For smaller messes, a good handheld vacuum provides quick cleaning without a lot of heavy lifting and without hogging precious storage space. These mini vacs won’t replace a full-size canister vacuum when it comes to deep cleaning, but they are handy for instantly tackling dry spills, tracked-in dirt, and pet hair stuck to just about everything. With handheld vacuums, you might even consider more than one as they don’t just tackle messes inside your home: stash one in the garage to keep a workshop, garden bench and your car clean, too.
Handheld vacuums are a great option if you’re looking to clean small spills around the home. They’re lightweight, portable, and due to their small size, they’re handy when tackling more difficult or uneven terrain like inside your car or on your stairs. Some stick or canister vacuums also have a handheld configuration, making them even more versatile if you need to clean larger areas. .
We’ve tested over 90 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best handheld vacuums to buy. These picks are selected based on their performance on different surfaces and their feature set, battery life, and price.
Today’s newest cordless models have more powerful batteries to pick up more debris and run longer than the wimpy models of years ago. Other innovations include more comfortable grips, easier to empty dust cups, washable filters, removable batteries, multiple speeds, and more. Some even pick up wet messes and remove stains, and whether they come corded or cordless, those with brushes and other attachments make it easy to remove dust from draperies, window sills, door frames, mattresses, and other out-of-the-way spots that may be awkward for a larger vacuum to reach.
How we test handheld vacuums
We tests handheld vacuums on bare floors and low pile carpets for how well they pick up light debris like sand, baking soda, dry oatmeal, orzo pasta, and pet hair. Also we test their suction with heavy items, like screws and nuts. We record the run time and weight and judge how easy the filter is to change or clean, how easy the dust cup is to empty, and how comfortable the vacuum is to hold and use. Any special features or attachments are also assessed. We then ask real consumers to use and rate each vacuum before we determine our test winners.
If you’re looking for other top-rated vacuums, we assess how well they remove dirt deeply embedded into pile carpet and simulated pet hair evenly spread on a carpet’s surface. We look at how well they remove large and small debris from hard flooring like hardwood, tile, or linoleum, how well they clean along floor edges, and how strong their suction is. We also test them for ease-of-use and cleaning/emptying, maneuverability and weight, and battery run-time for cordless vacuum cleaners.
The handheld vacuum cleaners below are ones that have done well in our tests. Whether you are replacing a vacuum that has bitten the dust or are adding one to your cleaning arsenal, here are the ones we recommend.
Power Share Portable Vacuum Cleaner
Not your typical handheld vac, the WORX model has a unique compact, boxy shape; a removable battery that fits into other WORX tools; and a top handle. Its crevice and brush tools store right on it, and a built-in flexible hose reaches four feet.
A top performer in our cleaning tests, this model easily picked up all the debris and pet hair we put down, even without using the max power setting. The hose makes it easy to reach into tight spaces, and it ran for 23 minutes at standard power on one charge. Although it’s a little heavier than other handheld vacuums, you don’t need to hold it up to use it.
Black+Decker 16V Max Lithium DustBuster Hand Vacuum CHV1410L
If you need something simple for quick cleanups, this small, affordable cordless handheld vacuum will get the job done. If you plan to use your hand vacuum only for occasional tidy-ups, the Black+Decker 16V Max Lithium Dustbuster Hand Vacuum CHV1410L is a simpler, slightly cheaper alternative to our main pick. It can’t reach as many awkward spots or get hair off upholstery, but it costs a lot less and still manages to pick up most common debris. The 12-minute, no-fade run time is fine, and the recharging time is faster than that of many similar models.
AeroSlim Lithium Ion Cordless Handheld Vacuum
Ideal for quick pick-ups on hard surfaces, the compact and lightweight Aeroslim with its combo crevice tool and soft brush accessory is great for taking care of crumbs on your laptop, in your car, or in between the sofa cushions. The storage stand with its built-in cap holds the vacuum upright, and holds the accessory tool too, so it’s always where you need it. It has a washable filter, and charges via a USB port.
Hoover ONEPWR BH57005
The Hoover Onepwr BH57005 is part of the company’s cordless cleaning system, which uses interchangeable lithium-ion batteries in nine products, including this model, a stick vacuum, and other floor-cleaning appliances. This handheld aces our bare-floor cleaning test, earning an Excellent rating. And it does well in other key cleaning tests, including cleaning carpet, removing pet hair, and getting grit out of the edges along walls. A crevice tool gives you a longer reach.
Wyze Handheld Vacuum
If you’re looking for an even smaller, more portable handheld vacuum, take a look at the Wyze Handheld Vacuum. It struggles more than the Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet with bulky debris like cereal and has a smaller dirt compartment, but it is notably lighter and easier to store. It delivers slightly better performance on low and high-pile carpet too, especially in regards to finer debris like baking soda, and is equipped with a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean. Except for its clear plastic dirt compartment, which is a little flimsy, it feels quite sturdily built and is easy to maintain.
Its maximum battery life of 30 minutes is similar to the Black+Decker, but it takes notably less time to recharge. It also comes with a wider assortment of tools and accessories, which include a crevice tool, an upholstery tool, a soft-bristle brush, and an extension hose to help you clean hard-to-reach areas. Unfortunately, unlike the Black+Decker, it doesn’t come with a motorized turbo brush. Overall, it’s one of the best small vacuums we’ve tested.
Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum
The nubby rubber nozzle of this well-priced little (less than 4-pound) vacuum was made for those annoying pet hairs. It flexes and contours around chair arms and stair treads to get every last piece. For dry spills on bare floors (like kitty litter), remove the rubber tip and extend the wide, built-in crevice tool for quick pick-up. Even though it’s not cordless, the power cord is 16-feet long for great reach.
HomeVac H11 Cordless Handheld Vacuum
Don’t let the Eufy’s slim shape fool you. About the size of a wine bottle (but lightweight, at just over one pound), this sleek handheld vacuum is full-featured. It includes a crevice/brush tool, a washable filter and a cap that lets it stand upright for storage or charging – standing on a bookshelf, you’d never know it was a vacuum.
Small but mighty, the Eufy rivaled bigger models for cleaning ability. A soft grip makes it comfortable to hold. It runs quietly for up to 13 minutes, and lights alert you when the battery needs charging.
Dirt Devil Scorpion Handheld Vacuum
Priced at $30, the Dirt Devil Scorpion Handheld Vacuum is the most budget-friendly pick on the list. Thanks to its powerful motor, it’s able to maneuver between small and tough messes wherever they arise. The handheld vacuum has a 16-foot cord and a 0.45-liter dirt cup, and it comes with a 2.5-foot hose for big jobs and a built-in crevice tool for tight spaces. According to reviewers, it doesn’t falter even when it sucks up items like cat litter and pebbles. “This is easily the best handheld vacuum in the industry,” one reviewer raved. “Outstanding suction, good design, ease of use, ease of cleaning, and light weight make it my ‘go-to’ vacuum.”
The best handheld vacuum for bare floors that we’ve tested is the HoLife HM036E. This cordless vacuum does a superb job of sucking up a wide range of debris on bare, even surfaces like hardwood or laminate, ranging from pet hair as well as small and bulky debris like rice or cereal. It even comes with a liquid nozzle attachment for dealing with wet messes, but it’s worth noting that we don’t currently test this feature and that the vacuum needs a thorough cleaning following this kind of use.
It feels sturdy and is well-built, with a dense plastic construction that’s easy to disassemble or reassemble for periodic maintenance. Recurring costs are decently low since its allergen-trapping HEPA filter doesn’t need replacing very often. Battery performance is also satisfactory, especially by the standards of handheld vacuums, as it can supply more than 20 minutes of runtime on a single charge. However, this can change in the real world.
Unfortunately, this vacuum lacks a suction power control feature, which would be handy if you wanted a bit more power to clear stubborn debris or wish to conserve some energy when dealing with lighter messes. In addition, it doesn’t come with a turbo brush to clean messes on fabric-lined surfaces more easily. It also has a small dustbin that needs emptying often. Otherwise, this vacuum’s fantastic performance on bare floors and compact size makes it one of the best apartment vacuums that we’ve tested.
Shark Rocket Pet Pro with MultiFlex IZ163H
If you want a vacuum to clean larger areas, you may prefer the Shark Rocket Pet Pro with MultiFlex IZ163H. It’s not as light and compact as the HoLife HM036E and can’t be used to clean up liquids, but you can use it as either a handheld or a stick vacuum, making it much more suitable for cleaning a big room’s floor. Like the HoLife, it delivers an incredible performance on bare floors, where it easily cleans pet hair, debris like rice, and bulkier material like cereal.
It’s amazingly maneuverable, with a flexible wand that makes it easy to clean under furniture. There are also tools and brushes included, like a turbo brush you can attach to the vacuum in its handheld mode to clean furniture. Unfortunately, while its maximum battery life is more than 40 minutes, you can deplete the battery in just over 10 minutes if you use the most powerful suction mode continuously.
Get the HoLife if you want a more compact vacuum better-suited for spot-cleaning, but consider the Shark if you want a very maneuverable stick/handheld model.
Shark Wandvac Cordless Hand Vac
Less than 3 inches wide and 17 inches long, this slender handheld vacuum was designed for tiny homes and cramped apartments. It won’t take up much space, and the crevice attachment is ideal for cleaning along baseboards and in corners. Earning a 4.6-star rating from Amazon shoppers, this handheld vacuum is a favorite for its strong suction power and fast-charging battery. “This vac goes above and beyond,” according to one customer. “The battery lasts and lasts, the suction is incredible, and the docking station is brilliant. We like it so much we bought a second one so we can have one of these suckers on both levels of our home.
Iris USA Mattress and Furniture Vacuum
This vacuum from Iris USA acts as a more portable version of your favorite vacuum cleaner with its strong suction power and cyclone stream technology. It also has a built-in agitator that shakes dust mites, allergens, and dead skin cells from couches and mattresses. Plus, the vacuum’s color-changing design informs you when you’ve successfully vacuumed up all of the dirt, hair, crumbs, and dust from your furniture. In this way, you can rest assured that you’re performing a hygienic clean. Many reviewers noted that the corded handheld vacuum is best suited for small jobs with fine particles.
Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro
The best cordless handheld vacuum for carpet that we’ve tested is the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This handheld vacuum delivers outstanding cleaning performance on low and high-pile carpet. It easily sucks up pet hair and fine debris like baking soda or larger material like sand. It also comes with a turbo brush with a self-cleaning brushroll. Which is helpful if you want to clean fabric surfaces without worrying about hair wraps.
It feels sturdy overall, courtesy of its dense plastic construction. But it’s still light enough to carry around for extended periods without causing fatigue. And it has a fairly large dirt compartment for a handheld vacuum, so it shouldn’t need emptying that often either. User maintenance is simple overall, with few parts that need regular cleaning. Its dust cup filter also doesn’t need to be replaced very often, so recurring costs are low.
Unfortunately, this vacuum lacks a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean. Also, its battery only supplies enough charge for a little bit more than 10 minutes of runtime, though this can vary in the real world. Still, if you’re looking for a versatile handheld vacuum that can easily spot clean messes on carpets, this is a good option.