The name shouldn’t fool you – a good handheld vacuum should be both lightweight and powerful. Handheld vacuums are a convenient, highly practical way of keeping your home and even your car clean. They take little space, are easy to use and are an especially great solution for pet owners.
With their ergonomic designs, they are especially handy for reaching tight corners and you also won’t have to deal with the tangled mess of vacuum cords. In this article, we’ll help you pick out the best handheld vacuum for your budget and needs. We’ll also share our collated list of the top 10 best handheld vacuums of 2018 so read on if you want to see which brands made our list!
Table of Contents
- Why Buy A Handheld Vacuum?
- Who Is It Suitable For?
- How We Choose And Test The Best Portable Vacuum?
- Suction Power
- Battery Life
- Charging Time
- Factors To Consider
- Cordless or Corded?
- Dustbin Size
- Filter Size
- Mistakes You Should Be Aware Of
- 1. Shark Cordless: Perfect Hand Vac For Pet Owners
- 2. Holife Handheld Vacuum: Great Attachment Selection
- 3. Black+Decker BDH2000PL: Best Handheld Vacuums
- 4. Dirt Devil SD20005RED Scorpion Quick Flip: Best Bagless Canister Vacuum
- 5. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser: Corded Handheld Vacuum
- 6. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser: Cordless Hand Vacuum
- 7. Eureka EasyClean: Corded Hand-Held Vacuum
- 8. Shark Cordless Pet Perfect II Hand Vac: Very Powerful Motor
- 9. Dirt Devil Quick Flip Plus: Cordless 16 Volt Bagless Option
- 10. BLACK + DECKER CHV1410L: 16V Motor With Cordless Operation
Why Buy A Handheld Vacuum?
Having a conventional or even a robotic vacuum cleaner in your home is great for keeping your floors clean. After all, how else would you get rid of all the persistent little debris and dust particles flying around the house? However, vacuuming the rooms so often does take so much time and energy. Although sweeping seems to be an easier and faster alternative, it can’t really offer you the same results as vacuuming.
In the instance that you need to clean your furniture, it can be extremely tricky and inconvenient to try to use your vacuum cleaner (which is usually designed for floors) on your furniture. When it comes to cleaning your car, your robotic vacuum cleaner can’t really help and taking the classic vacuum to the garage and trying to reach all those little corners will take half your weekend.
In situations like that, having a handheld vacuum cleaner can be truly helpful. With a handheld device, you can easily reach even the smallest, tightest spots (which usually contain a bunch of debris, dust, sand) and clean them out in no time. Just like the name suggests – they are practical, small, light, and you can easily store them anywhere you like since they don’t take too much space. You can keep them in the trunk of your car. And you can even mount them on a wall so you don’t have to think of coming up with some nice storage place.
They are also easily transportable, so you can take them wherever you like. And most of them are powered by a battery which means that you won’t have to worry about plugging it into a wall and calculating if the cord is long enough to reach the other room. But do keep in mind that you won’t be able to clean your entire home using one of these little guys.
They’re not really a substitute for your regular vacuum cleaner, but a handy addition. They’re not meant to be used over big surfaces since you will have to empty the dustbin frequently. And, if it is powered by a battery, the charge won’t hold long enough for you to finish the job.
Who Is It Suitable For?
First of all, handheld vacuum cleaners are really popular among people who have pets. Pets are known to shed hair which can sometimes be hard to clean and a handheld vacuum can serve that purpose very well, especially if your pet’s fur ends up all over your sofa or bed.
They are also great for families who use the car a lot, especially families with kids that like snacking on the back seat. Or families with dogs that always manage to leave dirt and skin all over the seats. Handheld vacuums are a great, easy way to keep your car clean.
Handheld devices are also great for cleaning small messes which are generally caused by cooking, pets and children around your home and/or your car so it is safe to say that parents and pet owners are the ones who should consider buying one the most, although basically, anyone will find them useful.
How We Choose And Test The Best Portable Vacuum?
The most important thing when talking about handheld vacuum cleaners is their suction power. Since conventional vacuums are larger, their handheld counterparts tend to be weaker. If you don’t do proper research, you might end up with one of those handheld vacuum cleaners with reduced suction power that aren’t able to lift up a bread crumb off of a countertop.
To know how powerful a handheld vacuum is, you can take a look at the specifications which can vary a lot from one model to another. In general, suction power is measured by “air watts.” This is not a “real” physical measurement, it is a combination of two different measurements which are – air flow cubic feet per minute and water lift.
But it’s not all about the suction. That’s why we do not just measure how strong the suction is, but we also take a closer look at the battery. Since most of the handheld vacuums these days are powered by batteries, it is really important to find out which has the best performing one that you can count on at all times.
For us, if a produt has a solid 20-minute work time on single charge we consider that as a great result. However, if that time falls down to 15 or even 10 minutes of working time, we will probably dismiss the model. The battery is really important, and you don’t want to play around when it comes to how long a battery holds a charge.
This leads us to another important aspect of handheld vacuum cleaners – their charging time. It usually takes a couple of hours for a good handheld device to get fully charged. Anything above that and you’re stuck with one that needs to be charged all the time and can’t really help you when needed. Other things we pay attention to when testing different models is the cleaning process – how easy is it to empty the vacuum cleaner out, what kind of nozzles they come with and how efficient they are.
Factors To Consider
If you haven’t used a handheld vacuum cleaner for a long time now, or perhaps you’ve never even used one, you’ll be surprised how much the technology has advanced. They’re no longer the cleaner your aunt used to clean bread crumbs with for 20 minutes, covering the whole table dozens of times before finally cleaning it properly. But, of course, just like with everything else, with fast advancements there are always some brands and models that don’t manage to catch up.
That said, there are some things you will need to consider before you decide on buying a portable vacuum cleaner. Not all are made equally, some of them are a tool that you’ll be able to use to solve really small messes. But others will be real lifesavers with their ability to clean even the heaviest and most stubborn of things. But don’t worry, you really won’t have to think too hard about which model to choose, we have done the research on the things you need to pay attention to before purchasing.
Cordless or Corded?
The first thing you should consider is whether you want cordless or corded portable vacuum. Keep in mind that corded vacuum cleaners don’t need to be charged and their suction power is usually always the same. However, you won’t be able to use it if you don’t have some kind of a power source. So, say goodbye to cleaning your car while on the road.
This means that cordless handheld vacuum cleaners are way more transportable and more convenient, but they do require charging and tend to have weaker suction toward the end of the battery. Although there are some really good models that keep the suction strong and constant to the very end. These are the ones you’d want to get if you’re looking for the best model out there.
Another thing you should keep in mind is the size of the vacuum cleaner’s dustbin. Since handheld vacuums are generally small, this means that you will need to clean them out more frequently. But some vacuum cleaners come with a bigger dustbin than others, so if you want to save on time and energy, you should check the capacity and size of the dustbin and decide on a bigger one.
And it’s not only the dustbin, but you should also check the filter. First, some models will need to have their filters replaced more often than others, and this can bring a lot of additional costs. And second, if you or someone in your family is prone to allergies, you might want to invest in a model that comes with a HEPA filter that removes allergens and dust mites.
Also, before you buy one, pay attention to accessories that you will receive with that specific vacuum. Even though the most basic models usually come with no attachments at all (which is also good if you’re looking for something simple, plus you don’t have to worry about misplacing any item), the more advanced models can have really useful accessories.
Those are especially good for pet owners that need an extra help when cleaning pet hair and those with a lot of stairs in the house that can be a bit difficult to take care of without the right tool. The most common once are the crevice tools and the upholstery brushes, which are definitely important, but the more advanced models can come with motorized brushes for cleaning carpets, specialized pet hair attachments or extendable hoses for reaching high areas.
Mistakes You Should Be Aware Of
It can be tempting sometimes but remember not to judge a book by its covers and not to buy a handheld vacuum cleaner based on their design. Just because a vacuum cleaner has the nozzle which would be perfect for something you need doesn’t mean that it is the best option for you.
You should always start by taking a look at the power of a specific model and its suction abilities before checking anything else. Most of the best models on the market today will be rated between 18 and 20 Volts which provides them with a lot of suction, but even less powerful models with around 15 volts will do the everyday job most of the times.
Buying a vacuum with poor suction, bad battery life, or sealing is like buying a shoddy car just because you like the steering wheel. All the nice accessories will do you no good if it doesn’t do the basic work properly.
This one might not be so intuitive, so it’s no wonder some people easily forget about it – always keep an eye on the weight of a handheld vacuum cleaner before you buy it. It is not true that every handheld vacuum is light and some tend to be really heavy and bulky. This means that you will have a hard time operating it with one hand or even two for the heaviest ones. Those heavy models can be really difficult to maneuver in complicated situations and to use for longer periods of time.
When checking the size and weight of a model – don’t forget to check the vacuum’s durability and sturdiness. Since they are made out of plastic and are not really designed to withstand kicking and throwing, you should take a closer look and see which one seems more sturdy and durable. Chances are you or your kid/dog might accidentally drop it one day or push it off the counter. And you want it to be able to withstand the drop without completely breaking apart.
Buying the cheapest model you can find will probably not end well, and will not actually save you any money in the long run. The truth with most things is: if you wish to save money, you’ll have to spend a little more at the beginning and invest in a high-quality product, knowing it will pay off after all the years of usage without the need to get a replacement or spend money on repairs. Find a high-quality device and pay a couple of bucks more if needed, but make sure it will last you longer.
Being able to mount your vacuum cleaner to a wall is also something you shouldn’t forget to check, especially if you have a smaller kitchen/apartment. Even though they’re made to be practical and small, sometimes even the smallest of models is just not tiny enough for your place. By being able to mount it to a wall, or even a wall in the trunk of your car, you’ll save a lot of storage space. Plus, you’ll always know where it is when you need it and you’ll be able to reach it quickly if an accident happens.
1. Shark Cordless: Perfect Hand Vac For Pet Owners
This is a cordless, powerful yet surprisingly quiet handheld vacuum cleaner. Just as the name suggests – this is a long, skinny vacuum, shaped much like a shark (18 inches long). The handle is nicely positioned and comfortable, and while it’s big, its sleek design helps it maneuver quite nicely over the carpet and upholstery in your car and home.
The detachable motorized brush removes pet hair and ground-in dirt from upholstery, carpets, car mats & seats. Includes the versatility of a crevice tool for hard-to-reach areas and direct suction option for easy cleaning on any surface.
- Very good at removing dirt from carpets
- Excellent power and suction
- Comes with a crevice tool and an upholstery tool that are easy to add
- Great for pet owners – does a very good job removing pet hair
- Really easy to use and maneuver
- The handle is super comfortable
- One of the longest models out there with its 18 inches
- Comes with a detachable motorized brush
- Easy-to-empty dust cup
- Includes cleanable filter, no bag needed
- Great for use in the car
- Bulky size
- Has a short peak performance per charge
- Battery doesn’t last long after fully charged
2. Holife Handheld Vacuum: Great Attachment Selection
This portable device boasts a compact size and a cordless design, so you can carry it around your house or into your car without any inconvenience. It’s compact and perfect for small apartments, dorms and cars. The specially designed handle fits ideally in the palm of your hand while an easy empty dirt cup makes it even more convenient to get the job done quicker.
This model has a Li-ion battery that gives you around 30 minutes of continuous operation. It comes with two more nozzles that ensure efficient cleanups in the narrowest places.
- Lightweight and portable
- Offers really strong suction
- Well made and nicely designed
- The battery gives 30 minutes of continuous operation
- Powerful motor at 90W
- Easy to clean
- Pretty quiet when compared to other models
- Equipped with various attachments
- Good for pet owners – easily cleans pet hair
- A bit bulky
- Filter needs to be cleaned regularly for good function
- Doesn’t come with a rotating brush attachment
- There’s no way to stash the extra tool
- Doesn’t come with a wall mount
3. Black+Decker BDH2000PL: Best Handheld Vacuums
For those looking for serious power, this model has strong suction provided by the 20V lithium ion battery, a lightweight design for easy carrying, and a standing charging base. The 20V MAX* Lithium Pivot comes with an onboard crevice tool and brush that are always at hand to tackle any mess, while a distinctive pivoting nose feature enables easy cleaning for all those hard to reach areas, such as under cupboards, above tall shelves, and in between couch cushions.
- Very strong suction
- It’s really compact and makes for easy storing in small spaces
- Runs on a lithium Ion battery which means it doesn’t lose the charge when it’s not in use
- It’s bagless and the canister is really easy to empty
- The battery is replaceable
- Minimal power fade throughout the charge cycle
- Does not have any attachments so there is no risk to misplace anything
- Not suitable for pet owners since it has no pet tool
- Only good for smaller spaces
- It’s not a good floor cleaner and you’ll need a stick vacuum to complement this one
4. Dirt Devil SD20005RED Scorpion Quick Flip: Best Bagless Canister Vacuum
This lightweight and bagless model is versatile and perfect for cleaning the home, workshop, or car. The Scorpion Quick Flip comes with an on-board crevice tool that quickly and easily flips down to make cleaning those hard to reach areas a breeze. This model is powered by a 770 watts motor and comes with an integrated Quick Flip Crevice Tool for cleaning tight spaces like couch cushions and car seats.
- Offers powerful suction and is very good at removing dirt from bare floors
- Great for cleaning: the home, workshop or car
- Really simple to maneuver and easy to use
- The fold-down part to clean small crevices is really handy
- Great, vibrant colour and nice design
- Its long cord makes it easy to move around the house
- Comes at a really affordable price
- It’s handle is super comfortable
- Dust cup is easy to empty
- Struggles to remove dirt from carpets
- Short battery runtime
- Short peak power runtime
5. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser: Corded Handheld Vacuum
Designed especially for pet hair pick-up around the house, this model comes equipped with a flexible rubber contour nozzle that effectively removes dirt and pet hair from upholstery and stairs, plus a hard nozzle for cleaning dry messes or the inside of automobiles.
It offers lightweight construction at less than 4 pounds, a comfortable easy-grip handle, and a fingertip-access on/off switch. Other highlights include a pleated post motor filter, a filter screen, and a 16-foot power cord with a cord-wrap system.
- Includes two specially designed nozzles
- Strong suction
- Has HEPA filtration
- Specialized rubber nozzle attracts hair and pulls out dirt on areas such as stairs and upholstery
- Effectively picks up dry messes on many surfaces
- Lightweight and powerful
- Uses a multi-level filtration for best results
- Really affordable price
- Can be used on tiled, hardwood or any bare floor surfaces thanks to its hard nozzle
- Short power cord
- Small dirt container needs to be emptied frequently
- Only limited to spot cleaning
- HEPA filters need to be replaced periodically
6. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser: Cordless Hand Vacuum
The Bissell pet hair eraser hand device is especially developed with pet owners in mind to help make cleaning up after their pets easier. This lightweight and cordless handheld device allows you to clean up pet hair and dirt that collects on your furniture, carpet, in your car, or wherever your furry friends play. The detachable motorized brush helps capture more embedded dirt and pet hair, providing a deeper clean.
The included crevice tool and upholstery tool can be used separately or stacked together to combine their usefulness. In addition, this hand vacuum has a two-staged filtration system designed to help extend the life of the filter and provide easier cleaning.
- Comes with a new and improved motorized brush roll
- Tools attach securely and easily
- Dual filtration keeps the main filters cleaner for longer periods of time
- Lightweight – Weighs only 3.75 pounds
- Comes with a 4 volt nickel cadmium battery
- Comes with 3 tools – motorized brush, crevice and upholstery tool
- Relatively cheap for what it offers, compared to other similar models
- Motorized tool has its own motor for better agitation
- Great for pet owners – really good with cleaning pet hair
- Best utilized as a spot cleaner to pick up pet litter or hair
- Still uses NiCad batteries which are prone to power fade
- The dirt container is small
- It’s strictly a spot cleaning tool so you won’t be able to clean a large flat area
7. Eureka EasyClean: Corded Hand-Held Vacuum
The Eureka EasyClean 71B Hand Vacuum comes with an extremely long (20 foot) cord and a 6 inch nozzle with a rotating brush that can clean both horizontal and vertical surfaces. It’s a great choice for pet owners since it has zero difficulties cleaning pet hair and is incredibly quiet.
It’s a great tool for cleaning stairs and upholstery because of the design of its inlet. This model comes with two motors – one motor powers the revolving brush, while the second motor is for suction. It’s lightweight at only 4.8 pounds for convenient cleaning.
- Great for pet owners: excels at picking up pet hair
- Excellent, strong suction
- Works really quietly
- Comes with a really long cord
- Power switch is easy to use
- Great for upholstery and stairs
- Can clean both vertical and horizontal surfaces
- Flexible hose and crevice tool adds to the versatility
- It’s bagless and the filter is washable
- It has thermal Cut Off
- Fills up quickly
- A bit messy to clean up with the dust cup difficult to empty
- Struggles on contoured areas – may not work well inside cars
- Struggles to remove dirt from bare floors
8. Shark Cordless Pet Perfect II Hand Vac: Very Powerful Motor
This model is one of the very few handheld vacuums that comes with a motorized brush which makes cleaning of any surface an easy job. It’s great for pet owners, since the brush does wonders cleaning after pet hair, but is also great for stairs, upholstery, hard floors and carpets. Aside from the motorized brush, this handheld vacuum comes with two more attachments – a crevice and brush tool to reach crevices and pick up dust off hard surfaces. This is a very powerful tool with a NiCad battery that provides great suction power.
- Good power: Powered by an 18-volt nickel cadmium battery
- Comes with a motorized brush that works great in removing pet hair
- Easy to use
- The washable filter makes it easy to wash
- Batteries can be replaced
- Crevice and brush tool add to versatility
- Charging is easy with the charging stand that is wall mountable
- Doesn’t use a bag for accumulating dirt
- Comes with 3 attachments included – crevice, brush and motorized brush tool
- Takes a lot of time to fully recharge – around 16-hours
- On the heavy side because of its NiCad battery
- Attachments will have a tendency to fall off if not attached securely
- Short run time and peak power (when used with the motorized brush)
9. Dirt Devil Quick Flip Plus: Cordless 16 Volt Bagless Option
This Dirt Devil model is packed with power, portability, and accessories. A powered turbo tool attaches in a second for effective stair and upholstery cleaning. And a crevice tool flips out for cleaning the hardest to reach spots. The Quick Flip Pro is powered by a 16V lithium battery giving you the ultimate wireless freedom, plus twice faster charge time and a fade-free long lasting battery.
- Sturdy and very well made
- Powerful suction with its 16V lithium battery
- Charges really fast
- Works great on all surfaces, does a great job on stairs and furniture
- The rotating brush on the end makes it very effective in picking up stubborn pieces of paper or small pebbles
- Not too heavy and easy to handle
- Easy to clean
- Really long battery life
- Powerful enough to clean pet hair
- Comes with great attachments
- In order to empty the dust bin, you also have to handle the filter
- Doesn’t warn you before the battery is about to die
- Doesn’t come with a charging station and the charging jack is difficult to plug in
10. BLACK + DECKER CHV1410L: 16V Motor With Cordless Operation
The CHV1410L model is part of the Black & Decker’s so called DustBuster range of handheld vacuums that has been on the market for 20 years already. Some would argue that the CHV1410L is the best vacuum in the line, being much more powerful, when it comes both to suction and battery life.
It’s most certainly one of the most powerful ones in the line, with its Lithium Ion battery that runs on one charge for unbelievable amount of time and has a great lifetime, too. This DustBuster can hold a charge for up to 18 months and charges 5 times faster when compared to NiCad batteries.
- Really lightweight and easy to use
- Great battery: The battery lasts unbelievably long. A single charge can hold up to 18 months.
- Charges quickly: Charges up to 5 times quicker than NiCad batteries
- Uses less energy: Built-in Smart Technology can reduce energy by up to 50%
- Great suction power
- Easy to reach tight spaces with its rotating, slim nozzle and the slide-out crevice tool
- Can suck up a lot (and big pieces) of debris with its wide mouth design
- Flexible 3-way storage capability: horizontally, vertically, or wall-mounted
- The 3-stage filtration system keeps air cleaner and reduces clogging
- Great ability to maintain the same level of power output when discharging
- It produces a lot of loud noise
- Takes a long time to charge (full 24 hours)
- There’s no indication that it has been fully charged
- The extension doesn’t lock in into place
With so many models on the market these days, you might be hard pressed to make a choice. You can’t really compare the quality by the price, since there are so many amazing models that come super cheap that can be compared to the ones that are more expensive. Be sure to do your research before deciding. What do you need a handheld vacuum cleaner for? Do you need something that will help you clean after your pet? Do you need a lightweight item to keep in your car at all times? Start with one of the brands that made our list and you’ll be on the right track!
Do share with us in the comments!