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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: 20 May 2022

Need to know

  • CHOICE experts test more than 40 stick vacuums to find the suckiest sticks
  • We test each vacuum's ability on hard floors, carpet and in a car, and assess ease of use and how they perform on corners and edges
  • Consider becoming a CHOICE member to access full reviews

Wrestling with a cumbersome vacuum cleaner is one of life's great irritations. Finding space to store it and navigating its bulk 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 more than 40 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 stick vac reviews) but also spotted some mediocre sticks that deserve the flick. Here are the ones to avoid, and why.

dyson omni glide for hard floors only

Dyson Omni-Glide.

Dyson Omni-Glide

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 55%
  • Price: $599
  • Hard floor score: 63%

To be fair, this stick vac is designed to be used solely on hard floors, so it was never going to perform well on carpets – hence its low overall score. But (and it's a big but) it actually didn't perform especially well on hard floors in our lab, scoring just 63% for this test. 

Our expert testers noted that its soft roller head does do a good job of picking up potting mix from a hard floor, however its narrow neck and tubing becomes blocked, causing the vacuum to overheat and switch off. It had to be opened and unclogged multiple times during our test. 

But that wasn't the only bad point our testers noted. It only has a running time of 10 minutes on its maximum setting, which won't get you very far, and its bin volume is just 0.1L which fills up very quickly and could lead to the vacuum jamming while in use. 

It's more of a shiny toy than a practical household item, especially for the price.

Adrian Lini, CHOICE vacuum expert

Our experts did rate the Omni-Glide highly for its ease of use, though, noting that it has excellent reach under low furniture, excellent controls, and excellent head movement over carpet and hard floors - it really feels like it's "gliding", they say. 

"The Dyson is impractical as the sole vacuum for your home, but if you have the money it could be useful as an 'extra vacuum' for things like a quick clean of the kitchen floor after cooking," says CHOICE vacuum expert Adrian Lini

"But it only performs well in such specific settings that only a small percentage of people would be likely to spend $600 on it. It seems like it's more of a shiny toy to show off than a practical household item, especially for the price."

Read the full Dyson Omni-Glide review.

kmart anko cordless stick cleaner 42923558

Kmart Anko Cordless Stick Cleaner 42923558.

Kmart Anko Cordless Stick Cleaner 42923558

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 63%
  • Price: $129
  • Quick clean score: 38%

The test results for this Kmart stick vac is a tale of highs and lows. It does a great job removing pet hair from carpet and cleaning a car, but it's terrible at cleaning corners and edges and cleaning carpet more generally. 

Our experts found it clumsy to use on carpet, with the cleaning head digging heavily into the carpet when pushing it forward, making it difficult to move smoothly. It also bombed out when picking up potting mix from a hard floor: it turned off multiple times during the process and its cleaning head opening was too narrow to fit most of the debris. 

Unfortunately there are a number of Kmart stick vacs sitting at the bottom of the class, so we'd suggest giving them a wide berth. You can learn more here: Should you buy a Kmart Anko vacuum cleaner?

Read the full Kmart Anko Cordless Stick Cleaner review

186223-06-Kmart Cordless Stick Cleaner_-1

Kmart Anko Cordless Stick Vacuum.

Kmart Anko Cordless Stick Vacuum 

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 64%
  • Price: $149
  • Quick clean score: 35%

This Kmart stick vac failed to impress our experts on a number of cleaning tasks, such as cleaning corners and edges and cleaning carpet – you know, just all the things you buy a vacuum to do. 

As an added bonus, our testers noted it has an irritating and high-pitched noise (just what you need to make cleaning more enjoyable!).

The positives are that it can be used in handheld mode to access hard-to-reach areas, and it was very good at cleaning up sand and pebbles from the car floor. Plus it rated an acceptable 80% for ease of use. 

A downside to buying a cheap stick vacuum cleaner such as this one is that you may not be able to buy a replacement battery when it gives up the ghost in three to four years (or sooner). 

Our experts advise taking this into consideration when weighing up against more expensive brands. Read the full review for this Kmart vacuum.

hoover ultra power 2 in 1 stick vac

Hoover Ultra Power 2 in 1 5222.

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 eExpert Rating of our current test group and was outperformed by many cheaper models from other brands.

It rated well in our ease of use tests (how easy it is to manoeuvre, use the controls and empty), but it 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 of the Hoover Ultra Power 2 in 1 5222.

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