the cracks and crevices of your car, so you can take your pet on car trips without dreading the clean up afterward. It was when I was wriggling around my car seats that I really appreciated the light and compact design of the Tineco. The combo of convenience and suction power made the process so much faster, easier, and more comfortable. 

This vacuum is technically a “smart” one — it pairs with an app to provide cleaning performance information and maintenance reports, but I personally didn’t find it useful and the vacuum itself is enough reason to justify the purchase.

The best cordless vacuum for hardwood floors

image of a hand holding the lg cordzero mop vacuum our pick for the best cordless vacuum for hardwood floors in 2021

The LG Cordzero A9 is a vacuum that can turn into a mop, letting you clean your hardwood floors gently but thoroughly with just one appliance. It shines when cleaning super tiny particles like flour.

Pros: Fairly light, adjustable stick, easy-to-use mop feature, comes with extra battery 

Cons: Struggles with large particles like Cheerios, disposal method could be more sanitary  

This LG cordless vacuum is a sleek and beautiful model that gives you an all-in-one cleaning solution. In addition to the vacuum itself, you get tons of extra accessories like a wall mount, extra battery, and the unique Power Mop nozzle. 

It was one of the best performers in our flour test and picked up every last bit of flour on hardwood and tile, even in the cracks. It also did really well on high-pile rug, sucking flour out of the tall, loose loops. The only challenge might be with large particles like Cheerios; you’ll have better luck picking those up with a manual sweep. 

For a truly thorough clean of your hardwood floors, the Power Mop nozzle is very useful. The process involves wetting and attaching the soft mop pads (the pack comes with four total), filling the water tank in the nozzle, and choosing the setting for more or less water. Then, when you start the vacuum, it starts to slowly spin the mop pads instead of activating suction. They’re gentle and won’t damage your floors. The attachment also has a built-in light so you can see what you’re mopping. 

The vacuum is on the lighter side of all those we tested, and it has a comfortable grip. There’s no trigger, just an on/off button. The stick and cleaning head pivot smoothly, and you can extend or shorten the stick depending on your height and how far you need to reach the vacuum. 

While I liked all the cleaning capabilities of the vacuum, the dust bin disposal design could be more sanitary. After clicking open the bottom of the bin, there’s a lever that you push down to release the bin’s contents. The problem is that the contents sometimes don’t come out quickly, and you have to shake the bin quite a bit or reach inside. Other times, they spill out immediately. Either way, it’s not a pleasant experience and we recommend wearing gloves when dealing with the dust bin after your cleaning session.

The best cordless vacuum for carpet

image of the hoover bagged cordless vacuum our pick for the best cordless vacuum for carpet in 2021

The Hoover HEPA+ vacuum has all the advantages of a trusty bagged vacuum cleaner: large cleaning head, large dust bag capacity, and powerful suction that easily takes on high-pile carpet and rug.

Pros: Powerful, can cover a lot of area, bagged design is more sanitary

Cons: Heavy, can’t reach under low spaces

The Hoover HEPA+ bears the most resemblance to a traditional corded vacuum. The only difference is the cord-free convenience. It’s an all-around powerful performer and cleaned everything from finely ground coffee to grainy cat litter almost perfectly, every single time. And whereas I could tell some of the vacuums struggled on high-pile rug, the Hoover HEPA+ rolled over the rug smoothly and got deep between the rug fibers. 

The large cleaner head and bag make the vacuum heavy and unable to clean under low spaces. Plus, it’s loud. But since the bag is so big, it’ll take a long time before you have to replace it, and you can just throw it away directly without interacting with all the dust and other bits. Hoover also throws in an extra bag for you. 

The vacuum’s power switch and two mode buttons (carpet and hardwood) are located at the large and ergonomic handle. The vacuum will also stop running if you bring it back to the upright standing position. Like a few of our other top picks, the cleaning head has a built-in light to show your cleaning path. 

Unfortunately, this vacuum doesn’t come with attachments, so you’ll need to supplement it with a handheld vacuum for your other needs. As a main vacuum for a large house with lots of ground to cover, it’s a reliable choice.

What else we tested

image of hand holding the dyson v11 outsize torque a cordless vacuum we do not recommend in 2021

What else we recommend and why

Dyson V11 Torque Drive: This Dyson model is powerful, reasonably priced, and has a long battery life (around 60 minutes on Eco mode). As a newer Dyson vac, it has a special LCD screen that lets you know exactly how much battery you have left on each mode (Eco, Normal, Boost). Because you must hold down a trigger to start the vacuum, it can be tiring on your hands. 

What we don’t recommend and why 

Dyson V11 Outsize: For most households, this large and heavy vacuum is probably overkill. Though it has a great battery life (around 72 minutes on Eco mode), it’s uncomfortable to hold and use for that long. In our testing, the cleaning ability and suction power did not outperform the other contenders. It was also difficult to move back and forth on a high-pile rug.

What we’re testing next

image of dog and hand holding the roborock h6 a cordless vacuum we'll be testing next in 2021

Eufy HomeVac S11 Go: We love Eufy’s robot vacuums and we’re interested in seeing how its cordless vacs compare. It has a lightweight body, powerful suction, and 40-minute run time, and it’s reasonably priced for everything you get (a wall mount and attachments are also included). 

Roborock H6: This vacuum is efficient, quiet, and easily maneuverable, though some reviewers say it doesn’t do well on tile so we’re looking to test that directly. It has a five-stage HEPA filter purification system and a 90-minute advertised battery life.

What to consider when buying a cordless vacuum

image of three cordless vacuum dust bins side by side while testing the best cordless vacuums in 2021
The dust bin is often located at the top of a cordless vacuum, a design that lets your vac reach under low spaces but can also become tiring to hold. To power your vacuum, you may need to hold down a trigger or simply press an on/off button.

How a cordless vacuum compares to a corded vacuum

  Cordless vacuum Corded vacuum
Power source Rechargeable battery Electrical outlet
Weight Lighter; 3-8 pounds on average Heavier; 8-15 pounds on average
Size More slim and compact; width of 10 inches on average Larger; width of 14 inches on average
Noise Usually more quiet Louder
Price Usually more expensive; $200-$300 on average More affordable; $75-$150 on average

Features to look for in a cordless vacuum 

Weight/distribution of weight: A cordless vacuum will feel heavier or lighter, and less comfortable or more comfortable, depending on where the bulk of the weight is. To allow for better flexibility and access, brands often place the dust bin near the top and handle of the vacuum. This can make it tiring to use a cordless vacuum over a long period of time. If the bin is placed at the bottom, near the cleaning head, the weight will be less of a burden, but that placement may get in the way of your cleaning. 

Size: Keep the size of your living space in mind as you shop for a cordless vac. If you live by yourself in a studio, for example, you can look for vacs with smaller cleaning heads and dust bins. Also pay attention to the length of the vacuum and whether it will be comfortable for your height. Some vacuums have adjustable sticks. 

Battery: Read product info carefully to see whether the advertised battery life refers to that of one battery or multiple batteries. Generally, we’ve found that advertised battery life is longer than actual battery life. Follow manufacturer directions on how to care for and dispose of batteries. 

Docking/storage: Cordless vacuums are typically composed of two to three parts that you put together yourself (not including separate attachments). This design also makes it easy to store your vacuum in a compact space. Some vacuums may come with a wall dock or mount, so you can hang your vacuum on the wall. 

Inclusion of other cleaning tools: Consider whether you might need additional attachments, such as a crevice tool or dusting brush. These may come with your vacuum, or can be available for separate purchase. 

Warranty: Look for a one year warranty (at minimum) on both parts and labor of your entire vacuum. Beyond that, the manufacturer may offer additional warranties on specific parts like the motor. Once you receive your vacuum, register it online to speed up the warranty process later. 

If you’re comfortable shopping for a vacuum in the store, “there’s no substitute for trying it out and seeing for yourself how it operates. Ask the retailer if you can turn on the vacuum and try it out before you make a choice,” said Doscher. 

The best time to buy a cordless vacuum

Cordless vacuums tend to be more expensive than corded ones. The good news is that most brands discount their cordless vacuums around Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday/Cyber Weekend. We typically see discounts of $50 to $200 off Dyson, Hoover, and Shark cordless vacuums. If you’re able to wait, your patience will pay off in big savings.

Cordless vacuum FAQs

image of hand holding a dirty filter from a cordless vacuum in 2021
Here’s your sign to check and clean your vacuum filter.

How often should you clean and change your vacuum filter? 

The guidance varies model by model and there are different kinds of filters (cartridge, disk, foam, cloth), so you should check your product manual. Generally, you should wash and dry it when you notice a smell or if you observe a decline in vacuum performance. Some vacuums will also alert you when you need to change the filter. A clean filter is important for effective cleaning; a dirty filter restricts airflow and decreases suction power. 

Which cordless vacuums are allergy- or asthma-friendly? 

Look for cordless vacuums with HEPA filters, which are recommended for allergy and asthma sufferers. Without a HEPA filter, these small particles are likely to be released back into the air after being sucked up. All the vacuums we recommend are equipped with HEPA filters. 

What does a HEPA filter do? 

A true HEPA filter traps and removes at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns. According to the EPA, 0.3 microns is the most penetrating particle size, so this specification refers to the worst case. If the particle is larger or smaller than 0.3 microns, it will be trapped with even higher efficiency. 

Why is my vacuum’s battery life decreasing?

If your vacuum’s rechargeable battery is made from nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) or nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH), then it can experience “memory effect.” Memory effect happens if you charge the battery when there’s still some power left. Your battery starts holding less charge over time because it “remembers” how full it was the last time you charged it and won’t charge past that point the next time. Even though the original power of the battery is the same, the maximum battery voltage has decreased. To prevent memory effect, you should drain your nickel-based battery completely before charging it. Lithium-ion batteries do not experience this effect. 

What’s the difference between amps, watts, and volts? Which one matters most for cordless vacuums? 

Amps, watts, and volts are related to each other. Amperage is the electrical current (or volume of electrons), wattage is the rate of power flow (or how much power the motor is using), and voltage is speed at which electrons pass a specific point within a closed circuit (or the amount of power needed to support an electrical current). Watts = volts x amps. 

A high wattage means the vacuum will use a lot of energy, and thus more battery. Since the type of motor can also affect vacuum power, high wattage doesn’t automatically equate to a powerful vacuum. Instead, you should focus on suction. “The motor is at the heart of driving the performance of a vacuum cleaner. The motor takes electrical power from the power source and converts it into mechanical power, or suction. So, the more powerful your motor is, the more air you’re able to pull through the machine,” said Mutlow.  

We’ve decided to leave quantitative specs like wattage and voltage out of our reviews because they’re not useful as standalone numbers. Instead, we focused on suction and evaluated that based on how well the vacuums sucked up different kinds of particles.

Glossary

image of cordless vacuum attachments and brushroll side by side in 2021

HEPA: Stands for high efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter traps and removes at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns and can be found in air purifiers and vacuums. 

Whole machine filtration: The entire machine is sealed to prevent unfiltered particles from escaping. All air passes through the filter before it is expelled. 

Dustbin: Where all the dust, dirt, and hair are stored as you vacuum. The dustbin should be emptied out into the trash after you’re done cleaning. 

Brush roll: A cylinder with bristles located in the cleaning head that rotates and helps release dirt from carpets and rugs. The bristles of a brush roll may leave scratches on hardwood and tile, so you should turn off the brush roll if possible. Replace your brush roll when the bristles wear out (like on your toothbrush). 

Crevice tool: A long, flat attachment with an angled tip. It’s good for getting into tight corners including baseboards and stairs and between couch cushions. 

Dust brush tool: A small attachment with soft bristles. It’s good for blinds, windowsills, and delicate objects. 

Upholstery tool: A wide, flat attachment that allows for strong suction. It’s good for furniture with fabric upholstery like mattresses, chairs, and couches. 

Lithium ion battery: A type of rechargeable battery that uses lithium ions and can store high amounts of energy and deliver higher voltage than nickel-based batteries. It doesn’t display memory effect, but it is less stable than nickel-based batteries and has a tendency to overheat. 

Nickel battery: A type of rechargeable battery that comes in either nickel-cadmium (Ni-Ca) or nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH) form. It can store high amounts of energy, is more difficult to damage than Li-ion batteries, and suffers from memory effect.

Check out our other guides to great vacuum cleaners

image of irobot roomba 690 robot vacuum on a hardwood floor

For cleaning the rest of your floors, check out these guides

Man cleaning house mopping mop chores housework
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The 4 best cheap vacuum cleaners we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Bissell, Hoover, and Moosoo make excellent affordable vacuums that don’t compromise quality.
  • The handheld vac in our guide is under $100, while the corded, cordless, and robot vacs are under $200.
  • See also: The best vacuums

These days, many vacuums come with bells and whistles like Wifi compatibility, advanced particle detection, and a whole army of specialized attachments.

But if you don’t need or care for these features and you’re working within a budget, you can still get an effective vacuum for much less money.

Suction power and ease of use are the most important factors to focus on, and all of our cheap vacuum cleaners below tick those boxes. Though we use the word “cheap” throughout, what we’re really referring to is value – the best performance and utility you can get for the least amount of money.

We’ve tested all kinds of vacuums, including those in the $600-$800 range, and it turns out $100-$200 can get you a great vacuum, too. Here’s how we tested each of our budget vacuum contenders. For help on how to shop for a cheap vacuum and when to find the best deals, check out these tips.

Here are the best affordable vacuums:

The best cheap corded vacuum

best cheap corded vacuum cleaner 2021 bissell pet swivel

The Bissell Cleanview Swivel Vacuum is a bit on the large side, but it’s powerful and operates smoothly. It even comes with multiple attachments to pick up pet hair and clean hard-to-reach spots.

Pros: Powerful suction, large cleaner head, large and hygienic dust bin, comes with attachments, convenient foot controls 

Cons: A bit heavy and clunky, loud  

Bissell’s Cleanview Swivel Pet Vacuum is your classic corded upright vacuum. As restrictive as the cords are on these kinds of vacuums, Bissell builds in many thoughtful design features to make up for the inconvenience. 

The large, square cleaner head has a brushroll that effectively lifts and removes small and large debris, passing all of our cleaning tests with flying colors. From whole Cheerios to fine flour, the vacuum sucked up all the particles cleanly and quickly. It worked well with pet hair as well. 

It has five settings for different floor types, which you must bend down and adjust at the top of the cleaner head. But turning on the vacuum is as easy as pressing a lever at the base with your foot. There’s also a separate foot pedal to tilt the vacuum and allow it to swivel in different directions. 

The dust bin is a generous size and easy to remove by simply clicking the release button at the top. The contents empty out at the bottom so you’ll have minimal or no direct contact with all the dirt and dust. The bin has a handle on top, letting you carry your vacuum downstairs or to different rooms with ease. 

For its consistent, powerful suction and easy maneuverability, the vacuum is already a great deal. Even better, it comes with a few attachments, which you affix to the 6-foot-long hose to clean upholstery or get into crevices. For these cleaning tasks, we might still prefer a cordless handheld vacuum, but it’s nice to have the option here. We do love that the attachments are stored directly on the vacuum so you’ll never lose them.

The best cheap cordless stick vacuum

best cheap vacuum cleaner 2021 cordless budget Hoover

This affordable Hoover vacuum impressed us with its quiet but strong cleaning power. It feels light and easy to maneuver since the dust bin is located at the base of the vacuum, though this design also prevents you from cleaning under low spaces.

Pros: Quiet, cleans well on all surfaces, less tiring to use because dust bin is located at base of vacuum, large dust bin 

Cons: Doesn’t come with attachments, dust bin location means you can’t get under low spots, a little heavy 

You won’t compromise cleaning ability or price in this convenient cord-free vacuum. It picks up most small and fine particles effectively on carpet, hardwood, and tile. It has a harder time with large particles like Cheerios. 

The vacuum is on the heavier side compared to cordless competitors, but it doesn’t feel like it because the dust bin is located near the cleaner head, rather than the handle. This makes vacuuming feel more comfortable and less tiring. It’s also quiet and smooth as it cleans, and you can barely tell it’s picking small particles up (rest assured, it is). 

As a cordless vacuum, it’d be even more convenient to use if the dust bin placement didn’t obstruct access to low spaces under furniture. Unfortunately, you’ll need to figure out another way to clean under your bed and couches. Another small drawback is that the power and various mode buttons are located on top of the dust bin, so you need to bend down any time you want to turn your vacuum on and off or change modes. 

Still, I loved this vacuum for its consistent and reliable cleaning ability, reasonable battery life, and quiet motor. If you don’t want to spend more than $200 or you only need a basic cordless vacuum, this one will meet your needs and exceed your expectations.

Shop more of the best cordless vacuums here.

The best cheap robot vacuum

best cheap vacuum cleaner 2021 robot vacuum moosoo

If you’re looking for a cost-effective vac that cleans well on a variety of surfaces, gets deep into corners, and runs quietly, the Moosoo MT-720 Robot Vacuum is your best bet.

Pros: Good performance on carpet and hardwood, excellent corner cleaning, quiet operation, compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa, low-profile design

Cons: Gets stuck easily, can’t set no-go zones

For a low price, the MT-720 offers plenty of smart features and a user-friendly design. It costs less than many corded and cordless vacuums, plus it’ll do all the cleaning work for you so you can get back some time in your day. 

It’s easy to set up and start using in just five minutes. The app lets you schedule the vacuum to clean at the same time every day or mix it up. You can also choose smart, wall follow, spiral, random, and manual control cleaning modes. The app creates a map of the area cleaned, but you cannot set no-go zones as you can with other room mapping robot vacs.

The MT-720‘s performance is good on hardwood and carpet, picking up almost all of the coffee grounds, cat litter, and pet hair. It does an outstanding job in corners, coming within an inch of the corner and picking up 70% of the flour on carpeting and 85% on hard flooring. It’s also small enough to get into tight, low spaces that other models might miss. 

Counterintuitively, the strong suction doesn’t translate into loud operation. On high suction, the sound meter registered 66 dB, or a little louder than a business office. On low, it was 59 dB, which is quieter than normal conversation. 

The biggest negative with the MT-720 is that it tends to get stuck easily. During testing, it regularly got stuck on the one-inch threshold between the living room and kitchen of the testing area.

Shop more of the best robot vacuums here.

The best cheap handheld vacuum

best cheap vacuum cleaner 2021 handheld bissell pet hair eraser

The compact Bissell Pet Hair Eraser vacuum is convenient to keep in your car or on hand for small and short cleaning tasks. It’s not too heavy and picks up everything from fine pet hairs to ground coffee.

Pros: Comes with attachments, compact and relatively light 

Cons: Short battery life, disposal method could be more hygienic, weak suction for large particles  

Sometimes you don’t need a full-sized vacuum cleaner. A small handheld vacuum is a useful addition to your cleaning kit because you can store it in your car, desk, or closet. 

Bissell‘s handheld vacuum is powerful and cleans most particles up completely (it struggles with large particles like Cheerios). We’ve noticed that you need to hold it at about a 45-degree angle to the surface for the suction to be most effective. 

For my hand, which is admittedly on the smaller size, the grip is large and a little uncomfortable to hold after a long time. But with a short 15-minute battery life, you won’t be grasping this portable vacuum for too long anyway. You also don’t need to hold down a power trigger — there’s a simple on/off button. 

We love that it’s a convenient tool to have nearby when you notice some debris around you or if you spill something and want to clean it up immediately without lugging out your traditional upright vacuum. An added bonus: the included attachments. The motorized brush is our favorite and effective at removing stubborn, embedded dirt. 

The downsides of the vacuum are that it emits a loud and high-pitched whirring noise when in use, and it’s difficult to clean. There are a few steps to accessing the dust bin, and once you pull it out, dust and other fine particles tend to release into the air. If you’re not prepared, they’ll fly right into your face.

What else we tested

best cheap vacuum cleaner 2021 what else we tested shark tineco

What we recommend and why: 

Shark Navigator Lift-Away Upright Vacuum: Overall, this popular upright vacuum has solid cleaning performance and it’s easy to use, but it didn’t outperform the Bissell and it felt slightly heavier to handle. Its cleaning head is also smaller.

 Tineco Pure One X Smart Vacuum: We love the lightweight and smooth maneuverability of this cheap cordless vac, which somehow also manages to include all the works, including a paired app and a few attachments. It was our pick for the best cordless vacuum for pet hair. If you’re okay with a small dustbin and weaker carpet performance, you’ll like the Tineco.

Our methodology

best cheap vacuum cleaner 2021 testing methodology
  1. Vacuuming ability: I tested each of the vacuums against five materials (flour, ground coffee, cat litter, whole Cheerios, and dog hair) on three different surfaces (carpet/rug, hardwood, and tile). I scattered half a cup of each material on each surface — resulting in 15 tests for each vacuum — and rated each vacuum on its ability to suck up the material powerfully, cleanly, and thoroughly. Our robot vacuum testing also included corner cleaning and obstacle avoidance. If the vacuum came with attachments, I also tested the attachments on appropriate surfaces (e.g. crevice tool on furniture cushions and car seats) and rated their effectiveness. 
  2. Battery life: If the vacuum is cordless, I used it until its battery died and compared the actual battery life to the advertised battery life. 
  3. Comfort and ease of use: I noted the ergonomics of each vacuum: how tiring it is to hold, how easy it is to maneuver, and the effort required to activate the power button. I also noted whether it could fit under low spaces and any additional helpful features like a headlight to illuminate your cleaning path. 
  4. Disposal method: I evaluated the cleanliness and ease of emptying the dustbin after a cleaning session. How is the bin opened? Do I have to reach inside and touch dirt and dust that didn’t empty out completely? 
  5. Storage: I noted how the vacuum breaks down into multiple parts and whether it comes with a wall mount or docking station. 
  6. Warranty and customer service: I registered each vacuum, noted warranty terms, and spoke to customer service reps to evaluate the ease of registration and quality of service.

What we’re testing next

best cheap vacuum cleaner 2021 testing next eureka hoover canister vacuum

To round out the vacuum types in this guide, we’re testing canister vacuums next. They’re easier to maneuver since the canister is separate from the hose and cleaner head, and many have powerful, thorough cleaning suction. They tend to be more expensive than uprights, around $300-$400. One of Miele’s well-known canister vacuums is $1,500.

Eureka Mighty Mite Bagged Canister Vacuum Cleaner: Weighing 8.6 pounds, with a long hose and cord, this Eureka canister vacuum is easy to carry around the house. It comes with multiple attachments and even has a blower port to help you clean your oft-neglected garage and outdoor spaces. It’s one of the most popular options on Amazon. 

Hoover PortaPower Lightweight Commercial Canister Vacuum: Hoover’s canister is a tiny bit lighter, at 8.3 pounds, and it’s compact enough to sling over your shoulder. Its cord is 33 feet long, making this vacuum especially suitable for large spaces.

FAQs

best cheap vacuum cleaner 2021 faqs how to shop deals

How do I find a good cheap vacuum? 

Not all cheap vacuums are created equal. Often, shoddy construction results in your vacuum parts or motor breaking down within months of use. Here are some features to look for in a vacuum, even if you’re being budget-conscious:

Motor: The motor is the most important contributor to suction, and thus, cleaning ability. Edward Chudleigh, a former Dyson engineer of 11 years, recommends a brushless motor: “Brushless motors are very efficient and translate much more of the available power from the battery to cleaning the floor. The trouble with brushed motors is that there is more friction in the system which in turn eats some of the battery power and, amongst other things, makes the machine less efficient.”

Type of brushroll: The size, placement, and type of brush on the vacuum affect how much dust is swept up, and also whether the brushes can dig into various surfaces to lift up dirt and debris. 

Type of filter: Look for HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, which are allergy-friendly. They trap and remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns. 

Battery life (if applicable): Cheaper cordless vacuums may not have as long as a battery life as more expensive competitors. You may need to charge your battery more often, or consider buying a replacement backup battery to keep on hand for longer cleaning jobs. 

Cord and hose length (if applicable): Long cords and hoses reduce the need to hunt around the house for an open outlet. The average cord length of an upright vacuum is 25-30 feet. 

Warranty: Even budget vacuums should come with at least one year of warranty on parts and labor. All our best cheap vacuum picks come with 1-3 years of warranty. Make sure to register your vacuum online to speed up the warranty process later.


How often should you clean and change your vacuum filter? 

The guidance varies model by model and there are different kinds of filters (cartridge, disk, foam, cloth), so you should check your product manual. Generally, you should wash and dry it when you notice a smell or if you observe a decline in vacuum performance. Some vacuums will also alert you when you need to change the filter. A clean filter is important for effective cleaning; a dirty filter restricts airflow and decreases suction power.


Where and when are the best vacuum deals?  

Prime Day (usually in the summer) and Black Friday/Cyber Monday (also known as Cyber Weekend) are the best times to find all-time-low prices on top vacuum brands like Shark, Dyson, Hoover, and Bissell. They’re usually discounted across all major retailers, including Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Best Buy. 

Glossary

best cheap vacuum cleaner 2021 glossary brushroll attachment

HEPA: Stands for high efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter traps and removes at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns and can be found in air purifiers and vacuums. 

Whole machine filtration: The entire machine is sealed to prevent unfiltered particles from escaping. All air passes through the filter before it is expelled. 

Dustbin: Where all the dust, dirt, and hair are stored as you vacuum. The dustbin should be emptied out into the trash after you’re done cleaning. 

Brush roll: A cylinder with bristles located in the cleaning head that rotates and helps release dirt from carpets and rugs. The bristles of a brush roll may leave scratches on hardwood and tile, so you should turn off the brush roll if possible. Replace your brush roll when the bristles wear out (like on your toothbrush). 

Crevice tool: A long, flat attachment with an angled tip. It’s good for getting into tight corners including baseboards and stairs and between couch cushions. 

Dust brush tool: A small attachment with soft bristles. It’s good for blinds, windowsills, and delicate objects. 

Upholstery tool: A wide, flat attachment that allows for strong suction. It’s good for furniture with fabric upholstery like mattresses, chairs, and couches.

See more vacuum buying guides

best cheap vacuum cleaner 2021 cordless robot upright
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The 5 best carpet cleaners in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Carpet cleaners for home use allow you to remove stains and dirt without having to call in a professional.
  • Some cleaners can be used on multiple surfaces such as upholstery, tile floors, and even in your car.
  • Our top pick, is lightweight, easy to use, and fast-drying, making it ideal for home use.

Pets, kids, and just general wear and tear can leave your carpeting looking lackluster, but hiring professional carpet cleaners can get expensive and time-consuming. Instead of calling the pros, buying a carpet cleaner can be a sound investment, keeping your carpet (and in some cases, your upholstery) in good shape. In the best cases, a good carpet cleaner can even buy you extra years before you have to recarpet.

We’ve evaluated and selected the best carpet cleaners for their overall performance, versatility, durability, ease of use, and value. The products in this guide can tackle stains, ground-in dirt, and more, leaving your carpeting looking refreshed and revitalized. They’re easy to operate right in your home and available at a variety of price points. There are even a few options that are suitable if you’re tight on space or just need a carpet cleaner that’s quick and easy to use.

Here are the best carpet cleaners in 2021

The best overall

Bissel carpet cleaner

Suitable for both carpeting and upholstery, the Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro features an Express Clean Mode that can dry carpeting in as little as 30 minutes. 

Pros: Shorter drying-time option, dual brush rollers, removable roller cover, targeted spot pretreating, pet upholstery tool

Cons: Doesn’t include an actual heat function

The Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro is a versatile carpet cleaner that can tackle carpeting, upholstery, and area rugs while also meeting the challenge of cleaning stains in homes with pets. Weighing just 19 pounds, this cleaner is easy to wheel through your home, and its 1-gallon tank capacity allows for plenty of continuous cleaning. It also has an 11-inch wide cleaning path that allows you to cover a significant area in a single pass.

The Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro carpet cleaner has many features that make for easy use and impressive performance, and it’s designed to tackle stains with low physical exertion. It’s also designed for the challenges of cleaning up after pets. Its two-in-one handheld pet upholstery tool features both a dry and a wet mode to remove pet hair and odors. 

While you can use the Max Clean Mode for embedded dirt and stains, the Express Clean Mode provides a lighter, faster cleaning. According to Bissell, the Express Clean Mode can dry in as little as 30 minutes. This mode is ideal when you’re in a hurry or have to try to keep kids off of the carpet as it dries.

The handheld tool and the cleaner’s generously sized 8-foot hose can go where the body of this carpet cleaner can’t, allowing you to tackle upholstered furniture, tough-to-access spaces in your rooms, pet beds, vehicle upholstery, and more. 

When it comes to cleaning and maintaining the unit itself, the brush rollers feature a removable cover, allowing you to easily access the rollers for hair removal and maintenance.

The best for big jobs

Big Green carpet cleaner

The Bissell Big Green Machine Professional Carpet Cleaner with dual 1.75 gallon tanks offers serious stain-removing power to tackle big jobs.

Pros: Offers powerful cleaning, long-reach hose makes cleaning stairs easy, strong enough to remove deep stains, two generously sized tanks allow for longer cleaning between refills

Cons: A little bulky, heavy when filled with water

The Bissell Big Green Machine Professional Carpet Cleaner is a powerful carpet cleaner ideal for tackling cleaning jobs without having to rent a professional cleaner. This machine is equipped with an extra-large power brush, which scrubs and removes deeply embedded dirt and stains both as you push the unit forward and as you pull it backward, saving you time and maximizing efficiency.

With a cleaning path of 10.5 inches, it also allows you to quickly clean larger areas. When you pull the trigger on the handle, the cleaner sprays out a water-and-formula solution that the power brush scrubs into the carpet.

This Bissell Big Green Machine comes with a 25-foot cord and a 9-foot spot cleaning hose, allowing you to access tight spots like carpeted stairs. Its 6-inch-wide Tough Stain Tool allows you to spray and scrub stains in spots the main body unit can’t access, like upholstery, pet beds, and more.

The flow indicator allows you to monitor and recognize when it’s time to add water and detergent. This machine’s large capacity dual 1.75-gallon tanks allow you to clean an entire room before pausing to empty the dirty water tank and refill the clean water tank. Plus, the design of the cleaner, with an anti-tip wide base, helps to keep the machine stable.

While the Bissell Big Green Machine is powerful and similar to rental cleaners, it’s compact enough to be stored away in a closet. It’s one of the heavier carpet cleaners, though, weighing 41 pounds. 

The best on a budget

Hoover carpet cleaner

The Hoover PowerDash Pet Carpet Cleaner is lightweight and powerful, and while it’s full of features, it’s still offered at a highly affordable price.

Pros: Compact upright design saves space, lightweight, low profile foot allows you to clean underneath furniture and tight spaces

Cons: Smaller water reservoir requires frequent filling, some users found the cleaner doesn’t pick up enough water

If you’re living in an apartment or small house and only have occasional carpet cleaning needs, you don’t want a large, bulky carpet cleaner taking up valuable storage space. The Hoover PowerDash Pet Carpet Cleaner is compact, has an upright design, measuring 15.2 inches by 10.1 inches by 43.5 inches. It offers a 10-inch cleaning path and can hold up to half a gallon of clean water at a time, yet weighs only 12.5 pounds.

This cleaner is equipped with many valuable features that make it efficient and easy to use. One of its better features is the HeatForce, which applies hot air to the carpet that you’re cleaning to speed drying. It also has an antimicrobial SpinScrub Brush System, a patented system that is treated with antimicrobial materials. As the brushes rotate and clean dirt from the carpet, these antimicrobial materials help to keep odor and bacteria from developing in the brushes and in the carpet cleaner. 

The dual tank system is easy to fill, empty, and rinse and keeps the clean water separated from the dirty water for more effective cleaning. One of the most convenient designs is the low-profile foot, which allows you to fit this carpet cleaner underneath furniture to access stains almost anywhere.

The best steam cleaner

Dupray carpet cleaner

The Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner utilizes the pressure of steam to offer chemical-free sanitization that can be used on floors, grout, and so much more.

Pros: Chemical-free cleaning, steamer operates on just tap water, heats up in seven minutes, works on multiple surfaces, backed by a two-year warranty, up to 50 minutes of cleaning time

Cons: No suction or vacuum function, steam can be dangerous so careful handling is needed, need to continuously hold down a button to operate steam function

The Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner brings the power of steam cleaning to your home at an affordable price. In just seven minutes, this unit heats steam to 275 degrees, allowing you to quickly get cleaning. This low-moisture steam works on all surfaces, including floors, furniture, mattresses, ceramic and tiles, grout, and even car interiors. It’s more than just a carpet cleaner, and its versatile design makes it suitable for use throughout many areas in your home. 

This steam cleaner cleans, disinfects, sanitizes, degreases, and deodorizes without using chemicals, relying instead on the cleaning power of pressurized steam. Steam cleaning can loosen dirt and kill threatening substances like dust mites, bacteria, mold, and allergens. Additionally, the hot steam dries quickly. Because this cleaner uses just water, you also don’t have to worry about buying (or running out) of cleaning products. 

You can operate the Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner with just tap water and it offers up to 50 minutes of continuous cleaning time. This 18-piece kit includes everything you need to do a full-house cleaning, including a rectangular floor tool, three microfiber pads, a window tool, two extension tubes, one lance, one microfiber cloth, one triangular tool, one triangular tool microfiber bonnet, five nylon brushes, one brass brush, and one AddFresh Fragrance Disc.

The unit weighs just 9 pounds and is on wheels, so you can roll it through the house. It also features a 16-foot power cord and a 6.5-foot steam hose, allowing you easier access to hard-to-reach spaces.

The best portable carpet cleaner

Bissell pet cleaner

Weighing under 5 pounds, the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Portable Cordless Carpet Cleaner is compact, versatile, and easily portable.

Pros: Cordless and lightweight design; ideal for removing pet stains; built-in scrub brush; versatile enough to use on carpets, upholstery, and auto interiors

Cons: Requires recharging, doesn’t include any power scrubbing features, limited capacity means it’s best for small jobs

Rather than lugging out a heavy carpet cleaner, the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Portable Cordless Carpet Cleaner gives you cleaning power that’s easily portable. Weighing only 4.6 pounds, this little cleaner can go just about anywhere, meaning it can clean stains on carpeted stairs, upholstery, area rugs, and vehicle interiors. It’s cordless and battery-powered, further adding to its agility, and makes cleaning stains an easy, fast process.  

This carpet cleaner may be small, but it still does a great job of cleaning up stains. Just spray the cleaning solution, use the built-in scrubber, and then suction the cleaner and stain out of the carpet. You can store the cleaning solution right in the machine, so it’s always ready to go. The fully charged battery offers up to 15 minutes of use, and recharging takes about four hours. 

This Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Cordless Carpet Cleaner is a go-to in my house. I can tuck it away in a closet until I need it. I particularly like that I can fit it underneath furniture like tables, making it easy to clean up small messes on my rugs without having to move any furniture.

Check out our other great cleaning guides

best cordless vacuums 2021 lg cordzero hardwood floor
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