I don’t care what anybody says, vacuuming is not fun. Vacuums are loud and clunky, and unless your rug is visibly covered with dirt and debris, vacuuming feels kind of useless. Dare I say, optional? Angela Bell, a grove guide at Grove Collaborative, is here to set me straight—as long as you have access to one, vacuuming is 100 percent not optional.
“Vacuuming regularly is definitely important as it’s a great way to eliminate dust and debris that sometimes gets stirred up and eventually ends up on other surfaces,” says Bell. “It’s especially important if you have allergies and need to keep the air clear of particles.”
Georgia Dixon, also a grove guide at Grove Collaborative, says that vacuuming can accomplish things that are nearly impossible to do with a broom.
“When you don’t vacuum, you’ll start to see a buildup of smaller particles like pet dander, pollen, and dust,” says Dixon. “While nothing ‘bad’ will happen, these smaller particles are often what agitate allergies. And you’ll likely see these smaller particles start migrating to other surfaces.”
And vacuuming isn’t just for floors. “You can address dust on virtually any surface, including your ceilings, walls, stuffed animals, books, and upholstered furniture with a vacuum,” says Marilee Nelson, co-founder of Branch Basics.
Personally, as someone who lives in a New York City apartment with limited closet space, owning a full-sized vacuum isn’t an option. However, cordless stick vacuums make ownership possible. They’re slim enough to store in a packed closet or tucked behind an open door. And if you live in a house with multiple levels, stick vacuums are lightweight, making them easier to get from room to room.
When shopping for a vacuum your first step is making sure it uses a HEPA filter. “Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter can trap nearly 100 percent of airborne particles, which is especially helpful for those that have asthma or allergies,” says Dixon. But Nelson points out that the filter only good if the vacuum is properly sealed. “Most vacuum cleaners actually spew dust back into the air, making it more contaminated than before,” says Nelson. “[A good seal] means that all the air that sucked through the machine passes through the filter and none of it escapes back into your air. Your air should be cleaner after you vacuum rather than more polluted.” Nelson says to also look for a vacuum that’s certified sealed by HEPA. However, many newer models, especially cordless stick vacuums ones, don’t have the HEPA seal. In this case, we’re turning toward brands that make it point to fully seal their products.
The best cordless stick vacuums at every price point
1. Shark Rocket Pet Pro, $249
Nelson loves Shark’s cordless stick vacuums in part because they’re affordable. The Rocket Pet Pro uses deep-cleaning suction to remove dirt and debris from carpets and hard floors, making it much more powerful than it looks. It also converts into a hand vac for when you need to vacuum things like couches or lampshades. This vacuum stays charged for up to 40 minutes. You can charge the battery while it’s in the unit, or take it out to charge and store your vacuum elsewhere. Complete with a HEPA filter, this vacuum also has an Anti-Allergen Complete Seal that captures 99 percent of dust and allergens.
2. TINECO PURE ONE S11, $349
This cordless stick vacuum is kind of like an automatic car. It uses a sensor to detect dust and debris and adjusts the suction power in real-time. An LED display shows work logs (i.e., dust condition, suction power, and malfunction alerts) while an app monitors its performance, and shares reminders and cleaning reports. A digital motor provides ultra-quiet, powerful suction of up to 120W in Max mode, delivering high performance on both carpets and hard floors. Using a HEPA filter, a fully-sealed, four-stage filtration captures tiny dust particles and produces fresher, cleaner air for your home. It also converts to a handheld vacuum and has a 40-minute runtime.
3. Dyson V11 Outsize, $799
One of my colleagues loves this Dyson vacuum so much that he convinced his 70-year-old mother to buy it as well. “I was amazed by how much powdery debris came out of a rug I thought was clean,” she said. “I use it almost every day because it’s so easy.” It was a huge upgrade from the unwieldy plug-in canister vacuum she’d been using since 1997. Just shy of 8 pounds, it’s a little heavier than some of its competitors, but Dyson’s newest cordless stick vacuum has a full-size bin and a full-size brush head, which allows for less frequent emptying and the ability to clean with fewer passes. It has whole-machine filtration and is fully sealed, so there are no gaps for dirty air to escape. A six-layer filtration system traps 99.99 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns. It comes with six different heads to allow you to pick the best tools for your job. The battery lasts for an impressive 120 minutes, so if you’ve got a few thousand square feet to cover, this is the cordless vac for you.
For similar results at a lower price point, opt for the Dyson V11 Torque Drive ($599), which is essentially the same machine but slightly more compact, or Dyson V11 Animal ($499). “In a household with two very fluffy cats, a good vacuum is a must,” says Bell. “It is a wonderful option for a multiple-pet home and even has a boost function for set-in fur or grime.”
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