The 8 Best Handheld Vacuums for Quick Cleaning

Hoover’s OnePwr cordless vacuum delivers strong suction and a removable battery for a worthy investment.

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best handheld vacuums
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

Looking for a more efficient cleaning method than hauling out the whisk broom and dust pan? Quick cleaning solutions like handheld vacuums are one of the five household cleaning trends taking root in our homes following the pandemic. These smaller vacuums are easy to maneuver where and when you need them most, and with many including task-specific features, they are a welcome supplement to other cleaning devices.

"Many people have both a regular (canister or upright) vacuum and a handheld vacuum," says Angela Brown, the CEO and Founder of Savvy Cleaner. "The power of a handheld vacuum is usually not as strong as a regular vacuum, but for small jobs, it is usually all you need." According to Angela, who has 25 years of experience as a professional cleaner, convenience, ease of use, and appropriateness for the task at hand are the top reasons why we're reaching for a lightweight and portable handheld vac over a traditional one.

To help you determine which of the many handheld vacuums available today is the best addition to your cleaning arsenal, we asked cleaning and floor care pros what characteristics make the best models stand out and what you need to know before buying. We looked at bin size, weight, attachments, battery life, and more to assemble this list.

Overall, our choice for the best handheld vacuum is Hoover's Onepwr Cordless Handheld Vacuum. Its sustainable battery configuration makes it a smart investment with plenty of cleaning power, dustbin capacity, and battery life to tackle household messes.

Here are the best handheld vacuums.

What We Recommend

01 of 08

Best Overall: Hoover Onepwr Cordless Handheld Vacuum

best handheld vacuums
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart

Why You Should Get It: This cordless vacuum has a battery you can swap out for extended cleaning.

Keep in Mind: It has limited attachments.

For the best all-around cleaning solution, Matt Brown, the Merchant of A/Cs, Fans, Air Quality and Floorcare at The Home Depot prioritizes the basics: "Look for a vacuum that can finish the job before it dies," he says. Matt advises balancing battery life with suction power and bin capacity.

Hoover's Onepwr Cordless Handheld Vacuum checks all those boxes, with strong suction and a 0.4-liter bin capacity that makes the most of its 14 minutes of run time. With just a crevice tool on the machine, it's built for general cleaning rather than specialized tasks. When it's time to clean the machine itself, both the dustbin and the filter can be rinsed.

What really stands out is the removable and rechargeable battery that makes this the best handheld vacuum for everyday use on our list. Most cordless handheld vacuums have an integrated battery that can't be replaced once it stops charging.

The Onepwr's configuration lets you invest in a product that not only does its job well, but can last beyond the life of the original battery if properly cleaned and maintained. We also love that this configuration means you can swap batteries mid-cleaning rather than pause for a long charging break—though that does require buying, storing, and charging an additional battery.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Bin capacity: 0.4 liters
  • Battery life: 14 minutes
  • Charging time: 3.5 hours
  • Attachments: Crevice tool
02 of 08

Best Budget: Black+Decker Dustbuster QuickClean Cordless Handheld Vacuum

best handheld vacuums
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at The Home Depot

Why You Should Get It: The charger can be mounted to the wall.

Keep in Mind: You have to push the power button down continuously while vacuuming.

If you're looking for an inexpensive addition to your cleaning rotation, you can feel confident in this wallet-friendly buy from a big name in little vacuums.

At only 1.4 pounds, the lightweight cordless Black+Decker Dustbuster QuickClean is a convenient tool for quick pickups around the house. The built-in crevice tool extends straight from the nozzle so you're never searching for the attachment, although the included brush attachment is a separate piece.

The 1.3-cup dustbin tackles small messes without forcing you to frequently stop to empty it, and the push of a button easily detaches the dustbin and filter, both of which can be washed in warm soapy water.

Unlike other vacuums on our list, this handheld vacuum requires the user to press and hold the power button while cleaning, which may get uncomfortable if you max out its 15-minute battery life.

Generally needing nine to 10 hours to fully recharge, it also has a longer charging time than most models. However, the vacuum comes with a wall-mount base and a 3-foot cord to connect the vacuum to an outlet for charging, meaning you can keep the handy tool within reach without sacrificing valuable countertop or floor space while charging its lithium ion battery.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Bin capacity: 1.4 cups
  • Battery life: 15 minutes
  • Charging time: 10 hours
  • Attachments: Crevice tool (built in) and brush
03 of 08

Best for Pet Hair: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium Ion Cordless Pet Hand Vacuum

best handheld vacuums
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Target and Walmart

Why You Should Get It: The large dustbin has plenty of room for all the pet hair it grabs.

Keep in Mind: It may be redundant if you already have a pet-focused upright vacuum with attachments.

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser cordless handheld vacuum has versatile attachments that make it easy to tackle pet hair on furniture, floors, stairs, pet beds, and vehicle interiors. It can also handle pet food spills, debris tracked around the house, and the furry tumbleweeds that show up in corners and along baseboards.

A motorized brush kicks up embedded dirt and fur, and an upholstery tool whisks pet hair from surfaces like pet beds and sofas. The crevice tool reaches tricky spots—perfect for corners inside a kennel or litter box enclosures.

Its three filters help capture and keep pet dander and other particles inside the machine. Some messes, like cat litter dust, can really cling to dustbin and filter, which is why it's important that the roller brush, dustbin, and washable filters can all be easily removed, cleaned, and put back in place.

The 17-minute battery life gives you a lot of cleaning time with this efficient machine—but using the vacuum with the included motorized brush tool will deplete the battery more quickly. To help avoid unexpected power downs while cleaning, an LED light indicates battery life. This handheld vacuum does take several hours to recharge, so once the battery life has run out, you'll have to wait several hours to clean again.

The same LED light indicates charging status as well as potential battery or motor issues, too.

Our choice for the best handheld vacuum for pet hair may feel a bit redundant if you already have an upright vacuum that's rated well for pet owners, but we do like the added convenience of having both options.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Bin capacity: 0.7 liters
  • Battery life: 17 minutes
  • Charging time: 8 hours
  • Attachments: Motorized brush, upholstery tool, and crevice nozzle

Related: The 7 Best Vacuums for Removing Pet Hair from Every Surface of Your Home

04 of 08

Best for Cars: Sun Joe Cordless 8.4-Volt Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

best handheld vacuums
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at The Home Depot and Walmart

Why You Should Get It: You can literally toss this portable vacuum to someone in the backseat for an immediate clean up.

Keep in Mind: Filters may need to be replaced frequently for maximum performance.

Have some messy car passengers? The Sun Joe Cordless 8.4-Volt Handheld Vacuum Cleaner can clean vehicle surfaces so crumbs, dirt, and other debris don't go unchecked for too long.

It's not able to tackle muddied floor mats, but a quick sweep can tidy floors, seats, and the dashboard, while the crevice tool sneaks into seat cracks, car door nooks, and console crannies. Its compact design fits almost anywhere, including glove compartments, seatback pockets, cup holders, and even under seats.

A universal USB cable gives the option to charge the vacuum in many vehicles, and with a short four-hour charging time, school pickups and work commutes can quickly bring the mini model back to life. The charge level indicator on the handle lets you know when it's ready to go again.

For something that feels a little like a luxury to have on hand, we like the price, too. However, because the tiny dustbin makes the exposed HEPA filter more vulnerable to damage from what gets picked up, you can expect this model to have ongoing costs for filter replacements—costs that could add up to more than the initial purchase price over a long period.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Bin capacity: 3.4 fluid ounces
  • Battery life: 15 minutes
  • Charging time: Four hours
  • Attachments: Crevice tool with brush

Related: We Put the Best Stick Vacuums to the Test, and These 7 Are Actually Worth the Money

05 of 08

Best for Stairs: Shark Cordless Handheld Vacuum UltraCyclone Pet Pro+

best handheld vacuums
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at The Home Depot

Why You Should Get It: A longer vacuum body makes it easier to reach the stairs.

Keep in Mind: The short battery life might not be the right fit for long staircases or deep cleans.

For the best handheld vacuum for cleaning stairs, Matt recommends the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Cordless Handheld Vacuum for its suction and the cleaning power of the motorized brush. Though it's also a popular pick for cleaning households with pets, we like its design and cleaning capabilities for stairs, too. Measuring almost 21 inches before attachments, the UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ is longer than many other models we looked at, lessening how far you'll have to bend over to vacuum the stairs. That length combined with the handle placement, cordless design, and weight (even with the heaviest attachment it's only around 3 pounds) makes it great for maneuvering steps and staircases.

The powered brush attachment works great for digging into carpeted stairs and runners. The regular brush tool, or even no attachment at all, works for hardwood and other smooth surfaces. Switching to the crevice will help clear the dust-collecting joints of the risers and railings, regardless of surface material. Once collected, dirt is easily emptied with a push-button-release canister that swings open from the bottom of the vacuum—no need to take apart the machine or remove filters.

If you have many stairs in the house, the 15-minute maximum battery life means you'll likely have to break the chore into multiple tasks, but the indicator light gives a low battery warning so you can be prepared.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Bin capacity: .45 quarts
  • Battery life: 15 minutes
  • Charging time: Six hours
  • Attachments: Motorized brush tool, upholstery tool, and crevice tool

Related: The 8 Best Carpet Cleaners for Pets, Whether You're Dealing with Pet Hair, Dirt, or Stains

06 of 08

Best Corded: Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Handheld Corded Vacuum Cleaner

best handheld vacuums
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart

Why You Should Get It: Continuous power lets you tackle bigger tasks.

Keep in Mind: It's heavier than many cordless handheld vacuums.

Whether it's in lieu of a standard upright vacuum in a small living space or simply a preference for portability, corded models are great for those who want to do more with a handheld vacuum than just task-oriented cleaning. Corded models have more oomf behind their suction than battery-powered ones, and they're not limited by battery life.

Although you can clean without time restrictions, you will be limited by the 16-foot cord. Our choice for the best handheld vacuum with a cord, this vacuum is only 12 inches long, but it is heavier than many cordless models at 3.75 pounds. Though it comes with a shoulder strap to alleviate some of that weight, it can be awkward to handle—and dropping the machine or hitting it too hard could damage or break off the attached flip-out crevice tool.

Since you're not getting all the flexibility that comes with a cordless handheld, we like saving money on a no-frills corded model. The Scorpion Quick Flip mostly relies on its on-board crevice tool, but it also includes a 2.5-foot hose attachment that snags dirt under appliances and between cabinetry crevices thanks to the powerful suction behind a corded model.

Though it recommends a filter change a bit more frequently than many handheld models (every three to six months compared to six to nine months), the filters are washable, which can extend their life.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 3.75 pounds
  • Bin capacity: .45 liters
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Charging time: N/A
  • Attachments: Hose and crevice tool
07 of 08

Best Wet/Dry: DeWalt 20V Max 1/2 Gallon Portable Wet/Dry Vacuum

best handheld vacuums
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at The Home Depot

Why You Should Get It: This handheld model can handle wet spills, and it has a HEPA filter for trapping dust.

Keep in Mind: Some clean-ups will require cleaning the vacuum, too.

Somewhere between a simple spill-grabber and a shop vac, this cordless wet/dry vacuum is configured in a convenient handheld form. Over 4 pounds without the battery or ingested liquids, it's definitely the heaviest handheld in our lineup, but a 3-foot hose lessens the need to carry it continuously. While there are smaller and more nimble wet/dry models on the market, this one has the capacity to deal with more frustrating situations.

The 0.5-gallon tank can help clean up wet messes, including sizable spills, a small amount of basement water, and unexpected leaks like dishwasher overflow. Plus, it works for dry debris, too, and it has a HEPA filter to trap 99.97% of dust.

Although this handheld wet/dry vac can handle messes like spilled milk and cereal, you'll have to remember to clean out the machine after picking up the mess so gunk doesn't fester. The HEPA filter will need attention at that time as well.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 4.5 pounds, not including the battery
  • Bin capacity: 0.5 gallons
  • Charge time: Not listed
  • Battery life: Not listed
  • Attachments: None
08 of 08

Best for Dust: Moosoo K12 Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

best handheld vacuums
Courtesy of Wayfair

Also available at Walmart

Why You Should Get It: This tiny vacuum features a HEPA filter, so you can suck up and trap dust as you clean.

Keep in Mind: Its small dustbin can fill up quickly, impacting suction.

Though the sleek model is often touted for car cleanup, we chose this ultra-lightweight mini vac as the best handheld vacuum for dusting because it's easy to maneuver around decor, under TVs, along baseboards, and even above your head. The crevice tool reaches into narrow niches, and the flip-down brush is always ready to help corral dust.

A HEPA filter works to capture the smallest particles while vacuuming, and the small dustbin's clear walls reveal how quickly those particles are adding up so you know when to dump the debris. Rather than requiring you to pull out the filter first—and release dust into your face or the air around you—you can empty the bin from the bottom by simply pushing a button.

The cordless model has two suction modes. The lower-power mode takes the best advantage of its long 20 minute battery life, but you can also boost the power to suck up more than dust or dig into fibers as needed. When it's time to recharge, the vacuum gives you three convenient options: the model comes with a car charger for 12-volt sockets, a wall charger, and a docking station that plugs into the charger.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Bin capacity: Not listed
  • Charge time: 4.5 hours
  • Battery life: 22 minutes
  • Attachments: Crevice tool and brush

The Bottom Line

We recommend the Hoover Onepwr Cordless Handheld Vacuum because it balances bin capacity, power, and battery life for a portable, quick cleaning solution that's an efficient supplement to your other hardworking household cleaning tools. It's also a practical investment thanks to the replaceable battery that lets the vacuum continue to be used after the original battery stops working.

For an option that provides more task-focused cleaning, consider the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium Ion Cordless Pet Hand Vacuum. Its attachments not only take care of pet hair, they also work well on the carpets, furniture, and hard surfaces of non-pet owners, too.

What to Know About Handheld Vacuums Before Shopping

Bin Capacity

Bin capacity refers to how much fits inside the vacuum's collection area. Ranging from a few ounces to a few cups, handheld vacuum dustbins are smaller than standard upright vacuums. Bin capacity impacts how long you can clean before needing to stop and empty the bin—not just because the bin is full and cannot fit more dirt but also because a full bin hinders the vacuum's suction. Many handheld vacuum dustbins are clear to allow users to keep tabs on how full they are getting as they clean.

Filters

The best handheld vacuums have filters to protect the machine from what's being ingested as well as capture particles instead of recirculating them back into the environment. There are many types of filters—foam, paper, plastic, and metal—and multiple filters can be used in one machine. Filters are especially important for someone looking to remove allergens. "HEPA filters, which reduce airborne particles to 0.3 microns, traps dust in the vacuum," Angela says.

Filters should be cleaned regularly, and they have to be replaced over time (HEPA filters must be replaced more frequently than other types), which is an ongoing cost with all vacuums. Many models in our list feature washable filters. "The washable filters are usually a bit more expensive than disposable ones, but pay off over the life of the vacuum," Angela says.

Attachments

Attachments help handheld vacuums transition from a general cleaning appliance to a targeted task-oriented machine ready to tackle specific surfaces or messes. At a minimum, the best handheld vacuums should have a crevice tool for hard-to-reach areas, like along floorboards, under vanities, and inside window frames.

A brush used for dusting and hard surfaces is also common, and it is often attached to the machine nozzle or the crevice tool. An upholstery tool excels at cleaning fabrics like furniture or car seats, and a powered brush head tackles pet hair, carpets, and rugs. Don't expect to see many handheld vacuums offer hose attachments, however—cordless models often lack the suction power necessary to make them effective.

Battery and Battery Life

Cordless models rely on batteries for power, typically through a rechargeable battery pack. Newer models are using lithium ion batteries, which last longer and charge better than older battery types. Rechargeable batteries have a limited lifespan, and in most cordless handheld vacuums, the integrated battery can't be replaced—when the battery dies, the vacuum is useless. It's a common frustration in cordless handheld vacuums and something to know going into the purchase.

The best handheld vacuums have a separate battery pack; they are often part of a series of products that can use the batteries interchangeably. These models do allow you to replace the battery after it stops working, thus extending the vacuum's life.

Multiple factors influence how long the battery will last while the machine is being used, but most cordless handhelds have a 10–15 minute runtime under normal conditions. Generally, more powerful models drain the battery faster, as do powered brush attachments. When it comes to recharging a handheld vacuum battery, it can take anywhere from two to 10 hours.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you clean a handheld vacuum?

Given their small size, handheld vacuums need regular cleaning to stay at peak performance. Dust bins should be emptied into the garbage after each use. Filters should also be removed and cleaned by rapping against a garbage can to dislodge bigger pieces, then gently brushing to release smaller particles. Some models come with a cleaning tool to get into the crevices of a pleated filter.

The dustbin and the filter may also need to be rinsed with water. The key thing here is to let everything dry for at least 24 hours before putting it back in the machine to use again. Check the user manual before washing because they typically explain how to clean the dustbin and if filters can be washed, as well as how often filters should be replaced.

How long do handheld vacuums last?

"Handheld vacuums can last years of daily use, no different than any other vacuum, with the right care," Matt says. "The key to having an extended life is to make sure you empty the dust cup after each use and clean or replace any filters every few months, depending on usage."

Taking care of the battery is another bit of critical maintenance. "You should also follow manufacturer charging instructions as batteries can last longer when they are charged according to manufacturer specifications," Matt says. Some machines can sit on a charger continuously, while others should not. These instructions also include using the right charger and voltage.

Can I clean a carpet with a handheld vacuum?

"Because carpets are a flat surface and the faceplate of an upright is bigger and wider than the faceplate of a handheld attachment, a regular floor vacuum tends to be the preferred choice for flooring," Angela says. However, while handheld vacuums are not as efficient as standard models, some handheld vacuums are more up to the challenge than others. Look for two things if you want to clean carpets with your handheld vacuum: a motorized brush attachment to help dislodge dirt and debris and powerful suction to grab what's deep in the fibers.

Who We Are

Kristina McGuirk is a freelance writer whose first contracts included doing product selections for Better Homes & Gardens branded special interest magazines in 2008. To better understand the roles handheld vacuums serve in the home and what factors help them to perform their best, Kristina consulted Angela Brown, CEO and Founder of Savvy Cleaner, and Matt Brown, Merchant of A/Cs, Fans, Air Quality and Floorcare at The Home Depot. She researched well-reviewed vacuums and compared factors discussed by the industry pros, then narrowed the results and reviewed published information and customer reviews before making the final list of the best handheld vacuums.

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