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. Unfortunately, handheld vacuums tend to have small dirt compartments. If they're cordless, they may also have a shorter continuous battery life than non-handheld vacuums.
We've tested over 95 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. For more options, see our lists of the best lightweight vacuums, the best vacuums for stairs, the best car vacuums, the best Dyson vacuums, and the best cordless vacuums.
The best handheld vacuum for bare floors that we've tested is the Dyson Micro 1.5kg. This highly compact stick/handheld vacuum delivers exceptional performance on bare floors, where it easily clears pet hair as well as small debris like rice and bulkier material like cereal. The suction performance also remains consistent as its dirt compartment fills up. It's equipped with a washable HEPA filter and doesn't use a dirtbag, so recurring costs shouldn't be a worry.
Thanks to its lightweight plastic construction, this vacuum is impressively maneuverable, even in cluttered areas. It comes with a fairly wide assortment of tools and accessories, including a motorized turbo brush and two crevice tools, one of which features an LED light to help you see in dark corners. Depending on your choice of suction power mode and choice of attachments, it supplies roughly anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes of runtime on a single charge, though this can vary in the real world.
Unfortunately, this vacuum's dirt compartment is very small, even by the standards of other handheld vacuums. It also isn't designed to clean low or high-pile carpet, so it may not be the best option if you want to clean rugs on hardwood floors. Still, if you're looking for a lightweight, compact vacuum that can easily tackle debris on bare floors, this is an excellent choice.
If you're looking for something a little more versatile, you may prefer the Shark Rocket Pet Pro with MultiFlex IZ163H. This cordless stick/handheld vacuum is heavier and larger than the Dyson Micro 1.5kg and incurs higher recurring costs, but it can be used to clean low and high-pile rugs and has a longer maximum battery life of over 40 minutes, though this can vary in the real world. It also delivers similarly superb performance on bare floors, easily clearing pet hair, small debris like rice, and bulky material like cereal. Its suction performance also remains consistent as its fairly large dirt compartment fills, so it shouldn't need to be emptied very often. Despite its comparatively larger, heavier design, it's also highly maneuverable. However, it comes with fewer tools and accessories, with only a single crevice tool, an upholstery tool, and a hard bristle brush. Unlike the Dyson, it doesn't come with a motorized turbo brush.
Get the Dyson if you prioritize portability and low recurring costs, but consider the Shark if you want a cordless vacuum with longer battery life and more versatile overall performance.
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, where 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. 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.
The Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet is the best handheld vacuum in the budget category that we've tested. This cordless vacuum is lightweight and portable, with a compact body that can be easily stored within a cabinet or a closet. Its dirt compartment is somewhat large, especially by the standards of most handheld vacuums, and consequently shouldn't need to be emptied very often.
This vacuum performs remarkably well in regards to sucking up small debris like rice and bulky material like cereal from bare floors. It also delivers good overall performance on low and high-pile carpet, though it struggles a little more when it comes to clearing fine debris like baking soda from carpeted floors. It also does an excellent job of cleaning pet hair from most surface types and comes with a motorized turbo brush for cleaning fabric-lined surfaces, not to mention a combination extension wand/crevice tool.
Unfortunately, this vacuum feels somewhat cheaply made in places. It also only provides about 15 minutes of runtime when used continuously in its most powerful suction power mode, though that extends to roughly half an hour if you run it in its default suction power setting. That said, battery life can vary in the real world. Overall, its lightweight construction, superb bare floor performance, and relatively affordable price make it one of the best handheld vacuums for pet hair that we've tested.
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.
Get the Black+Decker if you want a handheld vacuum with a larger dirt compartment and a turbo brush, but consider the Wyze if portability is a bigger concern.
Sep 10, 2021: Replaced HoLife HM036E with Dyson Micro 1.5kg as 'Best Handheld Vacuum For Bare Floors' due to current availability. Added Dyson Humdinger to Notable Mentions.
Aug 12, 2021: Verified the availability of all main picks and ensured that they still represent the best choice for their given category.
Jul 14, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
Jun 14, 2021: Replaced BISSELL AeroSlim with Wyze Handheld Vacuum as 'More Portable Alternative' pick. Added iRobot H1 and BISSELL AeroSlim to Notable Mentions.
May 13, 2021: Checked product picks for accuracy and availability. Added the Dyson V15 Detect to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best handheld vacuums. We don't just base our results on overall performance, but also factors like availability, price, and reader feedback.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our handheld vacuum reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no vacuum is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.