Best Cordless Vacuums For Hardwood Floors, Carpet, and Pet Hair

The first time I told my husband that I wanted a cordless stick vacuum he rolled his eyes and told me that there was no way he was buying another carpet cleaning gadget.

I ended up buying one anyway and guess who uses it more than our full size Dyson ball vacuum now?

That’s right, my husband does.

He wasn’t quick to admit it but he loves how much easier our cordless Dyson is to use while still sweeping piles of pet hair and dander out of our carpet.

Before choosing the the Dyson I agonized over which one to buy and did hours of research by pouring over counteless stick vacuum reviews. I learned that some cordless models work better on hardwood or tile while others do a better job on carpet or handle pet hair better. This chart breaks down the basics.

Top Picks It's Best For
Bissell airRam Area Rugs and Bare Floors
Dyson V6 Low Pile Carpeting
Hoover Linx High Pile Carpeting
Dyson V7 Motorhead Pet Hair

Let’s get into some more details about what I learned and then I’ll explain why I chose to buy a Dyson.

Best Cordless Vacuum For Carpet

Some cordless vacuums are better than others depending on the type of rug you have. I’m going to ask you a couple quick questions and then I’ll be able to help you make a better recomendation.

Do you have wall to wall carpeting or an area rug?

If you have wall to wall carpeting you’ll want a vacuum that is designed to suck up debri that is against the wall. Some stick vacs are absolutely terrible at this and others are great.

Do you have a plush carpet or one with a medium to low (12” or lower) pile?

A visual comparison of low pile and plush carpeting.

If your carpet or rug has a pile that is anything higher than 12” you don’t want a vacuum that will beat it to death with a stiff bristle sweeper. This is a common problem with Dysons. They have amazing suction and the stiff bristles on the brush work great to loosen and extract dirt, but if the pile of your carpet is too high the carpet will wear out quickly and the vacuum will be hard to move because it creates a lot of friction as it tugs against high carpet pile.

Here are my specific recommendations based on your carpet type.

Wall to Wall Carpeting With A Low Pile

The key here is to get a vacuum that excels at reaching into corners. The Dyson V6 is a perfect choice. No other vacuum that I researched did a better job cleaning against walls and in corners while still doing an excellent job cleaning the carpet itself.

Dyson V6 product image.

It’s lightweight and very easy to manuever around furniture and under beds. You’ll get about 20 minutes of runtime when the battery is fully charged which is more than enough for a couple rooms.

Wall To Wall Carpeting With A High Pile

If you have a rug with a high pile your probably going to want to stear clear of Dyson’s all together. You’re going to sacrifice some cleaning performance but you don’t want to ruin your carpet or feel like your vacuum is giving you a workout. It’s a common complaint, especially with older customers, that their arm is literally sore a day after tussling with a Dyson on their high pile carpet.

You do have an excellent option in the battery operated Hoover Platinum Linx BH50010, however. It’s top notch at getting into corners and against walls while still doing a very good job cleaning carpets and bare floors too.

Benefits of the Hoover Platinum Linx BH50010

Area Rugs With Low Pile

Corners are less of a concern with area rugs and since you have a low pile carpet you can get maximum cleaning performance with a Dyson, but I have another excellent option for you that costs way less.

If you want to save a few bucks, at least $100 of them actually, compare the Bissell Air Ram 1984 to any Dyson and you’ll be shocked by how well it stands up.

The only concern is that it does a good job of sucking up debri that is against the wall instead of a great one. It does a great job with carpets and sweeping bare floors as well. If you have pets it’s one of the quietest so they are less likely to be afraid of it and it’ll take care of their fur marvelously too.

Another feature that I really like about this vacuum is that it has a run time of about 50 minutes on a full battery charge versus the 20 of your typical cordless Dyson.

If you want to see what a great job the Bissell Air Ram 1984 does watch this video. You’ll get a better idea of how much cleaning you can do with it before the battery dies and how much dirt and pet hair you can expect it to suck up.

Why We Didn’t Buy The Bissell Air Ram 1984

The Bissell is missing a feature that I really wanted and that was the ability to detach it from the stick and use it as a handvac. Our cars always seem to collect sand, stones and pet hair so we wanted the versatility of an optional handvac so we could clean the car without having to struggle with our large corded ShopVac.

If you have your heart set on a Dyson I completely understand. Area rugs with low pile are exactly what we have in our home and we splurged on a Dyson V8 Animal even though it was more than twice the price of the Bissell when we bought it.

Area Rugs With High Pile

If you have a high pile carpet or area rug I’m going to beg you not to get a Dyson. Based upon my research and experience my first recommendation is defintely going to be the Bissell Air Ram 1984.

Bissell Air Ram 1984

Not only is it downright cheap compared to a Dyson but there are a few other benefits as well.

  • It gets top marks for cleaning carpets but won’t prematurely wear them out, a common complaint with Dyson
  • It’s not hard to push across high pile carpets, another common complaint with Dyson vacuums
  • It’s lightweight and has a second handhold about half way up that makes it easier to carry
  • The battery lasts nearly fifty minutes which is 2X as long as most other cordless vacuums that perform this well
  • The handle collapses to about half it’s full height making it easier to store
  • It’s one of the quietest wireless vacuums you can buy
  • It’s stands up on its’ own which you’ll really appreciate if you ever owned a stick vac that you always had to lean against the wall or lay on the floor to answer the door or pick up something that is too big for the vacuum to suck up

Best Budget Cordless Vacuum

I’ll be the first to admit that cordless stick vacuums aren’t cheap. The lithium battery packs are a large part of the reason that they cost as much as they do, but for around $100 Dirt Devil makes the Reach Max BD22510PC. It’s the cheapest cordless vacuum we could find and if cost is your main concern it’s definitely a best buy.

Dirt Devil Reach Max Plus BD22510PC

It got excellent ratings on both carpet and hardwood surfaces but it’s suction didn’t reach deep into the corners and edges where the floor meeets the wall. This was a deal breaker for us because that’s exactly where most of the dog hair in our house ends up.

A slightly more expensive option, but nowhere near the price of a Dyson, is the Bissell Air Ram 1984. At about $170 it got top scores on both carpets and bare floors while doing a much better job of getting into corners than the Dirt Devil Reach Max.

Benefits of the budget conscious Bissell airRam 1984 cordless vaccum.

Here are a few more features of the Bissell Air Ram that make it easier to use:

  • The bin is easy to empty and has a plunger that helps push the dirt straight down so you’re less likely to end up with dirt on the floor
  • It stands up on it’s own so you don’t have to lean it against the wall or lay it on the floor like more expensive models
  • The handle telescopes so you can make it smaller and fit it into the closet
  • The battery can be removed so you can swap it out with a full charged one if it dies

Best Cordless Vacuum For Pet Hair

Our dogs being bribed to sit still for a picture using their chew toys.

Sophie and Sanne shed so much that buying a cordless vacuum that excels at picking up pet hair was a top priority.

If how well the vacuum sucks up pet hair is your biggest concern the Dyson V7 Motorhead is the most well rounded option that absolutely excels at sweeping up pet hair. We almost bought this rechargeable stick vacuum for that reason alone but there were a few drawbacks that made us concerned:

Dyson V7 Cons

  • Canister is small but easy to empty if you do it often enough
  • While very good at cleaning carpets it’s not the best
  • It’s the loudest Dyson and my dogs already hate the vacuum
  • It doesn’t filter exhaust air through a HEPA filter

Another thing that we loved about this model was that it easily converts to a hand vac if you want chase that pesky pile of pet hair in the corner or take it outside to quicky clean the car.

Related: Does your dog love to chew? Here’s a list of the best chew toys to satisfy their need to chew things to keep them from chewing furniture and woodwork around your house.

Best Cordless Vacuum For Hardwood And Tile

If you’re biggest concern is which stick vac is the best for bare floors have a look at the battery operated Dyson V8 Absolute. It’s one of the most expensive models but it performs flawlessly on hardwood and tile thanks to the included soft broom head that’s designed specifically for bare floors. It’s way more useful than just as an electric broom though because it does an excellent job cleaning carpet and getting into corners as well.

A graphic showing how versatile the Dyson V8 absolute is.

The Dyson V8 Absolute is very versatile but it excels on hardwood and tile floors thanks to the included soft broom attachment head designed specifically for bare floors.

I do have one word of caution for you, however. If you have a plush carpet or one with a high pile I found some reviews that said this vacuum was so powerful that it prematurely wore out the carpet. This wasn’t a concern for us because the only types of carpet we have in our home are a couple braided area rugs, but even on those braided rugs the vacuum creates a good amount of friction as the sweeper loosens dirt out of the carpet.

It also has two power settings, regular and turbo. The turbo setting will drain your battery in about ten minutes so it’s not meant to be used for an extended period. It’s great for a few seconds if you’ve got a stubborn pile of debri nestled into the corner or if someone dropped their cheerios and they got crushed into the rug.

It fits nicely under the sofa and bed too. It even fits in that tricky space between the refrigerator and the wall.

It’s easy to manuever up and down the stairs with it too. Not having to constantly wrestle with a bulky vacuum while working my way up the staircase is a blessing, and not having to be mindful of where the cord is at all times while doing it makes the job so much safer.

Vinyl Floors & Tiles

Vinyl is made in a few different configurations for floors. You have sheet vinyl, planks and tiles that snap together and float on the subfloor, and tiles that get stuck to a layer of thinset with grout in between just like with traditional ceramic and porcelain tiles.

Related: Discover the best features of floating vinyl plank floors.

When it comes to vacuuming them you can treat them like hardwood because that’s basically what they are as far as your vacuum is concerned.

Shark vs Dyson Cordless Vacuums For Bare Floors

When we poured over cordless vacuum reviews we somehow completely missed any of the vacuums sold by Shark. Our days of researching vacuums are behind us for now so we reached out to Sammy Dolan from Home Clean Expert to get his take on the Shark.

It turns out that one of his favorites for wood floors is the Shark IONFlex.

The Shark IONFlex being used to vacuum under a crib.

The IONFlex makes it easier to vacuum under furniture without having to bend over.

Here’s what Sammy had to say:

The Shark IONFlex was one of the best vacuums that I tested. It wasn't just as good as a Dyson on hardwood floors but in some cases it was actually better. When you consider that it costs at least 25% less than a Dyson it's hard to not at least consider buying a Shark instead.

One of my favorite features of the Shark is that the battery is designed to be easily removed. The battery is the most common part of most cordless vacuums to wear out and some models don't make it easy to access them because they don't want you to be able to easily do your own repairs. It's also handy to have an extra battery on standby for days when you want to spend a little extra time doing a more thorough cleaning job than usual.

You can read Sammy's full review of the Shark IONFlex DuoClean here.

Why We Bought The Dyson V8 Animal

The V8 Animal and the attachments it comes with.

I love my dogs but I’m allergic to their hair and dander so the most important thing for me to consider is how well it handles pet hair and dander.

We already owned a Dyson upright and after reading 100+ reviews and logging into my Consumer Reports account a couple dozen times to obsess over which wireless stick vacuum to buy, I knew that if I wanted the cleaning power of a Dyson there was no way I could buy any other brand.

Here’s a quick rundown off the features that sold me on the V8 Animal.

  • It's the best cordless vacuum for cleaning pet hair
  • The HEPA filter won't allow dust and dander to be blown back into the air
  • It pulls dirt from deep down in carpets
  • It can go from carpet to wood or tile floors withoout changing attachments
  • It's designed to pull dirt and fur out of corners and away from walls
  • You can use it in handvac mode to thoroughly and safely clean the stairs
  • It converts to a handvac so I can use it to clean the car
  • Cheaper than the Dyson V8 Absolute

It was the right decision. I chose the V8 Animal because it got top marks in every category that was important to me: pet hair, carpet, and the ability to get into corners without me having to detach the head and use it as a handvac.

As an added bonus some of the less expensive models blow fine particulates like dander and dust out of the exhaust. The V8 Animal does a great job of capturing those allergens by passinging exhaust air through a HEPA filter instead of blowing it through a cheap paper or foam filter.

In the end the decision came down to the V8 Animal versus the V8 Absolute and the V8 Animal won mostly because it was about $50 cheaper at the time. Our reasoning for choosing the cheaper V8 Animal, even though it didn’t include a soft roller for hardwood like the Absolute did, was that we weren’t sure if we would use it and you can always pick up optional attachments later.

My biggest concern was the run time since it only lasts about 20 minutes on a full charge. But I found that I spend way less time vacumming than 20 minutes now. I would always put off dragging out the upright, but picking up the stick vac is way less of a hassle so I do it more often and the job gets done much faster.

I do still use my upright and all its’ attachments for deep cleaning days when I clean the curtains, blinds, beds, couches, etc.; but for most days when I just want to quickly vacuum the floor the V8 Animal is perfect.

One word of caution; empty the bagless canister often. The motor on the Dyson is strong enough that even when the canister is jam packed the vac will still have great suction. But if the canister is packed nothing falls out on its’ own when I open it and I have to start pulling stuff out with my hands. If you empty the canister when it’s a little less than 34 full you can avoid dirty fingers.

Why We Aren’t Upgrading To The V10

The biggest advantage of buying a Dyson V10 versus a V8 is the battery life. The newer V10 runs for 50% longer on a full charge but we already spent hundreds of dollars on the V8. If the V10 was available when we were in the market for a rechargeable stick vac we defintely would have bough it.

But now that the V10’s are out the price of the V8 has come down substantially, so it’s still worth considering if you’re buying your first cordless vacuum. Maybe when the next generation of Dyson stick vacs comes out we will upgrade to the V10 as soon as the price drops. One of the benefits of owning a Dyson is that used ones are in high demand so you can sell it on eBay to help cover the cost of an upgrade.

Where To Find The Best Sales On Cordless Vacuums

You’ve probably already checked the prices on Amazon so I’m not going to recommend that to you. One store that people constantly forget to check is Bed Bath & Beyond. They regularly have good sales and even at full price they are cheaper than Amazon if you apply the 20% off coupons that come in the Sunday newspaper all the time. If you don’t get the paper you can sign up for the mailing list on their website and they’ll email you one right away. We rarely buy anything from Bed Bath & Beyond without a coupon.

Buying factory refurbished is also a great way to save a few dollars. We bought our first factory refurbished Dyson from Overstock and it’s been going strong since the day we got it.

Page Last Updated On Sept 6, 2018 by Scott Jenkins