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Portable and compact, a top-quality handheld vacuum suctions up small messes and typically has a dust bin that's easy to empty into your trash can. We tested over 30 handheld vacuums in The Lab and at home, evaluating performance, weight, battery life, and attachments. We noted how well each model vacuumed up hair, cereal, flour, and popcorn kernels on four different surfaces, including hardwood floors and multiple types of carpet.
Our favorite, the Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum, has shockingly powerful suction, a large dust bin, and a tapered nozzle to target crevices and other hard-to-reach spots.
Here are the best handheld vacuums, backed by our testing.
Our Top Picks
Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum CleanerBuy at Amazon
With no cord to manage and interchangeable batteries, you can use this portable vacuum anywhere.
Best Overall, Runner-Up
BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Flex Handheld VacuumBuy at Amazon
With a dust bin capacity of 15 ounces and pivoting nozzle, this model is equipped to handle any mess on any surface.
Sun Joe Cordless Handheld Vacuum CleanerBuy at Amazon
This affordable vacuum is lightweight, easy to use, and portable, and features a USB cable for charging.
Best Overall: Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Large dust bin
Easy to empty
Tapered nozzle fits into most spaces
Battery pack adds weight
Who else recommends it? Forbes, Consumer Reports, and Good Housekeeping all picked the Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum.
What do buyers say? 86% of 1,200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
The Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum is our favorite because it's cordless, easy to use, has a large dust bin, and has powerful suction on various surfaces. If you're looking for an appliance for a quick and efficient cleanup, this is the vacuum for you. It was the star of our vacuum testing, earning a 5-star rating for setup, maneuverability, and ease of emptying, and an almost perfect score for effectiveness. It sucked up all the debris off of every surface, completed our living room obstacle course with ease, and was even able to efficiently vacuum a car cup holder and baseboard, thanks to its tapered nozzle.
When it came time to empty the large dust bin, our tester noted the process "truly couldn't have been easier," thanks to a one-button release. On top of its easy-emptying feature, the handheld vac features a washable filter, making it practical to maintain. The long-lasting, interchangeable battery is also a feature you will love. Part of the ONEPWR series, this vacuum uses the same type of lithium-ion battery used to power other small appliances from Hoover, like stick vacuums and leaf blowers. Charge the battery, and it's ready to use with any ONEPWR cleaning tools. However, keep in mind: this powerful battery adds a little weight to the vacuum.
This model is one of the pricier models on our list. Still, its impressive performance makes it a worthwhile investment if you're looking for a reliable, powerful dustbuster for your household.
Best Overall, Runner-Up: BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum
Pet hair attachment
Flexible, 4-foot hose
Easy to store
Requires two hands to operate
The BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum amazed our testers at The Lab with its suction power, clever design, and versatility. It nearly made our best overall spot, but requires two hands to operate, so we docked it for that inconvenience. If you don't mind holding the motor with one hand while you vacuum with the other, though, this is an excellent pick. Plus, its cordless design means you don't need to be close to an outlet when vacuuming.
The flexible, 4-foot hose also allows you to vacuum upholstery, stairs, and vehicle floor mats with ease. The hose wraps around the motor when not in use, in what our tester described as a "little hug," making this pick easy to store and space-saving. In addition to standard included attachments like a crevice tool, this vacuum also comes with a pet hair tool that was amazingly effective at sucking up hair during our tests. When you're not vacuuming, you can place the whole vacuum on its included charging base, which has spots to hold the nifty, useful attachments.
Now, the vacuum is certainly a bit noisy and could be tough to hold a conversation over. However, we still had room for more debris at the end of all our testing, which makes us believe you could complete several messy tasks around your home without having to make a trip to the trash can. All in all, the vacuum passed our tests with flying colors, so it was also deemed worth your money—even if you can't track down a coupon.
Best Budget: Sun Joe AJV1000 Cordless 8.4-Volt Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
USB cable for charging
Easy to empty bin
Unnecessary cap attachment
Looking for an efficient vacuum cleaner for a third of the price of our top picks? Look no further than the Sun Joe Cordless Handheld Vacuum. This tiny, lightweight vacuum impressed our testing team with its powerful suction for its price and size. It comes with a USB charging cable, so it's also a great choice for a car vacuum or home office area. It comes with a 2-in-1 brush and crevice tool, as well as a vacuum cap for when its not in use. (However, we think that attachment is likely to get lost and unnecessary.)
At only one and a half pounds, you'll be able to tote this vacuum all over your home with ease while zapping any small messes along the way. When you're through with your quick cleanup, you'll also enjoy how the dust bin is easy to empty and the whole process is mess-free. Now, for its small size, this pick is a little bit noisier than you'd expect it to be. However, it's so powerful, so that's not a dealbreaker. The only thing we'd change is the fan placement. At certain angles, the vent can blow out air that scatters debris like hair and flour that's light. For the price, we'll take this minor inconvenience, though.
Best Splurge: Shark WV201 WANDVAC Cordless Handheld Vacuum
Lightweight, ergonomic design
Long charge time
The Shark WANDVAC is more expensive than other handheld vacuums but features a high-speed, brushless motor that produces excellent suction, according to our in-home product tester. It has an ergonomic design that makes it comfortable to hold while providing excellent reach into tight areas. At 1.4 pounds, it also happens to be among the most lightweight handheld vacuums on the market. Ditch your expectations of a dustbuster and grab this sleek handheld vacuum for household messes or car clean-up.
The Shark WANDVAC measures about 16 inches long and includes a crevice tool with bristles, as well as a multi-surface pet tool. When tasked with capturing pet hair from upholstered surfaces, the bristles of the crevice tool did an excellent job of sweeping up the hair before the powerful WANDVAC suctioned it up. The multi-surface pet tool is nice to have, but didn’t dramatically increase its effectiveness. All in all, our product tester gave this pick a 5-star rating for effectiveness and maneuverability, though. Plus, the vac easily empties into the garbage can with the push of a button. Like all cordless picks, battery life is a key consideration. The WANDVAC battery runs for almost 10 minutes before calling it quits, which was a significant downside for our tester. You should also know that the dustbin is small, due to the super slim design.
Best Lightweight: Bissell AeroSlim Hand Vacuum
Small, compact size
Powerful suction for its size
USB charging cable
Small dust bin
Did not work well on low pile carpet
The Bissell AeroSlim is one of the lightest handheld vacs on the market. To put its size in perspective, a quart of milk weighs 2 pounds while this cordless vacuum weighs just 1.3 pounds. It measures just over a foot long and rests upright on a charging station when not in use. You’ll find yourself reaching for this palm-sized hand vacuum over and over to clean up crumbs, hair, dust, and other small messes.
Our testers were surprised at how much power this tiny vacuum packed. It excelled at our tests on hardwood, medium, and high-pile carpet. It only took a few extra passes on low-pile carpet to pick up all the debris. The crevice tool attachment helps take this small vacuum to the next level by allowing you to get into cup holders and around obstacles. It also comes with a USB charging cable that makes this pick flexible for quick clean-ups in your car or home office area. The only real downside is the fan placement. When held at certain angles, the fan blows air out of the back of the vacuum in a way that can scatter some debris. Luckily, the powerful suction will suck any scattered debris right back up.
Best for Pet Hair: Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Handheld Vacuum
Pet hair brush tool
Easy to empty
A little bulky
Lack of attachment storage
If keeping up with pet hair feels like a never-ending task, keep your full-size vacuum in the closet and reach for the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This cordless handheld vacuum is designed to capture pet hair from floors, furniture, stairs, car upholstery, and anywhere else your furry friend leaves their mark. It has two cyclonic air streams to produce suction that is powerful enough to clean up pet hair and small messes from various surfaces. Our testers found that it not only delivered on its promise to quickly suck up pet hair, but it also excelled at zapping up Cheerios, flour, and popcorn kernels on a variety of surfaces.
The best thing about the UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ is its motorized attachment, known as the Pet Power Brush. It features a self-cleaning brush roll and rubber fins for scraping hair from soft surfaces as well as carpeting. Collected hair and debris are deposited in a large dustbin with a 0.45-quart capacity. In addition, 15 minutes (or more) of battery life makes this handheld vac a solid option for pet parents who expect to spend a lot of time deep cleaning a variety of surfaces. Just know: it doesn’t include a charging stand or dock, and lacks storage for the included accessories.
Best Detachable: BLACK+DECKER HSVB420J POWERSERIES 2-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum
Impressive battery life
Has storage for attachments
No replaceable battery
Could use more settings
Another option for a handheld vacuum is a detachable version, like the BLACK+DECKER POWERSERIES 2-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum. With this option, you can take advantage of two effective cleaning tools: a lightweight vacuum and a handheld dustbuster. With this vacuum, you can expect up to 30 minutes of power from the rechargeable battery, which is impressive for a cordless handheld vac. However, keep in mind that the battery is not interchangeable and will need to charge for up to five hours. This isn't a total dealbreaker, though, since this model impressed our tester during our lab testing.
It was able to capture hair, Cheerios, and popcorn kernels even on high-pile carpet. The vacuum earned a 4-star rating for effectiveness, only being docked for pushing around the cereal on the low-pile carpet and missing some debris that was ground into the carpet, and a 4.5-star rating for maneuverability, as it was pretty easy to navigate it around living room-inspired obstacles. We were especially impressed with how quickly you can access the handheld vacuum for spot-cleaning. It's built into the handle of the stick vacuum. When removed, you'll find a convenient storage spot for attachments. Plus, this vacuum proved to be lightweight and easy to empty. While the dust bin fills up quickly, the filter is also washable.
We Still Recommend: BLACK+DECKER Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum
Short battery life
No battery life indicator
While it fell from its previous spot as our best overall handheld vacuum, we still love the BLACK+DECKER Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum. It's still a reliable, quality addition to any home, and features cord-free operation so you can use it anywhere in the house or on the go. Our product tester—who put this model through its paces at home—found it effectively captures large and small debris, such as kibble and kitty litter. Plus, at 31.8 ounces, the vac has a sizable dust bin compared to some other compact picks.
At the end of the day, this mid-priced vac is a great marriage of quality and value, and gives you plenty of power at a reasonable price. The battery life is short. It took exactly 12 minutes for the vac to die in our tests, which isn't ideal for deeper cleans. There is no battery life indicator on the vacuum itself, so it can be difficult to gauge how much power you have left when using the vacuum, too. However, you'll appreciate that it's lightweight and has a cordless design. It's easy to carry around your space, even after a full day of doing chores.
Our top pick for a handheld vacuum is the Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum, due to its powerful suction, large dust bin, and cordless design. In addition, the tapered nozzle and included crevice tool make it easy to clean almost any area of your home. Spend a little less on the Sun Joe Cordless Handheld Vacuum. You’ll enjoy this tiny handheld vacuum with a USB charging cord and a 2-in-1 crevice and brush tool that's suitable for cleaning messes in your home, car, or office.
Other Options We Tested
Dyson Humdinger Cordless Handheld Vacuum: This model is one of the priciest handheld vacuums to buy and it failed to earn high enough marks in our testing to justify the expense. The form factor of the Humdinger is impressive out of the box. It required virtually no setup and was easy to hold. It included attachments that are robust for a handheld pick, like a mini motorized tool with a rotating brush bar. However, it fell short in cleaning up debris from four types of flooring, and only earned a 3-star rating for its effectiveness. It required multiple passes to clear the debris, and our tester was most frustrated by the fact that it only seemed to work when moving backward. It spewed some of the larger debris and was also hard to empty, requiring our product tester to manually remove gunk from the dust bin. While it features HEPA filtration, it is hard to recommend since this handheld vac wasn't effective when put to the test in The Lab.
How We Tested the Handheld Vacuums
During our vacuum tests, we've tested over 30 vacuums side-by-side in The Lab in Industry City, Brooklyn. Our testers unboxed and assembled each, timing how long it took to complete the setup process and rating how helpful the instructions were. We evaluated each vacuum's cleaning effectiveness by tasking it with cleaning up measured amounts of hair, flour, popcorn kernels, and Cheerios on low, medium, and high-pile carpet and hardwood. During this test, we noted how many passes it took each to clean up the materials, whether the hair got tangled in it, and the vacuum's weight.
In addition, we gathered insights on the vacuum’s maneuverability around our living room-inspired obstacle course, and the ease of emptying their bins. We also tested each model’s portability by holding each vacuum above our head during use to see how tiring it was. During all of the testing, the vacuums were also rated on their noise level. Some picks were also tested at home and were put through real-world environments and situations. These picks were rated on the same attributes as the vacs in The Lab. Our editors and writers took the consistently applied testing data and additional research, and boiled it down to the handheld vacuums we believe are the best.
What to Look for in a Handheld Vacuum
Using a handheld vacuum is a hands-on process, requiring you to lift, turn, push, and pull the pick to clear debris from floors, furniture, stairs, car upholstery, and more. As a result, the weight of the vacuum can become quite noticeable if you’re using it for an extended period of time, or holding it overhead. So, you want to consider a model that's fairly lightweight. Now, the weight of a handheld vacuum mainly depends on its size and battery. An average handheld vac weighs around 3 pounds, but more compact versions weigh as little as one pound. However, keep in mind: lightweight, handheld vacuums may have small dustbins that require frequent emptying. That's the trade-off.
Cordless handheld vacuums offer the convenience of power on demand, with no need to plug the machine into an outlet. However, battery life is a major consideration, as you don’t want your pick to quit on you in the middle of a cleaning task. Average battery life for cordless vacuums is around 10 minutes, with some models lasting a little longer and others dying more quickly. You should also pay attention to the charge time of a cordless handheld vacuum, which can vary from a few hours to up to 10 hours. If you’re searching for long battery life that'll help you complete lengthy tasks in an efficient manner, consider a model with interchangeable batteries.
Attachments add to the versatility of a handheld vacuum, though they tend to be limited in variety, in comparison to a full-size vacuum. At a minimum, look for a crevice tool that extends the reach of the vacuum into narrow spaces, such as between appliances or next to the legs of a table. Some of the other attachments that might be useful include an upholstery brush for pet parents or a flexible cleaning hose to provide greater reach when deep-cleaning your car.
Caroline Blazovsky of My Healthy Home has more than 20 years of experience in helping people improve indoor air quality, has completed multiple certifications, and is a certified Healthy Home Specialist through the National Environmental Health Association. She notes that HEPA filtration and effective dust capture is key for deep cleans and dust reduction in a home. HEPA stands for "high efficiency particulate air," and a HEPA filter removes 99 percent of dust, pollen, mold, bacter, and other small particles.
Blazovsky notes “handheld vacuums typically do not have proper filtration like a regular-sized household vacuum.” She recommends a HEPA filter, along with a sealed system to prevent dust and allergens from being able to recirculate back into the air.
How do I clean a handheld vacuum?
You'll first need to empty your handheld vacuum, which will entail either removing and throwing away its dust bag or releasing its dustbin's contents into the trash. From there, you can wipe out remaining dust from the vacuum's interior with a microfiber cloth. Refer to your model's manual to see whether you can disassemble it further, and use soap and water to clean it. Allow time for the parts to dry before reassembling.
How often should I clean a handheld vacuum?
It's important to empty your handheld vacuum before it reaches or exceeds maximum capacity. Allowing it to run with a full bag or dustbin will inhibit its performance, so keep an eye on its dust levels after big cleans. You can perform a light maintenance check on your model as frequently as once a month, while you should deeply clean it every six to 12 months, depending on how often you use it.
How long do handheld vacuums work?
Generally speaking, your handheld vacuum should last for several years. How much you use it and the scale of the messes you use it on will determine its exact lifespan. When you notice a decline in performance, check to make sure your handheld vacuum's bag or dustbin is empty, its filter is cleaned, and its battery doesn't need replacing. Emptying, cleaning, and maintaining your unit will extend its life.
Why Trust The Spruce?
To determine the best handheld vacuums, Erica Puisis—a writer for The Spruce since 2017, who has a specialty in large and small appliances—considered the features of every model tested in The Lab and at home by our product testers. To understand the use of these vacuums in keeping a healthy home, Erica interviewed indoor air specialist Caroline Blazovsky of My Healthy Home. All of the models recommended have a washable dust bin and many offer cordless operation.
Marisa Casciano is a senior commerce editor for The Spruce, and was in The Lab for the entirety of our vacuum test. She has first-hand knowledge of how our vacuum tests were both developed and performed. Before conducting lab testing, she scoured brand and retailer websites and considered price, verified customer reviews, features, and design when selecting the models to test. She took into account the latest technology and real-life cleaning situations, and found where models both excelled and fell short alongside The Spruce's team of product testers.