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Stick vacuum cleaners to avoid buying

If you want clean floors and carpets, steer clear of these suckers. 

stick vacs to avoid red cross
Last updated: 12 November 2020

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 difference

Kim 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. See our stick vac buying guide for more info.

"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. 

The stick vacs that rated lowest

Our lab experts have reviewed over 30 popular models, evaluating key factors like cleaning performance (for hard floors, carpets, corners, pet hair and more), ease of use, quick cleaning ability and pet hair removal. 

In their lab tests, they've found some impressive performers (members can access our full reviews) but also spotted some mediocre sticks that deserve the flick. Here are the ones to avoid.

hoover ultra power 2 in 1 stick vac

Hoover Ultra Power 2 in 1 5222

  • Price: $299
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 66%
  • Quick clean score: 41%
  • Ease of use score: 78%

It may promise 'ultra power' but our experts certainly weren't blown away in our lab tests. In fact, this Hoover (which also works as a handheld vac) scored the lowest Expert Rating of our current test group and was out-performed by many cheaper models from other brands.

It rated well in our ease of use tests (which assess manoeuvrability, controls and receptacle-emptying), but really struggled to pick up dirt on carpets, scoring under 50% for both quick and long cleans. 

Thankfully, it was happier on hard floors and picking up pet hair, and even rated excellent for car cleaning. Still, for the same price, you could pick a stick that scores 80% or higher that's recommended by our experts. Read the full review.

kmart anko 2 in 1 cordless stick vacuum v8260 12a

Kmart Anko 2 in 1 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 before shelling out for an expensive one, don't buy this one. It managed a decent job on hard floors, but rated very low for a quick carpet blitz and just passable for thorough carpet cleans. 

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. Read the full review.

electrolux pure  q9

Electrolux Pure Q9

  • Price: $499
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 68%
  • Quick clean score: 41%
  • Ease of use score: 78%

This one sports the biggest price tag of the bottom dwellers (by a lot), but sadly sucks just as bad. It performs poorly on carpet (both quick cleans and more thorough sweeps) and struggles with corners and around edges. 

On the upside, it does deal well with hard floors, pet hair and car cleaning, and rated decently in our ease of use test. That might not sound so bad, but our experts definitely found superior performing vacs out there for cheaper, including other Electrolux models. Read the full review.

bissell featherweight 2024f corded model

Bissell Featherweight 2024F

  • Price: $99
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 68%
  • Quick clean score: 57%
  • Ease of use score: 66%

This option offers an ordinary clean with the added drag that it's a corded model. If your crib's got carpet, steer clear – it scored just OK for quick and longer cleans, and our experts found the cleaning head digs into the carpet, which made it tiring to push. 

Like other vacs, this model fares better on hard floors and rated quite well for pet hair removal and car cleaning. However, it scored only OK in our ease of use test. On top of the pain, you're pulling a cord behind you. Read the full review.