Some days it seems like every time you turn around there’s another mess to clean up. The more messes, and the more spread out, the better a handheld vacuum will fit into your life. While you won’t get the same suction of an upright or canister – you may be surprised at how effective the suction in handheld has advanced. And for those of us who struggle with the motivation to lug a heavy vacuum up and downstairs, from room to room, you’ll definitely use the handheld more than any other type of vacuum.
We reviewed dozens of handheld vacuums to identify the best of the best. We looked for cordless vacuums, and stick vacuums. We found the vacuums best for allergies and for pets, as well as the specialty vacuums that are meant for a specific task. No matter what you’re looking for in a vacuum, we have the right one for you.
From early in the research process, we identified the BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum as the clear winner of best overall handheld vacuum. With the suction power, compact size, and lightweight design, this is an excellent vacuum for your messes.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Handheld Vacuums
|Best Handheld Vacuum Overall||BLACK+DECKER dusbuster Handheld Vacuum, Cordless||4.4|
|Best Stick Handheld Vacuum||EUREKA RapidClean Pro Lightweight Cordless Vacuum Cleaner||4.3|
|Best Budget Handheld Vacuum||VacLife Handheld Vacuum||4.6|
|Best Handheld Vacuum for a Car||ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner||4.1|
|Best Handheld Vacuum for Pet Hair||Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum||4.4|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Best Handheld Vacuum Overall: BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum
BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum has a strong, cyclonic suction that will allow it to pull more dirt and debris from your carpets, upholstery, and more. The lightweight design, combined with the rechargeable lithium batteries, add to create a handheld vacuum that you won’t mind grabbing and taking with you, wherever the mess happens to be. The mouth of the vacuum is wider than a lot of its competitors and that means you’ll be able to clean faster than before.
The dustbowl for this vacuum is translucent, so you’ll never need to wonder whether you need to empty it, or if that’s the reason your vacuum’s performance is faltering. You’ll be able to dump the dust bowl simply by removing the cup and emptying it into the trash. After replacing the cup back onto the vacuum, you’re well on your way to cleaning again.
This handheld has a remarkable number of customer reviews on Amazon – over 23,000 – and they all seem to be in agreement that this is an exceptional vacuum. It has an overall rating of 4.4 stars.
BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum Key Features:
- Includes 2 attachments, reusable filter, and charger
- 2 model options
- 31.8 oz dustbowl capacity
Best Stick Handheld Vacuum: EUREKA RapidClean Pro Lightweight Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
The EUREKA RapidClean Pro Lightweight Cordless Vacuum Cleaner has a long-lasting lithium-ion battery that will hold a charge for up to 40 minutes of uninterrupted use, making it more than up to the task of your home. (And even if you can’t vacuum your entire home in 40 minutes, that’s probably about as much time as you’re able to devote to it.) You can put it back on its charger and expect it to reach a full charge in under 6 hours, so overnight or before you leave for work is an ideal time to charge it. With its swivel steering and stick attachment, you’ll be able to tackle any task in your home.
If you need a rest – or more likely you need to stop vacuuming to pick up a toy, or large article of food, you don’t have to lay your vacuum on the ground or worry about it being carefully balanced before stepping away. This vacuum comes with an Easy Rest nook that will allow you to rest your vacuum safely on a counter without sliding.
Nearly 4,000 customer reviews on Amazon and an overall rating of 4.3 stars are more than enough to suggest this is a sound purchase that you’re very likely to be another one of the thousands who sing its praises.
EUREKA RapidClean Pro Lightweight Cordless Vacuum Cleaner Key Features:
- Lightweight – 5.26 lbs
- LED headlights
- 40 minutes runtime
Best Budget Handheld Vacuum: VacLife Handheld Vacuum
The VacLife Handheld Vacuum is cordless and rechargeable so you’ll be able to vacuum without the hassle of plugging in and limiting the distance from a wall plug you may clean. Its lightweight design means you won’t struggle to hold it while you clean the more intense messes and with the variety of attachments, you’ll have the specialized tool top clean virtually any mess in nearly any location.
The LED design on the vacuum makes it easier to see where you clean and considering that messes are notorious for happening in dark corners and under furniture, that’s a big benefit. After all, the crevice tool nozzle is perfect for deep down in cushions and under your refrigerator, so that light will be very handy to make sure you’re getting all the hidden filth.
While there are several selling points with regards to this handheld vacuum, the numbers speak volumes. There are over 1,800 customer reviews on Amazon with an overall rating of 4.6 stars. The icing on this cake, though is the cost. You can pick this vacuum up for roughly $35.
VacLife Handheld Vacuum Key Features:
- 2-3 hour charge time
- 2 attachments included
- 30 minutes of uninterrupted use
Best Handheld Vacuum for a Car: ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner
ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner comes with the attachments that will make cleaning your car a breeze. You’ll appreciate the flexibility of the flathead hose to get into those hard to reach places, so you won’t need to twist and contort to get under or between the seats of your car. The extension tube will help you fit your vacuum into tighter places and the brush head is an excellent tool for your car seats. It will allow you to scrub those caked-on messes and spills off your upholstered seats, but even if you have leather seating, the brush will help clean the floors, as well.
Though this is a corded vacuum, the biggest difference that makes this an outstanding car vacuum is that cord. It’s powered by a 12-volt cord that plugs directly into your car. The filter will make sure you’re not just blowing dirt and dander back into the air, and you can remove it to clean it with the included brush.
There are close to 30,000 customer reviews for this vacuum on Amazon, earning it an overall rating of 4.1 stars. That’s more than enough feedback to believe the accuracy of the rating and that means this vacuum is a smart purchase.
ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner Key Features:
- 160 Watts & 8.8 amp motor
- 2 color options
- 3 nozzles included
Best Handheld Vacuum for Pet Hair: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum
Pet hair is one of the biggest obstacles for pet owners and if you have a particularly long-haired pet, then you know exactly how important getting the right vacuum can be. Luckily, the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum is up to the task, no matter how much your fur baby sheds. Though you may think an upright or bulkier vacuum is the smarter choice for the pet that sheds everywhere, you should consider your pet’s “favorite spot.” Even though you may not want to vacuum your entire home with this compact handheld, you’ll still get plenty of use on his spot on the couch, his rug in front of the front door, or his area on top of the stairs, if you keep this handy little vacuum close to those specific spots that are in most need of a de-hair vacuuming.
The key to this vacuum getting the pet hair so smoothly is the specialized rubber nozzle that grips the pet hair as you run the vacuum over it and the strong suction that pulls it into the dust cup. The additional attachment, the suction nozzle, does brilliantly at vacuuming up little solid messes your pet is prone to – pet food, or kitty litter.
Sitting with right around 10,00- customer reviews on Amazon and an overall rating of 4.4 stars, you can take confidence in this purchase as a handheld to rid your home of pet hair and dander.
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum Key Features:
- 16′ power cord
- Bagless dust cup
- Lightweight 3.1 lbs
Who Should Buy a Handheld Vacuum
A handheld vacuum is virtually a must-have item for the household with children. If there is one constant in life with children, it is messes, and the better suited you are for cleaning those messes, the less stress you’ll have in your life. Having an easily portable vacuum that can handle spilled goldfish and ground-in cheerios is crucial to taking the step into managing your home efficiently. You can supplement your regular vacuum with an inexpensive handheld, or you can opt for a handheld that can handle the workload you give it. A stick vacuum that you can hold in your hand, with a rechargeable battery, and lightweight design will give you nearly the same suction as an upright or canister and you’ll be able to maintain a clean home with just it.
If you’re content with your upright or canister vacuum for your home, you still may be well in the market for a handheld vacuum. Keep in mind that spills and messes happen in your car, too. If you’re interested in a handheld for no other reason, consider how much easier it will be to vacuum up the spilled dirt from a transported potted plant if you have a vacuum that you can quickly grab and take to the garage. And handheld vacuums will very often give you a variety of attachments that are more applicable to a car. For example, you’ll likely find nozzles that can reach under the car seats, or – if the vacuum isn’t battery operated – it may have a car adapter plug to make sure that you’re getting all your car clean.
Important Features to Consider
A handheld vacuum should do several things well. Here’s what to consider when selecting a handheld vacuum:
- Corded or cordless. Obviously, cordless options are more portable, but you won’t want to blindly pick a cordless option without considering the downsides, too. The power of a battery-operated vacuum, no matter how excellent and efficient is more varied than a corded. As the battery dies, the motor will operate more slowly and the suction can ebb and wane in that instance. Additionally, bear in mind that if you’re using a handheld stick vacuum exclusively to vacuum your home, then you’ll find limitations. You’ll likely see a time limit of 20 minutes or less and if your home is too big to vacuum within that timeframe, you may get stuck with a half-finished vacuuming job.
- Bags or dust cups. Though bagged vacuum cleaners seem to be going out of fashion, you may still be able to find a few here and there. If you’re not sure why you’d want anything other than a dust cup, bear in mind that when you empty a dust cup, very often it will create a puff of dirt and debris and for anyone with any kind of allergy or sensitivity, that’s going to have a big impact on their day.
- HEPA Filter. Speaking of allergies, a good filter, that you can either clean or remove is going to be a big selling point for those with allergies. A reusable and washable filter is the most cost-effective way to handle the vacuum’s filtration system, but you will need to get up close and personal with the filter to get it cleaned, and if it’s holding onto the allergens that set your breathing aflame, then that may not be the best option for you.
- Portability. You may think that portability just means cordless and handheld, but the truth is that even some of these types of vacuums are still pretty bulky. It may be an excellent vacuum for an apartment person, but if you have to lug it up and down stairs on a regular basis, the term “portability” gets a bit more stringent. You’ll definitely want to check the weight of any vacuum you choose, and even more than that – the shape. If it’s lightweight, that’s going to make it more portable, it’s true, but if it’s an awkward shape, then you may still end up not wanting to transport it and end up using it less than you want to (or should).
- Dust cup capacity. You’ll want to temper your need for portability with your desire to vacuum for longer periods before emptying the dust cup. Set your priority and you’ll easily be able to find a compromise, but you won’t want to neglect this consideration or you may find yourself stopping to dump the dirt several times for each job.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a handheld vacuum and how does it work?
If you know what a vacuum is, then you probably know what a handheld vacuum is – it’s in the name. A handheld vacuum simply refers to a vacuum that you hold in your hands. You won’t just hold it though, you’ll be carrying it. The primary difference in a canister or upright vacuum compared with a handheld is that the motor of a handheld vacuum isn’t on the ground, you’ll be supporting the weight and therefore it will weigh far less – just by necessity. That means the motor is usually smaller, and it will hold less dust and debris before needing to be dumped. A handheld will traditionally have a bit less powerful suction, but that is changing with every new model. You’ll have variable speeds on several handhelds that will even allow you to clean the more hard-to-get messes, too – and that’s not common in an upright or canister. The handhelds are often cordless to make them even more portable, but it’s not a requirement. The batteries will recharge and each charge, depending on the speed and efficiency of the battery, can last up to 30 minutes. You can use a stick vacuum for your entire house, given the proper attachments, and even the smaller models will allow you to vacuum little messes or the entirety of your car conveniently.
How long do handheld vacuums last?
Depending on the quality and warranty of your vacuum, you can expect a handheld, rechargeable battery vacuum to last anywhere from two to five years. There will be some outliers on either extreme, though – a new handheld made with excellent quality can last up to 10 years if you treat it properly and have a little luck. If you’re not known for your luck, then you should be able to expect even the less expensive handheld vacuums to last at least a couple of years. You’ll also want to bear in mind that a corded vacuum lasts a bit longer than the cordless alternative.
Is a corded or cordless handheld vacuum better?
Whether you prefer a corded or cordless handheld vacuum will depend entirely on your situation. There are pros and cons to each. A corded vacuum will allow you to maintain consistent power and suction without setting a timer on your tasks. You can take as long as you need to make sure your vacuum is getting everything you want it to and never worry about a battery dying. Being tethered to the wall, though, is a big drawback that may keep you from using your vacuum as much as you want (or should). A cordless is a convenience that often comes with a slight cost mark up – but you get what you pay for and more. You’ll appreciate the versatility of a cordless, and lugging it from room to room won’t be nearly as daunting as it would be, should you need to unplug and replug every time you reach the max length of the cord.
How do you empty a handheld vacuum cleaner?
There are a lot of different models and designs on vacuum cleaners and asking this for just handheld vacuums doesn’t narrow the answer down as concretely as you may think. There are still bagged handheld vacuums that are a simple pull, toss, replace but those are a bit harder to find these days. The convenience of a bagless, dust cup has become the norm for a handheld, and that’s an even easier process. You’ll need to follow the instructions specific to your model, but the chances are good that you’ll either remove the dust cup completely to take to the waste bin, or you’ll hold the vacuum with its waste door positioned over (or even in) a trash can, pull a lever or push a button to open and dump waste. After that, you will simply replace the duct cup or close the hatch and you’re swiftly back to the task at hand.
Other Handheld Vacuums We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other handheld vacuums. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best handheld vacuums list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your home. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
Cordless Handheld Vacuums
With a sleek design and integrated storage, you won’t mind having this well within your reach.
- 2.75L x 12.6W x 3.62″H
- 12 minutes uninterrupted use
- USB charger
This handheld vacuum will rid your pet’s favorite spot of all his hair and dander with ease.
- 0.7-liter dust cup capacity
- 14V lithium-ion battery
- 3 attachments included
You can buy this handy vacuum or also included with this listing is a set that comes with all the accessories, too.
- 3.2 lb weight capacity
- 3-stage filtration
- Dust cup capacity: 20.6 oz
You’ll never have to worry about the filter on this handheld vacuum – it can easily be removed and washed so make sure your vacuum is performing optimally at all times.
- One-touch dust cup empty
- Anti-tangle rubber bristles
- 20 Volts
This compact little vacuum still packs a punch -powered by lithium technology, you can expect suction up to 8 Kpa.
- 2 color options
- Includes 3 attachments, charging base, and 2 filters
- 30-minute runtime
This vacuum is ideal for a car or home, with the included car and wall chargers.
- 13-level HEPA filtration
- 1.1 lb weight
- 3.62 x 17.24 x 6.3
This little vacuum can handle a wide variety of messes, up to, and included liquids.
- HEPA filtration system
- 5 attachments and storage bag included
- Washable, reusable filters
With your purchase of this handheld vacuum, you’ll get a crevice tool and scrubbing brush to maximize its use.
- Washable filter
- CleanTouch – easy dirt ejection
- 2.2 lb weight
With three attachments, a reusable filter, powerful suction, and lightweight design, this handheld vacuum is at the top of its class.
- Washable filter
- 120 Watts
- 25-minute runtime
Stick Handheld Vacuums
For those with allergies or sensitivities, you’ll appreciate that this stick handheld vacuum has a four-stage filtration system.
- 30 minutes uninterrupted use
- 2-year warranty
- 250 watts
This vacuum has an excellent reputation and after pushing this lightweight powerful creature, you’ll see exactly why.
- Dust cup capacity: 0.14 gallons
- 30 minutes uninterrupted runtime
- Fade-free power
Not only will you be impressed with this vacuum’s performance, but you’ll love the extra-wide brush that tackles a full eleven inches on each sweep.
- Maintenence-free lifetime filter
- 60-minute constant runtime
- 2 colors available
This stick handheld vacuum performs well on all types of floors, meaning you’ll be able to use it all throughout your home.
- HEPA filtration system
- 100 Watts
- 2 color options
With this battery-powered stick handheld vacuum, you’ll have 30 minutes of constant runtime, without any fade in suction as the battery dies.
- 140 Watts
- Removable and washable filtration system
Though this vacuum is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can operate for 40 minutes of uninterrupted use, you’ll actually have 80 minutes because you’ll get a spare battery with your purchase.
- 0.3-quart dust cup capacity
- Flexible reach for under tight places
- 2 batteries included
You’ll have plenty of versatility, and no need to buy extras with this vacuum – it comes with all you’ll need.
- 40-minute uninterrupted runtime
- 5 attachments and stick
- 450 Watts
This vacuum is a 2-in-1, with the stick attachment and the handheld function, making it all the more convenient for your home.
- HEPA filtration system
- 400 watts
- 35-minute constant runtime
Other Handheld Vacuums
This vacuum may be corded, but with its compact design, it still may be the most portable vacuum you’ve ever owned.
- Bagless design
- 7 AMP motor
- Quick-release 16′ power cord
This vacuum has a compact design that makes it an excellent vacuum for portability.
- 15-minute constant runtime
- 3-hour fast charge
- Removable, washable filter
If you plan on cleaning your cushioned furniture like beds, pillows, cushions, or fabric couches, this is specially designed to make that job easy.
- HEPA filtration system
- 3.3 lb weight
- Removable and washable filter