Convenient, manoeuvrable and safer than their mains-powered forebears, cordless vacuum cleaners are humanity’s best solution yet for removing detritus from our homes.
Cordless vacuums usually run off lithium-ion batteries, which can be recharged from the mains after their energy has been discharged to power the vacuum cleaner. Typically, the lithium-ion batteries used with cordless vacs take 2-3 hours to charge. They usually support up to 30-60 mins runtime – although they’ll conk out faster if the vacuum is used on a high power setting.
How to choose the right cordless vacuum
When choosing a cordless vac to buy, think carefully about the runtime you require. If you have a relatively small home or can clean quickly, a powerful cordless vac with low runtime might do the trick. If you have a larger home or like to take your time on cleaning tasks, you’ll probably fare better with a model with longer runtime (though these tend to be more expensive).
One advantage mains-powered vacuums still hold over cordless models is that they can clean powerfully until their tank or bag is full, without the need to recharge during use. For this reason, professional cleaners or those with very large properties may still be best-off using a corded vacuum cleaner.
Most cordless vacuum cleaners can be used as either a stick/floor vacuum, or a hand vacuum suitable for use inside vehicles and other tight spaces. A few exceptions cannot be used as a hand vacuum, including one of the appliances reviewed in this article, the Vorwerk Kobold VB100.
Tanks or bags?
Some cordless vacs have in-built dust tanks which can be emptied and reused throughout the life of the appliance, while others use bags which must be disposed of and replaced once full. Dust tanks tend to be the more cost-effective and eco-friendly option, while dust bags can be more hygienic when it comes to emptying the vacuum. We’ve included both appliances with dust bags and ones with dust tanks in our review roundup.
Dyson V11 Absolute Cordless Vacuum Cleanerâ
Charge time: 4 hrs, 30 minsBattery time: up to 60 minsBag or tank: tankCapacity: 0.76LWeight: 3.05kg
How good do you need your cordless vacuum cleaner to be?
If you answered ‘exceptional’ or better, the Dyson V11 Absolute could be the one for you. In our view, this is the most effective cordless vac out there, requiring only one pass to pick up the vast majority of visible detritus.
The attachments are excellent, down to the finest details. For example, the spherical joint that attaches the main floor head to the stick massively helps with manoeuvrability. We also like the LCD display on the butt of the hoover, which counts down the minutes and seconds of battery life remaining.
More Dyson cordless vacuums:
ROIDMI X20 Cordless Vacuum Cleanerâ
Charge time: 2 hrs, 30 minsBattery time: up to 1 hr, 5 minsBag or tank: tankCapacity: 0.4LWeight: 1.5kg
Chinese maker ROIDMI has rewritten the cordless vacuum rulebook with the innovative, high-performing X20.
Above all, we love this vacuum’s design. Its components are aesthetically pleasing, comfortable to handle, and strongly built with stout, matte-textured metal and plastic. It’s easy to switch between attachments – all of which work brilliantly – with a press of a button.
The X20 has some remarkable features that mark it out from the crowd. Perhaps the most interesting is the magnetic mop box that can be fitted into the floor head, which enables the appliance to lightly mop the floor as it hoovers. If you’re ever undecided on which to do first, mop or vac, here’s your answer: do both at once. Another highlight is the magnetic wall charging mount, which we rate as an excellent solution for neatly storing the main body of the appliance.
One minor downside to the X20 is that it seems a little noisier than some competitors like the Halo Capsule. However, we’d venture that it also demonstrates a corresponding leap in power and quality.
Bosch Serie 8 Unlimited BCS122GBâ
Charge time: up to 1 hourBattery time: up to 1 hourBag or tank: tankCapacity: 0.4LWeight: 2.9kg
One of the stars of the Bosch Serie range, the Serie 8 Unlimited offers a brilliant balance of cleaning performance and ease of use. It comfortably ranks among the lightest cordless vacuums of its calibur, and the batteries (there are two included) charge up remarkably fast.
When you’re comparing cordless vacuums costing around the £500 mark, like this one, good performance should be a given. The really important differences lie in the experience-enhancing details of the design – and the Serie 8 Unlimited has plenty of these. We were particularly impressed with the design of the Pure Air filter inside the tank. You simply have to rotate the filter to remove most of the dirt from it, which makes cleaning it a great deal easier.
Also available atAmazon (£279)
Bosch Unlimited Serie 6 Cordless Vacuum Cleanerâ
Charge time: 4 hrsBattery time: up to 30 mins per battery (2 batteries included)Bag or tank: tankCapacity: 0.3LWeight: 2.4kg
The Serie 6 is both highly effective and a total pleasure to use. The head is very mobile, perhaps second only to the Dyson V11 Absolute in this regard.
It’s a very compact machine, perfect for users with limited space at home. This does come at a cost to the dust tank’s capacity, which is one of the lowest we’ve encountered, at 0.3L.
If you’re looking for a high-quality, user-friendly cordless vac that won’t break the bank, and which simply does the basics well, the Bosch Unlimited Serie 6 would be a fine choice.
Also available at Amazon (£273)
Shark IZ251UKT Cordless Vacuum with Anti Hair Wrap
Charge time: 3.5 hrsBattery time: up to 80 mins (two batteries)Bag or tank: tankCapacity: 0.4LWeight: 4.1kg
We’re really impressed with the Shark IZ251UKT. First and foremost, it’s really effective, with two cleaning settings offering sufficient power for picking up dirt from hard floors or carpets. The vacuum comes with a veritable smorgasbord of accessories, including an anti-allergen dusting brush, and a motorised pet tool that seems great at working pet hairs out of deep rugs and carpet.
The latter feature proved a godsend for our cat-owning reviewer, as did the anti wrap feature on the floor head, which makes it easier to remove hair from the brush roller after use. Interestingly, this vacuum cleaner comes with two interchangeable lithium-ion batteries, which offer up to 80 minutes of runtime between them on a single charge.
We found that this system made it especially easy to ensure at least one battery was well charged at any time.
Also available at Currys (£479)
Vax ONEPWR Blade 4â Cordless Vacuum Cleanerâ
Charge time: 3 hrs Battery time: up to 45 mins Bag or tank: tank Capacity: 0.6L Weight: 3.1kg
The Vax Blade 4 is the successor to a classic reasonably-priced cordless vacuum: the Vax Blade 2. The new model is much like the original; the one big difference is that it comes with a lithium-ion battery that can also be used with other products from the ONEPWR range. This could come in handy if you’d also like to use a Vax hard floor cleaner or carpet and upholstery cleaner.
We found the Blade 4 easy-to-use, effective at picking up dirt and pet hairs, easy to put together and easy to empty. Its nimble profile and deft attachments make this vacuum ideal for picking up dust from hard to reach places.
Also available at Argos (£219.99)
Bissell 2602B Icon 25V Cordless Vacuum
Charge time: 4 hrs Battery time: up to 50 mins Bag or tank: tank Capacity: 0.4L Weight: 3.18kg
The Bissell 2602B Icon is a powerful, versatile cordless vac with cleaning performance to rival the best. It really does look quite iconic, with a sleek design and eye-catching blue/aqua detailing.
In our testing, this vacuum proved capable of picking up all sorts of detritus, including crumbs, pet hair and small pieces of rubble. We found the upholstery nozzle attachment especially useful for lifting dust from fabrics.
One drawback to the B2602B Icon is its charge time – a relatively lengthy 4 hours. We reckon this is probably a fair trade-off for the considerable suction power enabled by the vacuum’s 25V battery, which far outstrips most of the other vacs we’ve tested.
Halo Capsule Cordless Vacuum Cleanerâ
Charge time: 3 hoursBattery time: up to 60 minsBag or tank: bagCapacity: 1.6LWeight: 2.6kg
The Halo Capsule is touted as the first cordless vacuum cleaner to be made almost entirely of carbon fibre composite – a material known for being both light and tough. These are useful properties to have in a vacuum cleaner like the Capsule, which feels sturdy despite weighing just 2.6kg.
We found the Capsule highly effective at picking up crumbs, rubble, hairs and other unloved things off a variety of surfaces including stone flooring, concrete, carpet and upholstery. It is sometimes necessary to use the highest setting – which does sap the battery relatively quickly – to pick up heavier or ground-in detritus.
When using the Capsule, place one hand beneath the cylinder to support it. Despite the fact it weighs so little, the leverage at play means you’d still need to be hard as nails to use it one-handed.
Also available atAmazon (£399.99)
Ryobi R18HVF-0 one+ Cordless Hand Vac Floor Care Kit, 18V
Charge time: Varies depending on battery usedBattery time: Varies depending on battery usedBag or tank: tankCapacity: 0.5LWeight: 2.16kg
This wallet-friendly hand vac from Ryobi doubles up as a stick vacuum, sufficiently powerful for cleaning up after odd jobs around the house. It effectively picked up dust, hair, crumbs, chips of stone and some scraps of tinsel left over from Christmas.
We wouldn’t recommend this as a stick vacuum for tall users, as the stick attachment was too short to allow our reviewer (6 ft 3, lamentably inflexible) to stand up straight. If you’re of suitable stature, you’ll find the stick and roller are very nice to use, capable of gliding smoothly over the floor.
Used as a hand vac, the R18HVF is ideal for hoovering the car, the stairs, and other awkwardly dimensioned places.
All things considered, we’d recommend this as a thrifty option to use specifically for cleaning up after DIY, but not as an ideal go-to vacuum cleaner for routine house-cleaning. If you already own other products in the Ryobi ONE+ system, the R18HVF could be a savvy addition.
Swan – PowerPlush Turbo Cordless Vacuum Cleanerâ
Charge time: 3 hrs, 30 minsBattery time: up to 22 minsBag or tank: tankCapacity: 0.5LWeight: 2.4kg
The PowerPlush Turbo is a really quiet operator – far easier on the ears than the likes of the ROIDMI X20 and VAX Blade 2 Max.
We found this vac very effective at picking up chips of stone (we’d been doing some DIY) and hair from upholstery, catching all the particles in the brush head. The flexibility of the head was a great help when vacuuming around corners.
In terms of hoovering performance, we rate the PowerPlush Turbo very highly. The only areas where it lags a few of its pricier competitors are the robustness of some of the accessories – such as the stand, which feels a little on the flimsy side – and runtime, which maxes out around 22 minutes. That said, this appliance ticks all the most important boxes in terms of usability and results, and the vacuum itself seems very well-made.
Lightweight, easy-to-handle and great at picking up all kinds of detritus, the PowerPlush Turbo proves you can get an excellent cordless vac for a relatively modest price.
Vorwerk Kobold VB100 Cordless Vacuum Cleanerâ
Charge time: 3 hrsBattery time: up to 80 minsBag or tank: bagCapacity: 0.8LWeight: 3kg
The stunning Vorwerk VB100 looks a bit like an elegant robot dolphin. The design is as effective as it is visually arresting – narrow enough to fit the vacuum into tight spaces, but with capacity to support an impressively roomy dust bag (cap: 0.8L). The handle is the comfiest we’ve encountered on a cordless vac.
We found this vacuum cleaner highly effective at picking up hair, dirt, fluff, and even some dry leaves that had been carried into the hallway on some barbarous guest’s unwiped shoe.
The VB100 has three power modes, with High offering much the best results. The 2-in-1 nozzle for above-floor cleaning, which has bristles along its sides, is extremely good at loosening stubborn dirt from corners and crevices.
This is one of the heaviest cordless vacs we’ve reviewed, and so may not be best-suited to those who struggle with physical exertion. It’s a bit dear, too.
Miele Triflex HX1 Cat & Dogâ Cordless Vacuum Cleanerâ
Charge time: 4 hrsBattery time: up to 60 minsBag or tank: tankCapacity: 0.5LWeight: 3.6kg
New for 2020, the Triflex is Miele’s first-ever cordless handstick vacuum cleaner. It can also be used as a handheld or upright vac, offering outstanding performance in each of the three configurations. We found this vacuum to be every bit as flexible as its name suggests, with slender attachments and the best manoeuvrability we’ve encountered in a cordless vac.
The head attachments run incredibly smoothly along hard and soft floors. Another major strength of the Triflex HX1 is how it sounds. From the lowest setting to the highest, it seems quieter and gentler in timbre than any other vacuum we’ve tested.
Also available atJohn Lewis (£579)
Vax ONEPWR Glide Cordless Hard Floor/Multifloor Cleanerâ
Charge time: 3 hrsBattery time: 30 minsBag or tank: tankCapacity: 0.63LWeight: 4.9kg
Here’s something a little bit different. The ONEPWR Glide is a hard floor cleaner first and foremost, but can also do a decent job as a regular vac. It picks up dust and dirt while washing the floor with a cleaning solution, effectively solving two household problems in one stroke. We had a go at using the Glide to clean up a load of spilt cereal. It picked up both milk and muesli with ease.
The machine dries as it goes, so it won’t leave you with sodden floors. Perhaps our favourite thing about the Glide is its self-clean system: you simply stand the machine in its tray and set the roller spinning to remove most of the dirt you’ve picked up. The one big drawback to this appliance is that there’s no attachment to pick up dirt from tight spaces.
We would recommend using the Glide as a companion to a hand vac, if you have a busy household with large floors to clean. Those working with smaller spaces should look elsewhere.
After long and careful testing, we’ve decided to name the Dyson V11 Absolute our ES Best Top Pick. This sophisticated vac has the best cleaning performance we’ve encountered in a cordless vacuum cleaner, and the design of the product and its control interface is delightfully Space Age. The only real issue is that the vacuum is a little heavy – but it’s still far lighter than many corded alternatives.