We went hunting for the best budget-friendly handhelds on the market today. We’ve looked at professional reviews and roundups, we’ve compared features and specs, and we’ve done an extensive analysis of reviews from previous buyers, to see how these models stack up in real-world use!
Here in our guide to the best handheld vacuum cleaners of 2020, we’ve compiled our own in-depth reviews of three great handhelds which we think are well worth your money.
We’ll talk you through all their important features and show you how they compare to other handhelds on the market.
At the bottom of the page, we’ve put together a few tips on shopping for a new handheld, so you can narrow down which model is the best choice for you!
- Here’s a Quick Comparison: Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaners
- Which Handheld Vacuum is Best for You?
- How to Shop for the Best Hand Vac
- Runners Up for Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaners
- Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaners: Now Out Of Stock
- Bottom Line
- What’s Next?
Here’s a Quick Comparison: Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaners
Handheld vacuums are a great tool for supplementing your full-size vacuum.
They’re also super convenient for taking care of quick tasks and spot cleaning when you don’t want to haul out your big, bulky vacuum! We love handhelds for cleaning cars, stairs, pet enclosures, and upholstery.
Sadly, many affordable handhelds aren’t very good. They have weak suction, flimsy attachments, and tiny dust compartments which make them a pain to use and a waste of your money.
Let’s have a look at a few that outshine the competition!
1. Dyson V7 Trigger
- Capacity (volume) - .15 gallon; Cord free; Hassle free; No...
- Tools included: Mini motorized tool, combination tool,...
- Powered by Dyson digital motor V7; The most powerful...
- Hygienic dirt ejector; Hygienically drive out trapped dust...
- 2 year warranty. Dyson free 2 year warranty covers parts and...
This updated handheld model from Dyson has the best suction of any compact vac on the market! In fact, it rivals some full-size models for its sheer power! We think it’s the absolute best hand vac on the market–especially when it comes to cleaning up after pets.
There are lots of things to love about Dyson V7! Compared to the older V6, which we used to recommend in the same slot, it has noticeably improved suction. The biggest benefit to pet owners is that the V7 series comes with a powered brush head out of the box! That wasn’t true of the older model. We think it’s a gem for addressing smaller pet messes and for removing pet fur from soft furnishings and the car!
It provides powerful suction. In fact, it’s the kind of suction you’d ordinarily see from a full-size machine! The Dyson is seriously impressive and makes use of the company’s innovative cyclonic technology. Even without engaging the MAX suction mode, you’ll have enough power to lift kibble, litter, and furballs easily.
Cyclonic suction also provides more constant power than traditional models. That’s because it directs fine dust and dirt away from the filters and motor so that it’s collected in the dust bin instead of blocking up the airflow. That means you don’t have to clean to dust bin as often, and you won’t lose as much suction as the bin fills up.
The MAX suction mode is a nice feature to have for backup. We don’t think you’ll need to engage it often, but it works well for reaching deep into crevices, such as between car seats. You’ll get a lot less runtime with it engaged. Still, it’s nice for deep-cleaning.
As we mentioned, this new V7 Trigger comes standard with a motorized brush head. It’s absolutely brilliant at getting pet hair off soft furnishings, especially vertical carpeting and couches. We’ve also found that it’s perfect for cleaning car upholstery. It performs better than most of the tools you get on full-size vacs!
For cleaning hard surfaces, you can swap the powered brush head for Dyson’s combination tool, which is essentially a dusting brush. There’s also a crevice wand that’s ideal for getting back behind the cushions of your sofa, or between the seats of your car. Basically, the Trigger comes with a complete set of accessories. There’s no surface we can think of that this won’t clean!
It’s especially convenient for carpeted stairs, which are tricky to clean with any full-size machine. (Check out a video tutorial on cleaning carpeted stairs.) Since Dyson’s brush head is small but powerful, it can reach tough spots and take care of all the pet hair and ground-in dust or dirt that accumulates! We think it’s especially great on vertical carpeting, both as part of stairs and on your pet furniture.
It’s small and light. Those are, of course, the two words you most want to hear in reference to a hand vac! What makes Dyson’s lightweight and small footprint particularly impressive is the fact that they’re paired with more suction power than you get from many larger and heavier tools!
It has a larger dust chamber than other hand vacs. We’ve also found that the cyclonic suction packs fur neatly into the compartment, so it doesn’t immediately gunk up the filters.
It empties very conveniently, both because of the neat trapdoor design and the fact that the fur isn’t clumped. In most cases, everything drops right out! You don’t have to get down and dirty with your hands, as you would with the Black & Decker.
The biggest difference between this and other handhelds is the runtime. You can get a very impressive 30 minutes out of the Trigger (using the normal suction mode and one of the non-powered attachments). That’s far more than others!
It’s expensive. This costs as much as some upright vacuums, or a budget canister model! Of course, you’d expect as much from Dyson. Don’t buy this if you’re not absolutely sure you’ll get your money’s worth. If you’re someone who will use this as your primary tool for cleaning the car and tackling small messes, we think it’s worth the investment!
As with any cordless vac, there’s a limit to how much you can clean in one go. If you don’t think you’ll get enough time with this for your projects, you may want to consider a corded hand vac, such as the Bissell Pet Eraser.
2. Black & Decker MAX Lithium Pivot
- Dustbowl capacity 15 ounces; Lithium technology for strong...
- Exclusive pivoting nozzle means huge power in a compact size
- A high performance motor provides superior suction...
- The cyclonic action spins dust and debris away from the...
- 3 stage filtration system. Charge only at ambient...
This updated Pivot model from Black and Decker provides powerful cyclonic suction and fade-free lithium-ion power in a very compact, manoeuvrable package. We love it for cleaning cars and blasting through small projects around the house. It’s a good choice if you’re after cordless convenience but can’t afford the Dyson.
The latest Pivot uses cyclonic suction to massively boost its overall power. This is a feature you’d normally find on full-size machines or pricier Dyson handhelds. On the Black & Decker, it’s an unexpected bargain! While it doesn’t quite compare to the V7’s version, it’s still better than most things on the market.
The narrow, wide suction nozzle fits in tight spaces where a larger handheld, like the Bissell, can’t reach. It’s great for cleaning between and underneath furniture, or between seats in the car.
You can pivot the nozzle to nearly any angle so that you can get the best attack position for tricky spots.
The Pivot has two basic attachments, a dusting brush, and a crevice tool. They’re both built into the nozzle, which makes them easier to store and quicker to access.
This newer Pivot model uses lithium-ion batteries, which provide longer life and fade-free power. Older nickel-cadmium batteries (like you’d normally see at this price) lose suction gradually before they run out of charge. The lithium-ion batteries in this machine give you suction at full blast right up to the last second–just like the Dyson!
It charges quickly, in under 4 hours. We really like the charging base for the Black & Decker, which stands the machine upwards and take less shelf space. It’s a clever design which helps it fit into your house more unobtrusively.
The dust bin empties with a side door, so you don’t have to take it apart to get rid of the debris. It adds about half the capacity again over the original Pivot.
There’s also a rubber flap to keep debris from falling back out of the chamber, even if you’ve pivoted the nozzle to an awkward angle!
It’s covered by a 2-year warranty.
Some reviewers didn’t like the multi-filter design. A few buyers said the filters were hard to keep in place while reassembling it.
Previous buyers warned that the latch on the dust compartment door isn’t the sturdiest component and you’ll want to be extra careful to avoid wearing it out.
The Black & Decker doesn’t come with a good upholstery tool. While the dusting brush will get some surface debris, and work on thin car upholstery, the Black & Decker won’t do much about pet fur on thick upholstery or carpeted surfaces.
3. BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser
- Surface type: Upholstery, auto, stairs; Power rating: 4...
- Filtration: multi layer filtration, the Bissell hand vac...
- 16 feet power cord. Cleans stairs, upholstery and hard...
- Specialized rubber Nozzle attracts hair and pulls out dirt...
- Includes two specially designed nozzles
This corded handheld model is specifically designed for handling pet fur and other messes.
It has a special rubber nozzle for removing hair from carpets and upholstery, and a hard nozzle for kibble, dirt, and litter. It’s a super affordable choice for people who want something simple and effective for dealing with pet fur, a common weak point on full-size vacuums.
It’s very affordable. The Pet Hair Eraser is far cheaper than the Black & Decker or Dyson.
It’s ideal for cleaning pet hair from cloth surfaces. While brush attachments can loosen hair, they tend to tangle and do occasionally leave some hair behind. The BISSELL’s rubber pet hair nozzle attracts hair without a roller and pulls fur away from fabrics with little rubber nubs. All the hair that the nozzle pulls up gets sucked through the vents.
Previous buyers said that while they might have been skeptical at first, they were quickly won over by the rubber hair nozzle. It doesn’t get jammed or stuck like roller brush attachments.
It has powerful suction to back up the pet hair nozzle. The BISSELL is one of the smallest and least expensive vacuums on the market to feature a cyclonic suction system. This type of suction is more powerful than traditional vacuums.
It’s also super important for pet owners since fur and dander can clog filters in no time. Cyclonic suction directs all the hair, dirt, and dust to the edges of the dust cup. This helps your airflow remain constant and means you won’t have to clean the filter as often.
There’s also a hard plastic nozzle included for cleaning on smooth surfaces, like countertops or hard flooring. It’s better for picking up kibble, cat litter, and other solid pet messes and spills.
The Pet Hair Eraser has multi-layered filtration, to reduce airborne allergens from your pets. There’s an additional post-motor filter which ensures that everything that goes in the vacuum stays in the vacuum. The filter is washable and reusable. You can simply remove the washable filter and rinse it out under the sink to freshen things up.
It’s corded, so you can spend as much time cleaning as you need. Chances are, even with the best pet hair vacuum, it’ll take you a while to clean your couches, chairs, carpeted stairs, and car seats. Most cordless handheld vacuums won’t last much longer than 15 minutes. The Pet Hair Eraser gives you all the time it takes to get the job done right! Plus, the 15-foot power cord means you’ll have plenty of range.
It’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
The vacuum’s vent design means you won’t have great performance on hard floors. The exhaust vents are located at the sides of the vacuum, and previous buyers said they tend to blow hair around on hardwood floors and tile.
It’s fairly loud.
Previous buyers stressed that you’ll want to be on top of cleaning the filters regularly. They said they noticed a pretty drastic loss of suction when it was getting clogged.
Which Handheld Vacuum is Best for You?
If your primary concern is pet hair, and you want to be able to clean for a longer period, we strongly suggest the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser.
It’s very effective on upholstered furniture (See tips for furniture care), car seats, and carpeted stairways. It’s also ideal for pet enclosures. The BISSELL is a very inexpensive way to supplement a full-size vacuum that’s not so great on pet hair.
However, it’s not very versatile, and the side exhaust vents mean it isn’t the best vacuum for cleaning hard surfaces.
The Black & Decker is a nice midpoint between the Bissell and the Dyson. It’s cheap, but it offers impressive power and versatility.
It has cordless range, high suction power, and a very manoeuvrable nozzle. We love it for cars with leather or flat fabric seats, as well as cleaning up pet messes in homes with mainly hard floors.
Since it doesn’t have a good fabric attachment, it’s not a great choice for furniture upholstery or cars with plush seats.
The Dyson is the best choice for people who want a good car vacuum, and have upholstered seats. Its powered brush head also makes it the best choice for carpeted stairs and plush upholstery. Overall, we think the suction power and extended runtime make it the easy winner on the market today.
It’s the most effective of the three for all surfaces since it has the maneuverability of the Black and Decker with the fabric-friendliness of the Pet Hair Eraser. There’s nothing not to love except the high price tag!
How to Shop for the Best Hand Vac
Decide what you want to clean:
Before you start shopping, you’ll want to make a list of all the cleaning projects you’re hoping to tackle with your new handheld vacuum.
One way to start is by thinking of all the tasks that are difficult with your full-size vacuum. You can shop for a handheld vacuum that’ll fill the gaps. Most full-size vacuums don’t have good upholstery tools, and nearly all big vacuums are useless when it comes to cleaning the car.
We love handheld vacuums for cleaning upholstery and carpeted stairs, pet enclosures, cars, mattresses, and quick spot cleaning around the house.
Depending on the tasks you have in mind, you’ll want different features on your new vacuum. If you’re cleaning upholstery or carpeted stairs, you’ll want an attachment or head that can handle fabrics.
We like powered brush heads for lifting deep dirt and hair. If pet hair is an issue in your home, we recommend either a powered brush head or a rubber tool for raking it up.
If you’re cleaning the car, you’ll want attachments to clean all the nooks and crannies, as well as dusting brushes for the instrument panel.
Cordless vs. Corded:
The biggest decision you’ll have to make when you’re shopping for a handheld vacuum is between cordless and corded models. Each type of vacuum has its advantages and disadvantages.
Cordless vacuums offer the best versatility and manoeuvrability since you can use them in awkward places without worrying about plugs. However, they have limited run time and, in some cases, less power.
Corded models have more power, and don’t have any limitations on cleaning time. On the flip side, you’ll need to have an outlet nearby.
If you’re looking at cordless models, try to find a vacuum with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. These systems have a longer life and provide more constant suction than older types of batteries, like nickel cadmium.
Consider your budget:
Handheld vacuums cost between $20 and $200. We’ve looked at models below $100, which will be accessible to most buyers. The more you pay, the more cleaning power you get.
Higher-priced handheld vacuums have cyclonic suction, better build quality, and more attachments. As a given rule, corded handheld vacuums are less expensive than cordless models.
The most expensive handheld vacuums are cordless models with lithium-ion battery packs. While they’re the biggest investment, they have a better life and longevity than the cheaper options.
Runners Up for Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaners
Black & Decker Cordless Handheld- Max Lithium Flex
- Cordless, portable & ultra compact ,dustbowl capacity 18.9...
- 4ft Flexible Hose Easily Reaches Tight Spots, High Shelves &...
- Stick Vac Floor Head Converts Device For Larger Cleaning...
- Cyclonic action spins dirt away from the filter to help...
- Battery Type :Lithium Ion; Cell Capacity :1.5; Charge...
The Black & Decker Max Lithium Flex made it on the list of runners up for the best handheld vacuum cleaners because of the many features it has to offer including its flexible wand. It is cordless and portable with an ultra-compact design which makes it easy to carry it with you around the house or up and down the stairs.
Even though it is cordless, it still packs a punch and can easily clean floor to ceiling with ease. It is a versatile option with features that make the job of cleaning that much easier to handle.
The cyclonic action and strong suction power combined with the flexible hose of this handheld vacuum certainly make it a contender. Its power makes a quick cleanup easy.
Have pets? This handheld comes with a rubberized pet hair brush attachment so you can clean up your furry friend’s messes quickly.
The crevice tool and stick vac attachment with pivoting floor head also make cleaning high and low and those hard to reach spaces a breeze.
The Black & Decker also comes with a quick charging base. When you are done using the handheld, simply place it back on its base so it’s ready to go and ready for maximum cleaning power the next time you need it. It will keep the vacuum charged and all the accessories in one place.
The three-stage filtration system helps prevent all the dust particles and debris from escaping and going back into the air and the cyclonic action helps spin all that dirt away from the filter, so it remains in optimal working condition.
When you are ready to clean it, the washable bowl is removable. The filter can also be removed for cleaning.
This handheld vacuum cleaner is best suited for quick clean up jobs on bare floors rather than thick carpeted areas.
It also has a small dirt capacity which requires the user to empty it frequently when in use.
To keep the handheld performing as it should, the filter should be cleaned regularly along with the dust bin. For a small device, it can also be pretty loud according to some reviewers.
Black & Decker Dustbuster Cordless Vacuum
- Lithium Ion for long battery life and outstanding...
- Long life, Lightweight, and no memory effect.Suction Power...
- Smart Charge Technology uses upto 50 percent less energy,air...
- Cyclonic action helps to keep the filter clean and power...
- Rotating slim nozzle for a variety of applications,...
This handheld is equipped with a lithium-ion battery for longer battery life and better performance. It has the capacity to hold a charge for up to eighteen months. It is lightweight with powerful suction making it perfect for small and quick cleaning jobs that need to be done around the house.
It is currently listed on Amazon as one of their best sellers and has four out of five stars with over sixteen thousand customer reviews which makes it a contender for a top spot in the best handheld vacuum cleaners of 2020.
The Black & Decker Dustbuster 16V uses Smart Charge technology meaning that it uses up to 50% less energy. Like the other Black & Decker options on the list, this handheld also uses cyclonic action to keep the filter clean and the suction strong.
There is a clear dirt cup so you can see when it becomes full and needs to be emptied. Everything is removable and washable so you can get an easy and thoroughly clean.
It also features a slim and rotating nozzle so it can be used in a variety of different applications including reaching those tight and narrow spaces that tend to be hard to reach.
This is a newer model with a much sleeker design. The battery has a high-efficiency charger with an automatic shut-off when the battery is fully charged. You won’t have to worry about overcharging the device.
There is a charging light that will indicate when the battery is done charging and it is ready to use.
For this handheld to be used at its maximum effectiveness, it is recommended that it is used on a full charge. As the battery begins to run down, you may experience a power loss.
To empty the dust canister, you first have to remove the washable filter which can be a pain if you were just trying to clean up a mess quickly without fuss.
Another complaint we have found is that the nozzle of this handheld is a bit wider than other models which means it might not fit as perfectly into those tight spaces.
It also does not come equipped with any kind of crevice tool to collect those hard to reach dust particles.
While it holds a charge, the run time for this handheld is fairly short, and some wished that the lithium battery would last a bit longer while it is in use.
Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaners: Now Out Of Stock
This updated handheld model from Eureka has a longer power cord, stronger motor, and longer extension hose than the EasyClean.
It also adds a hard floor mode with gentle brushes for protecting hardwoods and other delicate surfaces. We love its powered roller brush for cleaning cars, pet enclosures, and upholstered furniture around the house.
It provides powerful suction. Reviewers were very impressed with the power of the Rapid Clean and said it pulls pet hair and lots of dust out of fabrics.
There are two brush heads for cleaning carpets and hard floors. The motorized brush head deep cleans carpets and rugs and is perfect for cleaning car upholstery. For cleaning hard surfaces, you can switch off the powered brush head, and engage a soft bristle attachment like you’d find on the floor head of a canister model.
There are also little roller wheels on the end of the RapidClean, to help it clean hard surfaces and low carpets.
It’s especially convenient for carpeted stairs, which are tricky to clean with any full-size machine. (Check out a video tutorial on cleaning carpeted stairs.) Since the Eureka’s brush head is small but powerful, it can reach tough spots and take care of all the pet hair and ground-in dust or dirt. Previous buyers said it’s especially great on vertical carpeting, as well as stairs of all kinds.
For tight spaces where the Rapid Clean’s nozzle won’t fit easily, you can use the built-in attachment hose. It works with a crevice tool to help you get all the nooks and crannies. It’s ideal for cleaning cars, and between cushions around the house. The attachment hose is pretty long, too, with a 3-foot reach.
The 25-foot power cord gives you plenty of cleaning range. Reviewers said they had no problems with range, and agreed that the power of the RapidClean more than compensated for having to plug it in.
Both the extension hose and power cable wrap into the machine’s frame for easier storage.
The dust compartment is larger than the older model. It detaches for easy emptying, so you can dump the whole thing in the trash, and rinse it out in the sink before you put it back together.
The filters are built into the dust chamber, and are washable in the sink, as well.
It’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
It’s heavier than other handhelds. Previous buyers who had used the older EasyClean model said the RapidClean was more balanced. However, it’s a pound heavier than the EasyClean, and several pounds heavier than most cordless handhelds.
Even though the dust chamber has been enlarged, it’s still fairly small compared to other models. With that combined with its power, previous buyers said it can fill up pretty quickly.
When choosing a handheld vacuum for your home, the bottom line is choosing the model that best suits your needs and the tasks you have around the home. Cordless models prove to be the most convenient and the easiest to use for quick cleanups.
However, you also have to keep in mind that it needs to be charged and there are times you may not be able to use it because of this; or, you might run out of battery power in the middle of a cleaning job which can also prove to be quite frustrating.
However, handhelds are a flexible, convenient, and versatile option and they make a great asset to have in any home’s cleaning arsenal.
If you’re not quite sure about which handheld vacuum is the best fit for you, you can find plenty more options by clicking through to Amazon ‘s top-selling handheld vacuums or visiting our page for the best vacuum cleaners.