While it’s hard to beat the deep clean of a powerful vacuum, those traditional upright or canister vacuums can be cumbersome to haul out for smaller messes or everyday cleaning. Enter: the handheld vacuum. Much easier to use on things like pet hair-covered couches or a crumb-filled car seat, they tackle small messes before they get bigger.
But in the years since Black + Decker released the Dustbuster — a true friend to clean-freaks and busy parents everywhere — more than four decades ago, handheld vacuums have changed and gotten even better. Today’s models boast more powerful motors and longer battery run times. Many have also been developed to tackle specific tasks, like hard-to-reach nooks or pet hair.
Like any vacuum model, handheld vacuum prices vary, from well under $50 up to several hundred dollars. But you don’t need to spend big to get a good vacuum. Basic jobs are usually fine with a budget model, and you can expect to spend in the $75-90 range for a more powerful motor for pet hair and heavier-duty messes. Not sure what handheld vacuum model is best for you? Read on to see our top picks.
This story was originally published in December 2019.
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1. Shark WV201 Handheld Vacuum
It doesn’t look like a handheld vacuum you’re used to, but Shark’s stick vacuum offers some definite advantages. An easy-to-store charging base also has a small footprint: it can be tucked into kitchen counters or laundry rooms where it’s easy to access. The powerful suction lets you clean up messes with the flick of a wrist. Two attachments, which store at the base, allow you to clean even more effectively. A crevice tool is great for cars and other hard-to-reach areas, and a brush head is good for rugs and upholstery. Best of all, it’s under 2 pounds, making it even easier to reach for.
2. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser
You don’t have to be a pet owner to appreciate this handheld vacuum — but if you are one, pay attention. Much of what makes it great for owners of furry friends makes it great for any house dealing with a bigger-than-average daily mess. The motorized brush head makes it as close to a real vacuum as a handheld can go, helping lift away pet hair and more. A crevice head and upholstery head can also be used. Plus, this pet hair-inspired model can run up to 30 minutes on one charge.
3. Black + Decker Dustbuster
Dustbuster is the handheld vacuum that started it all. While there are more powerful options on the market, it remains a strong contender because it’s a great value-driven option — and it’s powerful enough to handle crumbs, spills and even broken glass. If you also just want something for frequent, smaller messes (tracked cat litter, we’re looking at you) you don’t need to invest in a more expensive model. It also comes with two attachments: a crevice tool and brush head.
4. Bissell Cleanview Deluxe Corded Handheld Vacuum
The convenience of cordless comes with a drawback: what if you forget to charge it? Or run out of battery midway through a job? If your phone is frequently at 1% battery, you may want to consider getting a corded model. While you’ll have to find an outlet before using it, of course, you’ll never run out of battery again. You may even find it’s preferable for occasional use: you can simply pack it away and store it and not worry about leaving it plugged in, or charging it before storage. This Bissell model also has a hose attachment for higher, hard-to-reach areas, as well as a crevice and brush tool.
5. ZesGood Portable Handheld Vacuum
This handful vacuum only takes two to three hours to reach a full charge with its lithium-ion batteries, and then you can vacuum cordless for 25 minutes. Inside the dust cup, there’s a reusable and washable HEPA filter to keep your home dust- and allergy-free. It’s a relatively quiet vac, so you won’t be irritated by the roaring noise when you’re cleaning the house. Plus, it only weighs 1.5 lbs., which means it won’t cause you any muscle strain.
6. Holife Handheld Vacuum
This vac has super strong suction and can tackle everything from liquids to dust, giving you that clean carpet and floor that you crave. It also has three attachments, including a liquid nozzle, a brush nozzle and a long nozzle. This 3.4 lbs. vacuum is cordless and chargeable. It charges for 2-3 hours and then you can use it for up to 30 minutes. It comes in antique white, blue and red.
7. Vaclife Handheld Vacuum
When you’re trying to clean underneath your dark couch with your vacuum, you have no idea whether shoving the roaring vac under there is doing anything. This handheld model has an LED light, so you can actually see the crumbs and dust bunnies. You can use the three attachments to scoop up those dust piles. It also has a stainless steel HEPA filter, which is long-lasting and doesn’t need to be replaced. It can be washed instead.
8. Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
If there’s a drink spill, don’t fret. This vacuum has you covered with its crevice tool. The vac also has two reusable HEPA filters, a brush tool and an extension hose. It can run cordless for approximately 30 minutes and charge in three hours, thanks to its lithium ion battery. When you’re all done, this handheld vac is easy to empty with the translucent dirt tank that you can click to detach and shake into a garbage can.
9. MOOSOO Handheld Vacuum
This HEPA vac has some pretty strong suction. It might be brushless, but the crevice nozzle can tackle any dusty area in your home and remove 99.95 percent of fine particles, including pesky dust. While you’re vacuuming, the sound won’t be overwhelming, because this pick was designed to be quiet. It’s also super lightweight, which means you can bring it from one area of the house to the other without feeling fatigued.
10. Homasy Handheld Vacuum Cordless
This vacuum can handle most debris, ranging from cat litter to the biggest dust balls. It uses cyclonic suction to suck up all of the things that make your floor and home dirty. The vacuum is powered by a lithium-ion battery, which can run for up to 30 minutes on full charge. The cordless vac comes with three different attachments to tackle all kinds of messes.