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 90 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. A few tools and brushes 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 a handheld vacuum that's a little easier to carry around or store, consider the Wyze Handheld Vacuum. It doesn't clear debris quite as effectively as the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+, especially bulky material like cereal, but doesn't weigh as much and takes up slightly less space. It also has a longer battery life, which can vary from roughly anywhere between 10 to over 30 minutes depending on the chosen suction power settings and your own usage habits. However, this can vary in the real world. Unlike the Shark, it also has an allergen-trapping HEPA filter, which is good if you have a heavily shedding pet. While it lacks a turbo brush, it does still come with a relatively wide assortment of tools for a handheld vacuum. That said, you need its attachment adapter to use most of those accessories, meaning that they're incompatible with the vacuum if you lose it. Its dirt compartment is also very small, so it needs to be emptied frequently.
Get the Shark if you prioritize better overall performance, but consider the Wyze if portability and longer battery life are bigger concerns.
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. Several tools and brushes are 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. In its most battery-efficient mode, it can supply up to roughly 40 minutes of continuous cleaning. Because of its versatile performance and maneuverable design, this is one of the best cordless stick vacuums we've tested.
The Shark Wandvac System WS620 is the best lightweight vacuum cleaner with an upright design that we've tested. It's fairly lightweight and quite compact, making it easy to pick up and carry or maneuver in cramped areas. It can also be quickly reconfigured into a handheld vacuum, comes with a crevice tool, and includes a combination upholstery tool/soft bristle brush for tackling messes on furniture or delicate surfaces.
This cordless vacuum delivers excellent overall performance on bare floors, where it clears debris like pet hair, rice, and cereal without difficulty. It also does an amazing job of cleaning messes on low and high-pile carpet, though you may need to do another pass to fully clear fine debris like baking soda. You can also increase its suction power on the fly by pressing the 'Boost' button on the underside of its handle, which is useful when tackling stubborn messes.
Unfortunately, this upright has a short battery life of under 20 minutes, even when used in its most energy-efficient configuration, though this can vary somewhat in the real world. Its dirt compartment is also very small and consequently needs to be emptied frequently. Still, if you're looking for a lightweight vacuum that offers excellent performance on a variety of surface types, this isn't a bad option.
The HoLife HM036E 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 cleaning 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. Some tools and brushes are 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 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 worth considering if you want something portable and affordable for spot cleaning.
If you want a budget-friendly lightweight vacuum but prefer an upright model, consider the BISSELL Featherweight stick 2033. This corded vacuum has a worse cleaning performance than the HoLife HM036E on all surface types, but it has a larger dirt compartment, so you don't need to empty it as often when cleaning a larger area. It's also very easy to maintain, and it incurs virtually no recurring costs. It feels extremely light in your hand, and it's incredibly portable. You can also use it in a corded handheld configuration, which is useful when cleaning stairs or furniture. However, its build feels quite flimsy, and its power cord is short, so you may need to switch outlets while vacuuming a larger space.
If you want a vacuum with a better cleaning performance on bare floors and carpeted surfaces, go for the HoLife. If you prefer an upright model that's easier to maintain, consider the BISSELL instead.
Jun 23, 2021: Replaced Shark ION W1 WANDVAC with Wyze Handheld Vacuum as 'More Portable Alternative' pick. Added Shark ION W1 WANDVAC and iRobot H1 to Notable Mentions.
Apr 27, 2021: Replaced the BISSELL Adapt Ion Pet with the Shark Wandvac System WS620 as the pick in the 'Best Upright' category. Replaced the BISSELL Aeroslim with the BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033 as an 'Upright Alternative' to the HoLife HM036E in the 'Best Budget' category.
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.
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.