Handheld vacuums are great for quick cleaning and very useful when cleaning the car. So, this review of the best hand held vacuums should appeal to most people. Not only will I be reviewing a comprehensive selection of both corded and cordless hand vacs, a useful buyer’s guide will follow. If you’ve been thinking about buying a hand held vac, this review and guide should provide you with everything you need.
How many of you can recall when the Dustbuster first appeared on the market? It was a huge sensation. The idea that you can quickly grab a portable, handheld vacuum and clean up spills as they happen, was novel indeed. Since then, the market has grown immensely. We now have so many choices and it is not easy to decide which is the best hand vac.
Batteries have changed since those first dust busters became available. Now cordless hand held vacuums are more powerful and versatile than ever. This means that, despite being more expensive, cordless hand vacs are probably the most popular. Be that as it may, corded models also have their advantages. Not only are corded hand vacuums cheaper, but they provide unlimited working time – there’s no battery to charge.
To help you in your search for a good handheld vacuum, I’ll be reviewing both corded and cordless (battery-powered) hand vacs. With easy to find headings for each type.
Cordless Hand Vacs
As I mentioned in the introduction to this review, cordless vacuums are very popular. It seems only logical that this would be the best place to start. If you’re not sure if a cordless hand held vacuum is your best option, I’ll provide more information on cordless vs corded handheld vacuums in the buying guide – following the product reviews.
1. Shark ION W1 Handheld Vacuum
As one of the top-rated appliance brands, I had very high hopes for the Shark ION W1 portable vacuum cleaner. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing most of the Shark ION battery-powered vacuums and have, for the most part, been more than impressed. The Shark W1 certainly has a lot going for it, but there are some aspects that I found to be less than desirable.
Having read numerous customer reviews, it seems like there are quite a few people who share my reservations.
Though, despite some minor irritations, this is one of the best cordless hand vacs. There can be no denying that Shark appliances are built to work hard and stand the test of time. I’ll start with the good news, the design features that make this a fantastic hand vac, far outweigh the few cons. In terms of ergonomics, the Shark ION W1 is nothing short of brilliant. It has a handle with a perfectly comfortable grip and the tapered nozzle really works well. In that sense, the Shark may be the best. The extremely lightweight design (only 1.4 LBS) is another big plus.
Single touch, hygienic dust cup release mechanisms are common to many of the top handheld vacuums. Though, I think the Shark ION W1 has the edge in this department. The cup flips down and drops the dirt with complete ease. It holds about the equivalent of one cup of debris. The dust cup is easy to clean, and the filter is also washable.
For such a small, lightweight machine, The Shark W1 is reasonably powerful. I wouldn’t say suction is the best. But in terms of power to weight ratio, I doubt anyone can beat this little beast. Now, using the term beast is quite appropriate here, this is a noisy machine. That would be my most serious complaint. This might not be too much of a problem, as one doesn’t use a handheld vacuum for too long. That brings me to the second item on the list that is less than the best. You can’t expect to use the Shark for more than about 10-minutes on a single charge. It really is for quick clean ups.
On the plus side, it only takes about 2½ hours to charge the battery. That’s about half the time of most other batteries used for cordless handheld vacuums. This helps to negate some of the inconvenience of the short working time. The nifty docking station allows you store it neatly whilst on charge and all the accessories have convenient storage slots in the docking station. You can keep an eye on the battery charge status by means of an LED indicator.
If you find yourself cleaning up pet hair on a regular basis, the Shark ION W1 may be your best option. It has a great multi-surface pet tool, and, for tight spaces, a crevice tool is also provided, along with a soft dusting brush.
After weighing up the pros and cons, I feel that the Shark ION W1 is most certainly deserving of a spot on our list of the top hand held vacuum list. The ergonomic design is as close to perfect as it gets and this an extremely lightweight machine. Above all, this is a Shark appliance, and that means a high level of quality from a brand that is renowned for great customer service.
2. Dibea Handheld Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
In this price range, you’ll have to search long and hard for a better deal. The Dibea handheld cordless vacuum is packed with great features, has incredible power and filtration, all at a very reasonable price.
For well under a hundred bucks, this is one of the most accomplished handheld vacuums. Ideal for cleaning up after pets, it one of the few cheap hand vacs with a motorized cleaning head. This means a rotating bristle brush that will scoop up pet hair and critters, like dust mites, from your carpets, bed linen, and upholstery.
With 120 watts of power and a fantastic cyclonic suction system, it has the performance to beat some of the very best (much more expensive) cordless handheld vacuums. In addition to this, it has multi-layer HEPA filtration, another feature not common to this class of vacuum.
The lithium Ion battery perfectly matches the high-power capabilities of this machine, providing around 20 to 30 minutes runtime. When not in use, you can park the Dibea into the docking station for convenient storage with simultaneous battery charging. It takes about 4.5 hours to charge the battery.
Along with the superb motorized brush roll head, you also get a long crevice tool, and a short one. This is a fairly bulky machine compared to many other hand vacs, it’s also on the heavy side, at 4.7-pounds. Though I wouldn’t think that the weight is unmanageable. The weight and size of this appliance can be explained by the extra power and working time that it provides. This is coupled with a pretty large, 10.14 Oz dust cup, and a large HEPA filter.
I found some customer reviews that suggest Dibea quality control may not be the best. On the other hand, they appear to be more than willing to honor their 12-month warranty. All indications are that the guys at Dibea are very helpful when it comes to customer service. That certainly helps put my mind at ease.
One thing’s for sure, you’re getting incredible value for money when buying the Dibea handheld cordless vacuum. It has power to spare, fantastic battery time and a motorized cleaning head. In terms of bang for your buck, this would be a great choice.
3. BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is in direct competition with the Dibea (reviewed above). The price is similar, as are the functions and accessories. I would sway in favor of the Bissell, however. This is based purely on my experience of the brand. They are great when it comes to affordable products with an established reputation for build quality.
This is one of the best handheld pet hair vacuums as, it too, has a motorized brush roll. It also has amazing, triple layer, filtration and a really large dust cup. Additional accessories include an upholstery cleaning tool and a crevice tool.
Like the Dibea, the Bissell hand vac is not the best in terms of ergonomics, nor is it a lightweight appliance. It weighs a little over 4-pounds and the chunky shape is not all that great for getting into tight spaces. Though, like with its competitor, you need to consider the large (very effective) filter and dust cup. You don’t have the convenience of a touch button system to empty the dust cup. But it’s still quite easy, and not at all messy, to empty.
Battery working time is fantastic. In most cases, people are getting 30 minutes plus from a single battery. I don’t have a specified battery recharge time, but I’d guess this will be around 4 – 5 hours. The 14V lithium ion battery certainly exceeds expectations.
In the category for best budget, cordless handheld vacuum, my vote goes to the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser. Quality is great and it has the performance to rival the very best.
4. HoLife Handheld Vacuum
When compared to the other models in this review, at the lower end of the price range, the HoLife handheld vacuum doesn’t have the same pet hair removable capabilities. But it does have its advantages. The most notable has to be that this hand vac can clean up wet spills, making it ideal for sucking up soda after your kid has had an accident.
Power and filtration are comparable with any of the best in its class. The Holife hand vac has a very efficient 100W motor, with power supplied from 6 built-in 22.2V lithium ion batteries.
This gives you around 30-minutes working time and will take 4 – 5 hours to recharge the batteries. There are no motorized pet hair tools. Instead, you have a wide cleaning orifice that will suck up debris and liquids with double filtration.
You do get a good selection of handy accessories though. This includes a crevice tool, dusting brush and an upholstery cleaner. The charger is also supplied, but no docking station. The dust cup is huge, 20.2 ounces, and is easy to clean. This is also a reasonably quiet machine when compared to many other handheld vacuums. At 78dBA, it’s not silent, but these machines never are.
The Holife stands out amongst the cheaper machines in that it is a wet and dry hand vac. This makes it one of the best for cleaning up after kids. It’s convenient, albeit a little on the chunky side.
5. BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Cordless Vacuum CHV1410L
The Black & Decker Dustbuster is the machine that first introduced us to the concept of a cordless hand vac. The current model (CHV1410L) is a far cry from those early machines. It is, in fact, a marvel of modern technology.
The design is pure genius and is a clear indication of who is the industry leader in the handheld vacuum business. For its very reasonable price and amazing design, I rate the Black & Decker Dustbuster as the number one cordless hand vacuum, by far.
Every inch of this little machine fills me with amazement, it’s wonderful. Thoughtful design makes this one of the most user-friendly handheld vacs ever made. The extendable crevice tool that just pulls out of the front of the Dustbuster is but one example of how much thought that has gone into its design. A flip up brush on the side is another. The guys at Black & Decker have really thought of everything.
Even the shape of the Dustbuster is calculated for every bit of convenience. The narrow nozzle makes it perfect for getting into tight spaces. If that wasn’t enough, the nozzle has a full 360° rotation, so it really can get in everywhere. Then the whole thing bulges at the top to provide a massive 20.6-ounce dust cup with superb cyclonic filtration.
The Dustbuster is an elegant looking machine that flips over to stand on the docking station. It won’t look out of place on a designer countertop. You can leave it on the docking station indefinitely and it will take approximately 4 hours to charge the battery. Though it seems like you don’t get much more than 10-minutes working time from the battery.
As you may have noticed from this review, I’m in awe of the Dustbuster. It’s an amazing machine at a wonderful price. In order to provide an objective review, I tried to find customer reviews that did not agree with my opinion. I found a few people who say that the battery doesn’t last. Though most have said that the battery has worked well for 3 – 4 years. In my experience, lithium batteries do last a long time, provided you charge them for a full 24-hours before the first use. If you don’t, they give up quite quickly. My guess is that those who experienced short battery life didn’t fully charge the battery before using it. Read the manual!! In general, people have had much praise for the quality of this product. Black & Decker offer a 2-year warranty on the Dustbuster and are great when it comes to customer service.
6. Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum
The Dyson V7 Trigger has to be the ultimate hand vacuum. Then, again we’ve come to expect that from Dyson. It’s also expensive. Were it not for the fact that you could buy two Dustbusters for the price of the Dyson V7 Trigger (with some change), this would be my pick of the bunch.
Take money out of the equation, and I would take the V7 without a hint of hesitation. For many, this might be a wish list item, rather an add to cart one. I say this only because the Dyson V7 is one of the most expensive hand vacs.
If you’re not scared off by the price, it’s a no-brainer, this is the one to buy. Dyson cyclonic suction is the stuff of legends. This model utilizes 15 cyclonic cones for immaculate performance
This, in conjunction with the superb V7 digital motor, gives the Dyson V7 trigger fade-free power for up to 30-minutes. It also gives you excellent HEPA filtration, even as the dust cup fills. The cup is enormous and has a wonderful trigger release, allowing you hold it over the trash can and drop all the dirt without getting your hands dirty.
In true Dyson style, you get every conceivable attachment. It has the mini motorized tool, with a rotating brush roll, to remove pet hair and engrained dirt from carpets, upholstery and hard surfaces. You also get the combination tool, soft dusting brush, stubborn dirt brush, crevice tool, and an extension hose.
For added convenience, the V7 comes with two battery chargers. You get the usual AC charger that plugs into a wall socket, and a 12VDC charger that you can use in your car or when camping. At full charge, you you’ll get about 30-minutes working time. This is with incredible suction power, so you won’t be wasting battery time going back and forth to clean heavy dirt. It removes an incredible amount of debris in one pass, for a portable handheld vacuum.
Some handheld vacuums could be called the best for pet hair, others the best for cleaning stairs and upholstery, or the best for cleaning the car. Few can boast all of the above, and then some. Yes, the Dyson V7 is expensive, but you’re paying for the very best. Along with the accessories, suction, and expert design to knock the socks off most other hand vacuums, you also get the assurance of Dyson quality. Not to mention customer care that goes beyond the norm and an excellent 2-year warranty. The Dyson V7 most certainly has the wow factor, and a price to match.
Corded Handheld Vacuums
The most attractive thing about corded handheld vacuums has to be the price, they are generally a good deal cheaper than battery-powered equivalents. For longer working time, a corded machine is obviously more convenient, as you won’t have a battery to run flat on you.
1. Shark Rocket Corded Ultra-Light Hand Vacuum
The Shark Rocket (HV292) is a little on the expensive side but is a remarkable hand held vacuum with heaps of power. When researching the Shark Rocket for this review, I found it on Amazon at a big discount. At that price, it’s hard to resist. If you’re lucky enough to find this product at a good discount, don’t pass up the opportunity, it’s a wonderful hand vac.
With 400 watts of power, the Shark Rocket hand held vac cleans like few others. There’s a huge amount of power packed into such a small machine. Because the Shark has a larger than average dust cup, the body is quite large. Though it has an extended hose, so you can get in just about anywhere. It also has a motorized True Pet cleaning head, an extra-long 12” crevice tool, and a dusting brush.
For a larger than average, incredibly powerful, handheld vacuum, it’s not too heavy – only 3.7-pounds. The power cord is also a very convenient length at 15-feet. The dust cup has a great press button, hygienic release to empty function and the filtration is of the highest standard. The filters are also washable, no costly replacement filters. I like the comfortable handle and working angle, with a power switch right at your thumb.
Reading the customer reviews, anyone will be convinced that this is a truly great hand vacuum, and I’ll certainly agree with this. It displays all the quality traits of a high-end Shark appliance and you have the reassurance that you’re buying a product from a brand that takes customer satisfaction very seriously.
2. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum, Corded, 33A1
I can see why the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser (33A1) is such a hit amongst animal lovers. It’s incredibly cheap and wonderfully capable. The design shows some brilliance and a little of the opposite. Many folks have complained about the exhaust vent position, and I can clearly see why. It tends to blow light dust away from the vacuum as you work. Other than this, you won’t easily find a better pet hair vacuum anywhere close to this price.
The genius in the Bissel design, lies in its exquisitely simple rubber bristles. Instead of a complicated roller brush, that would push up the price and mean more to go wrong, the thick flexible rubber bristles collect the pet hair as you clean. It’s an amazing, economical concept. You also get a hard nozzle for more regular cleaning.
This a powerful 4A (480W) motor, with excellent cyclonic suction, give this vacuum excellent performance. The dust cup is certainly big enough and, while it doesn’t have touch button emptying, it’s still easy enough to empty and clean the bin. Multi-layer filtration is up there with the best of them. The handle is well-designed, which is a good thing, as the Bissell is heavier than most at 5-pounds.
The large body, and the absence of a hose or crevice tool, means that the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is only suitable for flat surfaces – floors, counters, upholstery, etc. It won’t be the best for cleaning your car with all those narrow spaces between the seats and the like. The 16-foot cord is a great convenience.
For well under 50 bucks, you won’t find a better bargain. Pet hair vacuums seldom cost less than $100 but, thanks to a superbly innovative design, Bissell have managed to bring us a very affordable handheld pet hair vacuum. The simplicity of this design also means there is nothing that could break and need to be replaced.
3. AutoSpa 94005AS Bagless Auto-Vac Hand-Held
The AutoSpa 94005AS is designed specifically to make cleaning your car as easy as possible. In this regard, they’ve done an excellent job. That’s not to say that it isn’t a perfectly capable hand vacuum to use anywhere in the home. It is wonderfully cheap. Though I have to say, it does reveal its cheapness in some of the accessories. I guess you could use brushes from other vacuums with this one, they all use fairly standard sizes.
A nifty handheld canister gives this machine great ergonomics with a large dust capacity. Unlike most of the other hand vacs that have a bagless cup, this one has a filter bag which is reusable. This means more fuss and mess when emptying, but it has a massive capacity. So, thankfully, you won’t be doing it too often. It certainly won’t lose suction as the bag fills. This is thanks to a an incredibly powerful 560W electric motor and effective, low resistance, airflow.
The AutoSpa has a flexible (3’) hose with a swivel connector. This makes it very versatile for cleaning the car or, for that matter, stairs. There’s a crevice tool, wide cleaning head, and two brushes that can get into every nook and cranny. Another plus when cleaning a car. Amazon has the weight specified as 0.5 pounds. I’m sure this an error, 5-pounds seems more realistic.
For a cheap handheld vacuum, quality is good. Though the brushes and attachments do seem a little flimsy. It will make cleaning the car a pleasure and serve just well in the home. For its versatility and price, the AutoSpa hand held vacuum deserves to be ranked among the top rated handheld vacuums.
4. Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Corded Hand Vacuum
If you’re looking for an inexpensive basic hand vacuum, without paying extra for any frills, the Dirt Devil Scorpion is the product you’ve been looking for. Despite being one of the cheapest corded hand held vacuums, it’s very practical and packs quite a punch in the power department.
I’m more than impressed with what you’re getting for very little money. The Dirt Devil Scorpion has a simple design and closely resembles the original Dustbuster.
Though it has a few clever additions, like a flip down crevice tool and attachable 2.5-foot hose. It has a great 15.2 Oz capacity with a reasonable filter. At this price, you can forget about multi-layer HEPA filters.
The 7A electric motor has the power to match any of the best corded handheld vacuums and it weighs only 3-pounds. This machine is easy to use, the dust cup clips off to empty and is quick to clean. The 15’ power cord gives a good working range.
At first, I thought the Dirt Devil was probably a pile of junk. How can it be any good at that price? Boy, was I wrong. It has a level quality that defies its price tag and is a wonderfully practical machine. Is this best cheap hand vac? Without a doubt, yes! At least, in my opinion and that many customers.
Handheld Vacuum Buying Guide – What you Need to Look Out For
The first decision you need to make is whether to buy a corded or battery-powered handheld vacuum. This make a big difference in what you’re going to pay for your hand held vacuum. More than just the price, you need to look at usability. This will not only be about the cord, or lack thereof, but also attachments, size, and power. We’ll take a detailed look into all this in the hand vacuum buying guide.
Corded vs Cordless Handheld Vacuums
If you’re on a tight budget, a corded handheld vacuum will make more sense. While some high-end machines can be quite expensive, you can find a good corded hand vac from around $40. This will be a fairly basic model, but it will get the job done.
Corded handheld vacuums usually have larger electric motors with a bit more power. But the power spec can be a little misleading, as brushless DC motors (used for cordless vacuums) are way more efficient. So, while a corded machine will provide better suction, it will be using more electricity, relative to the actual power at your disposal.
The obvious disadvantage to using a corded hand vacuum is that you will usually need an extension cord. This can be a hassle, especially if you’re cleaning your car. Despite the extra convenience, there are some considerations that you need to be aware of before buying a cordless handheld vacuum.
Battery-powered vacuums are more expensive, and you’re limited by the battery working time – this can be anything from 10-minutes to over half an hour. Before buying a cordless vacuum, check if the battery time is suitable for type of jobs you intend doing. For quick spills, 10-minutes is perfectly adequate. On the other hand, this will be a major inconvenience when cleaning your car.
Another factor to consider is the limited lifespan. Most cordless hand held vacuums have built-in batteries, so they are not that simple to replace. In some cases, you won’t be able to get replacement batteries. Though, with the correct care, lithium ion batteries can last up to 4-years.
Size and Weight
A lighter hand vac is going to be easier to use. While these tend to be lightweight appliances, they can vary greatly – anything from a little over a pound to more than 6-pounds. For some, using a 6-pound handheld vacuum can be a hassle. The shape and size of the vacuum will affect its versatility. A large body with a flat stubby nose won’t fit into tight spaces but will be better for cleaning large flat surfaces.
Handle and Power Button
A comfortable handle with a good working angle is an obvious plus. But few people consider the power control as being important. Quite a few cordless hand held vacuums use a power button that needs to be held in continuously while you work. They do this to conserve battery power, the moment you release the switch it stops draining the battery. These switches are always easier to use if they use a trigger switch that allows you to squeeze it with a natural finger position when you’re working. Even better, would be a switch that has a locking mechanism, giving you the option to use it continuously without depressing the power button.
Filters and Dust Bin
As with any vacuum cleaner, filters can be very basic or more effective at cleaning the air. HEPA filters are always the best for removing allergens from the air. Though these filters can be quite expensive to replace.
When considering the filter cost, look at whether the filter is washable. Paper cartridge filters will need be replaced fairly regularly, depending on how much you use your vacuum. It is possible to remove hair and larger debris from a paper filter, using a brush. But fine dust will clog the filter, so it will need be replaced at some point.
Fiber, washable filters can be cleaned with water, and reused many times. This will be more economical in the long run. Most can be tossed into the washing machine, or just rinsed under a faucet. It’s not a tough job cleaning these filters.
The dust cup size will affect how long you can clean for, before having to empty it. Though there are other factors to look at. Most hand vacuums use a bagless cup, these are much easier to empty and clean. A bag always belches dust into the air when you remove it.
How the cup is emptied, can also make a difference. The most convenient, is a dust cup that has a push-button release mechanism. You don’t have to remove the cup to empty it. You just hold the vacuum over the trash, press a button to open the bottom, and all the dirt drops away without any mess. Even dust cups that don’t have one touch emptying can be okay. If it unclips easily, emptying a conventional dust cup isn’t much hassle.
All vacuum cleaners are more versatile if they have additional attachments. Hand vacs don’t usually have as many options for attachments as full-size machines do. Though some can be quite comprehensive. A crevice tool is normally pretty standard, but not all handheld vacuums have these. For cleaning small narrow slots, this would be essential.
A hose can also be helpful for tight spaces, but even fewer hand held vacuums include a hose. Brushes always help for dusting, and a motorized pet hair brush is good, not only for pet hair, but general carpet and upholstery cleaning too.