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If you have a small mess you need to clean up quickly, reach for a dustbuster. We used over 30 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 also maneuvered them around coffee table books, couch cushions, and furniture legs to see how they handled hard-to-reach spots.
Our favorite was 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.
Best Overall : Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Large dust bin is easy to empty
Tapered nozzle fits into most spaces
Battery pack adds weight
Who else recommends it? Consumer Reports and Forbes both picked the Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner.
What do buyers say? 86% of 1,300+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
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 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 made it easy to sneak into difficult spaces, and the included crevice tool offers even more precise suction. While it's likely you'll 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 was easy to empty and mess-free. Our tester said 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, this dustbuster is expensive, but we think it's worth the investment. Also, 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 our testers even used it to vacuum up the debris that other vacuums left behind during testing.
Best Budget: Sun Joe AJV1000 Cordless 8.4-Volt Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Easy to empty bin
Ready to go out of the box
Unnecessary cap attachment
If you're looking to spend less on a dustbuster, look to 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, easy to set up, and easy to empty the dust bin. At only a pound and a half, it's super lightweight, so you can use it to zap messes on the floor, couch, and even in your car cup console without it weighing you down. The initial set up 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 felt unnecessary and 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. It was a little noisier than you'd expect for such a small vacuum, but that wasn't a dealbreaker for our testers. 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 strong suction power. All in all, if you need an affordable vacuum with powerful suction to zap small messes around your home, this is the vacuum for you.
Best Splurge: 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 our tester was amazed by its power. 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.
Our tester was impressed with 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 at the same level as 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, though, 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 thoughtful feature that any household will be able to benefit from.
Best for Pet Hair: Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Handheld Vacuum
Pet hair brush tool
Large dust bin
Easy to empty
Design is a little bulky
Lack of attachment storage
If you're a pet owner, you likely reach for your dustbuster regularly. Stray pet hair is not only visible on your sofa or area rugs, but it can creep into corners of your home you never thought possible. Luckily, the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Handheld Vacuum not only sucks up pet hair quickly—thanks to its pet power brush tool—but the large dust bin is also cleverly designed, so the hair doesn't tangle inside. When it comes time to empty the dust bin, the process is incredibly easy and mess-free. Our testers noted that it didn't need to be emptied until the end of our tests, which is ideal if you're picking up larger messes or tackling deeper cleans.
Pet owners need to vacuum up other things besides pet hair, so this vacuum comes with a crevice and brush tool, too. However, there's no attachment storage, so you'll need to repurpose a box or bag to ensure you don't lose them. In addition, this vacuum is a little bulkier than some of the other handheld models we tested, but the large dust bin and powerful suction outweigh the bulky design. Our testers noted that it can be noisy when in operation, but ultimately is a great value and worth every penny you'll spend.
Best for Car: Bissell AeroSlim Hand Vacuum
Small, compact size
USB cord for charging
Did not work well on low-pile carpet
Small dust bin
Don't underestimate this portable vacuum. Even though it's tiny, the Bissell AeroSlim Hand Vacuum shocked our testers, as it packs a ton of power for a USB-charged device of its size. During testing, it managed to get all of the spilled contents with no sign of clogging up as the day went on. It promises to banish any crumbs, debris, or pet hair you might have lurking in your car cup holder, backseat, or simply anywhere in your vehicle or home. The tiny size and USB charging cord make it an excellent pick for a car vacuum that you'd reach for while on the go, but it could also work well in a dorm room or office area to clean near a mini fridge or laptop. The dust bin is not large, so you'll likely need to empty it often, but you don't need an extra-large bin if you're working within a small space like that anyways.
Now, this vacuum performed well on all surfaces except low-pile carpet. In addition, our tester didn't love that the fan placement blew air out in a way that sometimes scattered the debris, making it harder to suction up efficiently. However, this is an exceptional little dustbuster for the price and size, and you'll find that it's easy to carry, store, and navigate around any surface you want it to.
Best for Home Office: Tzumi 7.4-Volt Ion Vac Wireless Handheld Rechargeable Vacuum Cleaner
Included brush attachment
No wall charger included
Not as powerful on medium-pile carpet
This tiny, lightweight dustbuster checked almost all of the boxes for an ideal handheld vacuum, and its small size and clever attachments make it an excellent choice for a home office. It weighs only one pound, and our tester said 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. Our tester noted the filter came out with zero issues.
This dustbuster comes with a long crevice tool that makes it easy to get into tight spaces, like behind your computer cords or between sofa cushions. It also comes with a brush attachment that's great for suctioning dust off computer keyboards. Another pro? It's 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 you already own or charge it from your computer or car USB port.
Best for Carpet: WORX WX030L 20V Power Share Cordless Cube Vac Compact Vacuum
Flexible, 4-foot hose
Easy to empty
Requires two hands to operate
The Worx Cordless Cube Compact Vacuum is so powerful that it sucked up all 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 only struggled a bit when picking up flour and hair on a high-pile carpet.
Our tester loved that it is so easy and mess-free to empty. You push a button, and it releases the debris into the trash can. The flexible, 4-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 carpeted stairs or vehicle floor mats, it's a suitable option.
We Still Recommend: 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—our home tester found 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.
That said, 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. Overall, it's an affordable option that gets the job done.
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. Also, it was challenging to get the opening at just the right angle for it to work correctly.
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 worked 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 in Industry City, Brooklyn. During these 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 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 if 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, 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 if they could clean a car cup holder and a baseboard, but we didn't stop there. Additionally, we evaluated each appliance's noise level to see if you 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 the price point to each dustbuster's overall performance to rate the overall value of the product and determine if 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 we believe are the very best.
What to Look for in a Dustbuster
Most dustbusters are relatively lightweight (around one to three 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 the source of added weight, so keep that in mind if you're interested in a dustbuster with these features.
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 dustbuster 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. A hose, upholstery brush, and crevice tool 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 amongst 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, car—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 design. 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.
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 this 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 dustbuster'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 a 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, that's a sign that 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 dustbuster's user manual to learn what type of battery you should order for replacement. Some models may require professional battery replacement, while others might not offer replacement batteries at all.
Once you have a new battery ready to install, run your dustbuster 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 tool as these battery packs are sometimes fixed in place. Try opening up the machine to assess the situation before ordering new batteries.
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 in-lab and at-home testers into account when curating our top picks list. She interviewed Dr. Denise Ferastraoaru, MD and allergist at Montefiore Health System, on what to look for in a dustbuster and when to change your filter from a health perspective as well.