"12 Best Handheld Vacuums, According to Cleaning Experts" by, Good Housekeeping

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12 Best Handheld Vacuums, According to Cleaning Experts

Pet hair, stairs, and car messes are no match for these hand vacs.

For smaller messes, a good handheld vacuum provides quick cleaning without a lot of heavy lifting and without hogging precious storage space. These mini vacs won't replace a full-size canister vacuum when it comes to deep cleaning, but they are handy for instantly tackling dry spills, tracked-in dirt, and pet hair stuck to just about everything. With handheld vacuums, you might even consider more than one as they don't just tackle messes inside your home: stash one in the garage to keep a workshop, garden bench and your car clean, too.

Today's newest cordless models have more powerful batteries to pick up more debris and run longer than the wimpy models of years ago. Other innovations include more comfortable grips, easier to empty dust cups, washable filters, removable batteries, multiple speeds, and more. Some even pick up wet messes and remove stains, and whether they come corded or cordless, those with brushes and other attachments make it easy to remove dust from draperies, window sills, door frames, mattresses, and other out-of-the-way spots that may be awkward for a larger vacuum to reach.

Based on our tests, the best handheld vacuum cleaners to buy right now are:



How we test handheld vacuums

The Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab tests handheld vacuums on bare floors and low pile carpets for how well they pick up light debris like sand, baking soda, dry oatmeal, orzo pasta, and pet hair. We also test their suction with heavy items, like screws and nuts. We record the run time and weight and judge how easy the filter is to change or clean, how easy the dust cup is to empty, and how comfortable the vacuum is to hold and use. Any special features or attachments are also assessed. We then ask real consumers to use and rate each vacuum before we determine our test winners.

If you're looking for other top-rated vacuums, rest assured the GH Cleaning Lab tests all types of vacuums, from canister vacuums to robot vacuums to upright vacuums. We assess how well they remove dirt deeply embedded into pile carpet and simulated pet hair evenly spread on a carpet’s surface. We look at how well they remove large and small debris from hard flooring like hardwood, tile, or linoleum, how well they clean along floor edges, and how strong their suction is. We also test them for ease-of-use and cleaning/emptying, maneuverability and weight, and battery run-time for cordless vacuum cleaners.

The handheld vacuum cleaners below are ones that have done well in our tests. Whether you are replacing a vacuum that has bitten the dust or are adding one to your cleaning arsenal, here are the ones we recommend:

1

BEST OVERALL HANDHELD VACUUM

Power Share Portable Vacuum Cleaner

WORX
$99.99

Not your typical handheld vac, the WORX model has a unique compact, boxy shape; a removable battery that fits into other WORX tools; and a top handle. Its crevice and brush tools store right on it, and a built-in flexible hose reaches four feet. 

A top performer in our cleaning tests, this model easily picked up all the debris and pet hair we put down, even without using the max power setting. The hose makes it easy to reach into tight spaces, and it ran for 23 minutes at standard power on one charge. Although it's a little heavier than other handheld vacuums, you don't need to hold it up to use it.

Why We Love It

  • Rinsable HEPA filter
  • Three-year warranty
  • Quiet

Take note

  • Some pet hair clung to the brush attachment in testing

2

BEST VALUE HANDHELD VACUUM

AeroSlim Lithium Ion Cordless Handheld Vacuum

BISSELL
$39.99

Ideal for quick pick-ups on hard surfaces, the compact and lightweight Aeroslim with its combo crevice tool and soft brush accessory is great for taking care of crumbs on your laptop, in your car, or in between the sofa cushions. The storage stand with its built-in cap holds the vacuum upright, and holds the accessory tool too, so it’s always where you need it. It has a washable filter, and charges via a USB port.

Why We Love It

  • Compact
  • Washable filter

Take Note

  • Small dust cup
  • Short charging cable

3

BEST CORDED HANDHELD VACUUM FOR PET HAIR

Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum

BISSELL
$36.99

The nubby rubber nozzle of this well-priced little (less than 4-pound) vacuum was made for those annoying pet hairs. It flexes and contours around chair arms and stair treads to get every last piece. For dry spills on bare floors (like kitty litter), remove the rubber tip and extend the wide, built-in crevice tool for quick pick-up. Even though it's not cordless, the power cord is 16-feet long for great reach.

Why We Love It

  • Great for pet hair
  • Charges via any micro-USB port

Take Note

  • Not for narrow, hard-to-reach spots
  • Short run time

4

BEST CORDLESS HANDHELD VACUUM FOR PET HAIR

AdvancedClean+ Pet Hand Vacuum

BLACK+DECKER
$99.00

With Black+Decker’s motorized mini brush attachment, there’s nowhere pet hair can hide. An extra-long pullout crevice tool and the extra-large bottom-emptying dust bin make cleaning up after pets even easier. 

No surprise, the Black+Decker aced our pet-hair-pickup test and did well with other messes too – even without using the boost power setting – although some sand scattered on hard flooring. The filter is washable, and we like that the vacuum stands upright on end for charging or storage. Using the standard setting, it ran for 32 minutes on a charge.

Why We Love It

  • Large dust cup
  • Quiet

Take Note

  • Side vents blow light debris out of the cleaning path

5

BEST LIGHTWEIGHT HANDHELD VACUUM

HomeVac H11 Cordless Handheld Vacuum

EUFY
$54.99

Don’t let the Eufy’s slim shape fool you. About the size of a wine bottle (but lightweight, at just over one pound), this sleek handheld vacuum is full-featured. It includes a crevice/brush tool, a washable filter and a cap that lets it stand upright for storage or charging – standing on a bookshelf, you’d never know it was a vacuum. 

Small but mighty, the Eufy rivaled bigger models for cleaning ability. A soft grip makes it comfortable to hold. It runs quietly for up to 13 minutes, and lights alert you when the battery needs charging.

Why We Love It

  • Lightweight
  • Washable filter

Take Note

  • Small dust cup

6

BEST HANDHELD VACUUM FOR BIG JOBS

18-Volt Cordless Hand Vacuum

RIDGID
$49.97

The RIDGID might have been designed for a workshop or a garage, but it’s right at home inside the house. This powerful champ zapped messes and pet hair nearly as well as ones with rotating brushes. It includes a 22 inch extension tube, crevice tool and floor nozzle, but not a battery and charger, which you need to purchase separately. The removable battery is interchangeable with other RIDGID tools – it charges exceptionally quickly, and larger capacity batteries give the vacuum an even longer run time. We like the easy-grip handle, the washable filter, and the extra-large twist-off dust cup is a cinch to empty. 

Why We Love It

  • 3 year warranty - lifetime service with registration
  • Powerful suction

Take Note

  • Loud
  • No dusting brush

7

BEST HANDHELD VACUUM WITH A REPLACEABLE BATTERY

ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum

HOOVER
$96.99

The Hoover ONEPWR is a little powerhouse, while the onboard crevice tool makes it easy to clean hard-to-reach places. It easily nabs dirt and debris, and during our tests even pet hair was not a problem. We love how easy it is to empty the dust cup and remove the filter to clean. 

A very handy feature, if you already have other ONEPWR System cleaning products, is the removable rechargeable battery. It's compatible across devices, so if the battery runs out on your hand vacuum, you can borrow the battery from, say, your ONEPWR carpet cleaner. Or you can purchase a spare battery to keep charged and ready for a longer cleaning session

Why We Love It

  • Onboard crevice tool
  • Removeable battery

Take Note

  • Heavier than others

8

BEST SLIMLINE HANDHELD VACUUM WITH PET HAIR TOOL

WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum

SHARK
$119.99

The Shark WANDVAC is compact and super lightweight, and ideal for those quick clean-up jobs. The accessory bank attaches to the charging dock, keeping the duster crevice tool and multi-surface pet tool right where you need them. It performed well in our tests, and was especially good at picking up pet hair with the multi-surface pet tool, although much of the fluff was caught up on the tool. We like its washable filter, and that it recharges faster than other slimline handheld vacuums

Why We Love It

  • Lightweight

Take Note

  • Small dust cup

9

BEST COMBO STEAMER AND HANDHELD VACUUM

MR-50 Wet-Dry Steam Cleaner and Vacuum Combo

VAPAMORE
$149.00

Although it can easily handle dry pickup, the corded MR-50 is a steamer that excels at wet pick-up, especially pet messes, eliminating the need for chemical cleaners. It comes with a squeegee and nylon brush attachments, and a spare washable filter. Little wheels by the nozzle help you perfectly position the vacuum to suction. Then, flip the switch and steam the area, using dry or wet steam. During our tests, no stains or odor remained. We loved how quiet and simple the whole process was, and also how easy it was to empty and clean the machine afterwards.

Why We Love It

  • Wet pick-up
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Quiet

Take Note

  • Heavy

10

BEST HANDHELD VACUUM FOR CARS

EL7207 12V Auto Vacuum

WAGAN
$34.50

This lightweight and inexpensive vacuum plugs into any 12V outlet and has a 10 foot power cord. It performed surprisingly well in our tests – it easily picked up dirt and debris as well as pet hair from vehicle carpeting and seats. It comes with a crevice tool and brush tool, as well as a carrying bag to keep the vacuum and accessories neatly stored together in your trunk or garage.

Why We Love It

  • Connects to 12V power outlet

Take Note

  • Loud

11

BEST HEAVY DUTY WET/DRY HANDHELD VACUUM

20V Max 1/2 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum Kit

DEWALT
$199.00

More at home in your workshop, the cordless DEWALT is ideal for craft and DIY projects, and even wet spills. Its powerful suction and extra-large tank lets you clean up big messes, and it’s easy to empty and clean too. The attached extendable hose gives an extra two and a half foot reach to get into awkward nooks and crannies, and we love that it has a HEPA filter. This kit includes a charger and removable battery, which is interchangeable with batteries in other DeWalt tools.

Why We Love It

  • Wet and dry pick-up
  • Extension hose attached

Take Note

  • Loud
  • No additional accessories

12

BEST MATTRESS AND UPHOLSTERY VACUUM

IC-FAC2 Mattress and Upholstery Vacuum

IRIS
$69.00

Designed for vacuuming upholstery and mattresses, the corded compact IRIS has a very powerful suction and mechanism to shake loose and remove dust, dust mites, and other allergens. Its special sensor and colored lighting system lets you know if the surface is completely clean, and its ergonomic handle and hinged body make it easy to use. During our tests, it performed poorly trying to pick up debris from a hard floor, although it picked up pet hair from carpet and crumbs from a fabric covered chair with ease.

Why We Love It

  • Ideal for vacuuming couches and bedding
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Take Note

  • Not ideal for hard floors

Director, Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab
Carolyn Forte, a consumer products expert, is the director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
Lynn Redmile is a Testing and Product Review Analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she's been evaluating products since 2012.

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