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 40 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 HoLife HM036E is the best lightweight vacuum cleaner with a handheld design that we've tested. This cordless model is very lightweight, which makes it easy to take with you around the home. It also offers exceptional performance on bare floors, such as tile and hardwood, or smaller areas like shelves and countertops.
While it excels on bare floors, it does an overall good job on carpet, although it has a harder time picking up finer debris like baking soda. It also offers a decent battery performance as its battery can last over 20 minutes before it needs to be recharged again. The manufacturer includes a few tools and brushes to help you clean around the house, such as a combination of a hard bristle brush and an upholstery tool. Although we don't currently test for it, it even has a liquid nozzle that you can use to pick up wet debris like spilled tea.
Unfortunately, if you've picked up liquid, you need to make sure that it's removed and that the motor is clean and dry before charging it again. Although it's decently easy to maintain, it also has a small dirt compartment that needs to be emptied more regularly than larger models. However, if you're using it to spot clean around the home, this is a handy, lightweight tool if you prefer a handheld design.
If you like the portability of a handheld vacuum but you're looking for something even lighter, check out the Shark ION W1 WANDVAC. While it has an even smaller dirt compartment than the HoLife HM036E, and its battery life is shorter, it weighs less. You can also store it in a drawer or cupboard when not in use, which some users may prefer. This handheld has a good performance on bare floors as well as low-pile carpet as it can easily pick up pet hair. However, it struggles a lot more with finer debris like baking soda on shaggy, high-pile carpet. It also has trouble with larger debris like cereal, which can get stuck at the dirt compartment's entrance.
If you're looking for a handheld vacuum with a great overall performance, go for the HoLife. However, if you don't mind slightly sacrificing performance for an even lighter weight, consider the Shark.
The best lightweight vacuum cleaner with a stick design that we've tested is the Dyson V8 Animal. It has a total weight of just over five and a half pounds, which is quite light, and it doesn't feel very heavy in your hand. Since it has a cordless design, you also don't have to worry about range as long as you have battery life and room in your dirt compartment.
It has a carrying handle to help you transport it to different rooms. It also has a rotating head, which helps its maneuverability. It can pick up pet hair on all surface types, and while it excels at cleaning bare floors, its overall performance on low as well as high-pile carpet is great. You can also reconfigure it into a handheld if you need an even lighter option with more portability. While it has a few parts that need regular maintenance, as long as you take care of them, there are virtually no recurring costs, which is outstanding.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have onboard tool storage. While this design helps to keep it light and easy to transport, it also means that you need to keep your tools and brushes elsewhere. Also, if you're cleaning a more difficult or stubborn mess, the battery lasts roughly eight minutes on 'MAX' mode. That said, if you're using it in its less powerful mode, it can last over 40 minutes, which should be enough to clean a big mess.
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 BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033 is the best lightweight vacuum at a budget price that we've tested. It has a very simple design and can be used as a corded handheld model if you need to get into hard-to-reach areas. It's also outstandingly lightweight since you can either carry it with its stick or body handle.
Thanks to its corded design, you don't have to worry about battery life or recharging it. It's quite easy to maintain, and there are virtually no recurring costs as long as each part is cleaned regularly. It does best on bare floors, as it can pick up pet hair as well as most small and large debris as long as the dirt compartment is empty. Unlike a lot of other vacuums, it also comes in several colors so you can find one that better matches your style.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a rotating head, which can make maneuvering in a room a bit more difficult. Its bulky dirt compartment can also get in the way when reaching underneath a couch or table. It also has a harder time picking up small debris like baking soda from carpeted surfaces. However, if you're on a budget, this lightweight model can be a suitable choice, especially if you need to spot clean.
If you prefer a cordless vacuum for better range, and you plan to use it to take care of smaller spills around the home rather than to clean large areas of flooring, go for the Black+Decker dustbuster CHV1410L. While it's somewhat heavier in hand than the BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033 and it requires more maintenance, it has a lightweight, cordless design that allows you to take it anywhere. Its small body can fit into most cupboards when not in use, and it comes with an extension wand as well as a hard bristle brush for cleaning stubborn messes. It has a better performance than the BISSELL on both bare floors as well as high-pile carpet. However, it struggles to pick up large debris from low-pile carpet.
If you plan to clean various surface types from flooring to countertop spills and don't want to have to worry about battery life, consider the BISSELL. However, if you prefer the simplicity and portability of a cordless handheld vacuum, check out the Black+Decker.
10/13/2020: Article overhaul; structural changes to help you find better lightweight vacuums for your needs.
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.