Wrestling with a cumbersome vacuum cleaner is one of life's great irritations. Finding space to store it and navigating its hulk around corners is a sure way to kill joy, even if you're the type of person who loves a good vacuuming.
But if you're considering ditching your barrel or upright vac for a stick version, there are a few things to note.
Firstly, 'stick' doesn't necessarily mean cordless. There are a few stick-style vacuums that are corded, so make sure you check before you buy if what you're after is a handheld, battery-operated model.
Power is no guarantee of cleaning performance – it's the overall design of the cleaner that makes the differenceKim Gilmour, CHOICE product expert
Secondly, even though they have a lot of good points – they're easier to store, can more readily reach those tricky spots (like in the car) and are great for little patches of mess (such as the debris under a child's high chair) – they're usually less effective and are likely to be more tiresome if you have a large area to clean. Check out our vacuum buying guide for more information.
"When it comes to vacuum cleaners, power is no guarantee of cleaning performance – it's the overall design of the cleaner that makes the difference," says CHOICE product expert Kim Gilmour.
Through our rigorous testing, we've generally found that when it comes to stick vacuums, you get what you pay for, with cheaper models being poor imitations of the higher end vacuums.
We reviewed 36 stick vacuums, looking at ease of use, quick cleaning ability and pet hair removal, and found these to be the three to definitely avoid.
Kogan T7 Cordless 22V Stick Vacuum Cleaner KAVACSTT7SB
- Price: $147
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 66%
- Quick clean score: 48%
- Ease of use score: 86%
We gave Kogan a Shonky in 2019 for poor customer service and questionable returns policies, but we test each product that comes through our labs on its merits.
Unfortunately Kogan also bombed out with its cordless stick vacuum, scoring just 48% on our quick clean test and 56% on the thorough carpet clean test.
It's very good at cleaning up sand and pebbles from a car's floor and has excellent reach under low furniture, but we suggest you spend your money on a better product.
Hoover Ultra Power 2 in 1 Cordless Stick 5222
- Price: $299
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 66%
- Quick clean score: 41%
- Ease of use score: 78%
This vacuum will do a good job of cleaning your car, but if you're after something for a quick clean around the house or even a thorough clean of your carpets, this isn't the stick vac for you.
For around the same price, you could pick up a stick vacuum that scores 80% or higher and comes recommended.
Kmart Anko 2 in 1 Cordless Stick Vacuum V8260-12A
- Price: $69
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 67%
- Quick clean score: 45%
- Ease of use score: 79%
If you're thinking of picking up a cheap stick vac as a test run to see if it'll work for your family before shelling out for an expensive one, don't buy this one. It scored just 45% for quick cleaning and 50% for thorough carpet cleaning in our tests.
It's actually not too bad at pet hair removal and does a good job of picking up sand and pebbles from your car's carpet, but overall this vacuum is best left on the shelf.