Five best cordless vacuum cleaners 2021 : great handheld vacuums from Shark, Vax, Dyson
Lighter, more transportable, and quieter, cordless vacuum cleaners can turn an arduous task into one of comparative ease. We’ve tested and found the best that are available in 2021
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Many of today’s cordless vacs are equipped with powerful motors and long lasting batteries that make them perfectly suitable for most medium-sized households. Stick models, especially, are the most versatile since they can be transformed into handheld vacs for cleaning shelves, hard-to-reach areas and car interiors. However, the undeniable piece de resistance of the cordless vacuuming is that it’s just so effortlessly convenient.
Cordless vacs: what to be aware of
It has to be said that cordless vacs do come with a few disadvantages. They usually cost more than their mains-powered brethren and they’re sometimes not quite as powerful, though companies like Dyson have certainly addressed that issue with a range of stick vacs that truly excel on the suction front.
Cordless vacs also need to be fully charged most of the time. It’s not a major inconvenience, it just means you’re best advised to plug it in immediately post use.
Another minor irritant is that most vacs of the stick variety cannot stand up on their own, which means they don’t store away as tidily as an upright cleaner, though most do come with a wall bracket for this purpose.
Some models are not especially well suited to dealing with large houses since the batteries may run out of puff after about 60 minutes (less time if the model is used in boost mode). That said, if you live in a large house with three or more bedrooms, a cordless vac is still an excellent supplement to a mains-powered model since they’re much more practical for quick whizzes around the abode.
All cordless vacs are bagless but their transparent dust collection cylinders are smaller than their corded counterparts, especially the bagged variety.
On the plus side, most stick models also come with a set of hand tools for cleaning stairs, sofas, shelves, car interiors and hard-to-reach areas.
With so many models on the market, choosing a cordless vac can be a daunting process. We’ve saved you the trouble and called in a bunch of excellent wire-free vacs to put through their paces in a dusty house full of dog and cat hair. Read on to find out which model is best for you.
Gtech AirRam Mk 2 K-9
Key specs: Weight: 3.3kgs; Bin capacity: 0.8 litres; Running time: About 40 mins
If you have hairy pets and are looking for a quick-and-easy cordless vac that will genuinely impress, then the highly efficient AirRam Mk2 K-9 is the model for you. This writer has quite a few cordless vacs knocking about – as you do – and this is the model I always grab first.
Its efficiency on both carpets and hard floors is truly exemplary. Indeed, try it on any floor area where your pet has been sleeping and you’ll be astonished by the amount of hair it manages to stuff into its larger-than-average 0.8-litre dust cylinder.
The AirRam K-9 has only one power setting – full bore – but it goes easy on the removable battery which provides enough juice for about 40 minutes of multiple floor cleaning. You will also come to love the bright LED headlamp which highlights all dust and dirt in the K-9’s path.
Since all the weight is on the floor, this vac feels light in the hand and effortless to push around; that low profile body is also very handy for reaching under shallow furniture. This model can also stand up on its own and be collapsed for easy storage – a major bonus in our book.
The AirRam’s bin-emptying system is a master stroke. Simply slide the ejector arm across the dust cylinder’s entire length and everything is forced out of the side hatch and into the bin. The filter system, meanwhile, is easy to clean and includes a scent stick to make things smell, well, less carpety (extra sticks are provided in the package).
The only thing you need to be aware of with this vac is that it doesn’t like thin rugs. Since the fast-spinning rotor brush is positioned very low, it literally snatches the edges of some rugs and the motor usually stops dead for a few seconds before resetting.
Also bear in mind that it doesn’t come with any detail attachments for cleaning shelves and down the side of the sofa – Gtech’s handheld Multi Mk2 vac is a worthwhile supplement in this regard. Those two small inconveniences aside, this is a cracking vacuum cleaner that performs exceedingly well for the price. Top buy.
Dyson V11 Absolute
Key specs: Weight: 3.05kgs; Bin capacity: 0.76 litres; Running time: About 60 mins
This is one of the very best cordless vacs on the market right now – and also one of the most expensive. In our test, the V11 Absolute absolutely nailed all disciplines and collected a commendable amount of detritus in the process. Its low profile motorised brush head is a boon for cleaning under low furnishings.
Despite all the weight being in the hand, the handsome V11 Absolute feels surprisingly light and manoeuvrable, even when used on thicker pile carpet. Aside from an assemblage of titchy hand brushes and nozzles – including a mini motorised hand tool for sofas and cars – this high-tech super vac comes with not one but two large powered brush heads.
The main Torque Drive Motorhead has spinning bristles and is perfect for carpets while the other is designed for hard floors and features a revolving cylinder covered in a smooth towel-like material that buffs while it sweeps.
Being of Dyson origin, there’s a raft of clever tech systems under the skin of this beast, including a system monitor that sends real time battery usage info to the rear-mounted LED. A simply tap of the mode button changes the power from Eco to Auto to Boost. Auto’s the best mode since it automatically switches from low suction to high as soon as the sensors detect the resistance of carpet. You can safely expect around 40 minutes of use in Auto mode, 60 minutes in Eco but just 15 minutes on Boost.
Like most Dyson vacs, the V11 Absolute has a fabulous bin emptying system that is remarkably dust free and very easy to use. The filter system, too, is top notch and designed to capture ’99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns’. As with all stick-style vacs, the V11 Absolute can’t stand up on its own, so storing it is a bit of a faff unless you use the supplied wall mount-cum-charging cradle.
If you have the funds to hand and you’re in the market for a cordless vac that is well built, easy to use and as efficient as the best mains-powered vac, then make this model your first port of call.
Shark Anti Hair Wrap IZ201UK
Key specs: Weight: 4.1kgs; Bin capacity: 0.7 litres; Running time: About 40 mins
Shark is making a name for itself with a series of top performing vacs at very reasonable prices; indeed, this particular cordless model is one of the most innovative on the market.
Aside from its anti-hair wrap technology, the very best thing about this model is that the suction tube can be articulated for easier access under low furnishings and beds. This is an ingenious innovation that’s as simple as it is effective. Even better, if the hand unit is folded over completely, the Shark can be stored upright in a small cupboard.
The Shark’s DuoClean floor head features two rollers that work in tandem. The front towelling roller snatches larger floor matter like cereals and broken biscuits while the roller directly behind it uses its stiff bristles and rubber paddles to dig deep into carpet pile. The vac gets its Anti Hair Wrap moniker from the row of prongs buried just behind the rear roller and it’s this row of teeth that help prevent strands of hair and cotton from wrapping around the brush bar. It’s a clever little innovation that works well.
This vac performed very well across the board, collecting pretty much everything we threw in its path. At 0.7 litres, the Shark’s dust collector is of average size and easy to empty, too. On the running time front, this writer got about 40 minutes of vacuuming out of a full charge.
In the pantheon of cordless stick vacs, the Shark IZ201UK is a commendable candidate that’s equipped with some very clever design flourishes that set it apart from the competition. It’s also very keenly priced.
VAX ONEPWR Blade 4
Key specs: Weight: 3.1kgs; Bin capacity: 0.6 litres; Running time: About 45 mins
Here’s a decent challenger that, for a shade under £220, puts in a very decent innings, whether on carpet or hard floor. Being of the ‘stick’ variety, it won’t be as easy to store as the upright Gtech – or even the Shark above – and the hand unit itself feels quite heavy and perhaps a little too angular in the hand. That said, most other facets are pretty tipper, including the LED headlight and cool transparent blue rotary brush housing.
Vax prides itself on the suction power of its vacuum cleaners and sure enough this one sucks big time, in a good way; it passed both the hard floor and carpet cleaning tests with distinction, even though the brush and super boost settings chewed through the battery’s reserves very rapidly – in about 10 minutes! Also, the brush bar is only 22cm in width – narrower than the norm – so it may take a few extra passes per vacuuming session.
Aside from the main powered floor head, the Vax OnePwr Blade 4 Pet also comes with a pair of detail tools – a soft dusting brush and the obligatory crevice tool – plus a highly effective mini motorised Pet Tool for animal beds, sofas and anywhere else a pet may hang out.
You can reasonably expect to get about 45 minutes out the the 4.0Ah battery when used with suction only. However, for carpets, it definitely requires being used with the brush mode on, and perhaps at a lower rate of suction to preserve battery time.
The Vax is a very worthwhile contender that is ideally suited to smaller abodes, especially those with hard floors. It boats excellent suction, is relatively cheap to buy and it performed very well in our tests. However, its motorised brush head did consume more battery power than we expected.
Miele TriFlex HX1
Key specs: Weight: 3.6kgs; Bin capacity: 0.5 litres; Running time: About 60 mins
Where the vast majority of cordless stick vacs have the motor housing and dust collector in the handle assembly, the three-in-one HX1 from Miele has a trick up its sleeve because it can be used with the main housing either in the hand or at ground level.
This is an exceptionally useful innovation, especially for those who don’t have strong enough arms to hold the weight of the motor and bin (3.6kgs) in the hand for long periods of time. It also means the HX1 can stand up on its own when in this configuration. When it comes time to do the shelves or inside the car, simply remove the suction tube, fit one of the three supplied detail attachments and you have a very decent hand vac.
The HX1’s Electrobrush Multi Floor tool is equipped with a powered brush and bright LED headlights to illuminate debris and dust in its path. It works stupendously well on both carpets and hard floors and will even recognise the type of flooring it’s on and switch brush power accordingly.
It comes with three levels of suction: the most powerful setting is way too powerful for most standard cleaning duties and besides, it will exhaust the battery in about 17 minutes. We found it performed best when used on the medium setting which gave us around 60 minutes of cleaning time.
Being of Miele origin, you can bet this vac will go on running for years. Yes, it’s pricy but it’s also superbly built, and it performed all tasks we threw in its way with consummate aplomb.