Generally, handheld vacuum cleaers make vacuuming a little easier and more convenient. You probably remember your mother or grandmother grabbing her trusty Dustbuster to clean up kitchen spills and after-dinner messes. Vacuum technology has come a long way from where it was 30-plus years ago. Modern handheld vacuums are lightweight and have a slimmer nozzle, and they are designed with aesthetics in mind. Their batteries are also stronger, safer and more efficient, and the suction noise is much quieter.

Even if you’ve used the same handheld vac for 5 years or have a bare-bones model, you may be surprised to learn about the variety of features and the high performance you can get at from a hand vac within an affordable price range.

Recommended Handheld Vacuums

WELIKERA 12V 100W Hand-held Cordless Vacuum Cleaner BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L 16V Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum NOOX Car Vacuum Cleaner Portable Wet Dry Hand Held Vacuum
WELIKERA BLACK+DECKER NOOX
CHV1410L CVC-1001
2.8 pounds 2.6 pounds 2.5 pounds
13 x 2 x 3 in 17.2 x 5.5 x 7.8 in 15.8 x 6.3 x 4.7 in

Why Buy a Handheld Vacuum?

Handheld vacuums are portable and convenient, giving you a way to quickly remove small amounts of dust and debris without having to drag out your heavy, bulky upright vacuum. There are some jobs that hand vacs are well-adept at handling. From piles of hair to a flight of stairs, there are a few ways that handheld vacuums can simplify your life.

Animal Fur
Pets love to find comfortable, cushy places to take a nap. Unfortunately, this leaves your beds and sofas covered in clingy fur. It’s simply not time effective to use an upright for daily upholstery cleaning regardless of how many attachments it has. Some handheld vacuum models are geared toward pet owners, coming with motorized brushes and other tools that simplify the arduous task of pet-hair pickup.

best cordless handheld vacuum

On Picture: BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42

Automobiles
Save a trip to the coin-operated air and vacuum machines at your local self-serve car wash or gas station. A handheld vacuum lets you keep those quarters in your pocket. If you like the idea of not leaving home to make your car’s interior spotless, you’ll need a hand vac with attachments that can dust and get into tight, awkward spaces.

Small Messes
Whether your children just tracked dirt on your spotless floor or you spilled some coffee grounds, a handheld vacuum is extremely useful. Within moments, the dirt disappears. To make it as easy as possible to clean small messes, look for an ultra-lightweight model. One with a charger you can attach to the wall will keep the vacuum within arm’s reach.

Stairs
If your house has a staircase, you and your family probably spend a lot of time trekking up and down it all day. This means dirt and other particles accumulate in a short amount of time. Uprights are too heavy for staircase cleaning, and stick vacs are much larger than handhelds. With a handheld vacuum, you can knock out messes on your staircase in a matter of minutes.

best handheld vacuum for pet hair

On Picture: Dyson V6 Top Dog Handheld Vacuum

What About Whole-House Cleaning?

Their size and weight make handheld vacuums easy to carry and maneuver. However, uprights are better suited for large messes and total-floor vacuuming. Even the most powerful handheld vacs do not have the dirt-collection capacity of a stick and the suctioning force of an upright. When it comes to thorough floor vacuuming and mid-week floor touch-ups, leave these tasks to a full-size vacuum cleaner.

How Do Corded and Cordless Hand Vacs Compare?

Corded and cordless – They both have their benefits. Handheld vacuum cleaners with a cord must be plugged into an electrical outlet or a DC outlet in your car, according to what model you buy. In terms of working time, corded handheld vacs win. You don’t have to worry about run time because the vacuum will work continuously as long as it’s plugged into an outlet.

On the other hand, cordless hand vacs have a limited working time that depends on the strength of the battery. However, this type of vacuum is the clear victor when it comes to portability because it’s not limited by the length of the power cord, and you don’t have to worry about the cord getting tangled while the vacuum is in use or in storage.

best handheld vacuum cleaner

On Picture: Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum

How Do Cordless Hand Vacuums Recharge?

Since you’ll be recharging your handheld vac on a regular basis, you want one with a charging system that is the most convenient for you to use. There are two charging choices – an adapter and a dock. With an adapter, all you have to do is plug the cord into an electrical outlet – it’s a straightforward process.

With a dock, you’ll either put the entire vacuum on it or just the battery, which you’ll remove by pressing a release button of some sort. If the dock is for a battery only, this means you can purchase an additional battery to double the run time. However, if the dock is designed for cradling the entire vacuum unit, the dock acts as a storage spot for your hand vac.

What Are Other Ways to Store a Hand Vac?

Handheld vacuums are all about convenience, and you want that convenience to last from start to finish. Some cordless vacuums that come with a charging dock also have wall-mounting hardware that allows you to secure the charger to the wall. You can even find hand vacs with docks that have storage space for accessories, which is helpful for keeping up with all your vacuuming tools.

Cordless vacs that recharge via an adapter may be extremely simple to plug and unplug, but they don’t offer an exclusive storage spot for your vacuum.

best rated handheld vacuum

On Picture: Shark SV780 Cordless Hand Vacuum

Do These Vacuums Come With a Lot of Attachments?

With uprights, consumers want a full suite of attachments, and manufacturers tend to oblige to stay competitive. However, it’s not uncommon for handheld vacuums to be accessory-free. For those that do come with attachments, you can expect it to at least have a narrow crevice tool for getting into gaps between couch cushions or floorboards.

Hand vacs may also have a brush for removing dust from decorative objects, window sills and random hard surfaces. Some of these vacuums may even have an extension wand for cleaning staircases and high areas.

Can Hand Vacs Clean up Wet Messes?

Some handheld vacuums are specifically designed to suction dry and wet messes. The versatility of wet-dry hand vacs can’t be beat. Many are even strong enough to remove moisture from carpeted surfaces, which comes in handy when you accidentally spill your drink. Depending on the model, you may or may not have to toggle a switch or change the collection cup to use it in wet vac mode.

Keep in mind that handheld vacuums are small, so those that can suction liquid won’t be able to lift it by the bucket full. On average, wet-dry vacs have a fluid capacity that ranges from 150 to 300 milliliters.

How Easy Is It to Clean a Handheld Vacuum?

Usually, hand vac maintenance is limited to emptying the dust bin. Most bins are transparent, so you can see how full they are, and a lot of them only require one button touch to open. On occasions, you may need to deep clean dirt buildup from the dust bin. To perform this maintenance task, you may be able to completely remove the bin, allowing you to rinse it with plain water.

When it’s completely dry, simply reattach the bin to the vacuum. If it’s not removable, you’ll have to wipe the inside with a damp cloth.

best handheld vacuums 2018

On Picture: Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum

Do They Come With a Filter?

Almost every handheld vacuum on the market has at least one filter inside of it. The filter’s job is to keep dust away from the motor and out of the surrounding air. However, not all filters are made equal. The most desirable type of vacuum cleaner filter is a high efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filter due to its ability to capture minute particles that trigger asthma and allergy symptoms.

Top 5 Best Handheld Vacuums

5 HoLife Handheld Cordless Vacuum

You’ll love the versatility and power of this 3.27-pound handheld cordless vacuum from HoLife. Once you slide the power switch on the ergonomic looped handle, the 90-watt motor whirs to life, creating radial cyclones that lift debris at a rate of 18 liters per second with 6 kilopascals of pressure behind it. Although it provides strong suction, the vacuum contains sound dampening materials to keep the noise output at a non-damaging decibel level.

HoLife Handheld Cordless Vacuum

With the 2,200 mAh lithium-ion battery that’s integrated into the hand vac, you get 30 minutes of run time. Thanks to its stand-up charging dock, it only takes about 3 hours for the battery to recharge. The handy indicator light at the base of the handle lets you know when the battery power is replenished.

The transparent dust cup can not only hold plenty of dry debris but also 100 milliliters of liquid. This means that when you spill a bowl of cereal, you don’t have to mop up the milk first – the hand vac can clean the cereal and the milk at the same time. How’s that for convenient? The layered filter in the dust cup is washable, so you can use it for months without replacing it, and the dust cup is easily removable by pushing the release button.

4 Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum

This 3.77-pound handheld vacuum contains some of the best technology Dyson has to offer. Inside of the hand vac, there is a digital V7 motor, which uses electronic switching circuits to power the brushless DC motor, offering quiet and long-lasting performance. This motor moves the suction at a speed of 100 air watts throughout two tiers of radial cyclones. For easy control over the suction, simply press the trigger button on the pistol-grip handle.

Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum

In addition to the V7 motor, there is a lithium-ion battery that gives you 30 minutes of unwavering suction; however, you can engage the max power mode, which provides 6 minutes of super-strong suction to tackle extra-messy jobs. Charging the battery is fast and simple thank to the plug-in power adapter. After 3.5 hours of charging, the hand vac will be ready to use again.

You also get three lock-click tools for detailed cleaning, including a small motorized brush, a crevice tool and a combo attachment. When you need to empty the 19.2-ounce clear cup, all you have to do is push a button, and the contents fall straight into the garbage can. As long as you wash the filter when it gets dirty, it will last as long as the hand vac does. In other words, you’ll never spend a dime on filter replacements again.

3 NOOX Car Vacuum Cleaner Portable Wet Dry Hand Held Vacuum

Make car maintenance a little easier with this handheld vacuum from NOOX. Even though it’s lightweight at a mere 2.6 pounds, it contains a mega-powerful 120-watt motor, which produces 4,000 pascals of pressure. Thanks to is long 14.8-foot power cord, you also get a lot of reach from the vacuum to the 12-volt DC car adapter.

NOOX Car Vacuum Cleaner Portable Wet Dry Hand Held Vacuum

To control the flow of suction, you only need to press the button at the base of the looped handle once, which reduces the likelihood of hand fatigue. While the 4.9-inch angled bare nozzle is adequate for cleaning large wet and dry messes, the handheld vac also comes with several tools for vacuuming hard-to-reach areas. The flexible hose helps you clean all those awkward spaces in your car while the crevice tool makes it possible to vacuum narrow areas. You can also use the dusting brush, which is ideal for dash cleaning.

As the hand vac suctions debris and liquid, fine particles are captured by the washable HEPA filter. To lengthen its lifespan, the filter is contained inside of a protective basket. When the purple translucent dirt cup is full, you can press the release button on the vacuum’s pearl white body, so you can dump its contents.

2 BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L 16V Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum

Black & Decker’s Dustbuster Hand Vacuum is designed with convenience in mind. It features a curved closed-loop handle that offers a comfortable grip, and it only weighs 2.6 pounds for effortless lifting. You won’t need to fumble with attaching and detaching the cleaning tools because they are integrated into the extremely slim and long nozzle. Use the hinged brush for fine-dust pick-up or flip it back to reveal the extending crevice tool.

BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L 16V Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum

To get most from each battery cycle, the hand vac is equipped with Black & Decker’s Smart Charge technology. With a 16-volt lithium-ion battery operating this handheld vacuum, even large, heavy debris won’t stand a chance. It only takes 4 hours to charge the vacuum, and the circular charging base gives you a place to neatly store the hand vac when not in use. If you leave the vacuum off the charger for extended periods of time, the Dustbuster will still be ready to use because it can hold its charge for as long as 18 months.

With 15.2 air watts of cyclonic suction, motor-damaging dust is efficiently separated from larger particles, which are dropped into the 20.6-ounce see-through collection cup. To prevent the release of fine particles into the air, the hand vac contains two reusable filters. For cup maintenance, you can twist off the nozzle to dump debris or remove the entire cup to rinse the interior.

1 WELIKERA 12V 100W Hand-held Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

If you own cats or dogs, this sleek handheld vacuum from WELIKERA makes it easy to clean up after them. To use this 2.8-pound hand vac, just hold it by the looped handle and slide the power switch with your thumb. Its 100-watt motor delivers incredible cyclonic suction that can handle all types of messes, including wet ones. Within the dark translucent dirt cup, there is a stainless steel HEPA filter that lasts through 500 washes.

WELIKERA 12V 100W Hand-held Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Below the power switch, there is a blue indicator light that tells you if the battery is fully charged. When you plug in the adapter, it takes anywhere from 3 to 4 hours to charge the hand vac’s 12-volt lithium-ion battery. Once it’s charged, the battery gives you 25 minutes’ worth of working time, which is long enough to tackle any mess – large or small.

For visibility in dark areas, the handheld vacuum is equipped with an LED light that’s positioned above the collection cup. The vacuum comes with a dusting brush and crevice tool for detailing chores, and you also get a pet hair eraser with long raking teeth to thoroughly remove tufts of fur from upholstery. To provide you with greater flexibility and reach, you can secure any of these attachments to the flexible hose. As a bonus, WELIKERA includes a tote bag for storing the hand vac and all of its accessories.

What Features Comprise a Reliable, Efficient Handheld Vacuum?

Great handheld vacuums are not hard to come by. You just have to know what features separate the high-quality hand vacs from the subpar ones. From the core features like weight and suction to the extras such as an LED light and an extendable hose, this guide will tell you all you need to know about the features offered on handheld vacuum cleaners.

best handheld cordless vacuum

On Picture: Dirt Devil SD20005RED Scorpion Handheld Vacuum

Weight
The definition of lightweight differs according to the type of vacuum cleaner. For example, 10 or 15-pound upright vacuum is considered lightweight. However, a handheld vacuum over 5 pounds does not equate to a featherlight appliance. To prevent arm fatigue, look for a hand vac in the 2 to 3-pound range.

Nozzle
Hand vac nozzles are slim on their own, and often they are tapered. Still, there are many places that a bare nozzle can’t go. To get into extremely tight spaces, you need a handheld vacuum with a crevice tool. For stair treads, a wide brush makes the job faster. A hand vac with attachments of all sizes will help you vacuum as thoroughly and quickly as possible.

Handle
Comfort is important. That’s why you should pay careful attention to how the vacuum’s handle is built. While comfort is subjective, you want one with a textured or soft grip as a slick one will be harder to hold. In terms of the shape, it’s preferable to have a handle that is looped instead of straight. Like a slick plastic handle, a straight handle is also difficult to hold.

best handheld vacuum for stairs

On Picture: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand Vacuum

Capacity
Since handheld vacuum cleaners are small, you shouldn’t expect the vacuum’s bin to collect large amounts of liquid or debris. An average bin can hold about 0.5 liters of debris or 100 milliliters of liquid. Other debris collection features to consider are if the bin is transparent and easy to open. Bins that open from the bottom as opposed to the top make for a mess-free emptying experience.

Controls
The ability to start and stop the hand vac’s suction should not add to the effort you must put forth. Trigger and thumb-hold buttons only require you to hold and let go of the button to start and stop vacuuming. Other button styles include a switch or one-touch button, neither of which you have to hold to operate; however, not every model situates the power button within a fingertip’s reach.

best handheld vacuum for car

On Picture: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand Vacuum

Suction
Air watts and pressure both play big parts in the effectiveness of a vacuum’s suction. For strong suction, you want a handheld that has about 15 watts or more of suction power and at least 4 kilopascals of pressure. For unwavering suction, a hand vac with cyclonic suction can keep the vacuum’s internals running smoothly.

Noise
Nothing is more aggravating than a loud vacuum cleaner. Of course, it’s not reasonable to think you can find a fully silent vacuum. However, you don’t have to put up with ear-splitting noise. A vacuum with a decibel output of 80 or lower will be quiet enough to save your ears from sustaining permanent damage.

Filter
Filters may not cost much, but the monthly expense does add up over time. Many handheld vacuums have filters that are washable, so you can reuse them. Those that aren’t rinsable can often be shaken out or brushed off regardless of whether they are pleated or cloth. Stainless steel filters can last through hundreds of washes, making them durable money-savers. There are even some hand vacs that contain a pre-filter, which lengthens the lifespan of the main filter.

Visibility
It’s impossible to vacuum in areas you can’t see without leaving dirt and debris behind, especially when cleaning cars or couches. Unless you want to hold a flashlight in one hand while you maneuver the vacuum with your other hand, you need a hand vac with an integrated light source. Some models are equipped with an LED light on the nozzle to give you the visibility you need.

best handheld vacuums

On Picture: Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum

Reach
Handheld vacuum cleaners may be portable, but they do not always offer enough reach. That’s where hoses and extension wands come into play. Hoses are typically several feet in length, and they all bend for cleaning in awkward places. Unlike the hose, an extension wand is not flexible. However, it comes in handy for reaching ceiling fans, fireplace mantles and tall bookshelves.

Power
As far as the vacuum’s power supply goes, what you need to look for depends on whether you want a corded or cordless model. For corded handheld vacs, the longer the power cord, the better off you are. If you’re leaning more toward a cordless handheld vacuum, you want one with a long working time of at least 20 minutes and a short charging time of no more than 6 hours.


3 Recommended Robot Vacuum Cleaners
Budget Pick Popular Option Best of the Best!
BLACK+DECKER dustbuster Handheld Vacuum, Cordless, 16V (CHV1410L) Homasy Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner Cordless, 8000Pa Powerful Cyclonic Suction Vacuum Cleaner, 14.8V Lithium with Quick Charge Tech, Wet Dry Lightweight Hand Vac Shark WV201 WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum, Lightweight at 1.4 Pounds with Powerful Suction, Charging Dock, Single Touch Empty and Detachable Dust Cup
BLACK+DECKER Homasy Shark
CHV1410L HM207A WV201
16 Volts 14.8 Volts 10.8 Volts
17.2 x 5.5 x 7.8 in 17.3 x 7.7 x 6.1 in 16.5 x 2.5 x 2.4 in
2.6 pounds 3.26 pounds 1.4 pounds

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