Cordless vacuum cleaners used to be the kind of thing that clogged up your under-stairs cupboard, dragged out only for the likes of giving your car the once-over.

But some of today’s models are so good at cleaning your entire home that you won’t even need a corded vacuum cleaner.

And with technology improving all the time, even the top names in the business have created machines that well and truly surpass the ones they were bringing out just a few years ago.

Some have an extendable hose with nozzle and/or attachments and some have a detachable handheld section to reach small spaces.

You can also get handheld machines and cylinder models. When choosing yours, check the battery life as this can vary dramatically – and, as we learned, claims by manufacturers are often exaggerated. Also note there are major differences when it comes to minimum power vs turbo boost.

Charging time in the dock can be equally variable. If you want your machine to do everything from walls to upholstery, check it’s got the right attachments, and make sure it excels on the type of floor you have – some are great at hard floors, but rubbish on carpets.

Look at the capacity too, especially if you don’t want to empty it very often, as well as whether it’s bagged or bagless. We’ve taken all these things into consideration in our testing – paying particular attention to battery and charge time, how much debris it collects on different floor types, ease of use (including in hand-held mode, if there is one) and value for money.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Dyson V11 absolute: £599, Dyson

We weren’t convinced that anything could surpass its predecessor, the V10, which gave a professional level clean on both carpet and hard floors, but hats off to Dyson for proving us wrong. With incredible suction and increased air flow, which means it needs less battery power to support it, the V11 gives you an impressive 60 minutes on minimum setting and a quarter of an hour on turbo (and it takes only three and a half hours to charge).

It’s intelligent too – the floor head can detect what kind of floor it’s dealing with by sensing the resistance, then speaks to the motor and battery to work out what it needs to deliver the most in-depth clean. And there’s no need to worry how much time you’ve got left on your current charge as the digital display shows you, along with alerts about blockages or if the filters (which are excellent) need cleaning. It’s lightweight, reaches into corners and is easy to push and empty. It’s expensive, but it’s the only vacuum cleaner you’ll need.

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Vax blade 2 max 40V: £249, Vax

Whether you’ve got carpets or hard floors, pets or no pets, you won’t regret buying this powerful machine, which lasts three quarters of an hour on standard setting and around a quarter of an hour in turbo mode, with a charge time of just two and three quarter hours. Nifty features include the LED headlights, which show up dust in the darkest of corners, a wall mount for charging the vacuum cleaner, good accessory storage and an easily removable dust container. It’s a doddle to move around and comes from a reliable brand, although it’s noisy and we’d have liked a bit more oomph on the lowest setting. If you can’t afford the Dyson V11, this is a good alternative.

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GTech pro K9: £249.99, GTech

Unusually for a cordless vacuum cleaner, this is a bagged machine, but don’t let that put you off as it makes emptying it simpler and cleaner and it’s easy enough to attach a new bag. And with each bag working out at around quid each, it doesn’t add much additional cost. As the name suggests, this vacuum cleaner – which lasts just shy of 40 minutes on standard mode and around 20 on turbo – is aimed at pet owners and we were impressed with how much pet hair and other fine debris it sucked up from hard floors. It’s lightweight, with useful LED lights at the front, and the scented cartridge is a nice touch to eradicate pet whiffs. But it struggles a bit with carpets and the filter could be better. Charging time is just over four hours.

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Shark duoclean powered lift-away and truepet IC160UKT: £319.64, Amazon

Here’s another machine that excels at hard floors, especially for homes with four-legged friends. It also stands out for stairs and reaching right up to edges, into corners and between floorboards, as well as being very easy to empty – a good job as the cannister is on the small side, so you’ll need to do this job more frequently than with other machines. We found it powerful on all settings, including the minimum power setting (which definitely can’t be said for all cordless vacuum cleaners) and the allergy filters are impressive too. But as with the GTech, we wouldn’t recommend it for carpets and be warned it’s quite heavy and big. The battery lasts for half an hour on standard setting, with 10 minutes less on turbo mode, and charging time is three and a half hours.

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Dyson V8 absolute: £349, Dyson

The Raheem Sterling of the vacuum cleaner world, this is small and lightweight with striking power and good looks. You get 40 minutes’ action out of it in one go, with no fading towards the end, and although that drops to a measly eight minutes if you use it on the highest power setting, we found the minimum setting had surprising oomph. For small flats, it can probably do as your only vacuum cleaner, while for larger homes it’s great for a spot clean – vacuuming up spills and giving the place a once-over when your rellies tell you they’re on their way over for a surprise visit. You won’t have to wait long for it to recharge – just over three-and-a-half hours. And it glides across all floor types, as well as on stairs and upholstery, as well as having tools for trickier areas to reach. It’s quiet, has great air filtration and the dust ejector makes emptying the bin a doddle, while the battery life indicator is also useful. And, as the name suggests, it’s excellent on pet hair.

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Beko VRT61818VW 2-in-1 cordless vacuum: £95, Beko

This isn’t on par with the more expensive machines reviewed here in terms of suction or manoeuvrability, but for a cheap and cheerful cordless addition to your regular vacuum cleaner, we think it’s a handy machine to own. We liked using it both in handheld and as a stick vacuum and were also impressed by the LED lights, which mean you don’t miss a trick. It’s compact and lightweight, making it less problematic to store away than some – and helped by the fact that it stands up on its own. The swivel head and cyclonic suction worked better than other machines we tried at this price point, especially on harder floors. It takes five hours to charge up and, fully charged, will give you an hour on the standard setting and 20 minutes on turbo.

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Vorwerk kobold VB100: £749, Kobold

No, you didn’t read the price wrong and yes, it is even more expensive than the Dyson V11. But for wow-factor cleaning across all floor types, this is next level, with three suction settings and two brush speeds to tackle even the grubbiest of homes, even those with multiple pets. No need to go back over the same area too as it gets rid of everything on the first go. It’s incredibly comfortable to hold – a good job as the battery lasts for 80 minutes on standard (only 10 minutes on max, though) – although in handheld mode, it’s not quite so ergonomic which can make stairs a bit of a battle. Also be warned this is not a bagless machine, which might put some people off. All in all, though, this is seriously powerful and as good a decent corded machine.

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Henry HVB160 cordless cylinder vacuum cleaner: £198.98, Amazon

The most instantly recognisable vacuum cleaner ever has to be the Henry. This is the cordless version that works a treat on both carpets and hard floors and is outstanding for allergy sufferers, thanks to the impressive filter. You won’t just get the bigger debris up with this – it also sucks up fine dust, although strangely it’s not so good on pet hair even on the higher of the two speed settings. Not everyone will like the fact that it’s bagged, but even with heavy-duty vacuuming, you don’t have to empty it much (and they send 10 bags in the box). We reviewed the double battery version, which means you get an hour’s cleaning on standard setting and 40 minutes on hi-mode, but you can get one with a single battery for forty quid less, for which you just halve those times. It takes three and a half hours per battery to charge. It’s very heavy, but as it’s a cylinder machine that matters less.

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Shop Vac micro rechargeable wet and dry 4L vacuum cleaner: £59.99, Lakeland

We wondered if they’d sent the wrong box when this arrived – it seemed tiny. But that’s what makes this bagged vacuum cleaner stand out – this small, portable and lightweight vacuum cleaner can be stored away easily (including hanging it on the wall) yet does a grand job of cleaning up spills in the car or after lunch in your caravan (where you can run it from the 12V socket when the battery runs out, although be warned the lead isn’t that long), as well as after messy DIY jobs in the garage. The manufacturers recommend it for stairs and all around the home too, although we think there are better machines for that – and in any case, you only get eight minutes of cleaning. Another boon is that it can tackle wet spills such as drinks, and the crevice tool will reach into small cracks. It takes eight hours to charge.

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Philips speed pro max: £316.81, Amazon

Even clean freaks won’t be disappointed when it comes to these results – we struggled to find debris or dust in any area that this had glided over, and that goes for hard floors or carpets, with the exception of thicker pile carpet. The headlight allows you to see if you need to go over the same area twice if needed – and that’s our main sticking point really, that you might need to do that if you have a busy household with floors that get particularly dirty, although this is less likely in turbo mode and we wouldn’t say it’s a deal breaker, particularly as suction is just as strong even when you use it backwards. We were also impressed with how close it cleans right up to edges and it works well in handheld mode too, as well as being quiet. The battery lasts 20 minutes on turbo and an hour on standard, giving you an illuminated countdown so you don’t run out, and it takes five hours to charge.

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Bosch athlet ultimate BCH732KTGB: £299, Currys

This is a terrific all-rounder and immediately impressive, tackling hard floors, carpets, stairs and upholstery with ease, eradicating dirt, debris and pet hair in a single stroke. Allergy sufferers can rejoice as it has a great filter and you don’t have to empty the dust cannister anywhere near as much as with other machines. The battery lasts for over an hour, which should enable you to get through a sizeable home on one charge, although on turbo mode and/or carpets you’ll only get about a quarter of that time, and the charging time is long at six hours. Other niggles are that it’s quite heavy and loud and if you want to detach the unit to reach nooks and crannies in your home or clean the inside of your car, it isn’t the simplest of operations.

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The verdict: Cordless vacuum cleaners

The Dyson V11 absolute reigns supreme in the world of cordless vacuum cleaners, and is as good as any corded vacuum cleaner, doing an excellent job on both carpets and hard floors. So there’s no need to go back to the faff of plugging in ever again. As long as you can afford it, that is – at nearly six hundred quid, the price is the only downside.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.