The Black & Decker Dustbuster debuted in 1979. Over 40 years later, the Dustbuster has evolved into a modern-day handheld vacuum, but many other competitors have arisen alongside the iconic portable vac. We wanted to help shoppers identify the best handheld vacuum, so we undertook a review of 10 top competitors.
Editor’s Recommendation: Top 5 Handheld Vacuum for Pet Hair
Buying Guide of Handheld Vacuum
1. What Is a Handheld Vacuum?
A handheld vacuum is a vacuum small enough to be held in the user’s hands and used to remove dirt or other debris. A handheld vacuum does not reach the floor, and a floor attachment is not its primary function. Usually, a handheld vacuum will be around five pounds or fewer and less than two feet in length.
A handheld vacuum should not be confused with a cordless vacuum. Many cordless vacuums are not handheld. Though cordless and handheld vacuums are both convenient, a handheld vacuum may or may not have a cord.
2. What Are Airwatts?
An airwatt measures the effectiveness of a vacuum cleaner. It notes the airflow as well as the amount of power, because both are necessary for good c. Some vacuums only report their power in watts, but without the accompanying airflow, watts can be deceiving.
Airwatts can compare the suction between two vacuums, but similar wattage between two vacuums can still result in a meaningful difference in the suction of each.
3. What Are Pascals?
A vacuum is measured in pascals (Pa). Pascals are ultimately a measurement of atmospheric pressure in a vacuum. For non-scientists, it can be useful to compare the pascal ratio between two vacuum cleaners. For instance, we looked at one vacuum with around 4,300 pascals and another near 6,000. The second had almost 1/3 more suction than the first.
4. What Is RoHS compliance?
RoHS compliance is given to products that meet a 2002 Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive given by the European Union. The directive restricts certain hazardous materials in the production of electronics and other equipment.
5. What Is CE compliance?
CE certification indicates that a product meets health, safety, and environmental standards within European economics. The certification is also found on products sold outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
How We Reviewed
We reviewed 10 of the best handheld vacuums based on their price and availability. We also looked closely at each vacuum’s unique features as well as some pros and cons. Warranties also played a role in our review.
We purposely looked at a wide variety of vacuums, because each buyer has unique needs and preferences as he or she shops for the best handheld vacuum. Some buyers may particularly have the kitchen or bathroom in mind, so the best handheld vacuum would need to have wet-dry capabilities. For another shopper with dogs and cats, the best handheld vacuum may need to have an attachment made specifically for pet hair.
While all the handhelds were lightweight and portable, many hovered just under five pounds while others were two pounds or less. For shoppers with a weak grip or suffering from injury, a couple of pounds can make a big difference in identifying the best handheld vacuum.
Power cords can also be annoying because cords long enough to reach a wide variety of cleaning spaces can be trip hazards that are difficult to control. Other shoppers prefer cords because they do not want to be bothered worrying about how much time they have to vacuum before a cordless product needs recharging.
Conversely, many buyers insist on a cordless handheld vacuum for quick use at their fingertips. They want to be able to quickly remove a child’s spilled candy without having to plug in a vacuum and wrap the cord moments later.
Moreover, some vacuums were aimed niche audiences, such as the Lovin Product Portable Handheld Car Vacuum. This vacuum does not pretend to be a one-stop-shop for all your household needs, so we tried to approach from that perspective. Others, like the Karcher TV 1 Indoor Wet/Dry Vacuum market themselves as a “whole-house” product, so we attempted to hold them to that level.
In the end, you are the only person who knows your individual needs, and we believe this review will help you narrow down the best handheld vacuum for your personal use.
Overall Price Range
As we reviewed the best handheld vacuums, we looked at products ranging from under $20 to around $200. We also found just about every value in between. It was our purposeful intention to review an array of vacuums that represented a potential array of buyers, so from that perspective, we were not surprised to find a wide range of prices.
If a buyer needs to find the best handheld vacuum for quickly emptying his car ashtray, he is probably not looking to spend as much as a shopper searching for a whole-house wet-and-dry product. In that sense, it is no surprise the prices varied widely.
Another variable when considering the price of each vacuum is the included warranty. All the warranties we looked at ranged from one year to three years. A buyer’s willingness to spend $100 on a product that is protected for three years may be more realistic than his willingness to spend $100 and only receive 12 months of protection.
We hope potential buyers who read our review will gain an understanding of the price range they can expect to identify and purchase the best handheld vacuum for their specific needs.
10 Handheld Vacuum Reviews
1. BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Cordless Vacuum
The BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Cordless Vacuum runs on lithium technology. It can hold its charge for up to 18 months when not on the charger.
The vacuum’s bag allows users to see the dirt collected and gauge when to empty and refill. Dirt collects quickly thanks to its strong suction at 15.2 airwatts. Though strong, this Dustbuster is lightweight and easy to handle for fast jobs. It is efficient on carpets, ceramics, furniture, tables, ashtrays, and more.
It features Smart Charge Technology that uses only half of the energy used by comparable vacuums. It also uses a cyclonic feature to help with filter cleanliness and consistently strong power.
- Lithium-ion technology ensures long battery life
- Lightweight but powerful
- Smart Charge Technology
- Cyclonic action
- The battery is not replaceable by the owner
The BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Cordless Vacuum has a limited two-year warranty.
2. Lovin Product Portable Handheld Car Vacuum
The Lovin Product Portable Handheld Car Vacuum combines low noise with powerful suction for great cleaning. It is also CE certified for its safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly performance.
A 75 dB noise filter restricts extra noise while a powerful motor provides excellent suction at 4300-4500 pascals (Pa) capable of removing dust, crumbs, cigarette ashes, and other small debris from your car.
Your purchase includes multiple accessories such as a long mouth, soft long tube, and brush. With a 15-foot power cord, it is easy to reach all the crevices in your car.
This vacuum uses a HEPA filter system to keep the motor running without restriction. Your purchase comes with a zippered bag for storing and moving.
- Quiet operation
- Multiple attachments included
- HEPA filter system
- Money-back guarantee
- A number of users report the vacuum does not maintain a consistent and powerful suction
The Lovin Product Portable Handheld Car Vacuum includes a limited one-year warranty and a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the product.
3. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum, Corded, 33A1
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum is a niche product marketed especially for pet hair pickup. It is a handheld vacuum that comes with a flexible nozzle to function on upholstery, carpeting, and similar surfaces. A harder nozzle can be used for flat surfaces or other needed areas. The nozzles can be interchanged quickly and easily.
The vacuum is easy to use and weighs less than four pounds. An ergonomic handle helps you grip the tool, and the power switch is within reach of your fingers. A 16-foot power cord gives users extended reach without having to use an extension cord in most instances.
- Two interchangeable nozzles
- Useful on stairs and upholstery where pet hair accumulates
- Lightweight with ergonomic grip
- Long power cord
- Because of the side exhaust panels, the vacuum cannot be used for traditional dirt and debris
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum comes with a limited one-year warranty.
4. Dirt Devil Plus 16V Quick Flip Pro Cordless Bagless Handheld Vacuum
The Dirt Devil QuickFlip Plus Bagless Hand Vacuum is powered by a 16-volt lithium battery for cordless use. It comes with a powered tool for stairs and upholstery that attaches and disconnects quickly and easily.
It also has a crevice tool for tight spaces and hard-to-reach spots. When the long-lasting lithium battery needs charging, it features the ability to charge twice as fast as similar competitors.
- Stair and upholstery attachment is useful with pets
- Lithium-powered and long-lasting
- Power indicator signals need of recharge
- Cordless convenience
- The attachments can be difficult to clean
This product comes with a limited two-year warranty.
5. Shark Rocket (HV292) Ultra-Light 15-Foot Power Cord Hand Vacuum
The Shark Rocket Hand Vac boasts that it never loses suction or power. The handheld vacuum is useful for quick messes and for cleaning surfaces above floor level.
It comes with multiple accessories including a crevice attachment, dusting brush, stretch hose, and a TruePet motorized brush. The TruePet brush is meant to remove pet hair as well as loose dirt while cleaning surfaces. It can be used on the stairs or on furniture where pet hair naturally accumulates.
The dust cup is easily removable with the push of a button. The vacuum’s filters are washable and reusable. It weighs about five pounds, but most users find it easy to maneuver. A 15-foot power cord makes it easy to reach most areas without the need for an extension cord.
- Small and powerful
- Multiple attachments and tools
- True Pet Motorized Brush for handheld deep cleaning
- Bagless with easy-to-use dust cup
- 15-foot power cord
- No carrying or storage case
- Long cord does not retract
The Shark Rocket Hand Vacuum comes with a limited two-year warranty.
6. Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum
The Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum comes with an assortment of tools. A mini-motorized tool is meant for pet hair and dirt that has been ground into fabrics. A combination tool is useful for vacuuming a variety of surfaces in the home or the car, and a crevice tool can be used for hard-to-reach locations.
The vacuum’s V7 motor is unbeatable among handheld vacs with a powerful 100 airwatts. Its cordless operations provides up to 30 minutes of suction time.
It can capture microscopic dirt and dust particles with cyclonic action featuring 15 cyclones. Dirt is hygienically removed with no need to ever touch debris.
- Powerful 100 AW motor
- Multiple tools included with purchase
- 15 cyclones in cyclonic action
- Hygienic dirt ejection
- Cordless convenience
- High price tag
- Many buyers report being disappointed in the vacuum’s longevity
A limited two-year warranty covers parts and labor as well as shipping to and from repair centers.
7. Karcher TV 1 Indoor Wet/Dry Vacuum
The Karcher TV 1 Indoor Wet/Dry Vacuum is a tool intended for whole-home wet and dry cleaning. Its lightweight and compact design make it easy to move through the whole house as you clean.
The vacuum is useful on floors, stairs, and furniture as well as in automobiles. It comes with a tool kit that includes a crevice tool, dust brush, extensions, floor tool, pet attachment, and storage bag.
Your purchase includes a 20-foot power cord complemented by a three-foot stretch hose. The vacuum’s dirt cup holds wet or dry debris.
- Wet and dry functions
- Small with powerful suction
- Whole-home cleaning kit included
- Long 20-foot cord
- Travel and storage bag included
- 20-foot cord is not retractable
- The body can fall over when you pull it by the cord
The vacuum comes with a limited two-year warranty.
8. Shark WANDVAC Lightweight Handheld Vacuum
The Shark WANDVAC Lightweight Handheld Vacuum features a powerful brushless motor, and at less than one-and-a-half pounds, the vacuum is much lighter than many other handheld vacs.
The tapered nozzle makes it easy to pick up most debris, and it includes a multipurpose tool to tackle pet hair and furniture and a crevice tool for tight spaces. The vacuum has a charging dock to store the handheld tool between uses.
One-button removal gets rid of collected debris, and a high-tech filtration system captures dust.
- Powerful brushless motor
- Extra light at 1.4 pounds
- Tapered nozzle with extra tools
- Filtration technology
- The motor is very loud
The Shark WANDVAC is covered by a limited two-year warranty.
9. Makita XLC02R1B LXT Lithium-Ion Compact Cordless Vacuum Kit
Makita is a brand you may associate more quickly with power saws than vacuums, but the Makita 18V compact Lithium-Ion cordless vacuum kit is one of the best on the market. This handheld vacuum comes with a floor nozzle for a variety of uses.
The Makita vacuum features Star Protection computer controls that allow the tool and the battery to share data that prevents overheating or overloading. The lithium batteries provide up to 15 minutes of use when fully charged.
The vacuum is bagless and features two-stage filtration for easy cleaning and disposal. The tool weighs only 2.7 pounds.
- Includes floor nozzle for upright use
- Bagless with cloth filtration
- More storage capacity than other competitors
- Some plastic construction with reported cracking
The Makita vacuum comes with a limited three-year warranty that includes the battery and charger, but cracked plastic may not be covered.
10. Homasy Portable Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
The Homasy Portable Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner boasts very strong suction power up to 6,000 pascals. It is sufficient for removing pet hair and dirt, but it can also remove microscopic matter as little as 0.3 microns. This makes it equally valuable on sofas and mattresses.
The cordless vacuum provides up to 30 minutes of cleaning time between charges thanks to high-capacity lithium batteries. The lithium technology also boats fast recharge times with dead batteries fully charged in as little as three hours.
You can also clean longer without having to stop and empty your collected debris thanks to a large 600 ml collection cup. A separate rubber attachment can collect up to 100 ml of liquid making it inviting to use in kitchens and bathrooms.
The Homasy vacuum comes with a variety of attachments to tackle walls, stairs, and hard-to-reach locations.
- High-powered motor with strong suction
- Lithium technology for long life and fast recharge
- Cordless convenience
- Large-capacity collection and extra liquid collection jar
- Multiple attachments
- Some users report the filter is quickly and easily clogged
Homasy offers what it calls three-year worry-free after-sale service. For three years they will accept your problems via email and offer a satisfactory solution within 24 hours.
The Verdict on the Best Handheld Vacuum
Our review of the best handheld vacuums covered a lot of ground. We found a variety of prices, designs, attachments, and features. Selecting the best handheld vacuum is really a subjective undertaking. The best handheld vacuum for one buyer may not be the best choice for another buyer.
At the conclusion of our review, we gave our official thumbs up to the Shark Rocket Ultra-Light. We believe this vacuum has a wide array of perks to please a large percentage of folks seeking the best handheld vacuum.
The vacuum has sufficient suction to get most jobs done, and it does not start to lose suction until the dirt cup is full. The cup is large, so it does not fill too quickly. For most users, it is also very easy to empty.
We found the product fairly priced for around $100, and the washable filter means you do not have to spend money on replacement filters.
The included flexible hose provides more uses than a traditional affixed nozzle. The crevice tool and dust tool are useful, but we were especially pleased with the True Pet Motorized Brush. Pet dander is one of the primary reasons individuals seek a good handheld vac, and we appreciated the products that directly tackled the pet hair issue.
Users are also pleased with the handheld’s efficiency on stairs. Stair use is a good time for the 15-foot power cord to come in handy. A long cord makes it less likely you will have to change outlets when you get halfway up the steps.
We noted that the Shark Rocket Hand Vac weighed in around five pounds, making it one of the heavier handheld vacuums we looked at. Given the weight, we really feel a shoulder strap would be a great improvement on the product. It would be especially helpful on the stairs.
Users should also be careful when cleaning and reusing the filters. If the filters are not allowed to dry properly before the next use, they can become a breeding ground for mold or other microbial growth.
Finally, the long cord that is useful can also be a frustrating trip hazard or general nuisance. The Shark would be much better off with a retractable cord feature.
No vacuum is perfect, and your choice of the best handheld vacuum may be different than ours. We only hope that by reading our review you have a great place to decide what is best for you.