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 75 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 want something smaller and easier to carry around, you prefer the Shark ION W1 WANDVAC. This cordless handheld model doesn't perform as well as the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ on any surface type, but it's lighter and more portable. It also comes with a compact storage rack, which makes it a bit easier to store when not in use. It has a good overall performance on bare floors and low-pile carpets and easily clears pet hair from any surface type. There are a few different tools included that can help with different cleaning jobs, including a turbo brush to dislodge dirt from fabric-covered furniture and a crevice tool for cleaning tight corners. However, its battery only provides roughly eight minutes of continuous use, so it's not ideal for long cleaning sessions. It also struggles to clear fine debris like baking soda from high-pile carpets.
If you want the vacuum with the most versatile performance, go for the UltraCyclone Pet Pro+, but if you prefer something lighter and more compact, the ION W1 WANDVAC is a good alternative.
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 HoLife HM06E is the best lightweight vacuum in the budget category that we've tested. This very portable, cordless handheld model has a remarkable performance on bare floors, where it easily clears pet hair and debris. It's also very effective at clearing pet hair from carpets.
It has a simple design, with one suction power setting, and its battery provides roughly 20 minutes of continuous use, which is decent for a robot vacuum. There are some tools and brushes included, like a combination upholstery tool for cleaning fabric-covered furniture like car seats and a crevice tool for getting into tight corners. There's even a liquid nozzle intended for cleaning up spills, but we don't test it currently, and the vacuum has to be allowed to thoroughly dry afterward.
Unfortunately, it struggles a bit to clear fine debris like baking soda from carpets. The filter has to be replaced periodically, so it incurs some recurring costs, and like many handheld models, it has a small dirt compartment that you need to empty often. That said, it's one of the best handheld vacuums we've tested and definitely worth considering if you want something portable and affordable for spot-cleaning.
If you want a budget-friendly handheld model but don't want to worry about buying replacement parts, consider the BISSELL AeroSlim instead. This very compact, cordless model has worse performance than the HoLife HM036E on every surface type and can't suck up bulky debris like cereal, but it uses a washable filter, so it incurs virtually no recurring costs. It's much lighter and has no trouble clearing pet hair and debris like sand from bare floors. It does a great job of cleaning pet hair from carpets, as well. There are some tools and brushes that come with it, like a soft bristle brush for use on delicate objects and a crevice tool for cleaning narrow spaces. Unfortunately, it's not well-suited for tackling big messes because it has a tiny dirt compartment and a much shorter battery life.
Go for the HoLife if you want a more versatile vacuum that can handle bulky debris like cereal. The BISSELL is worth considering instead if you want something very small and portable or if you're mainly concerned about cleaning up pet hair.
Feb 26, 2021: Checked that the best products are being recommended and that they're available.
Jan 06, 2021: Minor text updates with no changes to product picks.
Nov 24, 2020: Added Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet to Notable Mentions.
Nov 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.