You can't beat a handheld vacuum when you need to quickly clean up common messes like broken glass, pet hair, and cookie crumbs. Though lightweight and compact, today's devices are powerful enough to perform many of the functions of an upright, canister, or robot model-at a fraction of the cost.
There are various factors to consider prior to purchasing one, however, which we've outlined below along with our own set of recommendations for the best handheld vacuum:
- BEST BUDGET VACUUM: BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum
- BEST FOR SUCTION POWER: Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
- BEST ACCESSORIES: BISSELL Lightweight Cordless Hand and Car Vacuum, 1985
- BEST FOR PET OWNERS: BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser 33A1
- BEST FOR HARD-TO-REACH AREAS: BLACK+DECKER BDH2000PL MAX Lithium Pivot Vacuum
- BEST FOR WET-DRY VACUUMING: Homasy Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Weigh these key features to find the best handheld vacuum.
- Corded versus cordless: Vacuums that plug into an electrical socket limit mobility (though an extension cord can help you go the distance if you wish to use the machine on stairs, for instance). You can rely on a corded model to have consistent suction power throughout a long vacuuming session. Cordless handhelds, which rely on a rechargeable battery, could die in the middle of a clean-up-but they're much more easily toted from the house to the car to the patio.
- Battery runtime, voltage, and charging: If opting for the convenience of cordless, know that quality models tend to have a minimum runtime of 10 minutes and require no more than four to six hours to fully charge. Look for one with a Lithium-ion battery, which will conserve its charge most efficiently. Cordless vacuums with a battery voltage of 18 volts or higher offer more suction power and longer runtimes than lower voltage units. Some models feature battery level indicators so you can keep tabs on when the battery needs charging.
- Weight: Handheld vacuums should be lightweight enough to easily lift and handle but hefty enough to hold a decent amount of mess. For optimal portability and minimal strain on the wrist, look for a model that's under five pounds.
- Dirt receptacle: Handheld vacuums collect dirt in either dirt canisters or bags. Canister models are more popular because they tend to be easier to empty and clean-just snap and dump. The larger dirt canister, the bulkier vacuum, but you'll need to empty it less often. A clear canister lets you see at a glance when it requires emptying.
- Accessories: Specialized accessories can make your unit more useful, depending on your needs. You'll find attachments designed to pick up pet hair, safely glide on uncarpeted surfaces, or clean into the nooks and crannies of upholstery. There are also flexible hose attachments to extend your reach into dark or inaccessible areas.
- Price: Handheld vacuums start at about $20 for a basic corded model and $50 for a cordless, and top out at around $200. In general, you'll pay a higher price for more powerful suction, longer runtime, and high-tech accessories. Don't forget to factor in the price of filter replacements. Filters prevent dust in the vacuum from becoming airborne and must be changed regularly.
Looking for the best handheld vacuum for your needs? We've rounded up top-rated and best-selling models on the market today, based on reviews by actual users. You can't go wrong with these smart choices!
1. BEST BUDGET VACUUM: BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum
This bargain dustbuster delivers an impressive 15.2 air watts of suction power at a low price. Through cyclonic action, the lightweight, 2.6-pound unit spins dust and debris away from the vacuum filter to maintain that strong suction throughout a vacuuming session. And, thanks to a 180-degree rotating nozzle with an extendable crevice tool and flip-up brush, the vacuum grasps grit even in hard-to-reach areas. Its 16-volt Lithium-ion battery charges in four hours and holds its charge for up to 18 months in storage. The translucent dirt canister makes it easy to monitor your progress and, when it comes time, empty out the mess into your garbage.
2. BEST FOR SUCTION POWER: Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
This cordless unit lives up to its claim of offering the “strongest suction” on the market. The 21.6-volt Lithium-ion battery affords 30 minutes of fade-free, 100-air-watt suction power, and 15 twister-like internal appendages that pick up particles as small as 0.5 microns. Add to that a trifecta of attachments-a mini motor tool, a dusting tool, and a crevice tool-this Dyson tackle surfaces from carpeted and hard floors to upholstery. When you're finished vacuuming, empty the hygienic dirt canister in a single motion without getting your hands dirty.
3. BEST ACCESSORIES: BISSELL Lightweight Cordless Hand and Car Vacuum, 1985
This ergonomically-designed, 3.9-pound cordless unit boasts five accessories-all store conveniently on the tool-for cleaning across a range of surfaces in the home and car. The motorized brush roll lifts hair from carpet and upholstery, the soft-bristle dusting brush sweeps surfaces like blinds, the crevice tool grabs dirt in tight spots, and the built-in extension hose and attachable wand extend your cleaning reach. Its 22-volt Lithium-ion battery charges in five hours and affords 15 minutes of fade-free suction power. A removable 0.4-liter dirt canister with an easy-empty lid makes for quick dirt disposal.
4. BEST FOR PET OWNERS: BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser 33A1
Pets mean lots of messes, and sometimes you just can't wait for your vac to recharge. This 4-ampere corded handheld vacuum boasts continuous runtime and two specialty nozzles. The rubberized nozzle lifts ground-in pet hair or dirt from carpeted or hard floors or stairs with ease, while the suction nozzle picks up pet food or cat litter without scattering it further. Carrying around the unit never feels like a chore thanks to the unit's lightweight, 5-pound construction and a 16-foot power cord that reaches virtually any corner of any room. Fill the clear dirt canister with up to 0.78 liters of waste before you have to empty.
5. BEST FOR HARD-TO-REACH AREAS: BLACK+DECKER BDH2000PL MAX Lithium Pivot Vacuum
The pivoting nozzle on this 3-pound cordless vacuum oscillates up to 200 degrees so you can position it in precisely the angle you need to access a high cabinet shelf, beneath a car seat, and other tight spots. Built-in nozzle features-including a wide mouth, a flip-up brush, and an extensible crevice tool-ensure that no particle big or small gets left behind. The vacuum delivers an impressive 35 air watts of suction power, and the 20-volt Lithium-ion battery recharges in four hours for the next cleaning day. Users praise its “great suction,” ”angle options that cover a larger area easily,” and an “easy-to-empty dirt compartment.”
6. BEST FOR WET-DRY VACUUMING: Homasy Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
This cordless dual-use vacuum handily cleans up after household spills wet or dry on surfaces hard or soft. The high-capacity dirt canister stores up to 60 milliliters of crumbs, dirt, and dust mites as small as 0.3 microns, and the rubber jar attachment catches up to 100 mL of liquid from drink spills. So put that built-in brush and crevice tool to work! Four 14.8-volt Lithium-ion batteries charge fully in three to four hours and supply 22 air watts of suction power for up to 30 minutes on a single charge. Emptying the vacuum is as simple as pressing a button and removing the dirt canister.