Thanks to innovations in design and build materials, vacuum cleaners have become lighter over time. A lightweight machine can help reduce the strain on your body as you clean, and it can be easier to take with you up and down a flight of stairs. It should have both a low total weight as well as a manageable weight in your hand. However, to improve their portability while lowering their weight, many of these vacuums tend to be very plasticky, and their build quality can suffer as a result.
We've tested over 60 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best lightweight vacuums to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their weight but also their performance on different types of surfaces, feature set, battery life, and price. If you're looking for more vacuums, check out our recommendations for the best cordless vacuums, the best cordless stick vacuums, and the best cordless vacuums for pet hair.
The Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ is the best lightweight vacuum with a handheld design that we've tested. This cordless model feels well-built, and it's light and compact enough to easily carry around. It's simple to assemble and maintain, and since its dust cup filter is the only disposable part, recurring costs are low.
It delivers exceptional performance on bare floors and low-pile carpets, where it easily clears pet hair and debris like cereal and rice. While it struggles a bit more to pick up smaller debris like baking soda from high-pile carpets, it still has an overall excellent performance on that surface type. There are a few tools and brushes that come with it, including a turbo brush, which can help get dirt out of furniture, and a hard bristle brush that can tackle stubborn messes.
Unfortunately, its battery performance is sub-par. There's only one power setting, and it will give you roughly 10 minutes of continuous runtime, so it's better suited for quick clean-ups. Also, unlike some options, it doesn't have an allergen-trapping HEPA filter. Still, thanks to its versatile performance and lightweight, portable design, it's also one of the best handheld vacuums that we've tested.
If you're looking for something even more portable, try the Shark ION W1 WANDVAC. It doesn't perform as well as the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ on carpets or bare floors, but it's smaller and lighter, making it easier to carry around and store. This well-built cordless model is easy to maintain and incurs virtually no recurring costs, since it uses a washable allergen-trapping HEPA filter. It delivers a good performance on low-pile carpets and bare surfaces like linoleum, where it easily sucks up pet hair and most debris. Unfortunately, it has a short battery life, as it only lasts for roughly 8 minutes of continuous use. Also, its performance on high-pile carpets is just okay, because while it can pick up pet hair with no issue, it struggles with smaller, finer material like baking soda.
If you want a handheld vacuum with an excellent performance on both carpets and bare floors, go for the UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. If you prefer something more lightweight and compact and don't mind sacrificing some performance, go for the ION W1 WANDVAC instead.
The Dyson V8 Animal is the best lightweight vacuum with a stick design that we've tested. This cordless model has a slim design that makes it easy to maneuver around furniture, and it can quickly change into a handheld configuration so you can clean your car or stairs. It doesn't feel very heavy in your hand and comes with a carrying handle, making it very portable.
It delivers outstanding performance on bare floors, where it easily picks up pet hair and most debris, and it's also great on high-pile and low-pile carpets. The dirt compartment is somewhat small, but the vacuum doesn't lose suction as it fills up. It doesn't use a dirtbag, and its pre-filter and HEPA filter are both washable, so it should incur practically no recurring costs. There are several tools and brushes included as well, like an extension wand to increase your reach and a soft bristle brush for cleaning delicate objects like lampshades.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have the best battery life, as it's possible to drain the battery in under 10 minutes using the 'MAX' power mode, and it takes more than four hours to recharge. However, in its most battery-efficient mode, it can supply up to roughly 40 minutes of continuous cleaning. Overall, because of its versatile performance and maneuverable design, this is one of the best cordless stick vacuums we've tested.
The best lightweight vacuum cleaner with an upright design that we've tested is the BISSELL Adapt Ion Pet. While it weighs a little more than the Dyson V8 Animal, it has a unique design that turns this upright into a smaller handheld simply by removing the handheld component from the body. It also has a two-way folding handle, which is handy for storing it or reaching under tables.
This cordless model has an unlimited range so long as it has battery life and its dirt compartment isn't full. It's also fairly easy to maintain, although quite a few of its parts need regular maintenance. Luckily, as long as you take care of each part, it has virtually no recurring costs. It performs best on low-pile carpet, especially since it doesn't have too much trouble picking up pet hair or large debris. However, it struggles with small debris on carpet. That said, it comes with a couple of tools and brushes that you can use for more specialized tasks like cleaning upholstery.
Unfortunately, it has poor performance on bare floors. It struggles to pick up large debris like cereal as it can get stuck in the tunnel leading to the dirt compartment. It also has a very short battery life that lasts just under twenty minutes, even in its least intensive power mode. Still, thanks to its lightweight design and easily reconfigurable handheld mode, its maneuverability is amazing, which makes it a suitable choice if you're looking for a lightweight upright vacuum.
The best lightweight vacuum in the budget category that we've tested is the HoLife HM036E. This cordless handheld model is very light and portable, making it easy to carry wherever you need it. Its battery provides just over 20 minutes of continuous runtime, longer than many handhelds.
It performs best on bare floors, where it does a remarkable job clearing debris like sand and cereal as well as pet hair. It also has an okay performance on carpets overall, although it struggles a bit to suck up fine debris like baking soda from those surfaces. There's a combination upholstery tool and hard bristle brush included that can help clean fabric-covered furniture, like car seats. It even has a liquid nozzle meant for sucking up wet messes and spills, although we don't test it currently. After using the liquid nozzle, the vacuum should be cleaned and dried thoroughly.
Unfortunately, it has a very small dirt compartment, so if you're cleaning up a big mess, you may need to empty it quite often. It also doesn't have any onboard storage for its accessories. That said, if you're looking for a lightweight vacuum well-suited for spot-cleaning, it's one of the best handheld vacuums we've tested.
If you're looking for an affordable vacuum and want to avoid buying replacement parts as much as possible, consider the BISSELL AeroSlim instead. This cordless, handheld model doesn't perform as well as the HoLife HM036E on any surface type, but it incurs virtually no recurring costs, thanks to its washable filter and lint screen. It's also smaller and lighter, with a slim design that makes it easy to store. There are some tools and brushes included, like a soft bristle brush for cleaning delicate objects and a crevice tool for getting into narrow spaces. It does a very good job of cleaning pet hair from both bare floors and carpets, but unfortunately, it really struggles with bulkier material like cereal, which tends to get stuck at the entry of the vacuum.
Go for the HoLife if you want a vacuum with a more versatile performance that can suck up large debris and even liquid messes. Try the BISSELL instead if you're mainly concerned about pet hair, or prefer something even lighter.
01/06/2021: Minor text updates with no changes to product picks.
11/24/2020: Added Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet to Notable Mentions.
11/03/2020: Moved the HoLife HM036E to 'Best Budget Lightweight Vacuum' and added the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ to 'Best Lightweight Handheld Vacuum'. Added the Black+Decker dustbuster CHV1410L to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are based on what we think are currently the best lightweight 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 lightweight 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.