What’s light, thin, and requires regular charging? No, the answer isn't the latest smartphones but rather cordless stick vacuums. You know, those battery-operated, lightweight, and versatile cleaning appliances that are growing in popularity. According to the marketing research firm Gap Intelligence, more than 100 different cordless stick vacuums are currently on sale at major retailers compared with less than 40 corded stick vacuums.

“In the past few years, stick vacuum suction has gotten a lot stronger, especially in battery-powered stick vacuums,” says Frank Rizzi, a senior Consumer Reports test-lab engineer who tests vacuums. “If you don’t have wall-to-wall carpet, these machines can do a lot of cleaning.”

Runtime for cordless stick vacuums varies widely. In Consumer Reports’ tests, some stick vacs lost power in as little as 15 minutes, while others ran for 47 minutes. Some manufacturers provide an extra battery with their cordless stick vacuums so you can have one charging while you’re cleaning with the other.

Consumer Reports has tested dozens of stick vacuums from such brands as Bissell, Black+Decker, Shark, Dirt Devil, Hoover, and Dyson.

How We Test Stick Vacuums

Because stick vacuums don't have the same deep-carpet cleaning capability as full-sized models, CR conducts a carpet surface cleaning test, evaluating how well the machines pick up sand, rice, and cereal within a certain amount of time. (In the more challenging embedded-dirt test for full-sized vacuums, our engineers try to clean up sand that's been ground into pile carpet.)

More on Vacuums

In our bare-floor cleaning test for cordless stick vacuums, we scatter litter on a tiled floor with grout grooves, which increases the difficulty of the test. We also conduct a pet-hair removal test on medium-pile carpet as well as a clean emissions test to see whether a vacuum is releasing the dust that you just sucked up.

Here are the best cordless stick vacuums from CR’s tests listed in alphabetical order.

Time to Cut the Cord

Bissell Air Ram 1984
Price: $200
CR’s take: For an affordable price, like others on this list, you get a top-notch and self-standing cordless stick vacuum. The Bissell Air Ram 1984 scores an Excellent rating on our carpet cleaning test and is just as good at bare floors. It has the longest runtime among the cordless vacuums in our labs with a charge that lasts 47 minutes. Even though it's a basic model, the Bissell Air Ram has held its place near the top of our ratings for some time. But unlike other stick vacs, it doesn’t convert to a hand vacuum or come with any accessories, it’s just a stick vac. 

Black+Decker Smartech HSVJ520JMBF27
Price: $200
CR’s take: Though not as impressive overall as the Bissell Air Ram, the Black+Decker Smartech is impressive at cleaning bare floors and Excellent at suctioning up pet hair, but not quite as good at cleaning carpet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do as well removing dirt from around the edges of a room. On the plus side, this vacuum has a convertible hand vacuum for getting into tight spaces, and a swiveling powerhead to help you easily maneuver around furniture. At 20 minutes, the battery life is shorter than that of some of the other models we tested so you’ll have to be quick at cleaning.

Dirt Devil Reach Max Plus BD22510PC
Price: $130
CR’s take: At this price, and we've seen it on sale for even less, the Dirt Devil Reach Max Plus is packed with cleaning power. In fact, it aces every one of our tests—carpet, bare floors, and earns an Excellent rating for pet hair. Plus it's whisper quiet. It's only so-so on edges, however. Runtime is 19 minutes and it takes three hours to recharge. At 6.3 pounds it’s easy to maneuver and the swivel head helps when you’re vacuuming around furniture. The Dirt Devil converts to a hand vac and comes with an electric-powered brush and a crevice tool for deeper cleaning.

Dyson V6 Motorhead
Price: $400
CR’s take: At 4.9 pounds, the Dyson V6 Motorhead is on the lighter side of cordless stick vacuums, making it more portable, though not as powerful as those that weigh more than 6 pounds. It does well on carpet and bare floors and is Excellent at picking up pet hair. The Dyson’s dirt bin features one-step emptying, which speeds up the process, and its size is perfect for maneuvering around furniture. It comes with a wall mount for easy storing. One major drawback: When running in max mode, the battery life is only 7.5 minutes.

Hoover React Whole Home Advantage BH53210
Price: $250
CR’s take: Pet hair, bare floors, and edge-cleaning tests were no problem for the Hoover React but it earns a Very Good rating (not top-notch) on carpet. And when we emptied the bin, the React released a lot of the dust it had just picked up. The dirt bin is also difficult to open because the release mechanism is balky. On the plus side, storage is convenient. The React comes with a wall mount to help keep your closet uncluttered.

Shark IonFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light IF201
Price: $370
CR’s take: While it’s called ultra-light, the Shark IonFlex weighs 8.7 pounds, which is average for models in our cordless stick vacuums 6 pounds and over but several pounds heavier than the truly lightweight models in our tests. This well-rated Shark cleans up pet hair like a champ, earning an Excellent rating on that test. And like the top-performing corded SharkFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded HV391, $300, it has two cleaning speeds and converts to a hand vacuum when you need to get into tight spaces. Unfortunately, you can’t remove the brush roll for cleaning, so you’ll need scissors to cut away strands of hair and fur. The lithium-ion battery runs an average of 15 minutes when fully charged, on the skimpy side. But unlike some stick vacs, you can vacuum at any speed without sacrificing runtime.