Stick Vacs…How Do They Compare?

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We have a 3-story house, just had new carpet installed, live with four messy cats who don’t know how to wipe the cat litter off their paws, and I have rheumatoid arthritis. Why do I mention these 4 things? Because for me, carrying our vacuum up and down the stairs can be difficult and getting the cat litter off the stairs is a daily occurrence, (ok, maybe not daily but at least several times a week or right before company comes over,) and with the new carpet, I wanted to maintain it better without putting a lot of strain on my knees and elbows. I decided a stick vacuum might be a worthwhile investment but which one to buy?


Stick vacuums are lighter than full-size vacuums, which make them easier to push around. They are less bulky too, taking up less storage room (making them perfect for dorm rooms and small apartments.) They work on minor debris like pet hair or crumbs but can handle bigger spills like overturned potted plants. I particularly was looking for one that could handle cat litter too. Stick vacuums are not meant to handle the same kind of work heavier vacuums do so this isn’t something to use for a big weekly vacuum.

I did a bit of research, read hundreds of reviews and then went to Good Housekeeping to see if they had any reviews. (I appreciate the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval reviews because I have always found them accurate.) Good Housekeeping actually had an article on “5 Of The Best Stick Vacs” in which they tested 11 models and came up with the best 5. What astounded me about the results was that the price varied so much, from $550 to $40, with the $40 pick sounding pretty good. (Of course that’s the one I bought and personally tried.)


To test the different models, the Good Housekeeping Lab wheeled the stick vacuums over carpet and bare floors. They wheeled them over baking soda, oatmeal, dried orzo, and more. They also measured the noise levels, ease of washing and replacing parts and, on battery-operated models, run and recharge times. They also took note of the number of tools and special features and the maneuverability of each one. Their ratings range were from 1 (worst,) to 5, being the best.


BISSELL LIFT-OFF 2-IN-1 CYCLONIC CORDLESS STICK VAC was the overall winner, with a 4.6 rating. At $120, I don’t think that’s too much or overly expensive. It features an extra-gentle brush roll for highly polished or softwood floors, works great on carpet, uses a dust cup instead of a bag, weighs 6.5 pounds, and has an upright lock which keeps it from falling over in the closet. It has a hand vac, dusting brush, and crevice and upholstery tools too. Their thought? “The Bissell outperformed the rest with the best combo of floor and carpet cleaning.” They also liked how well it did along walls, effortless steering, and that every part of its dust cup is washable, making it work more efficiently.

Two models tied with a rating of 4.3 with a price difference of only $10 between them…

ELECTROLUX ERGO-RAPID POWER ($170) features headlights for cleaning under furniture, has two power levels with a brush/crevice tool and a hand vac on board. This was actually a 2013 Good Housekeeping VIP Award-winner because it has tools that are easy to keep clean. (When you step on a pedal, the floor nozzle’s built-in blade cuts hair tangled around the brush roll.)

HOOVER PLATINUM COLLECTION LINX CORDLESS STICK VACUUM ($180,) features a comfortable handle grip, charges in 3 hours and has a well-placed brush roll on/off switch which makes it easy to move from floors to rugs. A few things the Lab especially liked was the Hoover WindTunnel technology that did an impressive job on a wide path of dirt in just one forward pass, and the design which tells you how much charge is left in the battery.

The most expensive with a 4.1 rating?

DYSON DC59 MOTORHEAD ($550,) was “worth the cost for lifting pet fur-like fibers in 50% fewer strokes, plus a digital motor that never loses power even as the charge runs down.” It features a 27-inch wand, morphs into a hand vac, and comes with a motorized upholstery tool, crevice tool and dust/lint brush. A few did find the on/off trigger annoying since you have to hold it down while operating it. (We personally own a Dyson big vacuum, which we love but I didn’t want to spend this kind of money right now.)

And the cheapest, with a 3.6 rating was the…

DIRT DEVIL VIBE 3-IN-1 CORDED BAGLESS STICK VACUUM ($40) I think the fact that this isn’t battery-operated keeps the price down. I did see a few comments wishing the cord was longer but since I have a lot of outlets, this wasn’t a problem for me. This only weighs 3.9 pounds which makes it easy for me to cart up and down on the stairs. It turns into a hand vac, comes with a crevice tool and has a handle that comes off, making it even easier to clean the stairs. “A total steal that did very well on carpet and fine on hard surfaces. Nice touch: The brush roll turns off to keep debris from flying on bare floors.” They did find it required more work on carpet.


So after reading the reviews and comments, I headed to Target to buy the Dirt Devil model. One concern I had with this model was a comment I read saying the attachments were a bit difficult to get on and off. Since one of the reasons I was buying a stick vacuum was because of my arthritis, I certainly didn’t need anything requiring a lot of hand strength.

The first thing I tried was taking and putting all the attachments off and on, which was a snap. To turn it into a hand vac, you simply press a button and it pops right off.

The bottom section is easy to break apart also for the hand vac, and then you can insert the crevice tool.

After my testing on some of the problem areas I have, I give this stick vacuum a total thumbs up! It was lightweight but did the work I wanted it to. It was also very easy to empty.

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