Need to know
- Our experts have reviewed 50 stick vacuums from popular brands such as Dyson, Hoover, Kmart, Miele and Shark
- Our testing revealed cheaper models that performed well against models costing hundreds of dollars more
- We rate performance on key factors such as cleaning corners and edges, pet hair removal, noise and battery life
For those annoying little messes in life that don't require the heft of a barrel vacuum but do need more than a dustpan and broom, the stick vacuum tidily fills the void. Good for spot-cleaning, giving the inside of the car a once-over, or for small areas that can be difficult to reach, an easy-to-store stick vac is a handy household helper.
How much should you spend on a stick vacuum?
With price tags ranging anywhere from $1000 or more for a top-of-the-line Dyson to less than $100 for some Kmart models, it's worth considering how much you're prepared to pay. After all, not everyone can afford to spend a grand for what is essentially a dirt-sucking stick.
Just bear in mind that as stick vacuum technology has improved, prices have also increased: the median price of a stick vacuum is now $624, up from $299 five years ago.
A $250 stick vac won't necessarily deliver the same results as one of our recommended $1000+ models
Almost all of the stick vacuums recommended by our experts cost $800 or more, so if you're on a budget you may need to resign yourself to a lower level of performance: a $250 stick vac won't necessarily deliver the same results as one of our recommended $1000+ models.
And if your budget stick vac has a problem or failure, it's often harder and much less cost effective to replace spare parts – if they're even available.
Many premium brands also have removable batteries so you can replace them when they're not as effective, which isn't always an option with cheaper stick vacs whose replacement batteries may cost almost as much as buying an entirely new unit.
It is possible to pick up a cheap stick vacuum that will do a pretty good job, but you need to shop carefully and keep your expectations in check. We've tested many models that come in at significantly lower price points than premium brands, and some are better than others.
To help you find a stick vac that'll give you the best suck for your buck, we've compiled the best bargain buys under $250 based on our test results.
Our expert testers put more than 50 stick vacuums through their paces in our labs.
What to look for when buying a stick vacuum
Our thorough testing team measures the performance of stick vacs in a range of areas, including their ability to suck up pet hair, manoeuvre into corners and clean both hard floors and carpet.
When buying a stick vac, CHOICE expert Adrian Lini says to take special note of the cleaning head design and suction power, as many models do a poor job of cleaning carpet.
However, he warns that this can also be true of the more expensive machines. Even if you are spending at the lower end of the budget, it's worth taking a look at our stick vacuum reviews to get the dirt on the best and worst performers.
"Stick vacs in general are best for a quick and efficient house clean," says Adrian.
If you only have hardwood floors, then a cheaper stick vacuum that performed well in our tests would be a satisfactory choiceAdrian Lini, CHOICE vacuum expert
"If you only have hardwood floors, then a cheaper stick vacuum that performed well in our tests would be a satisfactory choice."
Look for a model with a soft or fluffy roller attachment for hard floors: this will provide the best contact with the floor surface to suck up dirt, and will also help prevent damage to hardwood floors.
The top-rated stick vacuums under $250
If the convenience of a stick vacuum appeals, but you don't want to part with a lot of cash, check out these five options that represent the best performance for the least money.
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