Best stick and tiny vacuums for my purposes
May 22, 2019 8:00 AM   Subscribe

I would like to buy a stick vacuum to vacuum the kitchen floor and a tiny vacuum to vacuum up cat litter. I am at a loss as to which ones.

I am, so to speak, a crumby cook. I share a kitchen with two people who mostly make frozen pizza and sandwiches and who feel that their floor-cleaning duties should be limited to the occasional mop since they are not the ones with the crumbs.

Our floor is old and wooden and sweeping is not especially effective due to grooves in/between wood. I would like a good stick vacuum to use every couple of days. In an ideal world, it would be good enough to use for spot vacuuming on hardwood floors elsewhere in the house. (We have a big old Miele for serious cleaning, but history has shown that I cannot haul it out regularly for the kitchen.)

We also have a gritty cement basement floor. I would like to be able to spot vacuum the area around the cat's litter box with some kind of hand-held vacuum. I'd like to spend something less than a million dollars but would prefer to spend more and get something that will last if that's what it comes to.

And lastly - since I live in a major metropolitan area with access to many stores and Amazon is a poisonous garbage fire, these should not be Amazon-only products.
posted by Frowner to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The Wirecutter recommends a Dyson, with a Shark in 2nd place. Personally I'd probably get the Shark since I have a regular Shark vacuum that I really like (and was also recommended on Wirecutter) and I don't like James Dyson. Also they do say the Shark is "better at [...] picking up big crumbs off bare floors".

Their handheld recommendation is a Black+Decker.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:16 AM on May 22, 2019

I have a Hoover LiNX stick vacuum that I like very much! It's available pretty much anywhere vacuums are sold. We have a Dyson stick too but I prefer the LiNX (my husband prefers the Dyson, though).
posted by mskyle at 8:16 AM on May 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

We have - and adore - the Hoover Air Cordless 2-in-1. It’s a stick vac with a removable handheld, would serve both your purposes well. I bought ours on amazon, but it’s definitely available elsewhere.
posted by okayokayigive at 8:18 AM on May 22, 2019

If you don't need it to be cordless, this is cheap and works as a stick vac and a handheld. It's working fine for me. I spend $30 on it.
posted by metasarah at 8:33 AM on May 22, 2019

I have just bought a DuoClean Shark and it is so much easier to quickly a) vacuum the cat litter (even if it is upstairs near the upstairs litter tray, it's still easier to bring it down to the downstairs litter tray) than my old upright dyson was or even just whizz it out around the nearest litter tray. Also great for the stairs.) and b) vacuum the kitchen floor before mopping/when the cats have chucked biscuits around) so that would be my vote.

I have not yet used it as a counter vacuum due to newness but it certainly could be used easily enough with the crevice tool attached to the vacuuming bit.
posted by halcyonday at 8:48 AM on May 22, 2019

I researched handhelds for a long time, and the conclusion I came to is that lithium batteries are inherently a weak point, they tend to crap out early and often. Whatever you pick, get something where the battery is easy to swap out for a new one, or it will not last (my preference is for something like a bosch, where the lithium batteries are also used for other things like handheld screwdrivers, so they should still be around for a while plus now I can justify getting a cordless screwdriver.)
posted by stillnocturnal at 8:49 AM on May 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

We have this Dirt Devil Flip which it turns out is in the Wirecutter's didn't-make-the-cut "the competition" list and yeah: it's pretty weak and is only just about good enough for vacuuming up stray cat litter. Not terrible enough to replace before it dies, but it does make me feel like it'd definitely be worth spending more for more power.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:07 AM on May 22, 2019

I like our shark a lot. And more generally, I am the type to obsessively research things like this, to the point of annoying myself, and I've learned to just trust the Wirecutter's recommendations. They're well-researched enough that though their pick may not be the 100% A+ best widget for me, it's a good enough widget for me that I can quit thinking about the decision and feel good about it.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:14 AM on May 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

We've got the Wirecutter's budget handheld pick, and it will work just fine on cat litter. I typically use it for spot cleaning our older hardwood floors (mostly clumps of dog hair).
posted by natabat at 9:25 AM on May 22, 2019

I got the wirecutter-recommended Shark as a refurb off Ebay, and it has good suction and is easy to empty but kinda heavy and I wish the cord retracted. Maybe overkill if you don't have carpet. It's also annoying that there's nowhere to store the attachments on the vacuum - mine are currently clipped to a pants hanger in the closet the vacuum lives in.
posted by momus_window at 9:27 AM on May 22, 2019

Another vote for the Shark Ion Flex as recommended by the Wirecutter. I don't think I'd use the handheld for things like ceiling fans or blinds very often, since it is rather heavy, but for using as a dustbuster getting things off the floor it works great. I also really like the way the dustbin empties with the push of a button; you just hold it over the garbage can, push the button, and everything you picked up falls right out. Seems like an ideal emptying solution for kitty litter!

The attachments (which would be better with storage, good point!) are many and would be well suited to your purposes. The other thing that I love is that it transforms into a long, low vacuum, so that it can easily go under the couch and bed, which I *love*. I know you didn't say anything about that but for us in a house of all wood floors it is so NICE to not have to contort oneself to try and sweep underneath with a broom!

Oh! And, if any member of your household has long hair, this has the best/easiest roller removal access I've had in a vacuum. Just pop the roller out, cut the hair out, and you're good to go. Honestly such a time-saver for our house.
posted by stellaluna at 10:18 AM on May 22, 2019

The Dyson cordless stick vacuum is perfect for both purposes. You can remove the stick to use it handheld, and easily swap out a number of attachments, and it’s quite light, but the fact that it is cordless is the best. I now find myself reaching for it to clean up small messes right away, which otherwise would have waited, because it’s just so quick and easy. It’s perfect for things like crumbs or cat litter, and also good for carpets and general cleaning. And you empty it by just tugging one release, and the bottom of the canister pops open and pushes everything into the trash, it’s so much quicker and easier than most vacuums.

The latest version is the V11 and is quite pricy, but the older models are comparable and can be gotten for significantly less. I picked up a V8 on eBay recently for under $200 and I’m very pleased with it.
I wish the battery lasted longer, or it came with two that you could swap out like some other brands have, but it lasts for about 30 minutes of solid use, which is plenty for most occasions.

However, I did just come across this from Consumer Reports. I haven’t had mine for even a year yet, although it is several years old and working well so far. I chose the Dyson over a shark for the little details, which I find make a big difference to me.

There are a few people on YouTube that review vacuums which I found helpful. Here and here
posted by catatethebird at 11:07 AM on May 22, 2019

I just bought a Dyson V7 Animal on clearance at Target (which is not Amazon) but price matched it to Amazon, which had it discounted even more last week (although the price has now gone back up). Note there's a confusing array of V7 variants. The power tool itself is identical in each, but the variant determines the assortment of attachments and accessories in the box: the V7 Trigger is just the tool; the V7 Car+Boat adds a 12V charger and a hose; the V7 Motorhead has a stick and, uh, a motor head; the V7 Animal is a Motorhead with a HEPA filter; and if you want the Soft Roller Cleaner Head optimized for hard floors you have to buy the V7 Absolute version instead. I think. I have researched these like three times and I'm still not sure I have it all straight.

Anyway, I actually expected to be underwhelmed by it. Since we mostly have hard floors and I didn't get the one with the soft roller, I expected to have experiences like some of the bad reviews, with loose detritus skittering behind me as I vacuumed. Also I assumed some of the hype was just hype. Instead I am delighted by it. Nothing skittered across the floor, and the battery was adequate for all the pre-party cleanup I did on Sunday. If that $229 price for the Animal pops up again you might also be happy with it, but if you think you need the soft roller head the best deal for a V7 anywhere right now seems to be the V7 Absolute on That's a better deal even than buying the V7 Animal for $229 and picking up the soft roller head as an accessory.
posted by fedward at 8:07 PM on May 22, 2019

I have a Hoover linx set. I like having a separate handheld that lives next to the vet litter. And I like that the batteries are interchangeable so if I mess up battery management, I can just swap them out.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:44 AM on May 27, 2019

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