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 105 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 we've tested is the Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Hand Vacuum. This handheld vacuum does an outstanding job clearing debris on bare, even surfaces like flat countertops or shelves. It also has a relatively large dirt compartment for a handheld vacuum, so it shouldn't need emptying very often.
This vacuum feels decently well-built, though it's worth pointing out that its side-exit exhaust can blow away some lightweight debris. Its primary filter shouldn't need replacing too often, so recurring costs aren't very high, and it has a simple overall design that's decently easy to maintain. Its removable battery charges quite quickly, and its roughly 15-minute runtime should give you enough time to spot-clean most areas.
Unfortunately, this vacuum's selection of attachments is very limited, as it only comes with a crevice tool to clear debris in tight corners and lacks a turbo brush or a soft-bristle brush for removing dust on delicate surfaces. Still, its fairly compact size and exceptional performance on bare floors help make it one of the best vacuums under $100 that we've tested.
The best cordless handheld vacuum for pet hair that we've tested is the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This compact vacuum comes with a turbo brush with a self-cleaning brushroll. It also does a fantastic job of sucking up pet hair on bare floors as well as low and high-pile carpet.
This vacuum feels well-built and has an easy-to-maintain design that incurs few recurring costs since the only part that needs regular replacing is its dust cup filter. Its lightweight construction and compact design allow you to pick it up and carry it from room to room without too much difficulty.
However, this vacuum has a very short battery life since you can only expect roughly 10 minutes of runtime on a single charge. There's no way of adjusting its suction power either, which would help conserve battery life when sucking up very lightweight debris. It also lacks an allergen-trapping HEPA filter, so it might not be the best option if you suffer from serious allergies. Still, it's one of the best small vacuums that we've tested, thanks to its strong performance on various surface types.
If you're looking to spend less on a handheld vacuum for pet hair, consider the BISSELL AeroSlim. This compact cordless vacuum has a much smaller dustbin than the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ and lacks a turbo brush to help clean upholstered surfaces, but it's more compact and weighs less, making it easier to maneuver. It also does a similarly fantastic job of dealing with pet hair on bare floors as well as low and high-pile carpets, though very bulky debris can clog its suction inlet and prevent it from sucking up any more material. This vacuum comes with a crevice tool to clear debris in tight corners and comes with a soft-bristle dusting brush to help clear debris on delicate surfaces. Unfortunately, while its battery life of nearly 15 minutes is slightly longer than the Shark, it isn't very long overall.
Get the Shark if you want a more versatile handheld vacuum, but consider the BISSELL if you want a smaller vacuum that does a similarly fantastic job of dealing with pet hair.
The best handheld vacuum for bare floors that we've tested is the Dyson Micro 1.5kg. This cordless stick/handheld vacuum is amazingly lightweight, so you can easily pick it up or maneuver it in cluttered areas. It comes with a couple of attachments, including a turbo brush and two separate crevice tools, one of which has a built-in LED light strip to help you see in dark corners.
This vacuum delivers exceptional performance on bare, even surfaces like linoleum or hardwood, as it easily sucks up pet hair and small or bulky debris. Its allergen-trapping HEPA filter shouldn't need replacing as long as it's cleaned regularly, so this vacuum incurs virtually no recurring costs. It also doesn't have that many parts that need regular cleaning. Depending on your choice of settings and attachments, you can expect roughly 10 minutes to half an hour of runtime on a single charge, which should be enough for short vacuuming sessions.
Unfortunately, this vacuum's primary floorhead has a soft brushroll, so it isn't designed for use on carpeted floors. Its dustbin is small and consequently needs to be emptied very often. Otherwise, its highly portable design and exceptional performance on bare surfaces make it a great option for quickly cleaning hardwood or tile floors.
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. However, you can use it 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 delivers similarly superb performance on bare floors. Its suction performance remains consistent as its fairly large dirt compartment fills, so it shouldn't need emptying 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. It doesn't come with a 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 handheld vacuum for portability that we've tested is the Wyze Handheld Vacuum. This cordless vacuum is remarkably portable, with a compact, lightweight construction that allows you to carry it around for extended periods without causing any fatigue. Its maximum battery life of roughly half an hour is quite long for a handheld vacuum of this size, though running it in its 'Max' suction mode does decrease its runtime to just over 10 minutes.
This vacuum does a very good job sucking up pet hair and debris on bare surfaces. It performs very well on low and high-pile carpet, though you may need to make an extra pass to fully clear finer debris. It feels well-built, isn't particularly difficult to maintain, and since its allergen-trapping HEPA filter is washable and reusable, recurring costs are minimal. It comes with quite a few attachments, like a dedicated upholstery tool and even an extension hose to help you reach far-away areas.
Unfortunately, this vacuum has a very small dustbin that consequently needs frequent emptying. It also struggles with sucking up very bulky debris. Otherwise, if you're looking for a highly compact handheld vacuum that does a good job of spot-cleaning most surfaces, this isn't a bad option.
The best HEPA handheld vacuum we've tested is the Dyson Humdinger. This cordless handheld vacuum uses a washable allergen-trapping HEPA filter, so as long as you clean it regularly, it shouldn't incur any recurring costs. It comes with a turbo brush to clean debris on upholstered surfaces, and you can easily remove the tool's brushroll if you want to clear any tangled hair wraps.
This vacuum sucks up pet hair without an issue, delivers fantastic overall performance on bare floors, and does an excellent job of sucking up debris on high-pile carpet. However, it can struggle a little with finer material on low-pile carpet. While you can drain its battery in just under 10 minutes by running it continuously in its high-suction 'MAX' mode, using it in its most energy-efficient configuration yields about a half-hour of battery life, sufficient for most spot-cleaning tasks.
Unfortunately, this vacuum's dirt compartment is very small, meaning it needs frequent emptying. Its clear plastic dirt compartment is very fragile and could break if you drop it, though the rest of the vacuum feels decently sturdy overall. Overall, this vacuum's lightweight design, versatile overall performance, and onboard HEPA filter make it one of the best handheld vacuums for pet hair that we've tested.
Jan 14, 2022: Verified that all main picks are still available and represent the best option for their given category.
Dec 15, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
Dec 03, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still available and represent the best choice for their given category. Added Wyze Cordless Vacuum to Notable Mentions.
Nov 04, 2021: Substantial article restructuring to bring pick selection in line with user expectations. Replaced Dyson Micro 1.5kg with Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Hand Vacuum. Added Dyson Micro 1.5kg as new 'Best Stick Handheld Vacuum' pick. Renamed 'Best Handheld Vacuum For Carpet' category pick to 'Best Handheld Vacuum For Pet Hair'. Added BISSELL AeroSlim as new 'Cheaper Alternative' category pick. Moved Wyze Handheld Vacuum to new 'Best Handheld Vacuum For Portability' pick. Removed 'Best Budget Handheld Vacuum' pick, added Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet to Notable Mentions. Added Dyson Humdinger as new 'Best HEPA Handheld Vacuum' category pick.
Oct 07, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category. Removed Shark ION F80 from Notable Mentions due to current availability.
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.