Best Stick Vacuums for $150 or Less

Consumer Reports' ratings show that you don't have to spend a lot to get a solid performer

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Dirt Devil Stick vacuum Consumer Reports

Stick vacuums can’t achieve the deep cleaning of a full-sized upright or canister vacuum, but they're a perfectly good choice for smaller jobs and can help you maintain dirt-free floors between cleanings.

But some boast prices of more than $500, and you may not want to pay top dollar for one that serves as your secondary vacuum.

Consumer Reports paid $800 for the most expensive stick vacuum in our vacuum tests: The Dyson V11 Outsize knocks it out of the park on our primary cleaning tests. But for that amount of money, you can buy an impressive stick vacuum for every room of your house. In fact, some high-performing models from our tests cost $150 or less.

Though stick vacs might be better suited for simple messes, we don’t go easy on them in our lab. We evaluate how well stick vacs pick up sand, rice, and cereal from our test carpet.

In our bare-floor cleaning test, we scatter debris on a tiled floor with grout grooves, which increases the difficulty. 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 dust back into the just-cleaned room.

CR’s Overall Score for each model incorporates results of each of these performance tests and ratings for brand reliability and owner satisfaction, based on CR's exclusive member survey. Currently, no cordless models earn a CR recommendation, due to iffy reliability and/or lackluster performance. (Read "The Problem With Cordless Stick Vacuums? The Battery." for more details.)

Here are the best stick vacuums from our tests that cost $150 or less, listed in alphabetical (not rank) order. For more on vacuums—including more stick vacuums, as well as canisters, uprights, handhelds, and robotics—see our vacuum buying guide and complete vacuum ratings.

CR’s take: The basic, corded Bissell Pet Hair Eraser lives up to its name by acing CR's pet-hair tests but struggles to contain fine dust particles, earning a Poor rating on our clean-emissions test. A sizeable dirt bin cuts down on the number of trips you make to the trash can. The 27-foot-long power cord is a bit shorter than the standard 30 feet but long enough so that you don't have to keep changing outlets as you move around the house. At a little more than 9 pounds, this vacuum is on the heavier side for a stick vac. In our reliability ratings, Bissell corded vacuums earn a Very Good rating for predicted reliability and an average of Good for owner satisfaction.

CR’s take: The well-priced slim Dirt Devil Power Stick SD12530 is no slouch when it comes to cleaning carpet and bare floors, and picking up pet hair, earning an Excellent rating in all three tasks. The corded model gracefully glides along edges, picking up dust as it goes, and it operates quietly. But its emissions aren’t as clean as some of the other stick vacuums we’ve tested, something to keep in mind if anyone in your household suffers from allergies. Based on data from our member survey, Dirt Devil earns a Very Good rating for predicted reliability but only a Fair for owner satisfaction.

CR's take: In our tests, the quiet, self-standing Dirt Devil Power Swerve BD22050 picked up pet hair with no problem, earning an Excellent rating on that test. It's lightweight and has a large dirt bin and a brush on/off switch so that the rotating brush can be shut off for use on bare floors to avoid scattering debris. It cleans carpet well but isn't as impressive on bare floors or along edges. And it gets a below-average rating for emissions, so this is a model to avoid if anyone in your family has allergies. This basic model doesn’t convert to a hand vac or come with attachments.

CR’s take: Though its list price is a bit more than the corded Dirt Devil Power Stick, the cordless Dirt Devil Reach Max Plus BD22510PC delivers on bare-floor and carpet cleaning. It earns an Excellent rating for its pet-hair pickup, leaving little fur behind on a grooved tile floor in our tests. One major downside: Our technicians say this model struggles with edge cleaning, meaning it leaves more debris along walls than other vacuums on this list. And it scores our lowest rating, a Poor, on our clean-emissions test.

CR’s take: The cordless Hoover Platinum LiNX BH50010 is a wonder at cleaning along edges, earning an Excellent rating for its ability to pick up almost all debris along the walls in our test chamber. So if you need to get into tight spaces or have long corridors that tend to gather dust, this model is worth a look. The Hoover also excels at picking up pet hair, and does a workmanlike job on carpet and bare floors, so you can pull it out to clean all these surfaces. Based on data from our member survey, Hoover cordless stick vacs earn an average Good rating for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

CR's take: If you have bare floors and a pet, the Kenmore CSV Go 10438 will do fine because it aces both of those tests. But like many stick vacuums, it doesn't do as well on carpeting. At less than 5 pounds, it’s lightweight, and it has a handy multicolored LCD battery indicator so that you can see how much vacuuming time you have left. Emissions are clean, and this vacuum operates quietly, earning an Excellent rating on our noise test.

CR’s take: The cordless Shark Navigator Freestyle SV1106 is a good choice for homes with carpeting and pets; it earns an Excellent rating on both of those tests. It’s not as impressive at cleaning bare floors and getting grit out of the edges, but you’ll appreciate its quiet operation and clean emissions. Shark cordless vacuums earn only a Fair rating in predicted reliability but an Excellent rating in owner satisfaction.

Mary H.J. Farrell

Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.