We've purchased 16 of the best stick vacuums you can get over the past 3 years. For our 2020 update, we looked at the top 12 models on the market today and tested them head-to-head to pick our award winners. We spent well over a hundred hours vacuuming carpet and hard floors with these products to see how well each one cleaned, as well as to judge how user-friendly and convenient each vacuum is. Read on to see our full review and find out which vacuum swept away the competition, which we thought is the best cordless or corded, and which models you should consider when shopping on a tight budget.
The Best Stick Vacuums of 2020
Dyson V10 Absolute
Earning the highest score we have ever seen, the Dyson V10 easily claimed an Editors' Choice Award to assume the mantle of Best Overall Stick Vacuum. This product handles all types of messes on both hard and soft floors with ease, offering some of the best performances that we have seen from these products when it comes to cleaning messes on carpet. This model is also exceptionally easy to use and is a very convenient way to keep your floors sparkling. If you want unparalleled cleaning ability from a stick vacuum, then the V10 is the obvious choice.
However, this is also one of the most expensive products that we have seen in this category. This exceptionally high price makes the V10 well out of most people's budget for a supplemental cleaning appliance. Regardless of that, it is the best of the best — if you can afford it.
Read Full Review: Dyson V10 Absolute
Another Great Option
Our previous top pick before being bested by the V10, the IONFlex is an excellent, all-around stick vacuum that is a close second to the V10 in terms of performance, but retails for less than half the price. This cordless vacuum performed extremely well in our hard floor cleaning tests. This model folds for easy storage and has swappable batteries, so your runtime is only limited by the number of additional batteries that you have. The IONFlex includes a handful of attachments and has the versatility to clean practically anywhere in your home and is highly maneuverable and easy to operate.
However, while this vacuum is much less expensive than the V10, it is still quite pricey. This can be exceptionally more than most people may be willing to spend for one of these products, as for many, a stick vacuum is a supplemental cleaning tool to be paired with a full-size vacuum, rather than their sole cleaning method. It's also a little on the heavy side for a cordless vacuum, but it is still an excellent product overall, especially if you want the best but can't afford the V10.
Read Full Review: Shark IONFlex
Best Corded Option
Shark Rocket DuoClean
The Shark Rocket DuoClean is one of our favorite stick vacuums overall and our top recommendation if you are alright with a corded model. This premium corded stick vacuum is extraordinarily easy to use, with the cleaning power to rival plenty of upright vacuums. It does an exceptional job of collecting debris and cleaning up messes from hard floors and a great one on carpet. It's agile and easy to maneuver, with tons of versatility to clean all of the hard to reach places around your home.
Our only slight issue with this product is that it is a little on the heavy side. Additionally, while the corded component of this vacuum means you have unlimited runtime while cleaning, it is undeniably much more cumbersome than the cordless models. However, we would readily recommend this product as one of our favorites. It does a solid job of cleaning your home and retails for much less than the top-tier products.
Read Full Review: Shark Rocket DuoClean
Best Bang for the Buck
Searching for a cordless stick vacuum and don't want to spend hundreds of dollars? The Deik won't disappoint, performing quite well across the board and earning the Best Buy award for being a great value. This Dyson clone does a good job of keeping carpets and hard floors clean and is one of the most convenient vacuums to use to clean up small messes quickly, having an impressive battery life considering its weight and cost,
It doesn't quite match the cleaning performance of the top models and is a little more difficult to use. It also isn't quite as convenient, but, on the whole, it delivers a more than acceptable performance making it the best bet for those shopping on a budget and don't want to spend a ton.
Read Full Review: Deik ZB1516
Best for the Tightest Budgets
VonHaus 600W 2-in-1
The VonHaus 600W 2-in-1 isn't the best stick vacuum that we looked at, but it does have its place. This model would be a solid choice for someone shopping on a tight budget and is primarily cleaning a smaller home with hard floors. This model can also transform into a handheld vacuum to get all of those hard to reach places.
Regrettably, the VonHaus can't compare to the top-tier models when it comes to overall cleaning power, delivering a thoroughly mediocre set of results in all of our cleaning tests. It is one of the least expensive models out there and we would highly recommend it to anyone who only has light messes to pick up but it is worth it to invest a bit more if you need a more heavy-duty cleaning machine.
Read Full Review: VonHaus 600W 2-in-1
Why You Should Trust Us?
For starters, we bought all of the products we tested in this review at normal prices from major retailers; we won't ever accept any free or sample products to test here at TechGearLab, ensuring that our reviews are unbiased and we have no financial incentive to pick one product over another. Our lead stick vacuum reviewers, Austin Palmer and David Wise both have extensive experience not only reviewing and testing stick vacuums but also upright vacuums, canister vacuums, robot vacuums, and handheld vacuums as well. They have been comparing and testing stick vacuums for the past three years, continually updating their testing plans and procedures as these products have evolved.
To see which stick vacuum came out on top of the pack and swept the competition under the rug, we devised a challenging series of tests to evaluate the performance of these products side-by-side. We have spent hundreds of hours cleaning up all sorts of messes with these products, trying them out in practically every conceivable place in our homes and offices. We also did side-by-side quantitative tests with these products, measuring their effective runtime, recharge time, and noise levels, as well as maximum reach under furniture.
Related: How We Tested Stick Vacuums
Analysis and Test Results
Our tests were grouped into four weighted rating metrics: Convenience, Hard Surface Cleaning, Ease of Use, and Carpet Cleaning.
Related: Buying Advice for Stick Vacuums
The top vacuums come at a bit of a premium price, notably the Dyson V10 and the Dyson V8. The Shark Rocket gives you the best bang for the buck of the top-tier vacuums, but it is a corded model — a dealbreaker for some people. The Diek is the overall best value, retailing at a fraction of the cost of the V10 or the Shark IONFlex and performing only marginally worse in our tests. The VonHaus is one of the least expensive
While you may be a bit surprised that the cleaning prowess of these products isn't first, we found convenience to be king for these products. The main advantage of these products over a traditional canister or upright vacuum is their substantially superior convenience factor and ease of use — hence the higher weight on this metric. This metric, accounting for a whopping 35% of the overall score for each product — encompassed tests where we compared and scored how well each vacuum cleaned non-floor areas of your home, the battery life of the cordless models and the reach of the corded ones, each product's weight, and its storage method.
The Dyson V10 Absolute, the Dyson V8 Absolute, the Dyson V11 Animal, the Shark IONFlex, and the Deik, all earned a 7 out of 10 when it came to convenience. These vacuums are all cordless, with the trio of Dyson models and the Deik having a convenient wall mounted storage system to keep them out of the way when not in use. However, it would have been nice if these vacuums could stand freely but all of them need to be propped against something when not in use if they aren't in their wall mount. The Shark IONFlex folds in half for convenient, standing storage in an out of the way location.
We didn't find the battery life of the Dyson models to be all that amazing, especially when using their highest power setting. The V11 lasted the longest, operating for 12.5 minutes before the battery was depleted in our test, with the V10 and the V8 both lasting for less than 10 minutes.
However, the runtime can be significantly extended by running on a lower power cleaning mode, which we found to be more than enough to clean up most messes, especially in the case of the V10. We actually had a hard time pushing the V10 on the low-pile carpet when it was in its maximum power mode, as the suction is so strong.
This trio of products from Dyson are all about average in terms of weight, both weighing between 4-7 lbs.
The Deik weighs about the same, but had much more impressive battery life, lasting slightly over double the amount of time when running on its maximum power setting.
The IONFlex is a little on the heavier side, weighing in closer to 9 lbs, but has a battery life of almost 12 minutes. Both the IONFlex and the Deik are quite effective at cleaning non-floor areas of your home as well, though not quite as proficient as the Dyson V11, V10, or V8 with their plethora of attachments.
Next, the quartet of the BLACK+DECKER, Hoover Linx, BISSELL AirRam, and the Shark Rocket DuoClean all earned a 6 out of 10 in this metric. The Hoover, BISSELL, and BLACK+DECKER are all cordless, while the Shark Rocket is corded. The AirRam had the longest battery life of the entire group, lasting for 35 minutes at full power, with the Hoover lasting for just over 21 minutes, and the BLACK+DECKER calling it quits at just over 16 minutes. The Shark Rocket has the longest reach of the group of cordless models.
However, the Shark Rocket is the best of this bunch at cleaning non-floor surfaces — on par with the Dyson products. The Rocket includes a ton of different attachments that are very easy to swap out.
The BLACK+DECKER can transform into a handheld vacuum, while the Hoover Linx, AirRam is restricted to upright mode only. However, the Hoover is, but doesn't have a wall mount. The BLACK+DECKER and the AirRam are stable enough to be freestanding, while the Rocket is primarily meant to be wall-mounted — though you can detach the top and hang it towards the base, providing enough support for this model to stand without support.
We found the Rocket and the AirRam to be a bit more cumbersome and heavier than most of the other products, while the Linx and the BLACK+DECKER are about average in size and weight for this type of vacuum.
Next, the Shark Navigator Freestyle earned a 5 out of 10 for its performance — about average in terms of convenience. This cordless model lasted for just shy of 14 minutes in its highest powered cleaning mode — slightly above average. It's a freestanding model that weighs just over 7 lbs but lacks any attachments or transformations to clean surfaces other than floors. This simple stick vacuum isn't the most convenient to use, but at least it isn't frustrating.
Rounding out the back of the pack, theDirt Devil Simpli-Stik and the VonHaus earned a 4 out of 10 for their slightly sub-par performance. Both of these models are corded, with a somewhat shorter reach than the Shark Rocket, measuring in at 16' and 20' respectively. These models are both free-standing, but are quite delicate — prone to tipping or falling over.
This duo does earn a few points for being on the lighter side, but fall a little short when it comes to cleaning non-floor surfaces, with the Dirt Devil being noticeably more deficient than the VonHaus.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Moving on to the first of our cleaning metrics, the performance of each vacuum at cleaning hard floors accounts for 30% of the total score for each product. We used rice, flour, cereal, and oats, as well as pet hair to evaluate the performance of each model, comparing the appearance of the floor before and after, as well as the actual percentage of debris collected to determine the final score in this metric.
The Dyson V10, the Shark IONFlex, and the Shark Rocket DuoClean all took home the top score in this metric, earning a 9 out of 10 for their phenomenal cleaning performance. All of these vacuums only took a single pass to clean up all of the rice using their bare floor mode and were by far the best and the easiest to use of all the stick vacuums to clean up the rice.
This stellar performance continued in our flour test, with all three of these vacuums cleaning up the majority of the flour with a single pass and then taking an additional pass to get any residual flour that had fallen into the cracks between the boards of the laminate floor.
This trio continued their dominance was also the best of the bunch at cleaning up oatmeal and cereal, only taking a single pass to perform an admirable cleaning job. Finally, the V10, the Rocket, and the IONFlex finished out their sweep of this metric by tying for the top score in our pet hair collection test, along with a handful of other models.
The Dyson V8 Absolute came next, earning an 8 out of 10 for its hard floor cleaning abilities. It did very well at cleaning up flour, taking about two passes to clean up the bulk of the flour and even pulling flour from the cracks in between the boards.
The V8 also delivered an essentially perfect performance in our cereal pet hair, collecting all of the mess we laid out without any issues. It finished out this metric with a strong showing in our oat test, getting almost all of the oats in a single pass, though there was a tiny portion of oats flung to the side.
Unfortunately, the performance of the V8 dropped in our rice test, doing a mediocre job overall. It cleaned up a decent amount of rice, but flung a non-trivial amount of rice out of the path of the vacuum.
Next, the Shark Navigator Freestyle, and the V11 Animal both earned a 7 out of 10 for their solid performance at cleaning hard flooring. The Navigator did very well at collecting rice, sucking up almost everything in a single pass. Unfortunately, the V11 struggled a little bit with the rice, doing an overall mediocre job. It picked up a solid amount rice but also threw plenty of it around.
When it came to flour, the V11 did very well, almost matching the performance of the Dyson V8, but left a tiny bit more flour behind. The Navigator struggled a little, taking 2-4 passes to get the floor suitably clean.
Moving on to the cereal test, the V11 Animal outperformed the Navigator. The Freestyle did collect some of them but doesn't pick them up as easily as the V11, which got all of the Cheerios from the hard floor in a single pass.
Both of these vacuums performed similarly when tasked with cleaning up oatmeal, delivering a good performance and collecting the vast majority of the oats in one or two passes. The Navigator and the V11 finished out this test with a fantastic performance in our pet hair pickup test, tying with the Shark Rocket.
The Deik, VonHaus, and the AirRam all came next, each meriting a 6 out of 10 for their solid performance at cleaning hard floors.
The Deik did a fantastic job of cleaning up flour but fell a little short at collecting Cheerios, tending to push them around rather than collecting them.
It did a good job at collecting pet hair and rice but struggled a little at collecting oatmeal, leaving a decent amount of residual debris behind.
The VonHaus did exceptionally well at cleaning up rice — practically on par with the Shark Rocket — but faltered at collecting flour. The VonHaus delivered a terrible performance, taking over 20 passes and still leaving plenty of residual flour.
The VonHaus did an alright job at collecting cereal and oats, though it would occasionally pile up the debris, rather than collecting it. Finally, it did quite well at collecting pet hair, matching the performance of the top scorers, like the Shark Rocket or Dyson V10.
The AirRam performed conversely, excelling at sucking up flour but struggled to collect oats and rice. This vacuum would usually throw them to the side, rather than successfully collecting them. However, this product did a good job in the Cheerios and pet hair evaluations, collecting the vast majority of the mess and only leaving trace amounts behind.
Next, the BLACK+DECKER, Dirt Devil, and the Hoover Linx all scored a 5 out of 10 for their overall average performance at cleaning up hard floors. The Dirt Devil did the best of this group of four at collecting rice, getting the vast majority in a single pass.
However, this model can leak rice when its collection bin is full. The BLACK+DECKER did a mediocre job, requiring you to decide between missing debris with the brush off or flinging it around with the brush on. The Hoover Linx did a relatively subpar job, taking multiple passes to clean the area satisfactorily.
The performance of these 3 vacuums changed dramatically when it came to flour. The BLACK+DECKER and Linx did an acceptable job at collecting flour, taking about 4 passes to clean the floor and leaving plenty of residual flour in the cracks between boards. The Dirt Devil delivered an abysmal performance, taking over 20 passes and still leaving behind more flour than its counterparts.
Moving on to our Cheerios and oat collection challenges, the BLACK+DECKER, Dirt Devil, and Hoover Linx exhibited a relatively unimpressive performance, with this trio of vacuums doing a mediocre job at collecting debris. The BLACK+DECKER did do slightly better than the other two at collecting rice but evened it out by doing slightly worse at picking up oats. The Dirt Devil did do very well at collecting pet hair, ending up in the top-tier of performers, while the Hoover was average, and the BLACK+DECKER performed relatively poorly.
Finally, it did about average at collecting oats, only flinging a few to the side — much, much less than the rice test.
Ease of Use
Our Ease of Use metric accounted for 20% of the total score, with a wide range of scores between each product. The scores for this metric are based on the different cleaning power levels available, how well each vacuum could clean under furniture and close into edges, as well as their noise levels and maneuverability.
Tying for the top score of 8 out of 10, the Shark IONFlex, Shark Rocket, Dyson V8, and V10 topped the rest of the pack in terms of this metric. All of these models have both a low and high power cleaning mode, with the IONFlex and the Rocket having the added benefit of slowing down the speed of the rotating brush for hard floor types. Rather than having a different mode for hard floors, the V8 and the V10 have a different brush head for hard floors.
The Dyson V10, Shark Rocket, and the IONFlex, all continued their exceptional performance into our edging test, with the Rocket and the IONFlex maintaining a slight edge on the V10, as it left a little bit in the corner. The V10 is better at picking up debris either head-on into a wall or along the edge.
The V8, Rocket, and IONFlex all did an excellent job in our test to simulate cleaning under furniture, reaching the complete distance of about 37" under our "sofa".
The V10 has a slightly reduced reach, having a reach about 4" shorter than the top vacuums.
All of these top-tier vacuums are nimble and agile, with the swivel steering making handling a breeze. However, the IONFlex and the V8 had a slight edge on the rest of this group when it came to noise levels.
The V10 is definitely on the louder side, especially when run at its maximum power levels.
Following this group of top performers, the BISSELL AirRam and the Dyson V11 both earned a 7 out of 10 for their efforts. The AirRam is relatively quiet and has swivel steering, though it isn't quite as nimble as the Sharks or Dyson V8.
This vacuum did reach completely under our simulated sofa and only left a little debris when cleaning in tight corners. It does lack different cleaning modes, so the AirRam lost a few points there.
The V11 Animal has three cleaning modes: Boost, Eco, Auto. The Auto mode is a bit of a unique innovation for these products, with the V11 automatically adjusting the suction depending on the amount of mess and floor types, doing its best to balance cleaning performance and battery life. However, the V11 doesn't have the option to turn off the rotating brush.
This vacuum does do fairly well at cleaning along the walls of a room but does tend to miss debris that is in the corners. It has a low profile, letting it reach very far under most pieces of furniture. It cleaned about 33" under our simulated sofa that had 5.5" of clearance between the floor and the bottom of the "sofa". The V11 is about average in terms of noise level and is fairly maneuverable with a swivel steering head.
Next, the DEIK, and the BLACK+DECKER, both earned a 6 out of 10 for their above-average performance in our Ease of Use metric. The BLACK+DECKER has both a high and low power cleaning mode and the option to turn off the rotating brush — a rarity for these products. However, the BLACK+DECKER did somewhat poorly in our edge cleaning test, leaving a noticeable strip of rice behind and requiring the use of a special attachment. The Deik was about average at cleaning edges, doing a bit better than the BLACK+DECKER.
The BLACK+DECKER didn't do amazing when it came to reaching under our sofa test, only reaching about 18".
The Deik did much better, reaching almost twice that of the BLACK+DECKER and matching the 37"+ of the top performers.
Both vacuums have swivel steering and are fairly maneuverable. The BLACK+DECKER isn't too loud but we did find the Deik to be on the loud side, being one of the noisiest vacuums that we have tested.
Next, the Shark Navigator Freestyle earned a 5 out of 10 for its wholly unremarkable performance in terms of Ease of Use. This model has both a low and high power cleaning mode, as well as the option to slow down the rotating brush, though you can't stop it completely. This model did decently at cleaning in close to the edges but took a few passes to clean as well as some of the others. This model did somewhat poorly in our furniture test, only reaching about 11" under the simulated sofa, less than a third of the top performers.
The Freestyle was in the middle of the pack in terms of noise and does have some swivel steering, though it was quite limited.
Finishing out the back of the group for this test, the Dirt Devil, Hoover Linx, and the VonHaus all scored 4 out of 10 for their somewhat below-average performances. None of these three models have varying power levels for cleaning, though the Hoover Linx does have the option to turn off the rotating brush. However, it was the VonHaus that did the best of this group when it came to our edge cleaning test, performing on par with the Shark Navigator.
Both the Hoover and the Dirt Devil did a relatively poor job at cleaning in close to an edge, with the Dirt Devil doing the worst of the entire group, leaving behind a large strip of rice.
None of these three vacuums did very well when it came to reaching under furniture, with the Dirt Devil slightly redeeming itself, reaching about 5" further than the VonHaus or the Hoover.
Neither the VonHaus nor the Dirt Devil has swivel steering, so handling was a little limited, while the swivel steering on the Hoover was so bad that it might as well not have even been there in the first place. There were wildly varying noise levels between these vacuums, with the Dirt Devil being one of the quietest models of the group, the Hoover being average, and the VonHaus being loud enough to be mistaken with an upright vacuum.
Accounting for the remaining 15% of the total score for each vacuum, our final metric is composed of all of our carpet cleaning tests. We again used rice, cereal, oats, flour, and pet hair as our sample debris, ranking each vacuum on how many passes it took to clean up the messes, as well as how much residual debris had been left behind. For these tests, we tested on both a flat, low-pile carpet and a fluffier, medium-pile carpet.
The Dyson V11, the V10, and the V8 all tied for the overall top score of the group when it came to cleaning carpets, each earning an 8 out of 10 for their excellent performances. The V10 and the V8 both did very well when it came to our rice collection challenge, collecting all of the debris from the flat carpet with only two passes, whereas the V11 needed an additional pass or two to achieve the same level of cleanliness. However, all three did much better with the fluffier medium-pile carpet. The cleanup vacuum collected hardly any rice after the V8 had cleaned and practically nothing after the V11 or the V10.
All three of these Dyson vacuums did exceptionally well at cleaning flour from the flatter low-pile carpet, getting the vast majority in a single cleaning pass and tying for the best cleaning performance we have seen to date.
The V8 and V11 delivered stellar performances when it came to cleaning up Cheerios, slightly outperforming the V10.
While we felt that the V10 had far superior suction to the V8, there isn't much space for larger debris items between the head and the floor, leading it to push the Cheerios around for a while before it collects them.
However, the gap on the V10 was more than enough to easily collect pet hair and oats, with the V11, V10, and V8 all delivering top-notch performances in our final carpet cleaning assessments. The V8 did leave just a few more strands of pet hair behind, but it was a barely noticeable amount.
The Shark Rocket, Shark IONFlex, and the Deik all tied for the second-highest score of 7 out of 10 in this metric with their solid performance. The Rocket did a fantastic job of cleaning up the rice from low-pile carpet, only taking two passes to get everything collected. It did even better on the medium-pile carpet, only tossing a few grains of rice to the side and matching the performance of an upright vacuum. However, its performance dropped when it came to collecting flour, leaving plenty of residual dust. Due to the poor performance of all the vacuums across the board, we only attempted this test on the flat carpet, not on the fluffy carpet.
The Rocket resumed its excellent performance in our cereal test, doing the best of the entire group on both flat and fluffy carpet. It also did well at collecting oats — just not quite as well as the pair of Dyson models.
The IONFlex matched the performance of the Rocket when it came to collecting rice, similarly taking two passes to collect all of the debris. It also did exceptionally well at collecting flour and oats.
It finished out this metric with a strong performance in the final two tests — pet hair and cereal — again almost matching the performance of the Rocket at pet hair and matching it at collecting Cheerios.
The Deik held its own in this metric, doing a fantastic job — better than the IONFlex — at collecting pet hair and a good job at sucking up Cheerios.
It also did very well at collecting oats and flour, though it performed slightly worse than the IONFlex at collecting rice.
Following the stellar performance of the top models, the Shark Navigator Freestyle earned a 6 out of 10. This model did a decent job of collecting rice from the flat carpet. The Navigator Freestyle delivered a somewhat subpar performance, leaving behind plenty of residual flour. However, this flipped when it came to collecting Cheerios. The Navigator delivering an average performance,
Next, the Hoover Linx, BLACK+DECKER, BISSELL AirRam, and the VonHaus all earned a 5 out of 10 for their exceptionally average performance when it came to cleaning carpets in our test. Three of these models — the Hoover, VonHaus, and the BLACK+DECKER — did quite well at collecting rice, doing a decent job on both low-pile and medium-pile carpets. The AirRam flung rice around a bit on the flat carpet but did an excellent job on the fluffier, medium-pile carpet. In particular, the VonHaus distinguished itself on the medium-pile carpet, almost matching the performance of the Dyson V8.
None of these models excelled at cleaning flour from carpet, with the Hoover and the AirRam performing slightly below average, the VonHaus slightly above, and the BLACK+DECKER right in the middle. However, the Hoover Linx and the BISSELL AirRam did excel in our cereal collection test, leaving only a few residual Cheerios behind on flat carpet and requiring minimal effort to collect them from the fluffy carpet.
The VonHaus did a decent job across the board, where the BLACK+DECKER did well on the flat carpet but fell a little flat on the fluffy carpet, continually piling them up rather than collecting them.
All of the vacuums, except the AirRam, did a relatively subpar job at collecting oats. The BLACK+DECKER finished out the test with a solid performance in our pet hair collection test, the Hoover did about average, and the VonHaus and the BISSELL AirRam left much to be desired.
Rounding out the back of the group, the Dirt Devil earned a 3 out of 10 for its all-around poor job at cleaning carpets. It did a barely acceptable job at collecting cereal, but poor at everything else.
We hope that you have found this article to be informative and helpful while you are shopping for a vacuum, regardless if you are looking for a top-tier product that can go toe-to-toe with a traditional upright or a budget option that offers a convenient way to clean up small messes.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise