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16-Volt Lithium Cordless
Bissell
Pet Hair Eraser
Eureka
EasyClean Corded
Dirt Devil
Scorpion Quick Flip Corded
Black+Decker
MAX Lithium Pivot
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Good

It features a powerful motor with good suction, a compact profile that allows users to get the appliance in to small spaces, and an eco-friendly lithium ion battery that will maintain a charge for a long time.

Although labeled as a pet hair vacuum, this Bissell vac also picks up standard household debris, as well as kitty litter. It features a powerful suction motor and a HEPA filter.

Picks up pet hair easily with its strong suction and also has good suction through its hose. It can be used to vacuum upholstery or stair risers with its "Riser Visor" feature.

With no bag to empty, the Scorpion just has a dirt cup that can be emptied easily. It has a powerful motor with good suction and comes with a hose and dust brush attachments.

This vacuum features the eco-friendly lithium ion battery and cyclonic action that keeps suction power at a maximum. It is powerful enough to suck up small pebbles or kitty litter.

Bad

The charging stand does not mount on the wall, and the front assembly may pop off if the vacuum is bumped too hard.

The cord may be too short for some buyers, and the dirt container may not be easy to remove.

If used too much like a regular vacuum, it may not last as long. Corded power means users must make sure an outlet is available.

The motor is very loud, and there is not a spot provided on the vacuum to wrap the cord.

The motor is powerful and is loud. Dust may get into the nozzle pivot mechanism, causing it to squeak.

Bottom Line

The best on the market. The lithium ion battery means the vacuum holds a charge much longer than the average vacuum. It also includes filters that can be replaced.

This powerful vacuum is a good choice for people with pets who also need a handheld vacuum that picks up something besides hair.

The Eureka is great for pet hair and vacuuming at awkward angles, but we recommend the Black & Decker or the Bissell instead.

At 3.8 pounds, the Scorpion is a lightweight vacuum with surprising power for its size. It also includes a flip down crevice tool for small spaces.

The vacuum is on the higher price end, but it does provide a powerful suction motor at a reasonable 4.8 pounds.

How we decide
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Consumers Consulted

Shopping Guide For Best Handheld Vacuums

Whether it’s cereal on the kitchen floor, art project glitter in the den, or sawdust in the workshop, there’s always a reason for a homeowner to keep a handheld vacuum nearby. Why drag out the broom or heavy upright when you can whip out a handheld vacuum and make the whole mess vanish in seconds?

At BestReviews, we want to help you eliminate life's little messes as quickly as possible. We purchase and review the products our readers find on store shelves to see if they’re worthy of your money. Our team of researchers, product experts, and independent lab technicians is proud to provide unbiased advice and reliable product recommendations for consumers. Please see the above product matrix for the best handheld vacuum cleaner choices on today's market.

And if you need a little extra help navigating the world of handheld vacuum cleaners, please read on for more information — as well as some pearls of wisdom from our home appliances expert, Bill — about these handy products.

Regularly vacuuming your home interior improves the quality of the indoor air. Vacuuming dust-prone areas, such as carpets and sofas, will keep your home dirt and allergen-free.

Who Benefits By Handheld Vacuum Cleaners?

A child drops a bag of chips on the kitchen floor. A wife finds cracker crumbs in the sofa. A dad needs to clean out the family car for a trip. Each of these situations could benefit from a handheld vacuum.

Traditional upright vacuum cleaners are great for large carpeted areas and workshop floors, but they’re not practical for small spills and spot cleaning. It’s far more convenient to reach for a wall-mounted, handheld vacuum, many of which are rated for both wet and dry applications, during minor household emergencies.

Versatility and portability are two strong reasons why you might choose to buy a handheld vacuum cleaner.

But within the handheld vac space, you’ll find yourself faced with even more choices. Corded or cordless? Dry or wet/dry? And how much should you pay?

Vacuum cleaners come in various shapes, sizes, features, and functionalities. Depending on the type you have, they can clean up anything from a wet kitchen spill to gravel.

Corded or Cordless

Both corded and cordless handheld vacuums offer distinct advantages. We encourage you to let your personal cleaning preferences and needs guide your decision.

If you’re thinking of buying a corded vacuum, make sure you have enough outlets in your home to support it, or select a vacuum with a long cord.

Pros

Advantages of a Corded Vacuum

  • Corded vacuums usually have strong suction as they are powered directly from the wall outlet.
  • They are more powerful than typical cordless models.
  • They ate great for tedious projects such as dusting and baseboard cleaning, which need more maneuverability than massive power.
  • The cordless vacuums of yesterday usually sported single motors with weak suction and anemic rechargeable batteries. Today’s models are much improved.
Pros

Advantages of a Cordless Vacuum

  • Portable and convenient, they are useful for quick chores.
  • Great for cars, RVs, boats, etc.
  • Modern battery packs are typically quite powerful.
  • Some high-end models provide 30 to 40 minutes of continuous power.
Typically, a cordless vacuum has a shorter lifespan than a corded one. However, the amount of care you put into your vacuum’s maintenance usually plays a big role on how long your vac lasts.

Of course, both types have their drawbacks, too. Some mid-range cordless vacs exhibit performance issues, and some plug-in models have inconveniently short cords. That’s why we’re here — to provide you with a stringent review of the best handheld vacuums out there.

Dry vs Wet/Dry

A dry vacuum is great for dust bunnies, cookie crumbs, and other dry messes. But there are times when you must clean up both wet and dry materials (think of a spilled bowl of cereal). At such times, a wet/dry vacuum is your weapon of choice.

Features

Wet/Dry Vacuum Characteristics

  • Versatile as they can work on both dry dirt and wet spills.
  • May not have as much suction power as its “dry” competitors.
  • You may need to empty storage bin promptly after each use to avoid maintenance issues.
  • For all its features, they can be pricey.
Features

Dry Vacuum Characteristics

  • Great for occasional dry dirt and spot cleaning.
  • May cost less than the wet/dry alternatives.
  • They tend to be less noisy than their wet/dry counterparts.
Using a dry-only handheld vacuum for a liquid spill could cause permanent damage. If you live in an environment where liquid spills are common, opt for a wet/dry vac.

Factors Affecting Ease of Use

Perhaps you already know that you want a cordless dry vac or a corded wet/dry model. And beyond that, perhaps you're thinking that all handheld vacuums are about the same.

Although many models share the same design, noticeable differences exist along the “Ease of Use” spectrum. We urge you to consider a vacuum's weight, accessories, and storage tank size before making a purchase.

Considerations

Weight

In order to generate maximum power and performance, many cordless handheld vacuums include heavy battery packs. The trade-off for this extra power is extra weight. Fully loaded, some cordless vacuums weigh five pounds or more. This translates to hand and arm fatigue for the user.

Finding a lightweight model that doesn’t sacrifice performance is key. If you can’t find a lightweight vac for some reason, we advise you to opt for a model that feels balanced in your hands.

Some vacuums come with plastic dirt containers instead of bags. Some are lightweight but have low capacity. It’s important to find a vacuum that works for you.
Considerations

Accessories

An entry-level vacuum might include just one directional nozzle, whereas an advanced model might include brush attachments that agitate dirt, crevice tools to help you reach tough angles, and an extension hose. The choice is yours, and as you might guess, the more you pay, the more you’re likely to get.

Considerations

Storage Tank Size

First-generation handheld vacuums had tiny storage tanks that needed to be emptied frequently. Today’s vacs sport larger tanks that require less attention. The trade-off for the larger tank, however, is a more complicated assembly and disassembly process.

The ideal handheld vac offers a substantial storage tank and a simple method for removing and cleaning the tank, filters, and accessories.

Most wet/dry vacuums have a 2.5-inch diameter hose. Make sure you read the product specifications and not buy a vacuum with a narrower hose as it might not be as effective a clear.

How Much Should I Pay?

You should be able to find a basic, corded handheld vacuum in the $25 to $35 price range. A vacuum of this caliber may not include many accessories, but it should suffice for occasional dry spills. If you go the corded route, we advise you to seek the longest power cord available in order to avoid frequent changeovers to new outlets.

Admittedly, you could get a handheld “car vac” for less than $20, but we discourage our readers from purchasing these gadgets. Though cheap, in all probability, they will not have the suction power or the durability to do much good.

A decent wet/dry handheld vacuum may cost $50 or more. The cost exceeds that of a basic corded model, but owners appreciate the versatility it affords. If you want a high-end vacuum from an established brand such as Dyson, Bissell, or Black & Decker, expect to spend at least $60, if not more. These pricier vacuums typically come with an array of useful accessories and the latest motor technology.

Vacuum FAQs

Q: Where should I store my handheld vacuum?

A: The kitchen and dining room areas are great for wall-mounting vacuums, as they require frequent cleanups. Many of the handheld vacuum cleaners available today include wall-mounting hardware.

Q: My child just spilled a bowl of cereal on the floor. Can my handheld vacuum take care of both wet and dry spills?

A: Some models are intended for dry use only, but others can tackle both wet and dry cleaning jobs. If you’re not sure, consult your product’s documentation and usage manual first.

Q: On what types of flooring can I use a handheld vac?

A: Bill tells us that in general, handheld vacuums work best on hardwood, tile, and non-plush carpeting.

Q: I see lint on my plush carpet. Can I use a handheld vacuum for that?

A: Although handheld vacs are great for cleaning up minor spills and dirt spots, Bill advises that you save lint cleanup for your upright vacuum. The rotary feature of a heavy-duty upright can take on lint and similar items far more efficiently than a handheld.

Q: Why is my cordless vac’s performance so anemic compared to a corded model?

A: Perhaps your vacuum is an older model. Older cordless vacuums were made with less-efficient rechargeable battery systems and single motors. Today’s cordless vacs exert a lot more power. Rechargeable batteries pack a bigger punch, and manufacturers frequently boost performance by including a second motor.

Q: Can I use a handheld vacuum to clean my area rugs?

A: A high-end vac can handle carpeted stairs or a welcome mat, but it’s not meant to replace a traditional upright. Cordless models, in particular, have a limited operating time of 5 to 30 minutes. This isn’t enough time to clean an entire room.

Rather than pushing your handheld past its limits, we recommend stepping up to a more powerful cleaning tool for large carpeted areas.

The team that worked on this review
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    Melissa
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Heather
    Heather
    Content
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer