5 Best Handheld Vacuums for Everyday Messes

Trying to rid a closet corner of ever-present dust or remove pet hair from the crevices of your couch? Here are the best handheld vacuums for you.

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Black+Decker Dustbuster Bagless Cordless Filter Bag Hand VacuumVIA MERCHANT

Perhaps you already have one of the best vacuum cleaners money can buy, yet you still find yourself struggling to rid your home of dust, dirt and other debris. A handheld vacuum might be your solution. The best handheld vacuums are tough against pet hair, dander, crumbs and all other sorts of nasties that tend to pile up in corners, in the backs of closets, in the crevices between cushions and under furniture.

Additionally, handheld vacuums are a fantastic cleaning tool for those living in small spaces, such as studio apartments, since they don’t require much room for storage. Ahead, we cover our top picks for the five best handheld vacuums.

1 / 5

Black+Decker 20v Max Handheld Vacuum
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Best Overall

Black+Decker Max Pivot Handheld Vacuum

Can you go wrong with Black+Decker? We don’t think so. That’s why we recommend the Black+Decker Max Pivot as the best handheld vacuum cleaner overall. It’s a fantastic value, retailing at less than $100 yet includes top-tier features and attachments for the ultimate clean.

This handheld vacuum has a pivoting nozzle, flip-up brush, extendable crevice tool, three-stage filtration and a washable dust bowl that can hold 15 ounces of debris. The Pivot also comes with a stand-up charging dock for simple storage. Finally, the 20-volt battery and 200-degree pivot potential make cleaning any mess easier than ever.


  • Good value for the money
  • Strong 20-volt battery
  • 200-degree pivot
  • Multiple attachments included


  • Extra filters not included in purchase

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2 / 5

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

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser

At Family Handyman, we know how easily pet hair (and other pet messes, like litter) can accumulate. With the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser—which is specifically designed to pull fur out of fabric and out of small crevices—pet cleanup is a breeze.

The small, lightweight Bissell Pet Hair Eraser features triple-level filtration and powerful suction. Common hair-covered surfaces like couch cushions, couch crevices and carpet are no match for the included head attachments. We also love the large dust bin, which is almost 1 liter in size. Plus, each purchase contributes to the Bissell Pet Foundation, so what’s not to love?


  • Fantastic on pet hair
  • Triple-level filtration
  • Multiple attachments for cleaning common furry places


  • Not as lightweight as other options

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3 / 5

Black+Decker Dustbuster Bagless Cordless Filter Bag Hand Vacuum
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Best Budget Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Black+Decker Dustbuster

This Black+Decker Dustbuster will clean most messes with ease, and tackle tougher messes with success, too. We wouldn’t recommend this hand vac for heavy-duty tasks like removing pet hair or frequent car cleaning, but it works wonders on typical daily messes, like crumbs or tracked-in dirt.

The Dustbuster is lightweight and cordless, so you can use it anywhere in your home. It recharges quickly, and the charging station doubles as a docking station, so storage is included, too. This vacuum comes with a crevice tool and a brush, and the dust bowl is bagless for easy disposal.


  • Budget-friendly
  • Powerful suction
  • Small and lightweight


  • Not great for pet hair

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4 / 5

Thisworx Car Vacuum Cleaner
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Best Handheld Vacuum for the Car

ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner

No matter what kind of car you have, with all their nooks and crannies, they’re dang hard to clean. This is even truer if you have cloth seats and even more so if you have pets. But don’t fret: the ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner is here to save the day—and save your car from being a gritty mess.

This cordless vacuum is specifically designed to deep clean cars—it has “car” in the name, after all—and its features prove this. It boasts a lengthy 16-foot extension cord, an included travel case, a washable filter, strong suction, and multiple attachments for those hard-to-reach spots.


  • Specifically designed to be used with a car’s outlet
  • Inexpensive
  • Comes with travel case and attachments


  • Cannot be easily used inside the house

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5 / 5

Dyson V8 Absolute Cordless Vacuum
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Best Detachable Handheld Vacuum

Dyson V8 Absolute Vacuum

In case you’re in the market for a regular vacuum, check out the Dyson V8 Absolute Vacuum. It’s certainly not a budget pick, but it is a 2-in-1 vacuum, and it has some fantastic specs that make it worth it.
The Dyson Absolute comes with eight use-specific tools, including the Fluffy™ cleaner head, hair screw tool, motorbar cleaner head, crevice tool, up-top adapter, mattress tool and stubborn dirt brush. The handheld part easily detaches and allows you to reach virtually any space during your cleaning spree. It also has a handy docking station and is quite slender, so there is no need to worry about storage space.


  • 2-in-1 with a powerful hand vacuum
  • Slim, space-saving design
  • Includes many attachments for specific uses


  • Expensive

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What to Consider When Buying a Handheld Vacuum

Here are some things to keep in mind as you continue your search for the best handheld vacuum:

  • Battery Type: Is it rechargeable, or does it require disposable batteries? If the latter, which kind?
  • Run Time: Once fully charged, how long does the vacuum last?
  • Cord vs. Cordless: How do you plan to use the vacuum? Do you need to take it places without having easy access to an outlet?
  • Suction Power: What types of messes do you want your handheld vacuum to pick up? How powerful does your vacuum need to be?
  • Interchangeable Head Attachments: Does it come with more than one attachment for different uses and needs?
  • Dust Bin Size and Type: How much debris can it hold and how often will you have to empty it?
  • Filter Needs: Are filters for the vacuum easy to find? How expensive are they?
  • Size and Weight: How heavy is the vacuum? Is it easy to wield?

Types of Handheld Vacuums

  • Cordless: Most handheld vacuums these days are cordless, which means they’re free of an annoying cord that limits where you can use it.
  • Corded: Corded vacuums plug into a wall outlet and aren’t quite as convenient as cordless vacuums.
  • Detachable/2-in-1: A detachable handheld vacuum is part of a full-sized vacuum cleaner. You can detach the handheld part to use on its own.
  • Rechargeable: We love rechargeable handheld vacuums because they mean you won’t have to remember to keep disposable batteries on hand.
  • Battery-Powered: Battery-powered handhelds require replacement batteries, typically double- or triple-A.
  • For Pets: A handheld vacuum advertised as “for pets” or “for pet hair” is equipped with super-strong suction and special heads designed to pick up pet hair and other pet messes, such as litter, with ease.
  • For Cars: Usually, handheld vacuums for cars come with stronger suction and interchangeable heads (and often a longer neck) to make it easier to remove deep-seated messes and reach under car seats.

How We Found the Best Best Handheld Vacuums

As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject-matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.


Which handheld vacuum has the most suction?

There are lots of great handheld vacuums available with strong suction. Our top pick for the best handheld vacuum, the Black+Decker Lithium Pivot, offers the best value (in this case, suction power) for the price. The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser, which we rate as the best handheld vacuum for pet hair, has superior suction and attachments for pet-specific messes. Finally, you can’t go wrong with a Dyson. Our pick for the best detachable handheld vacuum, the Dyson V8 Absolute, has great suction for both the handheld part and the main head.

What to look for when buying a handheld vacuum?

When buying a handheld vacuum, make sure to research specs like battery type (rechargeable or disposable), run time, cord vs cordless, suction power, interchangeable head attachments, dust bin size, dust bin type, filter needs, and size and weight.

Amanda Capritto
Amanda Capritto is an accomplished writer in the outdoors, travel, fitness and health niches. She is a triathlete, hiker, and CrossFit athlete.
After attending Louisiana State University for print journalism and obtaining minors in sports science and nutrition, Amanda went on to start a career in health and outdoor journalism. Her work has appeared in a number of national and international outlets. She has also served as an expert resource and content reviewer for brands such as World Gym and Reebok.
After obtaining her personal trainer certification in 2017, Amanda worked as a floor trainer at LA Fitness and Gold’s Gym, as well as a group trainer for youth, high school and collegiate sports prep at Traction Sports in Baton Rouge, LA.
Amanda now offers personal training for individuals who are preparing for outdoor pursuits such as multi-day backpacking, adventure races, obstacle course races, open-water swimming and trail running.