While full-size vacuums are great for cleaning large rooms, sometimes a handheld option can be a far more convenient solution for smaller jobs. They are ideal for dealing with spills, cleaning inside cars, vacuuming furniture and much more.
There is now a huge range of handheld models available, and choosing the right one can be hard. If you are looking for the perfect one for your home but don’t know which to go for, here are our top picks for the best handheld vacuum on the market to help you make up your mind.
At a Glance: Our Top 7 Picks for Handheld Vacuum On the Market
Best Overall : BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L Handheld Vacuum
“It has Smart Charge tech, which means it uses 50% less energy than some other comparable models.”
Best Budget: BLACK+DECKER BDH2000PL Handheld Vacuum
“Gets consistently positive reviews and costs less than $80.”
Best Upgrade: Dyson V7 Trigger Handheld Vacuum
“When it comes to top-end vacuum, Dyson is a name that immediately springs to mind.”
Best for Pet Hair: Bissell Pet Hair 33A1 Handheld Vacuum
“It has 2 specialist nozzles – a rubber one for picking up pet hair and another for dealing with dry pet mess.”
Best for Car: Bissell 47R51 Car Vacuum
“It has a brush tool that is ideal for using inside a car or on furniture.”
Best for Stairs: Shark Rocket Hv292 Handheld Vacuum
“It comes with a crevice tool, a dusting brush and a stretch hose that also give you more flexibility and reach when cleaning different parts of your home.”
Best LIghtweight: SOWTECH 2 In 1 Handheld Vacuum
“It is super-lightweight – at under 3.5lbs, you’ll struggle to find anything that weighs less.”
Best Handheld Vacuum Reviews of 2020
1. Best Overall : BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L Handheld Vacuum
This Dustbuster cordless handheld vacuum from Black+Decker features a lithium-ion battery that can be fully charged in four hours – and can hold its charge for up to 18 months, meaning it’s always ready to go when you need it.
It also features Smart Charge tech, which means it uses 50% less energy than some other comparable models.
It boasts impressive suction power for a unit of this class, and thanks to the cyclonic action that helps keep the filter-free, it doesn’t lose power, even as it fills up. The battery also ensures fade-free performance, meaning it keeps its strength right up until the battery is empty.
There are lots of useful features that make this a highly practical and versatile vacuum to use. It has a rotating nozzle that allows you to reach into more inaccessible spots in your home while the flip-up brush is ideal for vacuuming upholstery.
There’s also an extendable crevice tool, allowing you to reach into tight corners that otherwise you might not be able to clean.
When it fills up, it’s easy to empty – you just press the button to release the waste inside then close it back up again, and you’re ready to go.
There’s not much we don’t like about this vacuum. If there’s one major gripe, it’s that the battery is not replaceable. This is fine while it lasts, but it will inevitably fail after a few years – and when it does, the vacuum becomes useless.
Another issue is the charging stand. To charge, the vacuum sits vertically on top, making it quite easy to knock over. However, some people might like the fact that it takes up so little space, and you just need to be careful where you place it to avoid it falling over.
All in all, this is a versatile, reliable and powerful handheld vacuum that can be used for a number of applications.
Although it will eventually need to be replaced due to the battery wearing out, you can expect to get several years of good use from it before this happens – and for this reason, it still comes highly recommended on the market.
What We Like
- Cyclonic action – keeps the filter clean and the power strong
- Washable filter and dust bowl – no need to buy replacements
- Rotating nozzle – allows you to reach into hard to access spots
- Flip-up brush and crevice tool – gives more flexibility over how you vacuum
- Easy to empty – simply press the button, release and close again
What We Don’t Like
- Battery not replaceable – when the battery dies, the vacuum dies
- Charger easy to knock over – vacuum sits vertically on top
2. Best Upgrade: Dyson V7 Trigger Handheld Vacuum
When it comes to top-end vacuum cleaners on the market, Dyson is a name that immediately springs to mind. It is a company that has a reputation for making high-performance vacuums, and this handheld model is a worthy addition to Dyson’s range.
It is a cordless vacuum, meaning you don’t need to worry about working near a power outlet – you can just as easily take it outside to clean your car or use it in any other places that would be out of range with a corded unit.
It is powered by a fade-free lithium-ion battery that gives you full suction power right until the battery is completely empty.
Speaking of power, impressive suction is a hallmark of all Dyson vacs, and this unit is no different.
It has two different power settings, allowing you to choose between conserving battery or going flat out.
While even the regular setting gives you very respectable power, if you need more suction, you can switch to maximum to deal with even the most stubborn dirt and grime.
We like the range of different accessories that it comes with. There’s a mini motorized tool, a combination tool, and a crevice tool – all of which give you plenty of scope for cleaning in a range of situations.
Another positive is the hygienic dust ejection system that is designed to let you empty the vacuum without getting your hands dirty. You simply hold it over the trash and press the button to release all the collected dirt.
However, even such a high-quality vac isn’t without its faults. One issue is the battery life, which some people might find a little disappointing. This is especially true on the maximum setting – you can only expect around 10 minutes or less of continuous use.
Another slight negative is the noise it makes since this unit is louder than lots of other options. However, this is to be expected with something this powerful, and many people will find this a reasonable price to pay for the extra suction it delivers.
To summarize, this is a handheld vacuum that will appeal to people who like high-quality, high-performance products and who are willing to pay extra to get their hands on them. If that sounds like you, then this is a handheld vacuum that should be high on your list of possibilities.
If you are interested in Dyson vacuums, you can read our post: Best Dyson Vacuum On The Market
What We Like
- Powerful handheld vacuum – as you would expect from Dyson
- Comes with several accessories – mini motorized tool, crevice tool and more
- Hygienic dirt ejection system – empty it without getting your hands dirty
- Cordless operation – use it anywhere you need
- Fade-free batteries – keeps strength until battery is empty
What We Don’t Like
- Battery life a little disappointing – especially on maximum setting
- On the loud side – although understandable given the power
3. Best Budget: BLACK+DECKER BDH2000PL Handheld Vacuum
If you are looking for a powerful yet affordable handheld vacuum cleaner on the market, this model from Black+Decker should be of interest. Although it is not a top-end model, it performs very well for something at this price point, making it a great budget-friendly pick.
Probably the first feature you will notice is the pivoting nozzle – it pivots through 200°, giving you the possibility of cleaning in places you wouldn’t be able reach to with other models. For example, if you need to vacuum overhead shelves, this is the ideal vacuum to do it.
Another prominent feature is the wide mouth. This allows you to suck up more dirt and debris with each pass, helping speed up any vacuuming jobs you need to take care of.
Finally, the extendable crevice tool also gives you the extra reach you will need to vacuum inside tight and inaccessible spots – this vacuum is designed to let you clean wherever you need to.
It is a battery-powered model and boasts a fade-free lithium-ion battery that gives you full power until the battery is empty. The cyclonic suction also helps keep the filter clear, meaning it won’t lose power as the dust cup fills up.
The filter itself, as well as the dust cup, are washable, so you won’t need to replace them. The dust cup is also easy to empty with the simple press of a button.
On the downside, if you use it to pick up pet hair, you may find the hair becomes tangled up inside and needs to be removed manually – it might not just drop out with the rest of the dust inside.
Also, the door for the dust cup seems slightly flimsy, and you will need to be careful not to break it when emptying it.
However, despite these minor gripes, this is a handheld vacuum that represents excellent value for money. While it might not be perfect, for something in its class and at this price point, you can hardly go wrong, making this another highly recommended option.
What We Like
- Pivoting nozzle – pivots through 200° for maximum flexibility
- Wide mouth – allows you to suck up more dirt
- Extendable crevice tool – to give you extra reach
- Good suction – respectable power for something in this class
- Easy to washbowl and filter – no need to buy replacements
What We Don’t Like
- May need to remove animal hair manually – can become tangled inside
- Flimsy dirt door – need to be careful not to break it
4. Best for Pet Hair: Bissell Pet Hair 33A1 Handheld Vacuum
Bissell is a company that makes a range of great-value vacuum cleaners that punch above their weight compared to their price tag. With this handheld vac specially created to deal with pet hair, the company has produced another machine that fits perfectly with that tradition.
This unit features two specialist nozzles – a rubber one for picking up pet hair and another for dealing with dry pet mess.
When working with the pet hair attachment, the results are exceptional. There really are few vacuums that will do a better job.
It is suitable for almost any surface, including upholstery, car interiors, stairs and more. By using this vac, you will be able to remove all the stubborn pet hair that you can’t seem to shift with any other model.
It also features multi-stage filtration. This is another important addition for pet owners since it will suck up and trap all the allergens that pets create and so improving the air you breathe. This will help reduce pet-related allergic reactions suffered by you or members of your family.
Just like other vacuums on the market, there is one slight design flaw with this vacuum. The air vents are placed on the sides and blow air downwards. This results in other debris being blown around, and for this reason, this vac is not suitable for other uses like picking up regular dirt and dust.
Also, it has a relatively short 16ft cord, and some people might find this is not long enough. However, this is not a big issue since it’s easy enough to use an extension.
All in all, this is a highly impressive product when it comes to cleaning up animal hair, and any pet owners in need of a way to deal with pet fur will love it. However, if you are looking for a more versatile handheld vacuum that works for other jobs, this is probably not the best pick.
What We Like
- Exceptional at removing pet hair – exceeds expectations
- Suitable for many surfaces – upholstery, cars, stairs, etc
- Includes 2 special nozzles – one for hair and one for dry mess
- Multi-layer filtration – works to trap in the allergens in pet hair
- Lightweight – easy for anyone to manage
What We Don’t Like
- Side vents – blows other debris around
- Cordon the short side – at only 16ft, might not be able to reach everywhere
5. Best for Car: Bissell 47R51 Car Vacuum
Handheld vacuum cleaners can be an ideal option for cleaning the interior of cars, especially if you have pets. They are lightweight, mobile and easy to use – and if that’s what you’re looking for, this model from Holife should be worth considering.
It has a wide mouth, making it useful for a range of clear-up jobs. You can use it for a variety of applications around the home. However, the three attachments it comes with make it even more versatile.
It includes a crevice device that allows you to vacuum along angles and to reach into spots that would otherwise be inaccessible, and there’s also a brush tool that is ideal for use inside a car or on furniture to pick up stubborn animal hair.
One thing we particularly like about this unit is that it can be used to clear up liquid spills as well as solid mess. It comes with an attachment specifically for this use, giving this vacuum a capability that not many other handheld vacs have.
It is powered by a lithium-ion battery that charges in only around 3-4 hours. Once ready, it holds its charge well, giving you enough time to finish your cleaning tasks before recharging again. The battery is fade-free, meaning it gives you near enough full power until it is empty.
In terms of power, it delivers 6Kpa of suction, highly respectable for a unit in this class and at this price point. It is also lightweight and comfortable to hold, making it easy for anyone to use.
One negative is that the filter can become blocked quite quickly and is also a little awkward to clean. However, once you get used to it, it doesn’t take long to do and is only a minor annoyance.
Another issue for some people could be that the charger needs to sit on a flat surface and can’t be mounted on a wall – but this depends on personal preference.
To summarize, this would be a good pick for anyone looking for a vacuum specifically for use inside a vehicle but that can also be used for more general cleaning in the house. It is suitable for pet owners and comes with a very reasonable price tag. Well worth considering in the market.
What We Like
- Wet and dry capability – can suck up liquid spills as well as solids
- Three attachments including crevice tool and brush tool – ideal for car interiors
- 6Kpa suction – good power for something in its class
- Reasonable battery life – and charges in around 3-4 hours
- Lightweight unit – easy for anyone to use
What We Don’t Like
- Filter can become blocked quickly – may need to wash it often
- Charger needs to sit on flat surface – can’t be mounted on a wall
6. Best for Stairs: Shark Rocket Hv292 Handheld Vacuum
This is a powerful handheld vacuum on the market. It’s a corded model, making it ideal for anyone who needs more power or longer usage time than cordless models can provide, and since it’s lightweight and comfortable to hold, it’s great for cleaning stairs.
One of the biggest positives is the powerful suction it delivers. This machine will pick up any stubborn dirt, debris or pet hairs that collect on the stairs or in other parts of your home.
It includes washable filters and a convenient bagless design, meaning you won’t need to buy any extra accessories to keep using it. When it fills up, it’s quick and easy to empty – you simply hit the button to open the dust cup and tip all the collected waste away.
It comes with some handy accessories, too. For pet owners, one of the best will be the motorized pet hairbrush. This allows you to suck up stubborn animal fur that clings to stairs, furniture or carpets without any problems.
Other tools include the crevice tool, a dusting brush and a stretch hose that also gives you more flexibility and reach when cleaning different parts of your home.
One possible negative for some people might be the 15ft cord. While this is reasonable for a handheld model, some might find it a bit on the short side.
For example, if you don’t have a power outlet at the top or bottom of your stairs, you might find you need to use an extension to clean from top to bottom – although for most people, using an extension won’t be a big deal.
Another issue related to the cord is that there is nowhere on the vacuum to wind it up – and it also can’t be detached. This means that you just have to wind it up around itself and leave it next to the vacuum. For some, this might seem a little untidy.
However, most people will accept these cord-related issues as a reasonable compromise for the power and functionality of owning a powerful corded vac. A solid and reliable option if you need something for general cleaning around the home and specifically on the stairs.
What We Like
- Strong suction – and never loses power as you work
- Lightweight model – weighs in at under 4lbs
- Easy to empty bagless design – simply press the button to open
- Comes with useful accessories – including stretch hose, crevice device and more
- Washable filters – no need to buy replacements
What We Don’t Like
- Cord only 15ft long – some people might feel it is too short
- Cord can’t be wrapped or detached – makes storing it untidy
7. Best Lightweight: SOWTECH 2 In 1 Handheld Vacuum
If you are looking for a versatile handheld vacuum cleaner that will help you with all kinds of cleaning tasks, this cordless model from Sowtech could be just the thing.
It boasts very respectable power for a vacuum in its class, and its pro-cyclone suction system allows it to pick up dust, pet hair, mites and more. It also incorporates 5th stage filtration that traps over 99% of microparticles inside.
One of the best things about this unit is the range of attachments it comes with. There’s a crevice tool that lets you clean in between gaps, along angles and in other more inaccessible spots in your home. There’s also a dedicated mattress attachment for cleaning beds.
The floor brush includes side bristles for cleaning along walls, and there’s also a useful square brush that can be used for a range of applications. Finally, it includes extension pipes to give you extra reach when cleaning overhead, for example.
Something we love about this vac is that it is super-lightweight – at under 3.5lbs, you’ll struggle to find anything that weighs less. This makes it even more practical for vacuuming cars, furniture and just about anything you need to use it for.
Another positive is the good battery life it can give you with each charge, and we also appreciate the fact that it runs quietly – you will enjoy using this machine if you are sensitive to loud noise.
One slight negative is that it struggles a bit when used to vacuum shaggy rugs. For this kind of use, you will probably do better with a unit that’s more adapted to that kind of job.
Also, we find the price is a little high for a handheld vacuum on the market – although not excessively so, and many people won’t mind paying a bit more for all the extra versatility it offers.
This is the kind of handheld vacuum that will appeal to anyone who needs something for the widest variety of jobs and who wants a quality unit without paying top-end prices. If that sounds like you, this is a vac that should be worth a look.
What We Like
- Pro-cyclone suction system – sucks up pet hair, mites, dust and more
- 5th stage filtration – traps 99% of microparticles inside
- Comes with 6 different attachments – give a great degree of versatility
- Super-lightweight – weighs in at under 4lbs
- Quiet operation – suitable for people who are sensitive to noise
What We Don’t Like
- Not ideal for rugs – won’t suck up encrusted dirt from shaggy rugs
- Slightly expensive for a handheld – although not excessively so
Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide
If you are in the market for a practical and convenient handheld vacuum, you are probably wondering about which features to look for when choosing. Let’s think about the most important ones now.
Corded or battery-powered?
When it comes to handheld vacuums, one of the biggest decisions you have to make is between corded versions and battery-powered models – and each type has its advantages and disadvantages.
Corded vacuums tend to be more powerful than battery-powered versions and can also be used for as long as you like. However, the disadvantage is that you need to be close to a power outlet to use one.
Another issue is that the cord itself can get in the way as you work and may catch on furniture or other items, making it more awkward to work with.
Battery-powered vacuums, on the other hand, don’t suffer from this problem and allow you to work wherever you like without needing to think about finding a power outlet.
However, batteries have limited life, only allowing you to work until the battery runs out – after which you need to stop and recharge.
Corded vacs are better for people who need extra power and who need to clean for longer periods. If you go for one of these, make sure the cord is long enough to reach everywhere you need to clean. Alternatively, you can use an extension.
Battery versions are better if you value mobility – for cleaning inside cars for example – and won’t need to use the vacuum for extended periods.
If you choose a battery-powered model, make sure the battery life is long enough – and also check to see how quickly the unit can recharge after the battery dies.
Another of the key considerations is how powerful a unit is. If you only need a handheld vacuum for occasional use, you probably don’t need to spend extra money on a high-powered model.
However, if you plan to use it more intensively and expect to use it for more difficult jobs like picking up animal hair or encrusted dirt, you are probably better off looking for one with a higher power rating.
Handheld vacuums on the market, like larger versions, often come with a range of accessories that make it easier to clean in a variety of situations.
A crevice tool is one of the basic attachments you should look for. These are good for cleaning between gaps, along edges and in other hard to reach spots.
Other useful accessories include extension pipes, special tools for picking up pet hair, mattress tools, and others. If you think these kinds of accessories would be useful for you, make sure the vacuum you are interested in buying at the market has them included.
HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air and is a standard for filters. HEPA filters can trap at least 99.95% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size, reducing dust, pollen and other allergens in the air and helping to minimize allergic reactions.
By choosing a vacuum with HEPA filters installed, you will actively improve the quality of the air you breath and help reduce allergic reactions suffered by anyone sensitive to the particles. They are particularly useful in households with pets since many people have pet allergies.
Bagged or bagless?
Many modern vacuums use bagless technology rather than collecting dirt and debris in a disposable bag. They offer greater convenience since you won’t need to buy replacement bags to replace old ones as they fill up.
When choosing a handheld vacuum from the market, weight is an important consideration since you want it to be light and portable enough to carry anywhere. If it is too heavy, you will become tired more quickly as you work, and you may suffer from fatigue in your arms.
Which surfaces it can be used on
Some vacuums perform better on certain surfaces than others, so think about what you want to use it for and choose accordingly. For example, will you be using it on furniture? In your car? On carpet? On hardwood or laminate floors?
Pet hair performance
Some vacuums are better than others at picking up pet hair – and some are specifically designed for this purpose. If you have animals in your home and cleaning up stubborn hair is a priority, make sure you choose a vacuum that performs well in this task.
Some vacuums are able to clear up liquids as well as solid mess. Not many have this capability, but if you think it would be useful for you, look for a unit that can do it.
Noise levels can vary greatly between different models. Often the most powerful vacuums are also the noisiest, but this is not always the case. If you are sensitive to noise or otherwise don’t want a vacuum that is too loud, make sure you choose one that runs quietly.
Handheld vacuums are useful for a range of jobs, like cleaning in cars, vacuuming in workshops and much more. If your vacuum is likely to see a lot of use and might be subject to some rough treatment, make sure you opt for one that can withstand a knock or two.
Many great options to choose from
As you can see, there are many great options to pick from in a large number of styles and at a full range of prices.
If you have decided to invest in a practical and convenient handheld vacuum on the market, but are still unsure which is the best model for you, any of our top picks would be a great place to start your search.