A person using a handheld vacuum

It doesn’t always make sense to lug out a heavy upright or canister vacuum. For quick cleanups, a handheld vacuum does the job without any of the hassle that comes from large vacuums.

While a handheld vacuum does not typically last as long as a cordless upright model, they’re still able to accomplish quick clean up jobs. They’re a convenient and easy way to clean up small messes when you don’t want to vacuum the whole house.

The handheld vacuum game is changing and we’ve found vacuums that last longer thanks to lithium ion batteries. When we were looking at handheld vacuums, we looked for battery life, versatility, and value for the price. Each of these things helped us rank the best handheld vacuums.

Read on to find out which handheld vacuums made our list of the top five on the market.

Our Top Picks:

Best Overall: Bissel Cleanview Deluxe
Best Budget: Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip HV
Best Cordless: Black + Decker Dustbuster Cordless Vacuum
Best Splurge: Dyson V7 Trigger
Best for Pet Hair: Bissel Pet Hair Eraser

The Best Handheld Vacuums: Our Top Picks

Best Overall
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Bissell Cleanview Deluxe

Handheld vacuum with powerful suction, ergonomic handle and useful attachments.

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$49.99 USD

Why we Picked It

The powerful 4-amp motor provides strong suction and the HEPA media filter traps allergens and keeps them in the container. With an 18-foot power cord, the vacuum does not rely on battery and is able to run for as long as it takes to get the job done. The cord easily retracts with the quick wrap cord system.

The Bissell attachments include a hose, wide mouth tool, and crevice tool to get into areas larger vacuums might not be able to reach. It’s easy to empty thanks to the quick release dirt cup.

At just 4.65 pounds and with an ergonomic handle, the vacuum will not cause stress or fatigue during long periods of use. Its small size makes it an excellent option for small apartments, dorm rooms, cars, and campers.

Keep in Mind

The cord makes it possible to run the vacuum for a long time, but it may make it more difficult for use on the go or in the car.

In a Nutshell

  • Includes 3 useful attachments
  • 4.65 pounds
  • 18-foot long cord
Best Budget
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Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip HV

Affordable vacuum including a crevice tool to reach difficult places.

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$39.99 USD

Why we Picked It

The corded Dirt Devil Scorpion provides similar suction without the high price that comes with some handheld vacuums. It’s strong enough to clean up things like pet hair, saw dust, and dry messes. The crevice tool is built into the vacuum and flips down so there’s no need to find extra storage space for additional vacuum parts.

With a removable and rinsable filter, the Scorpion is easy to keep clean and perfect for trapping dust and debris. The vacuum doesn’t have to be taken apart to reach the easily accessible filter.

The dirt cup has a .45 liter capacity and is tough enough to handle even big debris like pebbles. Its 16-foot cord makes this vacuum easy to take anywhere. At under 4 pounds, the vacuum is easy to hold and can be used for a long time.

Keep in Mind

Since the filter is rinsable and reusable, it will need to be cleaned regularly for the vacuum to function properly.

In a Nutshell

  • Suction similar to upright models
  • 3.75 pounds
  • Eco-friendly reusable filter
Best Cordless
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Black + Decker Dustbuster Cordless Vacuum

Lithium ion battery and cyclonic technology create a more powerful suction.

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$59.99 USD

Why we Picked It

With cyclonic technology, the Dustbuster can pick up both small and large pieces of debris. The lithium ion fully charges in just four hours and can run long enough to get most small jobs done. Its charging base is small and easy to put in even the tightest areas.

The dirt bowl on the Dustbuster is easy to empty with just one click and can be rinsed out to ensure it stays clean. Since it’s clear, it’s easy to know when it needs emptied. The filters are also reusable and washable.

With the rotating slim nozzle, no attachments are required. It can reach nearly 6 inches deep into cracks to ensure a deep cleaning. The lightweight design makes it easy to maneuver into tight areas and use for extended periods of time.

Keep in Mind

The Dustbuster does not come with a snap on wall charger, but uses a horizontally placed flat charger instead.

In a Nutshell

  • Long-lasting lithium ion batteries
  • 2.6 pounds
  • Long nozzle

Best Splurge
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Dyson V7 Trigger

Signature Dyson cyclones and included attachments to get the job done.

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$199.99 USD

Why we Picked It

The Dyson V7 Trigger packs everything needed in a handheld vacuum into a small machine. With the signature cyclonic technology, it provides up to 30 minutes of fade-free cleaning.

Dyson’s hygienic dust ejector means no dirt or debris left in the vacuum after the one-touch dust release. It is small enough to fit in tiny spaces, but provides the same type of suction and power that comes from the larger Dyson models.

At 3.77 pounds, the V7 Trigger is lightweight and easy to use in the home or car. It includes the mini motorized tool, crevice tool, and combination tool. The long crevice tool works well for cleaning blinds and other hard to reach areas.

Keep in Mind

The price may seem high, but it comes with many extras including longer run time and tools that will work for almost any handheld vacuum application.

In a Nutshell

  • Powerful Dyson cyclones
  • 3.77 pounds
  • Quick recharging

Best for Pet Hair
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Bissell Pet Hair Eraser

Lithium ion battery powered vacuum with a motorized brush to lift pet hair and ground-in dirt.

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$72.99 USD

Why we Picked It

With tools like the motorized brush, crevice tool, and upholstery tool, the vacuum can clean pet hair from any surface. It is able to get deep into carpets and furniture to dig out hard to reach pet hair. The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser also includes triple filtration that can help reduce allergens from pet hair and dander.

A clear dirt bin easily detaches from the vacuum and can be emptied without ever having to touch the debris inside the vacuum. At .7 liters, the bin can hold a lot of pet hair.

The 14 volt battery provides extended run time of up to 17 minutes before it begins to fade. Bisssell’s charger is small and easy to fit into compact spaces. The Pet Hair Eraser weighs just 4.3 pounds and has a tapered nozzle to fit into tight areas.

Keep in Mind

The vacuum may take up to five hours to fully charge, and can then be used for 17 minutes without fading. The Pet Eraser is best for tidying up rather than whole-house cleaning.

In a Nutshell

  • Attachments designed for pet cleanup
  • 4.3 pounds
  • 14V lithium ion battery

How We Chose the Best Handheld Vacuums

Are you interested in learning how we chose the best handheld vacuums? These are the features we looked for and rated each vacuum on:

Weight

Most handheld vacuums are small, but their weight is also important. We determined if each of the vacuums are lightweight enough to work for a variety of purposes and for users who have different needs, strength, and mobility. We also evaluated whether the vacuums are lightweight enough to comfortably use for a long enough period to vacuum up messes.

We also looked at the wright of the attachments, and if they have a large impact on the overall weight. If the attachment’s utility doesn’t justify the extra weight, it’s not adding any value.

Cleaning Power

When we look at the cleaning power of handhelds, we determine if the vacuum has enough suction power to handle a variety of small tasks. The vacuums need to be able to handle both large and small pieces of debris. We look at a vacuum’s ability to handle pet hair and the effect it has on the suction power.

The way a vacuum cleans is also something we consider. Some of the models use cyclonic power while others use direct suction. By looking at the different types of suction, we are able to determine which ones are the most effective.

Battery Life

Battery life only applied to cordless models. Cordless vacuums should have enough battery life to tackle jobs of different sizes. Likewise, cordless handhelds need to have a battery that does not fade part of the way through the job.

When looking at battery life, we also determined the amount of time it takes to fully charge the vacuum and how long the battery is expected to last over its lifetime.

Value

For the value of a handheld vacuum, we take more than just the price into account. We look at how heavy the vacuum is, the power it has, and the attachments that come with it. Functionality and special features are also included when we look at value. We take all this into consideration when determining if the vacuum has enough benefits to justify its cost. Some vacuums are very affordable, but they do not have enough features to even justify the small price.

Versatility

Since handheld vacuums are meant to work on multiple surfaces and in a variety of locations, we consider the versatility while looking at different handheld models. The vacuums need to work on different surfaces and fit into small spaces. We also consider cord length for corded models.

The attachments are also a consideration when we look at the versatility because of the importance of being able to work for different applications.

What to Look for in a Handheld Vacuum

To ensure you get a vacuum that works best for your home and unique situation, there are some things you’ll need to consider:

Capacity

Since emptying a canister can cause you to take more breaks than having to charge the battery, it’s important to look for a handheld vacuum with a canister size that matches your needs. A larger canister size can hold more debris and may be able to hold larger pieces of debris. It also means you will not have to stop as often to empty it out.

Storage

Finding a place for your handheld vacuum shouldn’t have to be difficult. Most handheld models will fit into small spaces, but consider how you will get them there. Look at whether a vacuum can mount on the wall or if it needs to be mounted horizontally. For cordless models, you’ll also need to consider how large the dock is and how long the charging cord is.

Accessories

You may want to use your vacuum in the kitchen, living room and even your car. Consider whether it has all the necessary tools to get into hard to reach places and clean areas that are high up. A handheld vacuum should make your life easier and the accessories can make a difference if they are useful.

Battery Life

With around 20-30 minutes of run time, most handheld vacuums can last long enough to tackle small jobs. You’ll need to consider how long the battery lasts and whether it fades during that time. Many models feature batteries that are made to be fade-free and will simply turn off when the battery gets too low to power the machine. Also consider how long it takes for the battery to fully charge.

Cord length

Corded handheld models mean you don’t have to worry about charging the vacuum or it dying in the middle of a job. If you’re looking for a corded vacuum, you will need to consider how long the cord is and whether it will prevent you from reaching certain areas.

Cordless vs. Corded Handheld Vacuums

Both cordless and corded handheld vacuums work for different applications. Many times, the choice between a cordless and corded handheld vacuum comes down to personal preference and what works best for your household.

Power Source 

  • Corded vacuums do not have to be charged, but you may still have to stop vacuuming to switch outlets.
  • Cordless vacuums need to be charged, but they are often able to reach into tighter areas and can be easily transported to different areas throughout the home.

Run Time 

  • Corded vacuums have unlimited run time.
  • Cordless vacuums need to be charged after around 20-30 minutes for most models.

Suction Strength

  • Corded models pull from a power source and have strong suction.
  • Most modern cordless models have suction comparable to corded models when they are fully charged, but the power can fade as the battery level gets low.

Transport

  • Corded models are tethered to an area that features an outlet.
  • Cordless models can go literally anywhere as long as the battery is charged.

Price 

  • Corded handheld vacuums tend to be in a lower price range.
  • Cordless vacuums may be more expensive but also come with accessories like a charging dock.

Related Resources

A handheld vacuum works great for small jobs, but it’s not ideal for whole-home cleaning. Read more of our comprehensive guides to find the right vacuum when a handheld just won’t do:

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