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Best Handheld Vacuums Updated November 2018
BLACK + DECKER
16-Volt Lithium Cordless
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This best seller features cyclonic technology and a lithium-ion battery for a powerful clean and longer runtime.
Its Smart Charge Technology uses 50% less energy than other handheld vacuums and holds a charge for up to 18 months. Its rotating slim nozzle reaches tight spaces under and around furniture.
The charging stand doesn’t mount to the wall and the battery—covered under a 2-year warranty—has an average lifespan of about 3 years.
Pet Hair Eraser
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Affordable, compact, and lightweight, it’s no surprise that this BISSELL handheld has so many repeat customers—especially when it comes to pet owners.
This cordless vac makes it easy to vacuum dirt and pet hair from hard-to-reach spaces like under car seats and in between seat cushions. It features a specialized rubber nozzle that attracts hair and multi-layer filtration for a more powerful clean.
It has a long charging time and no extension hose to reach narrow spaces.
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Perfect for vacuuming at awkward angles and around furniture and stairs, this handheld corded vacuum is a solid pick.
This corded handheld vacuum weighs less than 5 pounds and comes with a motorized brush for thorough carpet cleaning.
The filter is hard to clean—you have to manually remove any pet hair that gets stuck in it.
Scorpion Quick Flip Corded
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This corded handheld vacuum is one of the lightest and most affordable vacuums available.
This bagless handheld vacuum picks up dust and small particles extremely well and can be emptied within seconds.
This vacuum is very loud when in use, according to the handheld vacuum reviews we read.
BLACK + DECKER
MAX Lithium Pivot
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Though this handheld vacuum is on the expensive side, it provides powerful suction that can help you clean all types of messes.
The battery charge duration is great and the design is modern. It features a one-of-a-kind, pivoting nozzle and is easy to empty.
The vacuum may get clogged at the base of the arm where the plastic flap opens. Removing pet hair, in particular, may require some patience.
Our House Method Reviews team brought the top-rated handheld vacuums into our lab for a controlled set of tests. We measured suction power, noise, maneuverability, and so much more. We compared thousands of handheld vacuum reviews from verified customers to choose our five favorite handhelds on the market today. Each vacuum listed above has a unique set of features and attachments, making it easier for you to narrow your selection and find the best handheld vacuum cleaner for your home.
Handheld Vacuum Reviews Guide
Unlike upright or canister vacuums that have big, bulky designs, handheld vacuums are built to allow you to easily clean tight spaces or spot clean messes. They’re versatile and portable—two strong reasons why you might choose to buy a handheld vacuum cleaner over a traditional vacuum cleaner. They’re also a more affordable option than traditional vacuums.
At House Method, we understand the importance of keeping your house clean and wanting a simple way to achieve this goal. That’s why we tested and reviewed the best handheld vacuums on the market to make your purchasing decision easier. Keep reading our comprehensive guide to handheld vacuums and review our best picks at the top of the page.
Corded vs. cordless handheld vacuums
Corded handheld vacuums need to be plugged into an outlet. Before buying a corded vacuum, make sure you have enough centrally located outlets in your house to support your cleaning. Otherwise, you should find a handheld vac with a long cord so you’re not tethered too close to the wall. Because corded vacuums are powered directly from a wall outlet, they tend to have stronger suction than cordless vacuums.
Cordless vacuums are portable and convenient for quick chores and maneuvering around tight, narrow spaces. Not only are they great for spot cleaning small messes, but they’re also an ideal choice for cleaning your vehicle. Some high-end models have powerful batteries that can provide 30 to 40 minutes of continuous suction power.
In general, cordless vacuums have a shorter lifespan than corded vacuums, but the amount of care you put into your vacuum’s maintenance plays a big role in how long it lasts.”
7 Major factors to consider
To generate maximum power and performance, many cordless handheld vacuums include a heavy battery pack. The trade-off for extra power is additional weight. Some cordless vacuums can weigh up to five pounds while others weigh much less. If you know your hand gets tired after holding heavy objects for an extended period, or you suffer from arthritis, opt for a lighter handheld vacuum that doesn’t sacrifice performance. We recommend the BLACK + DECKER MAX Lithium Pivot—it weighs 3.26 pounds and packs a powerful punch.
Though handheld vacuums are meant for cleaning smaller messes, they can provide a more comprehensive clean with the right accessories. Look for a handheld vac that comes with a dusting brush, a crevice tool, and a pet or upholstery tool. A dusting brush is great for cleaning delicate surfaces like a keyboard or window blinds, a crevice tool can help you clean hard-to-reach spaces like under your couch or around air vents, and a pet or upholstery tool can help remove pet hair and other embedded debris from carpets, furniture, and car seats.
If you go for a cordless handheld vacuum, be sure to consider battery life. The best handheld vacuum will have a long battery life and short charge time. The BLACK + DECKER16-Volt Lithium Cordless Vacuum, for example, has a charge that can last for 18 months. That’s unheard of in the handheld vacuum vertical—hence why it’s number one.
Dust cup capacity
Since handheld vacuums are small, they’re going to have a smaller dust cup capacity than upright vacuums or canisters. Check the product specifications before buying a handheld vac to determine how large the dust cup is. Most dust cups will hold around 0.3 liters of debris—not large enough to clean the whole house in a single sweep.
Emptying the vacuum
Since the dust cup capacity of a handheld vacuum is smaller than most, you’ll have to empty the vacuum more frequently. Some handheld vacuums let you empty the contents of the dust cup with a single click while others will require you to manually remove the dust cup from its holster and empty the contents into a trash can.
Dry vs. wet functionality
A handheld vacuum with dry capabilities is great for picking up dust, crumbs, and other dry messes, but there are some instances that will require you to suck up dry and wet substances (think: a bowl of cereal that’s fallen on the floor). In these instances, a dry/wet vac will be your best friend. Some characteristics to note about dry/wet vacs are that they may be more expensive than regular handheld vacuums, they may require more maintenance (it’s recommended that you empty the storage bin after each use to avoid maintenance issues), and they are slightly more expensive than their dry counterparts.
The price of handheld vacuums will vary based on the brand, the suction power, and the accessories included. A basic, corded handheld vacuum can range anywhere between $25 and $50—this type of vacuum may not include the most elaborate accessories, but it will get the job done. A dry/wet handheld vac could cost more than $50 for its dual functionality and versatility. For higher-end models from Dyson or BLACK + DECKER, you can expect to pay upwards of $60 or more.
Using a dry-only handheld vacuum for liquid spills could cause permanent damage. If you are constantly cleaning up liquid spills, opt for a wet/dry vacuum.”
Frequently asked questions
What is the best handheld vacuum cleaner?
We believe the best handheld vacuum cleaner is the BLACK + DECKER 16-Volt Lithium Cordless Vacuum. It outperforms any other handheld vacuum on the market with powerful cyclonic technology, multiple accessories, and an extended run time—18 months to be exact.
What is the best handheld vacuum for stairs?
The best handheld vacuum for stairs is the Eureka EasyClean Corded Vacuum. It’s perfect for vacuuming at awkward angles, has a motorized brush for thorough cleaning of carpet, and a 20-foot cord that provides extended reach.
What is the best handheld vacuum for pet hair?
The best handheld vacuum for pet hair is the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser. This cordless vacuum is specifically designed to target pet hair and remove it from all types of surfaces. Not to mention, it’s one of the more affordable handheld vacuums on the market.
Investing in a top-of-the-line appliance takes time and money. That’s why our team of research specialists personally tested nine different Dyson vacuums for you. Read on to find the best Dyson vacuum for your home.
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