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Whether you’re a homeowner or renting a temporary space, you’ve quickly learned that dust and dirt can accumulate in the most unlikely of places—and that your full-sized vacuum isn’t always as flexible as you need it to be. That’s where dustbusters come into play. These compact, lightweight handheld vacuums are essential for every home because they make tackling those hard-to-reach corners a breeze while also working as a convenient solution for unpredictable messes.
When it comes to selecting a dustbuster for your space, it’s important to take components such as battery life and surface compatibility into consideration; some models that are designed to deliver a high-powered clean might need to be charged more often, whereas others may only be suitable for carpets or dry spills.
Here, the best dustbusters for every type of mess and surface.
Best Overall: BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum
Large dust cup capacity
Steeper price point
Looking for a dustbuster that can tackle any mess on any surface without losing its charge or suction quickly? Then, get ready to add the Black+Decker 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum to your cart. Fueled by a 20-volt lithium ion battery that offers continuous fade-free power, this compact, multi-surface model allows you to clean with ease thanks to its lightweight and flexible design. But, the best part is its innovative pivoting nozzle, which swivels up to 200 degrees to get all of those hard-to-reach angles and spots.
In short, the Black+Decker 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum performs at the same level of power as their standard-sized vacuum, with greater portability and efficiency.
Best Budget: BLACK+DECKER Cordless Handheld Vacuum
No charging indicator light
The Black+Decker Cordless Handheld Vacuum not only delivers an efficient clean with its powerful 16AW suction but also proves that a quality dustbuster doesn’t always need to break the bank. This affordable model uses lithium technology to create a strong suction that is suitable for a variety of surfaces. Like its higher-priced competitors, it also comes equipped with crevice and upholstery attachments for better pickup.
In addition to being lightweight and having an easy-to-clean dirt cap, the Black+Decker Cordless Handheld Vacuum’s wall mount charger and base makes refueling effortless and the model easily accessible when messes arise.
Best Splurge: RAYCOP RN 120-Volt Corded Handheld Vacuum
Limited reach and range of motion
From its space-age looks to its impressive cleaning power, this handheld model from RAYCOP is a worthy investment for anyone who wants even the quickest cleanups to be as thorough as possible. Featuring a HEPA filtration system and pulsating brush head, the RN is especially well-equipped to handle messes from pets and other sources of household allergies. Meanwhile, its sanitizing UV light zaps bacteria, viruses, and dust mites, preventing microscopic growth on mattresses and furniture.
Weighing only four pounds and powered by a 15-foot cord, this model won't weigh you down if you're faced with big messes.
Best Corded: Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Corded Bagless Handheld Vacuum
Limited reach and range of motion
While corded dustbusters may lack the maneuverability of their cordless counterparts, they tend to offer more suction power. The Dirt Devil Scorpion is an exemplary model in this regard, boasting suction that's comparable to that of an upright vacuum. And, thanks to its 15-foot cord and lightweight design, it's still relatively easy to move throughout the room.
As impressive as this model's sheer cleaning capabilities are, its attachments should not be overlooked. For one thing, crevice tool flips down in front of the regular nozzle to make the transition from cleaning open spaces to tight corners as seamless as possible. For another, the detachable hose extends over two feet and can suck debris as large as pebbles and as fine as sand.
Best for Cars: Shark Wandvac Handheld Vacuum
Accesses crevices easily
Steeper price point
Brief battery life
Sleek and compact by design, the Shark WANDVAC Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum will have your car looking brand new after one use. Featuring a high-speed, brushless motor and tapered nozzle, this model allows you to maneuver through your car’s tightest spaces like cup holders and in between seats to collect every type of mess, ranging from dry spills to pet hair and fine dust. For added precision and efficiency, the WANDVAC also comes with duster crevice and multi-surface tools for enhanced cleaning.
In addition to its thin silhouette and swiftness, the model's one-touch debris emptying function, suction power, and convenient charging station make the WANDVAC as sleek as it is mighty.
Best Wet/Dry: Homasy Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Long battery life
Difficult to clean
When life throws you an unpredictable mess, you’re going to need a versatile product to help get the job done. Enter: The Homasy Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, an innovative handheld vacuum that effortlessly alternates between liquid and dry messes. Powered by a 100-watt motor and high-capacity lithium batteries and boasting a large-capacity, 600-milliliter dust cup, the Homasy Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner offers 30 minutes of strong, uninterrupted power thanks to the brand’s fast-charge and power management technology.
While the suction power of the Homasy Portable Vacuum Cleaner will definitely impress, its surprisingly quiet motor will make it a keeper.
Best for Carpets: Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Deluxe Cordless Portable Spot and Carpet Cleaner
Built-in scrubbing brush
Lightweight for a carpet cleaner
Limited tank capacity
If the majority of your space is carpeted, you’re going to need a powerful product like the BISSELL Advanced Cordless Spot Carpet Cleaner to help keep it looking fresh and polished. Developed as a solution to pet stains, this model specializes in removing all liquid stains and odors by releasing a stain-fighting formula onto the carpet, scrubbing it loose with its built-in brush, and lifting it using powerful suction. But, its stain-fighting action isn’t only limited to carpets; it can also be used on upholstered furniture and other soft surfaces such as area rugs, stairs, and auto interiors.
This model most likely works best as a spot remover, tackling smaller stains and spills better than bigger ones due to the amount of stain remover it can hold.
Best Compact: Hoover ONEPWR Dust Chaser Cordless Mini Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Steeper price point
Limited dust cup capacity
Weighing less than three pounds, this dustbuster is a standout in a category that's already known for compact designs. It's portable and easy to store, making it a great choice for apartment dwellers or anyone who's short on space. The included 2-in-1 dusting brush and crevice tool further the Dust Chaser's space efficiency, while adding to its cleaning abilities. But it's this model's suction power that's most likely to impress—despite its size, it's twice as powerful as Hoover's average handheld vacuum.
Whether you're hoping to tidy up small areas, keep a dustbuster handy in your car, or add a supplementary machine to your cleaning arsenal without crowding your home, this small but mighty dustbuster will suit your needs and keep your living space mess-free.
For power, performance, and reliability, Black+Decker's 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum (view at Amazon) can’t be beat. Its design allows for efficient, flexible cleaning that’s hard to find in other handheld models. If you’re willing to spend a little more money on a higher-end model, consider the Dyson V7 Handheld Vacuum (view at Amazon). Between its effective suction and cleaning capabilities across a variety of surfaces and its impressively long battery life, this model more than earns its price tag.
What to Look for in a Dustbuster
Make sure to check how much your dustbuster of choice weighs before committing to it. Although most models are relatively lightweight, some may be a little heftier, and therefore less maneuverable and pleasant to operate for extended periods of time. Attachments and dust bags are often the source of added weight, so keep that in mind if you're interested in a dustbuster with these features.
While portability is one of the most appealing features for 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 for heavy-duty cleaning. Compared to their cordless counterparts, corded models tend to provide more suction power and can run for as long as they're plugged in. While cordless dustbusters need to be recharged after 20 minutes of runtime (on average), they can clean virtually anywhere.
If all you want is a lightweight tool that can clean up sudden, albeit small, messes, you might not be concerned about what else comes with your dustbuster. But, if you're hoping to clean tight crevices, furniture, or overhead areas with your dustbuster, 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.
How do I clean a dustbuster?
To begin, empty the dust cup or throw away the dust bag. If your model uses a permanent filter, remove it and clean it on its own. While some can be washed under water, others aren't supposed to get wet and should only be vacuumed. When in doubt, refer to your dustbuster's manual for 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.
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. However, if you notice any loss of suction before then, that's a sign that you might need a new filter.
How do I replace a dustbuster's battery?
A loss of suction may also indicate a dying battery that needs replacing. You'll need to check your dustbuster's manual or with its manufacturer to learn what type of battery you should order for replacement, and whether you can replace the battery by yourself. 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 dustbuster or open the housing area for the battery, using a screwdriver if necessary, and gently pull it loose. Put the new battery in its place, close up the housing area, and recycle the old battery.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sara Coughlin, a freelance writer and The Spruce’s small appliances expert. From canister models to dustbusters, she’s researched what it takes for a vacuum to stand out in a vast and broad market—and what to look for in up-and-coming models.