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 90 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best handheld vacuums to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their performance on different types of surfaces but also their feature set, battery life, and price. For more buying recommendations, look at our lists of the best lightweight vacuums, the best vacuums for stairs, and the best cordless vacuums.
The best handheld vacuum for bare floors that we've tested is the HoLife HM036E. This handheld model is lightweight and comes with a storage rack that makes it easy to store in your closet or a counter. It feels sturdy and doesn't incur many recurring costs because only one part, its allergen-trapping HEPA filter, should be replaced regularly.
It has a fantastic performance on bare floors, where it easily clears pet hair and debris like rice and cereal. It also comes with a crevice tool to help with cleaning narrow spaces. Its continuous battery life of roughly 20 minutes is decent, and there's an indicator light that flashes when the battery is running low. This vacuum also delivers a decent overall performance on carpets, which is helpful if you have the occasional rug to clean. There's also a liquid nozzle for sucking up spills, but we don't test it currently.
Unfortunately, the dirt compartment is tiny and needs frequent emptying. If you use the vacuum to clean up spills or any liquid messes, it has to be thoroughly cleaned and allowed to dry completely before being used again. However, if you want a handheld vacuum for spot-cleaning messes on your floors or countertops, this is a great option.
If you want a vacuum to clean larger areas, you may prefer the Shark Rocket Pet Pro with MultiFlex IZ163H. It's not as light and compact as the HoLife HM036E and can't be used to clean up liquids, but you can use it as either a handheld or a stick vacuum, making it much more suitable for cleaning the floor of a big room. Like the HoLife, it delivers an incredible performance on bare floors, where it easily clears pet hair, debris like rice, and bulkier material like cereal. It's amazingly maneuverable, with a flexible wand that makes it easy to clean under furniture. There are also some tools and brushes included, like a turbo brush you can attach to the vacuum in its handheld mode to clean furniture. Unfortunately, while its maximum battery life is more than 40 minutes, you can deplete the battery in just over 10 minutes if you use the most powerful suction mode continuously.
Get the HoLife if you want a more compact vacuum better-suited for spot-cleaning, but consider the Shark if you want a very maneuverable stick/handheld model.
The best handheld vacuum for carpet that we've tested is the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This cordless handheld model is a great choice for spot-cleaning, as it does a remarkable job of clearing everything from pet hair to debris like baking soda on both low and high-pile carpet.
It's well-built and easy to maintain, with very few parts that require routine servicing. Since its dust cup filter is its only disposable part, recurring costs are pretty low. It's also lightweight and small enough to be used in far-off areas like the inside of your car. It comes with a crevice cleaner, a hard bristle brush, and a turbo brush to deal with everything from stuck-on dirt to messes on furniture upholstery. Its dirt compartment is relatively spacious for a handheld appliance, too.
Unfortunately, it provides just over 10 minutes of battery life on a single charge, which means you'll need to work fast when dealing with large messes. Short battery life aside, its versatile performance and compact design make it one of the best multi-surface vacuums that we've tested.
The Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet is the best handheld vacuum in the budget category that we've tested. This cordless handheld vacuum does a superb job of cleaning debris on bare floors and performs decently well on low and high-pile carpet. It also comes with a motorized turbo brush that can be used to clean pet hair from upholstered surfaces.
This vacuum has a fairly spacious dirt compartment, especially for a handheld vacuum, so it shouldn't need to be emptied too frequently. It can run for almost 30 minutes if used in its most energy-efficient power setting, though this drops to just under 15 minutes if you run it continuously in its high-power 'Boost Mode', and it's worth noting that battery life can vary in the real world. It feels decently well-built, and few parts require regular cleaning.
Unfortunately, this vacuum doesn't come with any sort of bristle brush, so you have to be careful when cleaning delicate surfaces as to avoid scratching them. It lacks a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean, and its pre-filter and main filter need to be replaced regularly, so recurring costs are also fairly high. Otherwise, this vacuum's versatile overall performance and affordable price make it a good option for spot cleaning.
If you're looking for a smaller handheld vacuum but don't want to sacrifice much in the way of performance, consider the Wyze Handheld Vacuum. It has a much smaller dirt compartment than the Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet and lacks a turbo brush, but it's smaller, lighter, and more maneuverable. It feels more sturdy, incurs fewer recurring costs, and comes with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter, which is good if your pet sheds heavily. It offers similar overall battery life, as it can run for roughly between 10 and over 30 minutes depending on your choice of power setting and usage habits. It also comes with a fairly wide assortment of tools, which include a dedicated upholstery tool, a hard bristle brush, a crevice tool, and an extension host to reach far away areas more easily. It outperforms the Black+Decker on low and high-pile carpet, especially in regards to fine debris, but has a harder time clearing bulky material like cereal.
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.
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.
Apr 16, 2021: Verified that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category. Added Miele Triflex HX1 to Notable Mentions.
Mar 19, 2021: Verified that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their category.
Feb 19, 2021: Added the Shark Wandvac System WS620 to Notable Mentions. Checked that we're still recommending the best products and that they're in stock.
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.