Why use cordless vacuum cleaners?
Cordless vacuums differ only from traditional vacuums in that they are powered by batteries rather than by connection to an electrical outlet. However, this can make a huge difference in the time it takes to clean your home since it removes the need to unwind a cord, plug in and unplug the vacuum every time you change rooms, and rewind the cord when you’re finished. Without a cord to navigate around while vacuuming, you can maneuver the vacuum more easily and not worry about tripping over the cord. Plus, without a cord, it is possible to vacuum spots in your home that are far away from an outlet or even to bring your vacuum outside to use on your patio or car interior.
There are different types of vacuum cleaners in terms of their shape and design. Let’s see how they differ and what pros and cons there are.
When most people think of a typical vacuum cleaner, they think of what is known as an upright vacuum. These vacuums have the wand and suction unit integrated into a single standing vacuum. Upright vacuums offer a relatively large amount of suction power that is perfect for picking up hair and crumbs from rugs as well as hard flooring since they typically have a large roller head with brushes and many offer a removable suction hose. Although upright vacuums can be bulky, they tend to be the vacuum type of choice because of their versatility and suction power.
Stick vacuums are similar to upright vacuums but are designed with compactness and light weight in mind. These vacuums can be a great choice for people with very small homes, but stick vacuums are severely limited by suction power even on hardwood flooring.
Canister vacuums, on the other hand, separate the suction unit from the vacuum wand. Canister vacuums are typically smaller than upright vacuums and the wand is able to penetrate into harder-to-reach places, so they can be preferable to upright vacuums for people with small homes and little storage space. However, they lack the suction power needed to pick up litter from rug floors. Canister vacuums also require you to frequently bend down and pull the canister along with you as you vacuum.
Bagged or bagless?
Choosing between bagged and bagless vacuums is another big decision you’ll have to make. All of our top 15 cordless vacuums are bagless because of the convenience and ease of use. Bagless vacuums simply pull the debris into a canister, which can then be cleaned by simply ejecting the canister off the vacuum body and shaking it out into the trash. Some bagless vacuums even offer an easy eject button on the canister to reduce the chance of transferring dust into the air when cleaning out the canister. Although many canisters that have filters that must be replaced on occasion, they typically work without changing out parts every use.
Bagged vacuums, on the other hand, use a liner bag inside the debris collection area of the vacuum. Bagged vacuums tend to offer a larger capacity than bagless vacuums, but this is offset for many people by the need to replace the bag with every use of the vacuum – meaning you have to have a ready supply of spare bags in order to use the vacuum.
The battery is one of the most important features on a cordless vacuum, since it determines how long you can use your vacuum for and how long you have to wait between uses. Cordless vacuum batteries last anywhere from 20 minutes to nearly an hour on a single charge but can take several hours or more to recharge depending on the size of the battery – so you will likely want to choose a vacuum with a battery that is certain to last for the duration of cleaning your entire house at once. Most batteries currently used on cordless vacuums are lithium-ion batteries, which are relatively durable and safe compared to traditional alkaline batteries.
Another important consideration is how the battery is charged. Many cordless vacuums include an integrated battery, so the entire vacuum must be docked on a charging station that is plugged into a wall outlet. In this case, there is also no possibility of easily swapping out the battery for a fresh battery. Some vacuums are designed for the battery to be removed and charged separately from the vacuum, which enables you to purchase a second battery to keep vacuuming if you have a large cleaning job to finish.
Suction power is obviously critical to a vacuum’s usefulness, but it can be a tricky performance factor to measure. More wattage does not necessarily mean more suction – instead, look for information about a vacuum’s water lift and airflow capacities, which describe how powerfully and quickly air moves through the vacuum. Suction power also depends in part on the ability of the brush head to loosen debris, particularly on rug floors, and on the size of the head opening.
Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to increase the suction power of a new vacuum. However, you can maintain the maximum suction power over time by cleaning out the canister, filters, and brush heads on occasion.
How much canister or bag space a vacuum has to store the collected debris will determine how often you need to stop vacuuming in order to empty it into the trash. Smaller, lighter vacuums will typically have a smaller capacity than larger vacuums, although this is often not a deciding factor in choosing a cordless vacuum.
Filtration systems are critical to the functioning of a vacuum both because they keep dust from being lifted into the air and because a clogged filter can greatly reduce suction power. The majority of cordless vacuums use replaceable HEPA filters, which are cheap and easy to swap out when the filter becomes clogged with dust. However, some vacuums have begun appearing with washable filters – although this can require more work on your part, you will always have easy access to a clean filter when you need it. If you are particularly sensitive to airborne dust, some vacuums are designed with multi-stage or cyclonic filtration systems that are extremely effective at removing dust, but may also be more prone to mechanical issues than simple replaceable filters.
Cordless vacuums come in everything from lightweight stick designs to heavy-duty units. If weight is a concern, a stick vacuum that boasts top-of-the-line suction power may be a good option for you. Canister vacuums also offer a very lightweight wand, although the canister itself will weigh significantly more.
Noise can be an important consideration for many people – after all, your vacuum shouldn’t wake up the neighbors. Thankfully, cordless vacuums tend to employ newer, quieter suctioning technology than their counterparts from previous decades. Vacuum noise tends to increase with suction power, so consider this trade-off when thinking about how much noise you are willing to tolerate from your vacuum.
Accessories and attachments
Most vacuums come with several attachments that can be swapped out for the standard vacuum head in order to clean in tight crevices or on surfaces other than the floor. While these accessories are not essential, consider whether they will fit any of the spaces in your home that you know will need cleaning. Although some vacuums will fit after-market accessories from the same manufacturer, the attachment points are not universal across vacuums, especially those from different manufacturers. In addition, consider whether the vacuum has a mechanism for holding the attachments on the handle so that they are available as you need them – having to dig through the closet to find an attachment can be a major barrier to actually using it, especially when vacuum battery life is at a premium.
While vacuums aren’t typically associated with injuries, they do involve fast moving parts that can cause damage as well as electricity. Check whether vacuum heads and suction units are fully encased, as well as whether the vacuum will automatically shut off when the canister is opened.
When it comes to buying and using your cordless vacuum, there are several important tips to keep in mind.
First, it’s important to think about the types of floors that you have throughout your house. Vacuums that are designed for deep-cleaning hair and dust out of carpets aren’t necessarily suitable for hard floors, and can even scratch hardwood flooring if there is no way to turn off the brushroll. If you have mostly hard flooring and pets that shed a lot of hair, on the other hand, you may need to prioritize a vacuum that won’t get tangled up with hair and that offers a relatively large dust bin.
The second thing to keep in mind when choosing a vacuum and when vacuuming is that you may need to move furniture around. Even stick vacuums that allow you to get deep under furniture can’t get everything, and debris tends to travel and spread out once you’ve cleaned. So, take the time to move furniture out of the way whenever you’re doing a big cleaning job.
Finally, remember that even the best and most powerful vacuums may not be able to get every bit of dust and debris on the first pass – especially if you’re vacuuming carpeted floors. It’s well worth running your vacuum over the floor twice or more to make sure everything has been suctioned up. Keep in mind that you’ll need extra battery life to do this, or you may run out of battery before you make it through the entire house.
Vacuum prices, especially for newer cordless vacuum models, can range very widely. For example, the Deik 2-in-1 Cordless Vacuum is priced at under $100, but compromises significantly on features and design quality. On the other hand, while the Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute is a powerful vacuum with incredible performance, it costs more than $500 – more than many people have in their budgets for a new vacuum. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of excellent cordless vacuums in the $100–$300 range, and many of these are less than $200.