The best cordless vacuum for 2020: from Dyson, Shark, Bissell, Hoover, Moosoo and more
The vacuum of today is a far cry from the bulky monsters of years gone by. They’re now cordless, lightweight, and powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Many can handle a variety of floor coverings, from carpets to hardwood. They also often come with useful attachments to help out with numerous tasks around the home.
One company in particular, Dyson, saw this fundamental change. Dyson pioneered the field with a range of high-performance and expensive Cyclone V-series stick vacs. Other companies have since followed suit and are now selling their own cordless vacuum cleaners. Some even shamelessly cloned Dyson products. Others are distinctive new riffs in the cordless vacuum cleaner with their own innovative features.
We then put them all through a rigorous series of floor care tests on hard floors, carpets and other surfaces. The process took over 150 hours. It also used up several pounds of sand and rice, as well as hundreds of handfuls of animal hair. After that, we found these products to be our pick for the best wireless vacuum for 2020.
Chris Monroe / CNET
The V11 is Dyson’s newest and best stick vac. It’s also the most expensive machine in our test group. That said, this flagship model performed best in its class to match its high price tag. On hardwood floors, this Dyson vacuum cleaner literally wiped the bare floors of dust and dirt. The vacuum with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery showed that sand and black rice test samples were taken up almost without errors (99.6 and 100%, respectively).
Pet owners will also appreciate the V11’s ability to remove pet hair. During anecdotal testing, the vacuum completely removed hair fibers and dust from medium and low pile carpets. The uptake of animal hair over hardwood floors went almost as well. The only reviewers were a stray lump that lacked vacuum up in our test area. That and a few strands were wrapped around the V11’s roller brush.
I definitely like how easy it is to empty the V11’s dust container. Simply point the vacuum cleaner at the garbage and press a release tab to open the dust bin lid. To close, pull the tab in the opposite direction. Other models we tested were a nightmare in this regard. The Hoover BladeMax gave us the most problems. Hair and dust were usually trapped deep in the dirt bowl. I also found it difficult to open the container. Worse, it’s not always clear that the dirt bin is securely attached.
Dyson also bundles numerous attachments in the box. These include a splitting tool for cleaning tight spaces, a motorized upholstery tool, a soft dust brush, and a stubborn dirt brush head for pulling ground dirt off a carpet with powerful suction. All of these make the Dyson V11 the clear choice for the best wireless vacuum money can buy. Read more about the Dyson V11.
Chris Monroe / CNET
The second best performer in our group of cordless vacuum cleaners was the Shark Rocket Pet Pro Cordless. It came very close to cleaning floors and the Dyson V11, but costs hundreds less. Rocket’s cordless, bagless vacuum removed just as much sand from carpeting and wood floors. In fact, the only area where the shark followed the V11 as the best cordless vacuum was on a low pile rug. There the battery cleaner removed 67.6% of our test sand. In contrast, the Dyson V11 removed a larger amount of sand from our low pile carpets (78.4% average).
The rocket also had no problems with animal hair. This cordless handheld vacuum cleaner wiped away all traces of animal hair on both low-pile carpets and hardwood. The results were also favorable for medium sized carpets. Only a tiny tuft of hair remained after the vacuum passed over the thicker, more challenging surface.
Design is another strength of the Rocket Pet Pro. The dust cup is almost as easy to empty as the Dyson V11. The dust cup usually remains free of dirt and debris and does not get stuck inside even after emptying. I also appreciate how the Rocket Pet Pro’s wand and upholstery tool can stand up on their own (separate from the main vacuum unit). LED lights on the nozzle help you spot dirt and debris in your home, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery makes it easy to charge. So if you’re looking for a solid mid-range cordless vacuum cleaner for the mid-range, Shark’s Rocket Pro is a great option. Continue reading.
Chris Monroe / CNET
If you want to own a Dyson but prefer not to spend the top dollar, consider the $ 350 Dyson V8 Absolute Upright Vacuum Cleaner. This wireless step-down model is a couple of years old but still has strong suction and behaves like a champion. In our floor cleaning tests, the V8 took a respectable third place. In our test group, only the Dyson V11 and Shark Rocket Pet Pro cleaned floors better than the V8.
On a hard floor, the vacuum managed to pick up an average of 98% of the sand we dropped. For low-pile carpets, this average fell to 68.3%. The average continued to slide across the carpet on the middle pile, but remained at a respectable 52%.
Animal hair didn’t affect the V8 hand vacuum too much either. It pulled hair completely away from medium and low pile carpets. Failed to remove a small amount of flaky skin from hardwood. In addition, some fibers were wrapped around the brush roll of the vacuum. But the washable filter came in handy.
Similar to the V11 Torque Drive, the V8 Absolute Upright Vacuum Cleaner also has a generous selection of add-ons. This includes tools for dusting, a splitting tool for reaching into a narrow gap, a soft cleaning head for bare floors, a motorized roller brush to pick up dirt and debris and a docking station for charging the battery. For those looking to own a Dyson branded vacuum cleaner, the V8 Absolute is well worth a look. Read more about the Dyson V8.
Chris Monroe / CNET
Moosoo isn’t exactly a household name. Nonetheless, the Moosoo M X6 cordless vacuum cleaner offers a considerable punch given its low price. Although the M X6 costs much less than competing vacuums, it was the fourth best performer in our test group of eight models.
The Stick Vac took up an average of 99% of our hardwood test sand. On low-pile carpets, this number dropped to 41.3%. However, the M X6 performed better on thicker carpets and achieved a higher sand pick-up average of 52.2%.
Black rice, our large particle test soil, was a no-brainer for the Moosoo vacuum. On hardwood, low-pile and medium-pile carpets (95.4, 96.8 and 94%, respectively), more than 90% pickups were achieved on average.
However, do not buy the Moosoo M X6 if you are a pet owner. Disadvantages are that after vacuuming, regardless of the test surface, at least some visible flakes of skin remained. The roller brush also tends to curl strands of hair around itself.
However, if you want cordless vacuuming on a tight budget, consider the Moosoo M X6. It could be just the thing for a lot less money. Continue reading.
How we test cordless vacuum cleaners
Putting a cordless vacuum cleaner through its paces isn’t as complicated ascleaner, but it still takes a lot of time and effort to find the best wireless vacuum. We run each vacuum in a straight line over three different surfaces (hardwood, low pile carpet, medium pile carpet). The test area is the same length (30.25 inches) on all three test stands.
The width of the test stand is proportional to the nozzle width of the vacuum. We measure this width ourselves. We also use the nozzle width plus soil type to calculate soil density for each test according to the guidelines of the International Electrotechnical Commission. The IEC is an international standardization organization that is responsible, among other things, for the administration of vacuum test procedures for vacuum manufacturers.
We use three types of soil. To simulate a small particle size, we use a mixture of play sand and landscape sand. To emulate larger dirt particles, we use uncooked black rice. To see how vacuum cleaners handle pet hair, we use our mix of clippings that we received from our local zoo keeper.
We do at least three runs for each type of soil. We also test separately with sand and rice. That’s at least 18 tests per vacuum. We weigh the vacuum’s dust container before and after each run.
From there we can calculate the percentage of dirt and debris pick-up for each run and the average amount of soil a vacuum can remove. Additionally, for each vacuum, we run anecdotal (visual) animal hair tests for all three floor types to help you choose the best wireless vacuum.
Would you like more options for cordless vacuum? Here is a list of the other Stick Vacs we tested alongside the models listed above: