If you have a small mess you need to clean up quickly, reach for a dustbuster. We've used over 30 of these compact, handheld vacuums in The Lab, putting them to the test to suction up Cheerios, flour, popcorn kernels, and hair on carpeted surfaces and hardwood floors. We maneuvered them around coffee table books, couch cushions, and furniture legs to see how they handled hard-to-reach spots.
Our favorite is the Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum, which has excellent suction power and a large dust bin and is impressively nimble. At the end of our testing, this was the handheld vac we reached for to clean up our leftover messes.
Here are the best dustbusters, backed by our testing.
Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Large dust bin is easy to empty
Tapered nozzle fits into most spaces
Battery pack adds weight
The Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner is our favorite dustbuster, because it is powerful, easy to use, and reliable. If you're looking to zap up spilled snacks, dirt, pet hair, or any other household mess at lightning speed, this is the dustbuster for you. Setup took our testing team less than two minutes, and the detachable battery pack is super-convenient if you're short on space. When it was time to run this dustbuster through the mess test, its powerful suction surprised our tester. They noted that it "inhaled everything" in its path, and thanks to the large dust bin, they didn't have to run to the trash can mid-test. It sucked up all the debris from every surface and still had room for more.
This dustbuster also excelled in the maneuverability test. Our tester was able to run it along baseboards, over and around a coffee table, and in between couch cushions with ease. The design of the tapered nozzle makes it easy to sneak into difficult spaces, and the included crevice tool offers even more precise suction. While you'll likely use this dustbuster in your home, if you need to vacuum crumbs from your car's cup holders, it can do that, too.
On top of its reliable performance, the extra-large dust bin is easy to empty and mess-free. Our tester said that removing the filter "truly could not have been easier." The whole process starts with pressing a button to release the dust bin. While we were blown away by its performance, we also recognize that this dustbuster is expensive. However, we think it's worth the investment. "The Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner doesn't leave much to be desired between its suction power and easy-to-understand design," said our tester. "After a full day of cleaning in The Lab, it still managed to make cleaning feel easy and, dare I say, fun."
The detachable battery pack adds convenience but also a little bit of weight, so this is not the most lightweight dustbuster on our list. However, its performance was so top-notch that our testers even used it to vacuum up the debris that other vacuums left behind during testing.
Price at time of publish: $100
Weight: 3 pounds | Battery Life: 15 minutes | Bin Volume: Not listed | Included Accessories: Battery pack, crevice tool
Best Overall, Runner-Up
BLACK+DECKER Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum
Comes with a wall mount
Short battery life
Crevice tool could be longer
Though it's no longer our top choice—our previous "best overall" pick—the BLACK+DECKER Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum, is still a reliable, handheld vacuum. It's effective at sucking up cereal, pet food, and dirt, but it's not the most intuitive machine. The battery life is lacking—in at-home testing, we found that it could operate for only 12 minutes before it needed a charge—and it takes significant effort to maneuver the crevice tool between cushions and around table legs. It's also quite noisy.
It scored high marks for its suction power and cordless design, and we love that the included wall mount makes it easy to store between uses. We found it to be particularly effective on hard surfaces, such as under kitchen cabinets and on hardwood stairs. We also tested out this vacuum in a car after a beach trip—while its performance wasn't perfect, it did clean up a lot of the sand and did a better job than other handheld vacuums we've tested at home. Overall, it's an affordable option that gets the job done.
Price at time of publish: $44
Weight: 2.11 pounds | Battery Life: 12 to 15 minutes | Bin Volume: 31.8 ounces | Included Accessories: Brush tool, crevice tool
Sun Joe AJV1000 Cordless 8.4-Volt Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Ready to go, out of the box
Unnecessary cap attachment
If you're looking to spend less on a dustbuster, consider this portable option. The Sun Joe Cordless Handheld Vacuum packs powerful suction for its size, and everything about it is just easy. It is easy to use and easy to set up, and emptying the dust bin is a snap. At only 1.5 pounds, it's super lightweight, so you can use it to zap messes on the floor, couch, and car cup console without it weighing you down. The initial setup took only a minute. It's ready to go, right out of the box. It includes a cap attachment that you can place over the nozzle when not in use, but that feels unnecessary, and it is likely to get lost quickly.
When it came to the mess test, the Sun Joe quickly sucked up debris from all surfaces in our testing. We found that it was effective on a wide range of messes because of its powerful suction. It was a little noisier than you'd expect for such a small vacuum, but that wasn't a dealbreaker in our testing. The only thing we'd change is its fan placement. The vent blows air out of the back of the vacuum, so it kept scattering the debris as we tried to pick it up. It also struggled a bit on high-pile carpet and needed to make a couple of passes to scoop up cereal it left behind. Luckily, it sucked it right back up, thanks to its intense suction. All in all, if you need an affordable vacuum with enough suction power to zap small messes around your home, this is the vacuum for you.
Price at time of publish: $35
Weight: 1.52 pounds | Battery Life: 15 minutes | Bin Volume: 3.4 ounces | Included Accessories: Small brush attachment, USB charger with wall adapter, vacuum cap
BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum
Pet hair attachment
Easy to store
Flexible, 4-foot hose
Requires two hands
Simply put, the BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum is worth splurging on. This compact, multi-surface model allows you to clean with ease, thanks to its lightweight and flexible design, and we were impressed by its power in our testing. The 4-foot hose can get into all of those hard-to-reach spots in your home, like behind your couch or in between cushions. With such intense suction, no crumb will be left behind.
We appreciated how well this dustbuster sucked up all of the debris without losing any power and without having to empty the large dust bin. It performs similarly to a standard-sized vacuum but with greater portability and efficiency. However, it is worth noting that this dustbuster does require two hands to operate (one to hold the motor and one to vacuum with the hose), and it almost has the noise level of a standard-sized vacuum as well.
The intuitive pet hair attachment tool is a game-changer. It sucked up hair from all four surfaces we tested it on, and the hair didn't get tangled in its hose or dust bin. When you're done using it, the hose wraps around the machine for easy, compact storage, which is also a clever feature that any household can benefit from.
Price at time of publish: $123
Weight: 3.2 pounds | Battery Life: 15 minutes | Bin Volume: 17 ounces | Included Accessories: 2-in-1 nozzle brush, pet hair attachment
Best for Pet Hair
BLACK+DECKER Furbuster AdvancedClean+ Handheld Vacuum for Pets
Effective on hardwood flooring and carpet
Large dust bin
Hair wrap on beater
We loved using the BLACK+DECKER Furbuster AdvancedClean+ Handheld Vacuum to suck up pet hair from hardwood flooring, carpet, and upholstery in our tests. This vacuum weighs under 2 pounds, so even kids could use it to pick up messes and help with a cleaning routine. Despite its lightweight design, this vac has a large-capacity dust bin, which means fewer trips to the trash can while cleaning. Although this vacuum tackled pet hair with no issues, we found that the motorized brush head isn't great for picking up kibble and larger material. We recommend extending the crevice tool (pre-attached to the vacuum) to pick up any major debris.
We also noted that hair tangled on the brush head as we used it, but it was easy to remove. We recommend regularly checking the brush head and cleaning it after each use so the vacuum performs at its best and lasts longer over time. Unlike other handheld vacuums, this pick also features a power boost mode, which increases suction. A battery indicator on the handle lets you know how much power is left before the vacuum needs to be recharged. While the online product listing did not indicate a specific battery life, we used this vacuum for 20 minutes without losing any suction power. All in all, we consider this unit to be an essential tool for pet owners, especially because of its compact design and easy-to-use features.
Price at time of publish: $99
Weight: 2.6 pounds | Battery Life: Not listed | Bin Volume: 25.3 ounces | Included Accessories: Motorized brush head, crevice tool
Best for Car
THISWORX Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner
Multiple attachments and convenient storage bag
Lightweight and easy to use
Some debris can get stuck in vacuum nozzle
Have to handle filter to empty dust bin
Although the THISWORX Portable Car Vacuum didn't have the most impressive suction out of other car vacuums we tested, it was still effective enough to clean small debris that may end up in your car with normal use. We found it easy to use throughout a car, thanks to not only the long cord length but also its lightweight body. The provided attachments help to agitate hair stuck in the carpets and seats or clean thin crevices where crumbs may have fallen.
While we think this vacuum can easily pick up mid-grade debris like cereal, we wish its nozzle was able to be swapped out for a larger suction tip because we worry some larger types of crumbs could become lodged in it. While this vacuum is very simple to empty, you have to handle the filter first, which is unpleasant and could be especially irritating to allergy sufferers. However, the included cleaning brush is helpful when rinsing and cleaning the filter between uses. Overall, this vacuum is a convenient model to keep in your car—especially with its included storage bag. Plus, since it's designed to be plugged into a 12-volt socket, it doesn't require any kind of charging in order to operate.
Price at time of publish: $40
Weight: 2.4 pounds | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: Not listed | Included Accessories: Brush attachment, crevice tool, attachment hose, cleaning brush, carrying bag, additional filter
Best for Home Office
Tzumi 7.4-Volt Ion Vac Wireless Handheld Rechargeable Vacuum Cleaner
Included brush attachment
No wall charger included
Not very powerful for large messes
This tiny, lightweight vacuum checked almost all of the boxes for an ideal handheld unit, and its small size and clever attachments make it an excellent choice for a home office. It weighs only 1 pound, and the handle is easy to grip when zapping up multiple messes. Even though it's small, the dust bin is surprisingly large in proportion. It completed all of our tests before needing to be emptied. When it came time to empty the dust bin, the process was incredibly simple and mess-free. The filter came out with no issues, which is a big perk when it comes to frequent use. Upon additional testing, we noted that this vacuum wouldn't be good for sucking up larger debris like Cheerios.
This dustbuster comes with a long crevice tool that makes it easy to get into tight spaces, like behind computer cords or between sofa cushions. It also comes with a brush attachment that's great for suctioning dust from computer keyboards. It's also very quiet, so you can squeeze in a quick clean without disrupting your partner or sleeping children. While it's great that it comes with a USB charging cord, there is no wall plug-in, so you'll have to use one that you already own or charge it from your computer or car USB port. Overall, we can't guarantee this vacuum will overwhelm you with its performance, but for small messes around your desk space, it can get the job done.
Price at time of publish: $24
Weight: 1 pound | Battery Life: 15 minutes | Bin Volume: 3.38 ounces | Included Accessories: Brush tool, crevice tool
Best for Carpet
WORX WX030L 20V Power Share Cordless Cube Vac Compact Vacuum
Flexible, 3-foot hose
Easy to empty
Requires two hands to operate
The Worx Cordless Cube Compact Vacuum is so powerful that it sucked up all of the debris from our testing surfaces without even using an attachment. It has multiple settings, so if the base setting doesn't suck up the mess in one pass, the second setting does. While it will work well on hardwood floors and other surfaces in your home, we were especially impressed with its performance on all types of carpet. It was quick to pick up the materials we laid in its path, and it only struggled a bit when picking up flour and hair on a high-pile carpet.
We appreciated that this vacuum is so easy and mess-free to empty. You push a button, and it releases the debris into the trash can. The flexible, 3-foot hose makes it easy to get into tight spaces like behind cabinets, couches, or car seats. This dustbuster does require two hands to operate (one to hold the motor, and one to vacuum with the hose), but the portable, cube-sized motor makes it easy to carry around. It's noisy, as you'd expect a super-powerful vacuum to be, so we don't recommend cleaning while trying to have a conversation. However, if you're looking for a versatile vacuum to clean vehicle floor mats or carpeted stairs, it's a suitable option.
Price at time of publish: $105
Weight: 3 pounds | Battery Life: 10 minutes on high, 25 minutes on low | Bin Volume: 7 ounces | Included Accessories: Brush tool, crevice tool
For power, performance, and reliability, the Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum can't be beat. Its powerful suction and large dustbin are hard to find in other handheld models, and when testing, we enjoyed that the tapered nozzle allows for efficient cleaning. If you're looking to spend a little less on a dustbuster, consider the Sun Joe Cordless Vacuum. In our experience, this vac is extremely lightweight, easy to use, and a great value.
Other Options We Tested
eufy by Anker HomeVac H30 Mate Cordless Handheld Vacuum: This vacuum has an eye-catching design, and while it started strong in our tests on hardwood and high-pile carpet, by the end, it was struggling to pick up debris, and the nozzle kept getting clogged. It's undoubtedly chic-looking and lightweight, and while we marveled at the design, the high price tag was disappointing. We expected a more consistent, powerful performance for such an expensive vacuum.
Tineco Pure One Mini S4 Smart Handheld Vacuum: This vacuum would look great sitting in your kitchen corner for easy access. However, its low performance might leave you reaching for a different dustbuster. It worked well on hardwood and high-pile carpet but could not successfully pick up the debris from medium or low-pile carpet. Getting the opening at just the right angle for it to work correctly was a challenge.
Dirt Devil Scorpion+ Boost Bundle Corded Handheld Vacuum: There was only one thing that kept this vacuum from making our top picks list. It performed very well on various surfaces during our testing, but the plastic crevice tool broke mid-test, so we couldn't include it in our favorites. Otherwise, this corded vacuum works very well, and the cord is long enough to clean a good-sized room without switching outlets.
How We Tested the Dustbusters
We've tested over 30 dustbusters side-by-side in The Lab and at home. During our Lab tests, we started by evaluating the time it took to unbox, assemble, and charge the vacuums. Dustbusters that were ready to use immediately got extra marks over those that were wrapped in excessive plastic with confusing instructions. After setup, we put the dustbusters through a series of tests on hardwood and low-, medium-, and high-pile carpeting. We evaluated how quickly they sucked up scattered Cheerios, flour, popcorn kernels, and hair from the various surfaces and noted whether their effectiveness was altered as the tests went on. We also noted how long it took for the dust bin to fill up during this process and whether any materials got tangled inside or clogged the appliance.
After putting all of the dustbusters through the mess test, we ran them through a living room obstacle course. We evaluated how easily they could vacuum between couch cushions and under and around obstacles on a coffee table—their maneuverability—and rated their weight and portability by holding them over our heads. We also tested their design and attachments to see whether they could clean a car cup holder and a baseboard, but we didn't stop there. We also evaluated each appliance's noise level to see whether we could comfortably hold a conversation over it, and the ease of emptying the various dust bins and removing the filters. At the end of our testing, we compared each price point to each respective dustbuster's overall performance to rate the overall value of the product and determine whether the price tag was fair.
When all was said and done, our editors boiled down all of our insights from The Lab and additional tests that were conducted at home, where the vacs were tasked with real-world situations, to create this list of dustbusters that we believe are the very best.
What to Look for in a Dustbuster
Most dustbusters are relatively lightweight (around 1 to 3 pounds), but some may be a little heftier and uncomfortable to hold, so you'll want to consider that when searching for your perfect vacuum. A heavier model will be less maneuverable and difficult to operate for extended periods. It might not be the best option if you're planning to complete a deep clean of your house and suction up messes in overhead areas or often-neglected corners. Attachments and battery packs are often sources of added weight, so keep that in mind if you're interested in a dustbuster with these features. Our picks for best for cars and best for home offices, the BISSELL AeroSlim Lithium Ion Cordless Handheld Vacuum and the Tzumi 7.4-Volt Ion Vac Wireless Handheld Vacuum, both scored highly for their maneuverability and lightweight designs, which allowed our testers to clean between cushions and around tight corners.
Dustbusters can either be corded or cordless. While portability is one of the most appealing features of dustbusters, you shouldn't count out corded options just because they have a limited range of mobility, especially if you hope to use your vac very regularly. Corded models will be slightly less convenient to operate than cordless ones, since you'll need to be close to an outlet. In contrast, cordless models can clean virtually anywhere but usually need to be recharged after about 20 minutes of use. Consider where and for how long you're planning to use your vac, to find the right power source option for you.
If you want a lightweight tool that can clean up sudden, albeit small, messes, you might not be concerned about what else comes with your dustbuster. However, if you're hoping to clean tight crevices, furniture, or overhead areas with your vac, make sure you choose one with the proper attachments. Hoses, upholstery brushes, and crevice tools are common attachments that will make your machine much more versatile.
"It is very important, especially for individuals with environmental allergies, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, and conjunctivitis, to choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter," says Dr. Denise Ferastraoaru, M.D. and allergist at Montefiore Health System. HEPA stands for "high-efficiency particulate air," and a HEPA filter can remove over 99 percent of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and other small airborne particles.
Pet Hair Attachments
Clever attachments, such as small brush tools for cleaning keyboards, or crevice tools for accessing tight corners, are helpful. However, what really stood out among our tested dustbusters, were the pet hair attachments. These attachments scraped up pet hair from even high-pile carpet and also sucked up the hair without tangling or knotting it up in the vacuum itself. If your household has one or more furry friends, you'll want to consider a dustbuster with a pet hair attachment, to efficiently and effectively clean surfaces in your home or car, or wherever your pet hangs out.
Including attachments is often standard practice, but top-notch (though maybe more expensive) dustbusters also build attachment storage into their designs. The charging base may have a spot for attachments, or the actual dustbuster might house the attachment in the form of a flip-down brush tool or a pull-out crevice tool. If you're limited on storage space or just concerned about potentially losing the attachments that come with your vacuum, consider a pick with smart storage like this.
You can also find dustbusters that come with a storage bag—another convenient solution to any loose attachment concerns. Our best for car pick, the THISWORX Car Vacuum Cleaner, comes with an array of helpful attachments that can all be stored in the provided storage bag. The bag is also large enough to fit the dustbuster, so you can easily store everything in one place.
How do I clean a dustbuster?
To clean your dustbuster, start by emptying the dust bin or throwing away the dust bag. If your model uses a permanent filter, remove it during that step, and plan to clean it on its own. While some filters can be rinsed under water, others should not get wet, so refer to your owner's manual for any specific filter-cleaning instructions. You can wipe out the interior of the vacuum with a dust rag or, if the manufacturer allows, wash it with soap and water. Let all parts dry before reassembling the dustbuster and using it again.
How often should I change a dustbuster's filter?
How often you need to change your dustbuster's filter will depend on how much you use it, but one good rule of thumb is to change it out every six months if you use it often. However, if you notice any loss of suction before then, you might need a new filter. "If there is damage to the filter, a musty smell, or too much dust or hair, then it must be changed immediately to keep it working at maximum capacity," adds Ferastraoaru.
How do you replace a dustbuster's battery?
A loss of suction may also indicate a dying battery that needs replacing. Check your manual to learn what type of battery you should order for replacement. Some models might require professional battery replacement, while others might not offer replacement batteries at all.
Once you have a new battery ready to install, run your vac until the current battery completely loses its charge. Then, depending on the model, either slide the battery away from the body of the appliance or open the housing area for the battery, and gently pull it loose. Put the new battery in its place, close up the housing area, and recycle the old battery.
How do you replace the battery in a BLACK&DECKER dustbuster?
You will need a screwdriver to take the dustbuster apart and access the battery pack in order to change it. If your BLACK+DECKER dustbuster uses a lithium battery, it may be difficult to replace without the help of a soldering iron, as these battery packs are sometimes fixed in place. Try opening up the machine to assess the situation before ordering a new battery.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Erin Johnson, a commerce editor focusing on appliances, organization, and cleaning products at The Spruce. She previously tested and reviewed multiple vacuums, mops, and other appliances for Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, and Southern Living. For this article, she helped test 30 dustbusters side-by-side in The Lab and then took insights from Lab and at-home testers into account when curating our top picks list. She also interviewed Dr. Denise Ferastraoaru, MD an allergist at Montefiore Health System, on what to look for in a dustbuster and when to change your filter from a health perspective.
What Is Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.