Investing in a powerful steam cleaner or heavy-duty vacuum will undoubtedly make your life easier (and cleaner), but there’s one additional tool that everyone should have on hand: a cordless, handheld vacuum. Not only does its lightweight design save your back from lugging a monster machine around the house, but handheld vacuums are super easy to use. Spilled a bowl of rice? No problem. Have a shedding pet? Say less. These powerful little tools are designed to make cleaning small spills a quick, convenient and hassle-free task. Not to mention how much easier it is to clean sofas, stairs and tiny crevices without a cord getting in the way. After a few hours of charging time, these babies are set and ready to go. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you start suctioning. Here, find a breakdown of what to look for and seven of the best cordless handheld vacuums—from suction power and price range to battery life and maneuverability.

What should I look for when buying a cordless handheld vacuum?

As we mentioned above, handheld vacuums are supposed to make your life easier by cleaning up messes quicker. So, if you're trying to determine which one is right for you, you want to look for features that will make cleanups more convenient. For example, if you want something that can clean at the drop of a hat (because that bowl of popcorn isn’t going to disappear on its own), look for a portable vacuum that has a cord (so you can still use it, even if it’s not fully charged). Or, if you have a fluffy dog who sheds all over your sofa, you’ll want something that can easily suction hair, dirt and debris. It’s all about finding something that will suit your cleaning needs and remove the stress from cleaning up small spills, stubborn pet hair and residual debris.

  • Suction: While the suction of a smaller vacuum won’t be as ubiquitous as larger models, it’s important to ensure it’s just as powerful. For cordless models, look for something that has a battery of at least 15-volts. If you want a corded model, it should have a minimum of 5 amps.
  • Weight: Remember, these babies are supposed to be super lightweight and easy to carry around the house. While handheld models can range anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds, we’d say you should stick to the 3-4 pound range (just to be safe).
  • Attachments: This one really depends on preference. If getting rid of pet hair and debris is your number one concern, you’ll want to look for a brush roll tool that easily suctions embedded dirt. Or, if you want something that can reach small corners and crevices, you’ll want a narrow attachment that can extend into hard-to-reach areas.
  • Battery Life: If you’re going cordless, your vacuum’s battery life should be your number one concern. Since most use lithium-ion batteries, the typical charging time can range from 4 to 6 hours. Plus, while the actual runtime varies by battery size, most models get somewhere between 15-20 minutes. Bottom line? The bigger the battery, the longer the runtime.

Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaners: Winners, at a Glance

  1. Best Overall: Black+Decker Handheld Vacuum
  2. Most Powerful: Bissell Handheld Vacuum
  3. Best Value: VacLife Handheld Vacuum
  4. Best Design: Shark Handheld Vacuum
  5. Best Battery Life: VacLife Handheld Vacuum
  6. Best for Small Spaces: ThisWorx For Handheld Vacuum
  7. Best For Pet Owners: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Vacuum

RELATED: The 7 Best Portable Carpet Cleaners for Restoring Your Rugs to (Almost) New

Amazon

1. Black+Decker Handheld Vacuum

Best Overall

When you were searching for a home with stunning wood floors, you probably didn’t realize how disgusting they can get (especially when you have pets and kids running around). That’s why we love this powerful little dustbuster. Not only is it *outstanding* at sucking up debris on bare floors, but its suction remains consistent—even as the dirt compartment is filled to the brim. Its extendable crevice tool is ideal for small spaces, and it comes with a removable dust bowl that makes it easy to wash away leftover debris. Our favorite feature? This model has built-in smart charge technology with two different cleaning modes (corded and cordless), so you’ll never have to worry about a dead vacuum when spills occur.

Pros

  • Great for bare floors
  • Smart charging capabilities
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to store

Cons

  • Takes a while to recharge

$59 AT AMAZON

Amazon

2. Bissell Handheld Vacuum

Most Powerful

While we could give a standing ovation to this vacuum’s 50,000-watt suction and pet hair cleaning capabilities alone, we’d say its motor-powered brush roll tool is the real showstopper here. Not only does it remove dirt and debris from upholstery and stairs with expert precision, but it’s designed to suck up embedded pet hair with ease. Plus, it’s extremely lightweight at only 3.1 pounds, and its bagless, three-level filtration system makes it easy to maintain. Oh, and did we mention that it also comes with upholstery and crevice tools?

Pros

  • Motorized brush works well on embedded debris
  • Easy to empty and clean
  • Lightweight
  • Not too loud
  • Powerful suction

Cons

  • More expensive than other models

$73 at Amazon

Amazon

3. VacLife Handheld Vacuum

Best Value

If you want the best bang for your buck, we’d say the VacLife Handheld is where it’s at. It offers the same powerful suction as the previous options, and it’s just as durable, lightweight and easy to maneuver. And this one has a great battery life, where it’s fully charged in 2-3.5 hours. It even offers additional features, like an LED light which helps clean in the dark. Furthermore, it’s fully equipped with three different types of attachments that can loosen hair and dust in hard-to-reach places. Not to mention its sleek, orange design.

Pros

  • Great for cleaning cars
  • Simple push-button makes canister emptying easy
  • Lightweight and cordless
  • LED light feature
  • Good for cleaning hair and dust

Cons

  • Fills up quickly and needs frequent emptying
  • Less durable

$35 at Amazon

Amazon

4. Shark Handheld Vacuum

Best Design

Want something effective that’ll fit your kitchen aesthetic? This modern cordless dustbuster is just as innovative as it is pretty. Here’s what makes it different: it fuses two cyclonic air streams for *ultra-powerful* suction, and its narrow construction and included crevice tool is great for reaching little nooks and crannies. And that’s not all: it’s intentionally designed to remove stubborn pet hair and debris from carpets and upholstery, and it comes with a turbo brush and self-cleaning brushroll that effectively tackles hair wraps. Not to mention that its super-slim design allows for easy countertop storage—and you won’t have to worry about it sticking out like a sore thumb; olive green is totally on-trend for 2021.

Pros

  • Sleek and innovative design
  • Easily tackles pet hair and debris
  • Includes a self-cleaning turbo brush
  • Powerful suction
  • Hands-free debris disposal
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Smaller dirt compartment

$60 at Amazon

Amazon

5. VacLife Handheld Vacuum

Best Battery Life

If long runtime and short charging times are your number one concern, this cordless model is the right one for the job. Not only does it charge in just 3-4 hours (where some can take up to 12 hours!!), but it has a 20-minute runtime that won’t give out before you’re done. It comes fully equipped with two different nozzles that are specially designed for crevices and dust, and its powerful 120 volts ensure that there won’t be leftover debris. Plus, this one’s super lightweight and its power, versatility and battery life provide more than enough time to clean out the dirt and grime from your car.

Pros

  • Good for hard-to-reach places
  • Effectively cleans pet/human hair
  • Has an LED light
  • Rapid charging
  • Long runtime

Cons

  • Suction is not as strong as other models

$50 at Amazon

Amazon

6. ThisWorx For Handheld Vacuum

Best for Small Spaces

We’ve mentioned crevice and car cleaning capabilities in some of the previous models, but none of them compare to this one’s small-space-oriented design. It comes with a super long, 16-foot cord that can be plugged into your car’s 12V outlet, and its three attachable nozzles make reaching tiny cracks and crevices a breeze. The best part? It also comes with a USB charger that’s compatible with most car models—so you don’t need to run inside to charge this one if it gives out mid-clean.

Pros

  • Comes with three attachments
  • Lightweight
  • Power cord connects to the car’s lighter port
  • Eliminates wet or dry messes
  • Carrying bag allows for convenient storage

Cons

  • Dirt compartment is relatively small

$35 at Amazon

Amazon

7. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Vacuum

Best For Pet Owners

Pet-owners: *this* is the corded vacuum you need. First and foremost, it comes with two specialty nozzles, one designed for tiny fibers—like hair—and one that’s designed to clean bigger chunks (which we will leave to your imagination). Furthermore, PureWow editor Dara Katz writes: “this one is small but mighty,” but “that’s mostly thanks to its Cyclonic Cleaning System.” Lastly, “its tiny size—weighing less than three pounds—means it can squeeze into places that larger vacuums won’t go as easily: the car, between cushions, that weird corner between the piano and the wall that they love to sunbathe in, etc.,” according to Katz.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Designed to suction pet hair
  • Durable
  • Perfect for crevices and small corners
  • 16 ft cord

Cons

  • Small dirt compartment
  • Needs to be emptied regularly

$39 at Amazon

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