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Shark makes one of the best stick vacuums

Best Stick Vacuums for Busy Households

These standouts will please even the fussiest neat freaks

There’s a reason stick vacuums are one the fastest growing products in floor care. The lightweight machines are a convenient alternative to full-sized vacuums, especially when it comes to the routine cleaning required in homes with pets, kids, and other mess-makers. What’s more, the cleaning power of our top-performing stick vacuums continues to improve, and many are competitively priced, making them a great gift item, especially for yourself.

As impressed as we are with today’s stick vacuums, they’re still not ready to be the only vacuum in most homes, despite claims by manufacturers (“A faster and easier way to vacuum your entire home,” says Bissell. “Powerful suction on carpets and floors with incredible power and versatility,” says Shark). That’s because the deep carpet cleaning you get from a standout upright vacuum is so much better. But as a supplemental cleaner, these stick vacuums should do the job.

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Best of the Best
Dyson V8 Absolute

Dyson V8 Absolute

Let’s acknowledge right out of the gate that $600 is a lot to spend on any vacuum, let alone a stick vacuum. But if price isn't a concern, you can't do better than this battery-powered Dyson, which soared to the top of our ratings after scoring an excellent in each of our tough performance tests. It’s also exceptionally quiet and loaded with features, including a soft roller cleaner head that’s gentle on hardwood floors and a quick-release dust bin. Last, the Dyson V8’s average run time of 21 minutes is the longest among all lightweight stick vacuums on our top picks list. 

    Maximum Value
    Bissell Air Ram 1984

    Bissell Air Ram 1984

    The Dyson V8’s stiffest competition comes from the newly tested Bissell Air Ram 1984. Only a couple overall points separate the two models, which is all the more impressive given that the Bissell sells for about a third of the price. It’s a heftier machine, weighing just under 8 pounds, compared with the 5.6-pound Dyson. It also doesn’t convert into a detachable hand vacuum, the way many other stick vacuums do. But it’s tough to beat the Bissell’s combination of value and performance.

      Corded Champ
      Shark Rocket Complete with DuoClean HV380

      Shark Rocket Complete with...

      This Shark is tops among corded stick vacuums, a category that trades limitless run time for the convenience of cordless maneuverability. Our testers were extremely impressed with the latest from Shark’s Rocket series, starting with the dual brush roll, with both a bristle-brush and soft-brush roll that helped the vacuum excel in our carpet, bare floor, and pet hair tests. It’s also loaded with convenience features, including a large dirt chamber that can be emptied with just one step and a quick-release foot pedal that converts the vacuum from floor to vertical cleaning, such as for curtains or cobwebs hiding in the corners of the ceiling.                      

        Still a Dyson
        Dyson V6 Cord-Free

        Dyson V6 Cord-Free

        Though still pricey for the stick vacuum category, the last-generation Dyson V6 offers superb cleaning on carpets and bare floors alike for about half as much as the Dyson V8. The V6 is quite a bit noisier than the V8, given the absence of motor enhancements, like streamlined airways that reduce turbulence around the control board. And it’s lacking a few add-ons, such as the soft roller cleaner head and mini motorized tool. But this is still a stick vacuum from the brand leader for performance in the lightweight category.    

          Biggest Bargain
          Dirt Devil Accucharge BD20035RED

          Dirt Devil Accucharge BD20035RED

          If you’re on a budget, this battery-powered Dirt Devil is the way to go. It’s not in the same league as Dyson and Shark, but for the incredible value it still delivers solid cleaning performance, especially across bare floors. We’re picturing an apartment dweller in a pet-free building, perhaps, or that rare college student who is fastidious about his or her dorm room floors. The Dirt Devil scores superbly for noise, so in both of those scenarios the neighbors will also appreciate your choice.      

            Corded Value
            Bissell Trilogy 1683

            Bissell Trilogy 1683

            The Bissell Trilogy is one of the best bargains in the corded stick vacuum category. It’s particularly adept at picking up dirt and dust from bare floors, though it struggled in our emissions test. The motor on this model is located up near the handle, which might make it a little top heavy for people with limited arm strength. However, it does convert to a hand vacuum, offering improved maneuverability in certain cleaning situations, for example removing pet hair from Fido’s favorite sofa cushion.                

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              Daniel DiClerico

              I've written about remodeling and home products for 17 years. When I'm not covering the subjects for work, I’m putting the knowledge to use on the renovation of a Brooklyn brownstone, where I live with my wife and kids. You can also find me most weeks on the soccer field.