The Best Handheld Vacuums for Cleaning the House and Car

To find the best handheld vacuum for your needs and budget, figure out which features you need and consult our roundup of top favorites.

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The Best Handheld Vacuum Options, According to Homeowners

Photo: istockphoto.com

A handheld vacuum can be a go-to when you need to quickly clean up common messes like broken glass, pet hair, and cookie crumbs. Though lightweight and compact, today’s best handheld vacuum options are powerful enough to perform many of the functions of an upright, canister, or robot model—at a fraction of the cost.

There are various factors to consider when choosing a handheld vacuum. Ahead, read our top tips and recommendations—and don’t miss our top picks, below!

  1. BEST OVERALL: BLACK+DECKER dustbuster Handheld Vacuum
  2. EDITOR’S CHOICE: Homasy 8Kpa Portable Handheld Vacuum
  3. BEST FOR PET OWNERS: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum
The Best Handheld Vacuum Options, According to Homeowners

Photo: istockphoto.com

What Makes a Great Handheld Vacuum?

Weigh these key features to find the best handheld vacuum.

  • Corded versus cordless: Vacuums that plug into an electrical socket limit mobility (though an extension cord can help you go the distance if you wish to use the machine on stairs, for instance). You can rely on a corded model to have consistent suction power throughout a long vacuuming session. Cordless handhelds, which rely on a rechargeable battery, could die in the middle of a clean-up—but they’re much more easily toted from the house to the car to the patio.
  • Battery runtime, voltage, and charging: If opting for the convenience of cordless, know that quality models tend to have a minimum runtime of 10 minutes and require no more than four to six hours to fully charge. Look for one with a Lithium-ion battery, which will conserve its charge most efficiently. Cordless vacuums with a battery voltage of 18 volts or higher offer more suction power and longer runtimes than lower voltage units. Some models feature battery level indicators so you can keep tabs on when the battery needs charging.
  • Weight: Handheld vacuums should be lightweight enough to easily lift and handle but hefty enough to hold a decent amount of mess. For optimal portability and minimal strain on the wrist, look for a model that’s under five pounds.
  • Dirt receptacle: Handheld vacuums collect dirt in either dirt canisters or bags. Canister models are more popular because they tend to be easier to empty and clean—just snap and dump. The larger dirt canister, the bulkier vacuum, but you’ll need to empty it less often. A clear canister lets you see at a glance when it requires emptying.
  • Accessories: Specialized accessories can make your unit more useful, depending on your needs. You’ll find attachments designed to pick up pet hair, safely glide on uncarpeted surfaces, or clean into the nooks and crannies of upholstery. There are also flexible hose attachments to extend your reach into dark or inaccessible areas.
  • Price: Handheld vacuums start at about $20 for a basic corded model and $50 for a cordless, and top out at around $200. In general, you’ll pay a higher price for more powerful suction, longer runtime, and high-tech accessories. Don’t forget to factor in the price of filter replacements. Filters prevent dust in the vacuum from becoming airborne and must be changed regularly.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

The Best Handheld Vacuum Option: BLACK+DECKER dustbuster Handheld Vacuum
Photo: amazon.com

Even at a low price, this handheld vacuum delivers outstanding performance. Through cyclonic action, the lightweight, 2.6-pound unit spins dust and debris away from the vacuum filter to maintain that strong suction throughout a vacuuming session. And, thanks to a 180-degree rotating nozzle with an extendable crevice tool and flip-up brush, the vacuum grasps grit even in hard-to-reach areas. Its 16-volt Lithium-ion battery charges in four hours and holds its charge for up to 18 months in storage. The translucent dirt canister makes it easy to monitor your progress and, when it comes time, empty out the mess into your garbage.

Editor's Choice

The Best Handheld Vacuum Option: Homasy 8Kpa Portable Handheld Vacuum
Photo: amazon.com

This cordless dual-use vacuum handily cleans up after household spills wet or dry on surfaces hard or soft. The high-capacity dirt canister stores up to 60 milliliters of crumbs, dirt, and dust mites as small as 0.3 microns, and the rubber jar attachment catches up to 100 mL of liquid from drink spills. So put that built-in brush and crevice tool to work! Four 14.8-volt Lithium-ion batteries charge fully in three to four hours and supply 22 air watts of suction power for up to 30 minutes on a single charge. Emptying the vacuum is as simple as pressing a button and removing the dirt canister.

Best for Pet Owners

The Best Handheld Vacuum Option: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum
Photo: amazon.com

Pets mean lots of messes, and sometimes you just can’t wait for your vac to recharge. This 4-ampere corded handheld vacuum boasts continuous runtime and two specialty nozzles. The rubberized nozzle lifts ground-in pet hair or dirt from carpeted or hard floors or stairs with ease, while the suction nozzle picks up pet food or cat litter without scattering it further. Carrying around the unit never feels like a chore thanks to the unit’s lightweight, 5-pound construction and a 16-foot power cord that reaches virtually any corner of any room. Fill the clear dirt canister with up to 0.78 liters of waste before you have to empty.