Shark cordless stick-vacuum review


Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
I picked up a replacement vacuum this past month. Decided to try something different this time around. Got a Shark Clean vac. Review below. Note, it's wordy because words are wordy, so don't let the post length fool you - it's pretty dang easy to use IRL, haha. Two initial notes:

1. Duo Clean
2. Sweep & Vac

Duo Clean: Duo Clean is Shark's new approach to a vacuum head. It's available on a variety of new vacuum models:

The basic idea is:

1. Big fat bristle roll in the front (eats EVERYTHING)
2. Regular beater brush in the back

I was attracted to this line of vacuums in particular because their commercial showed the vacuum eating piles of crap. So basically like a shop vac (sucks everything up, just not wet stuff) with a motorized roller head, which is a feature I always wanted in a shop vac. Awesome. Sign me up!

Next task was selecting a model. Holy crap, so many options. I really didn't want to spend as much time researching vacuums as I did, which is why I'm posting this thread lol. I ended up getting the IONFlex Cordless:

The handheld head contains the vacuum, the bagless bin, and the battery. This can be used 3 ways:

1. Like a dustbuster (just the head with an attachment)
2. Like a shop vac (long stick)
3. Like a vacuum (with motorized head - tube contains built-in power connectors to run the motors)

This setup is actually wicked convenient because you can use it as a car vacuum (because it's cordless & has some short attachments) & as a house vacuum. So I don't have to drag my shop vac out every time I want to vacuum out my car, which is nice. "Dustbuster mode" is just the head unit with whatever attachment you plug into it, so you can use it in your car or on furniture or whatever. Shop-vac mode is where you put the long stick on it & then put an attachment on that, which is useful for getting cobwebs out of ceiling corners. Then you can attach the motorized head to the stick & use it as a regular (lighter-weight) vacuum. Also, the lady in the top left picture below must work out or be a boom operator or something because that's pretty awesome arm strength if she can hold it one-handed (it is lighter-weight than an upright vacuum, but not THAT lightweight, haha!).


One special feature of the stick tube is that it has a bend in the middle, which locks in place. So you can lock it straight for vacuuming or getting cobwebs, or press the bend button, which drops it down for going under furniture.


The bend feature can also be used to flip it into storage mode. Above the clear compartment in the picture below is the ring handle, which is what you grab to move it around in storage mode. This may look dumb, but is actually pretty convenient. I store my vacuum in our main room closet with jackets, so I was always fighting to shove our regular vacuum in it, between the hanging coats. This slides right in pretty easily. Nice.


Sweep & Vac: The head has a power button, which turns it on. The left side lets you select hard floors or carpeting. This way, you can use it as a broom. It works great as a broom because of (1) the big bristle head that eats anything, and (2) the rolls dust as it goes. Note that to eat stuff, you have to push it forward. If you pull it backwards, it's just vacuuming & not flinging stuff in (because the big front roller is forward-operated), so my procedure is to go forward then backwards over the same spot, then go forward over the next, un-vacuumed area. Only catch for using it as a broom (aside from not sweeping up wet or mushy stuff) is that it doesn't get the edges, so you'll have to attach a nozzle to the tube & go around to get the edges around the walls. But it's nice because then you don't have to use a dust pan.

The right side of the power button area controls the power level, regular or max. According to a Youtube video, regular model is about equal to medium on other vacuums (not low) and regular model lasts about 24 minutes and max mode lasts about 11 minutes. That's about in line with my own usage. I pretty much only use it in Max mode because why not. They sell two versions, the IF201 (green tube) and the IF251 (blue tube). Both are the unit, just different colors, and the IF251 comes with an extra battery. I debated on the extra battery due to the (excessive) additional cost, but with the battery only lasting about ten minutes on max, I opted for the IF251 model because I didn't want to not be able to vacuum if I forgot to charge the battery. So I always keep one battery in the dock at all times so I can swap them out.

The battery is easy to remove, just a push-lever & it slides right out. Drops in the dock to charge. I think the regular single-battery unit just includes a power plug, so you either plug it into the vacuum itself, or pull out the battery & plug in the battery. I've only used the dock myself though. Dunno how long the battery will last, hopefully at least a few years & not just like 12 months. I was a bit worried that the IONFlex would only be as powerful as a dusterbuster or roomba, but as far as I can tell, it's pretty much on-par with a full-sized vacuum. Well, maybe 90% as good, as I think my old vacuum had a more powerful beater brush, but the DUO head on my IONFlex does like a 10x better job of sucking crap up. I just sucked up an entire bottle of spilled Tic Tacs the other day, no problem.

The dust bin is SUPER easy: hold the head over a trash can, push the release button, and shake it out. My last vacuum had a removable bagless bin & it was pretty mess to empty. This is a small compartment & the button flips the base door open & lets everything fall straight down. Super super easy to empty. My procedure is to use the IONFlex to sweep or vacuum, dump the bin, swap batteries, and flip it into storage mode & put it away. Only takes two or three minutes total to do a room.

As far as other cleanup tools use, on hard floors, I use a small brush & dustpan (variety available on Amazon for around ten bucks) for small dry messes. I just use a wet paper towel for small, wet spill (ex. popsicle lands on the floor) or a wet large towel if something big spilled (ex. someone spills a gallon of milk on the floor). For mopping, I recently switched over to a steam mop, review here. The IONFlex & O-Cedar Steam Mop are a great combination & are both convenient enough to ensure that I use them on a regular basis because they are low-friction devices, in terms of being very convenient to use, so I actually use them instead of it being a big chore.

Here's a good basic review video on Youtube:

Now, let's talk about the negatives. Note that I write both glowing positives as well as glaring negatives in my reviews. That doesn't mean that the unit is bad or is a piece of junk; literally everything out there has pros & cons. They are simply things to be aware of before purchasing, so that you know what you're getting:

1. The DUO rollers kind of act like a self-propelled pulls you forward a little bit. Which is nice, but then to pull the vacuum back, you have to use a bit of forearm strength. It's not hard, but there is a tug there. And as mentioned above, especially when vacuuming up large bits of crap, the DUO brushes like to move FORWARD, so if you like to do one pass forward & then pull backwards on an un-vacuumed area, that's not going to be very effective. So my solution is to push the vacuum head forward, then backwards along the same path, then forward against the next un-vacuumed line of flooring. The vacuum is reasonably light, so it's pretty quick to move it like this.

2. The head is less wide than most normal vacs. It's not tiny, but it is definitely small, so vacuuming the same area with an IONFlex takes more passes than with a regular plug-in upright vacuum. On the flip side, it actually goes faster overall because (1) it's a pretty lightweight vacuum with some nice rotational features, and (2) it's cordless, so no wire to trip over or pull with you.

3. The vacuum head is basically on a ball joint. It's pretty easy to use, but takes some adjustment to get used to. Maybe 5 minutes to master. You basically rotate the handle on the head, which rotates the tube, which spins the ball, which turns the roller head. It's a bit of a different motion from a regular upright vacuum Using the flex piece in the middle of the tube also makes the turning even weirder, but once you get the hang of how to adjust your arm motion to translate into turning movement, it's pretty easy (and convenient), just be aware that it IS different, at first. Also, you pop the tube vertically to lock the ball head into place for storage...often when I'm vacuuming, that will happen by accident because the roller head is not very heavy. So you have to get used to holding the vacuum at a slightly lower angle than a normal vacuum. Not a dealbreaker, just another small procedure change to adjust to. I do it naturally at this point.

4. Ten minutes of battery life on max is pretty crappy, but that's the tradeoff for having it be cordless. And is also partly why I bought the IF251 model with two batteries. I have my doubts about battery longevity, so we'll see where I'm at in a year or two, and how expensive replacements are at that point. The only cordless vacs I've ever had were roombas or dustbusters. This is a much more powerful vacuum, so the battery life is more or less to be expected. imo the convenience is worth it, however, because using it as both a broom & a vacuum AIO is super convenient...I can just pick it up, flip up the handle, and use it.

5. The rollers tend to get stuff wound around them way easy, especially hair, so be sure to check the rollers on a regular basis & clean them out. You can use the roomba cleaning tool, which is a little plastic comb with kind of a letterhead-style knife built-in for running the plastic bit along the roller & cutting those pieces off, so you don't have to use a regular knife unsafely. Like five bucks shipped on Amazon:

6. The attachments simply push on. The tube & the roller head plug-in (due to electrical connections), so just having the attachments push on kind of annoys me because it doesn't feel right. I wish they had made a plastic shroud that clicks in the same as the tube & head do. It's just annoying, not a real issue.

7. Pricing is horrendous, but better than Dyson! The IF201 is currently $264 and the IF251 is currently $393. Note that the battery on its own is $90. Couldn't find the regular dock for sale, but a dual-dock is another $70 on Sharks' website, so I opted just to get the IF251 for the cost. They do go on sale from time to time; cheapest the IF251 has been, according to CamelCamelCamel, is $315. Which is a pretty hefty investment (to me, at least) for a vacuum cleaner, but it sweeps, it vacuums, it acts like a way-better version of a Dustbuster (handheld + attachments + good suction from more powerful battery) and it's now my cordless car vac, and to top it all off, it's convenient, so I actually use it for everything. Side note, looks like a filter replacement kit is about $15 on Amazon, haven't taken it apart to do that yet tho because it's still new.

So nothing really major to complain about. You have to adjust a few cleaning motions & expect a ~10 minute battery life on max (recommend dual batteries, if budget allows). Despite those drawbacks, I really like it overall. Especially if you have kids or pets, regular cleaning is just something you have to get used to, and having good tools to do it with make life that much easier.