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Best handheld vacuum

Expertly reviewed by Ketia Daniel

Which handheld vacuums are best?

Full-sized vacuums are great when you want to clean your entire floor, but why go through the hassle of pulling out that large and bulky machine when you only need to vacuum up a few crumbs? A compact handheld vacuum is the right tool for the job in situations like these.

There are several things to consider when purchasing a handheld vacuum, but the two most important are ease of use and suction power. The Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro Cordless Handheld Vacuum excels in both of these areas. 

This article was reviewed and approved by Ketia Daniel, the BestReviews Cleaning Expert.

What to know before you buy a handheld vacuum

Handheld vacuums vs. full-size vacuums

Handheld vacuums and full-size vacuums serve different needs. A handheld model is the obvious winner when it comes to small messes. You can quickly pull one out of a closet or off a shelf. Some wireless models are even small enough that you could keep them sitting on their charging dock in some out-of-the-way space in your kitchen. Handheld models are easier to maneuver, too, especially when working in tight spaces.

In terms of suction power and cleaning large areas, full-size vacuums are the way to go. They have larger collection bins, can pick up larger debris and have wider cleaning heads that allow you to cover more floor space quickly. If cordless, they will have a longer battery life than cordless handheld models, but they will also be heavier and more of a hassle to retrieve from a closet or utility room. 

Corded vs. cordless

Corded and cordless handheld vacuums both have their pros and cons. Cordless models are easy to maneuver without worrying about a cord getting in the way or limiting your reach. You also won’t have to worry about having an outlet somewhere near the area you’re cleaning, which can be especially helpful when vacuuming out a vehicle. 

When it comes to corded models, there are two main benefits. They often tend to have stronger suction, and you don’t have to worry about a battery dying mid-way through cleaning up a mess.

Features to look for in a quality handheld vacuum

Size and weight

Handheld vacuums should be comfortable to hold and maneuver, so the size and weight should factor into your decision-making process. Some models are barely wider than a soda can and weigh as little as 1.5 pounds. A handheld vacuum like this will be easy to use just about anywhere, from underneath vehicle seats to inside a kitchen cabinet. Other models can weigh up to 5 pounds, making them difficult for those with limited arm strength. One of these models might have a thick body that could be difficult to fit in some tight spaces.

Collection bin

The size of the collection bin determines how much dust and other small debris you can pick up before needing to stop and empty the container. Bigger bins make for more efficient cleanup but also make the overall size of the vacuum larger. You’ll have to determine which aspect is more important for your needs.


Some handheld vacuums feature a power-boost button that increases the suction when tackling bigger messes or heavier debris. This function is often intended to be used in short spurts.

Battery life

If purchasing a cordless model, the battery life should be a consideration. Handheld vacuums often aren’t intended to be used for long periods, so it is not unusual to find models that have short battery lives of just five or 10 minutes. Others can last up to 20 minutes.

Cord length

If purchasing a corded model, the length of the cord should play a role in your purchase decision. Some models may have very short cords that will require you to use an extension cable for practically every job. Other models may have cords 15 or 20 feet in length.

Wet/dry capabilities

All handheld vacuums will have dry suction capabilities, but some models are designed for cleaning up liquid messes. These are often more expensive but also more versatile. Just empty and dry the collection bin immediately after using a handheld vacuum for wet messes.


Handheld vacuums may come with various accessories that can add to their functionality., most commonly crevice tools and dusting brushes.

How much you can expect to spend on a handheld vacuum

Basic corded handheld vacuums can cost as little as $15. Cordless models start around $40, with some high-powered vacuums from brand names costing up to $150.

Handheld vacuum FAQ

Do handheld vacuums have bags?

A. No, modern handheld vacuums don’t have bags. Instead, they have collection bins that you remove and dump out to empty them.

I have noticed the suction power weakening on my handheld vacuum. Is there anything I can do?

A. Most of the time, when the suction power is weakening on a handheld vacuum, it is due to a clogged filter or full collection bin. Try cleaning out your filter and emptying the bin to see if this solves the problem. If that doesn’t work, you may need to contact the manufacturer for more troubleshooting steps.

What is the best handheld vacuum to buy?

Top handheld vacuum

Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro Cordless Handheld Vacuum

What you need to know: This compact handheld vacuum boasts impressive suction for its size and is versatile enough to be used anywhere.

What you’ll love: It’s extremely lightweight, making it easy to maneuver, and it comes with three attachments. It’s excellent for cleaning up pet fur.

What you should consider: The collection bin is very small.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top handheld vacuum for the money

Dirt Devil Scorpion

What you need to know: Affordable and powerful, the Scorpion is a good choice for those on a tight budget who don’t mind a corded model.

What you’ll love: It features an onboard flip-out crevice tool, so you don’t have to worry about losing that accessory. The collection bin is larger than on many other handheld models.

What you should consider: There is no dedicated spot to wrap the cord.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Black and Decker White AdvancedClean+ Dustbuster

What you need to know: The AdvancedClean+ offers four times the suction power of its predecessor and a longer runtime, making it a suitable choice for big messes for which other handhelds might not be ideal.

What you’ll love: The simple one-touch collection bin emptying eliminates the need to get your hands dirty. The vacuum also boasts two speeds for those times you need a little extra suction power.

What you should consider: The dustbin can pop open accidentally from small bumps.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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