The Best Handheld Vacuum (2024)

The research

  • Why you should trust us
  • Who this is for
  • How we picked and tested
  • Our pick for the best handheld vacuum cleaner: Ryobi 18V One+ Performance Hand Vacuum Kit
  • A great car vacuum for pet owners: Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07
  • A reliable budget handheld vacuum: Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean CHV1410L
  • Other good handheld vacuums
  • What about handheld vacuums for cars?
  • The competition
  • Care and maintenance
  • Sources

Why you should trust us

Staff writer Sabine Heinlein has been a journalist for over two decades. With a menagerie of rabbits and cats, she obsesses over how different types of fur adhere to upholstery and how best to remove hairballs from heirloom rugs.

We’ve been evaluating handheld vacuums since 2013. For this guide, we’ve done the following:

  • We interviewed dozens of vacuum experts over the years, including service technicians, air-quality specialists, product engineers, and brand representatives.
  • For our most recent round of research and testing in 2023, we spoke to former and current engineers at Dyson, Lupe, and Shark; two vacuum salespeople and repair specialists; and numerous company representatives and product managers.
  • We combed through thousands of customer reviews on retail sites while keeping track of specific complaints. We also supplemented our reporting with FindOurView, which uses AI to identify important themes and issues in thousands of customer reviews.

Who this is for

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Handheld vacuums are particularly helpful for people who share a home with kids, pets, or anyone else who produces frequent, small messes. A handheld, which is battery powered and compact enough to sit on a shelf or countertop between uses, can clean up a pile of spilled coffee grounds in the time it would take you to dig your main vacuum out of the closet and unwrap its cord.

Handheld vacuums are a diverse group, with some models designed for the awkward angles of a car’s interior and others purpose-built for pulling pet hair off carpeted stairs or upholstery. Others serve as “snack vacs,” allowing for the quick pickup of crumbs.

Additional options to consider: Most of the best cordless stick vacuums pull double duty as handheld vacuums. The best plug-in vacuums have hoses and attachments that let you clean most of the same spots that the best handheld vacuums can reach—you just need to be near an outlet.



How we picked and tested

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We’ve considered more than 180 handheld vacuums over the years, including 12 in our most recent round of testing. Here’s how we evaluate them:

Suction: Using an anemometer (a tool that measures wind speed), we calculate the raw airflow of each vacuum. Suction is what allows a vacuum cleaner to lift debris off the ground, while airflow helps ferry the debris to the dustbin. Attachments or extensions can focus the vacuum’s suction for better cleaning or to help get debris off clingy surfaces. Special tools, such as a motorized brush, help a handheld vac work even better—even if a vacuum cleaner has mediocre suction, a brush loosens up dirt and hair, making it easier for the vacuum to lift up and swallow the debris. Pet-hair tools are particularly useful for getting fur off upholstery.

Almost any handheld vacuum can pick up visible crumbs and dirt. Especially strong handhelds can also suck up some fine dust, as well as larger, heavier pebbles or chunks of food.

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Cleaning ability: In our most basic cleaning test, we spread carefully measured piles of debris—such as baking soda, mixed birdseed, Cheerios, and glitter—and calculate how much each vacuum cleaner is able to pick up. We test on bare floors and on low- and medium-pile rugs. We then spread 30 grams of baking soda on a medium-pile rug and vacuum it for 20 seconds, after which we use a kitchen scale to measure how much of the baking soda the vacuum collected. (Note: We don’t recommend that you vacuum up large amounts of baking soda or super-fine dust with your handheld. “One of the biggest killers of bagless machines is fine dust, plaster dust, brick dust, talcum powder,” said James Brown, who runs a vacuum-cleaner museum and repair shop in Heanor, Derbyshire, England. Brown explained that fine dust can bypass the vacuum’s filter and build up inside the machine, causing clogs and damage.) Though wattage and battery strength are not always an accurate gauge of cleaning ability, a vacuum offering 15 air watts and 16 volts should be enough for cleaning up small messes.

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To test pet-hair pickup, we spread a handful of fur (from a local groomer) into a rug and then try to pick it up with each vacuum. If a model comes with an attachment that may improve pet-hair pickup, such as rubber nubs—or better yet, a motorized brush—we use it.

Battery life and charge time: A good handheld vacuum should be ready when you need it, and it should last long enough to tackle at least a few messes before it has to recharge. We test each vacuum’s battery life to make sure it matches up with (or, in the case of our picks, exceeds) the manufacturer’s advertised claims. We pay special attention to vacuums with batteries that can last for at least 15 minutes on regular mode and recharge within 60 minutes.

Comfort and quietness: You should be able to hold the vacuum for 10 to 20 minutes without straining your wrists and forearms. Weight is not the only consideration—how the weight is distributed matters, too. An extendable hose can take some of the weight off at least part of the time. The vacuum should reach awkward spots without effort; hoses, pivoting nozzles, and some attachments can help, though remember that an extension tube’s longer airflow pathway reduces suction. (In our most recent round of testing, we tried the vacuums in the tight quarters of a Honda Fit, too.) Using a decibel meter, we measure each vacuum’s noise level.

Warranty and repairability: We specifically look for handheld vacuums with warranties of at least two years. Damian Lee, a former engineer at Dyson and Shark, said a long warranty is meaningful when someone is making a buying decision: “Being able to claim a nice big warranty that lasts a long time and covers a lot of cases and conditions gives you confidence that a company is standing behind their product.” According to our FindOurView analysis of customer reviews, battery failure is the second most common complaint in reviews of handheld vacuums, so we consider it a significant plus if a model has a replaceable battery.

Our pick for the best handheld vacuum cleaner: Ryobi 18V One+ Performance Hand Vacuum Kit

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Our pick

Ryobi 18V One+ Performance Hand Vacuum Kit

A great all-purpose hand vacuum

This cordless handheld vacuum’s powerful suction, long battery life, and large bin make short work of tidying up around the home and in the car.

Buying Options

$50 from Home Depot(Tool Only)

What the Ryobi 18V One+ Performance Hand Vacuum Kit lacks in appearance it makes up for in suction power, bin size, and versatility.

It’s an excellent cleaner. In suction and airflow, this model is on a par with or better than its most powerful competitors. We tried it on rugs, bare floors, car seats, and upholstery, and it did a terrific job of picking up all kinds of debris, including Cheerios, glitter, birdseed, and baking soda. Although this Ryobi model features only a single suction mode, its power comes close to or matches that of other hand vacs on their highest setting, typically called “boost mode.” (The vacuum’s noise level is about average, measuring around 80 dB depending on the attachment we used.)

It has useful tools. The Ryobi 18V One+ Performance Hand Vacuum Kit comes with a crevice tool and a brush tool; both do a decent job of picking up fur on rugs and home upholstery. The brush pivots 360 degrees, which makes it perfect for awkward angles, such as car cup holders and other interior storage compartments.

It has a good run time, and it charges impressively quickly. Most vacuums we tested ran out of juice within just a few minutes in boost mode; this Ryobi model, in contrast, ran for 18 minutes. (The battery has an indicator that, when pressed, shows the charge level—a helpful perk that’s missing from most other handhelds we tested.) And it charges in under an hour, whereas other handheld models commonly take three to four hours.

It has an extra-large dustbin. This model’s dustbin holds 2.8 cups of debris, double that of most other handheld vacuums we tested. Its opening mechanism is straightforward—some other vacuums we tested required us to perform complicated manipulations to open the bin—and its filter is washable.

It is sturdy, with a generous warranty and replaceable parts. This model’s casing, made from thick plastic, withstood at least two (accidental) drops on cement floors during our tests. Ryobi’s three-year warranty is longer than that of most other handheld vacuums.

The Ryobi 18V One+ Performance Hand Vacuum Kit’s battery is replaceable, as are most of the parts and accessories. It is compatible with many other cordless Ryobi tools, so if you own several such tools (like a Ryobi Pruning Shear), this may be an added perk.

If you already own a Ryobi 18 V One+ 2 Ah battery and charger, you may consider buying a barebones handheld vacuum that has the same specs as that of the kit but costs less than half the price. (The barebones vacuum doesn’t come with any attachments, though.)

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Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • It may be uncomfortable to use. Although the Ryobi 18V One+ Performance Hand Vacuum Kit is lightweight—at 2.3 pounds, this model is one of the lightest high-performing vacuums we’ve tested—it might not be ideal for people with hand or arm issues. The battery, which is positioned right below the hand, makes up a large part of the vacuum’s weight and may put strain on your hand and wrist.
  • It’s a little awkward. This vacuum can’t stand upright, and its clunky body and neon-green color might make it more aesthetically suited for a workshop than a stylish home. (Maybe asking for a vacuum that is both powerful and chic is too much?) Thankfully, since the battery is removable, you can charge it while the vacuum is stored out of sight.
  • It’s had availability issues.Ryobi products are sold exclusively through Home Depot. The Ryobi 18V One+ Performance Hand Vacuum Kit (which includes the battery and charger) has gone out of stock at times, sometimes for several days or weeks. If you already own a compatible Ryobi battery and charger, the vacuum-only model could be an option, though it is also often out of stock. (Buying the vacuum and charger and battery individually is more expensive than buying them as a bundle.)

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  • Replacement batteries are expensive and ordering replacement parts is inconvenient. While it’s a plus that the battery is replaceable, Ryobi charges almost as much for a battery as it does for the entire vacuum. (You might consider buying third-party batteries with high ratings for a quarter of the price. We haven’t tested them, and though several Amazon reviewers say that the knockoffs are even better than the original battery, it’s important to note that using a third-party battery will void Ryobi’s warranty.)

We ran into problems when calling Ryobi’s swift and friendly customer service about replacement parts. The Ryobi representative referred us to Gardener’s General Contractor, which sells Ryobi parts. But Gardener’s couldn’t locate the part, and it took an email to Ryobi’s marketing department for us to find out that parts are actually sold directly via Ryobi’s website. (Confusingly, the replacement parts page isn’t linked on the Ryobi homepage.)



A great car vacuum for pet owners: Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07

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Also great

Black+Decker 20V Max Dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Cordless Pet Hand Vacuum HHVK515JP07

For people with pets

This handheld vacuum’s motorized brush makes cleaning up pet fur a breeze, especially on upholstery. Its extendable crevice tool allows you to reach into nooks and crannies.

Buying Options

$85 from Home Depot

$85 from Wayfair

$80 from Lowe's

If you regularly clean up after fur-shedding pets, the Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07 is uniquely designed to help you fight that battle.

It’s a great all-purpose cleaner, and it’s especially effective on fur. In our tests, the AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07 picked up fur better than any model we tried, especially on upholstery, thanks in part to its motorized brush, which is equipped with fur-grabbing bristles. This model’s built-in, extendable crevice tool sucked up baking soda, glitter, birdseed, Cheerios, and cat litter from both carpets and bare floors with ease.

Fur clung to its flexible, rubbery bristles, while its rotating brush and suction ferreted dog, cat, and rabbit hair from rugs and couches into its bin. The only time we ran into trouble was when we tried to vacuum dog fur from the clingy upholstery of a car trunk, yet even then, the AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07 got more fur off than any of the other models we tested. (All the vacuums we evaluated performed poorly in this regard. Instead, we recommend the Uproot Cleaner Pro Reusable Cat Hair Remover for car trunks and floors.)

It has a big dustbin. The AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07 has an intuitive emptying mechanism and the largest dustbin of any handheld vacuum we tested in our most recent round (models with smaller bins got quickly clogged with fur).

It has a pretty good run time. This model will run for 24 minutes on low suction mode, which is sufficient for most furry situations, and a battery indicator shows you the charge level. Its airflow is above average on regular mode and excellent on high mode. A Black+Decker spokesperson told us via email that this model fully charges in four hours, but in our testing it took less than three hours. At 75 dB, it is also quieter than the majority of the vacuums we assessed.

It has a strong warranty. This model comes with a two-year warranty, which exceeds the coverage of many other handheld vacuum cleaners. In fact, guide author Sabine Heinlein has used her own AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07 daily for four years to clean cat and rabbit fur from her furniture and cat beds. The suction hasn’t diminished over time, and the vacuum has withstood being dropped and knocked over.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • The battery isn’t replaceable, though other parts are. While the battery isn’t replaceable, the filters, belt, beater bar, and charger are. (Both filters are also washable.) Black+Decker’s customer service is excellent, often requiring no wait time, and you can order parts via
  • It feels loose in places. In our tests, the extended crevice tool sometimes slid back when we were vacuuming tight, deep spaces; you may need to hold it in place when you’re slipping it between couch cushions.

But perhaps the biggest design flaw of the AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07 is the looseness of its filters. Although that doesn’t impact the vacuum’s performance, it can be a pain when you’re emptying the dustbin—as you tap the bin against a trash can to empty it, the filters can slip out and fall into the trash.

  • It isn’t pretty. The vacuum stands up on its own and is compact enough to tuck away between furniture. But next to some of its newer, less powerful cousins, the AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07 looks clunky with its clashing purple, orange, and gray hues.

A reliable budget handheld vacuum: Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean CHV1410L

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Budget pick

Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean CHV1410L

For quick and easy cleanup

If you need something straightforward for speedy cleanups, this affordable, cordless handheld vacuum will get the job done.

Buying Options

$50 from Amazon

$59 from Walmart

$60 from Lowe's

If you don’t own pets and need a hand vac only for the occasional spilled Cheerios or coffee grounds, buy the Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean CHV1410L. We’ve recommended the CHV1410L since 2017, and in our most recent round of testing, it proved once again to be one of the best basic handheld vacuums available—with a few caveats.

It’s a strong cleaner. In our testing, the CHV1410L had no trouble sucking up crumbs and dirt off bare surfaces like countertops and windowsills. For easy jobs, it was just as effective as a more powerful model, such as the AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07. It wasn’t as capable of picking up fur and dusty debris like baking soda from furniture, though it did fine with glitter.

It’s comfortable to use. Although the CHV1410L suffers from the same hand-heaviness as most handheld vacuums do, we’ve found it comfortable enough to maneuver. At 2.6 pounds, it is comparably light, and its curved, closed handle allows for an easy grip.

It’s well liked. The CHV1410L is a perennial best seller with strong reviews from owners.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • It doesn’t clean upholstery all that effectively. The CHV1410L can’t clean upholstery all that thoroughly, as debris, especially hair, tends to cling to fabric, and this model has neither the suction nor the right tools to offset that clinginess. And because this model has no hose or pivoting nozzle, and its crevice tool is comparably large, using it to clean at odd angles is a hassle.
  • Its run time is so-so. In our battery tests, the CHV1410L ran for about nine minutes, so it’s best suited for quick tidying rather than deep cleaning. (In contrast, our top pick ran for 18 minutes, and our also-great pick ran for 25 minutes.) The CHV1410L recharged in about three hours, which is typical for handheld vacuums at this price. It comes with a convenient charging base that allows the vac to stand upright in storage; we found, however, that it tends to wobble when bumped.
  • It’s fairly noisy. Whereas a Black+Decker spokesperson told us that the vacuum has a decibel level of 81 dB, we recorded it at 86 dB. (In comparison, the Ryobi model measured around 81 dB, while the AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07 measured around 75 dB.)



Other good handheld vacuums

If you want a snazzy vac that folds into a snail shape for storage: We still like the Black+Decker 20V Max Lithium Pivot BDH2000PL, our previous top pick. It’s a strong cleaner, and its pivoting nozzle folds up into a small and storable snail shape.

This model is no longer a pick because of its relatively short, 11-minute battery life, and because we found it noisy. Though it was great at picking up larger debris, it did not excel at picking up baking soda from a medium-pile carpet (possibly because the filter got clogged). Otherwise, it continues to perform better than many competitors.

This vacuum does not come with a purpose-built pet-hair tool, but in our tests, its wiry brush tool did the job just fine. Two Wirecutter staffers use the BDH2000PL as their sole vacuum in their studio apartments; one noted that it works well in getting hair off her velvet sofa and footrest.

If you want a super-strong vacuum that’s compatible with other power tools: Consider the Dustbuster 20V Max PowerConnect BCHV001C1, which has a battery and charger that are interchangeable with all other Black+Decker 20V Max PowerConnect tools.

The BCHV001C1 has great suction and the most airflow of any handheld vacuum we tested. (Its suction power is lauded by countless Amazon customers, too.) It did an excellent job of sucking up birdseed and Cheerios, but it lagged behind our picks in extracting fine dust from medium-pile carpet.

One drawback is that it comes with only one clip-on crevice tool, which makes it useless on fur; in our tests, it picked up clumps but left all other fur stuck to the carpet. If you don’t have pets, though, it’s a good choice. At this writing, you have the option to buy the vacuum alone for $35 or in a kit with a charger and battery for $70.

What about handheld vacuums for cars?

For more information on vacuums that work well in cars, visit our guide to the best car vacuum. You’ll find a couple of our favorite handheld models, as well as vacuums with an extendable hose and useful attachments, which you may prefer if you have hand or wrist issues, or if you’re planning to spend a lot of time cleaning your car.

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The competition

Mini handheld vacuums

“Mini” handheld vacuums that weigh 2 pounds or less have recently emerged as a new category. Such models are smaller and lighter than all of our current picks and not as powerful. They’re good as desk or snack vacs for midsize debris such as cookie crumbs, and they’re easy to store on countertops or desks. But they can’t easily pick up and properly filter dust and other fine particles, and bigger debris fills up the small dustbin too quickly. In addition, these models are effective only on hard surfaces.

We don’t recommend any mini handheld vacs because our picks are better performers, similarly priced (or less expensive), and more versatile. However, if you have hand or wrist issues, one of these lighter hand vacs might be a good alternative.

We liked the Eufy HomeVac H30 Venture the best. It looks appealing, and it has good suction power and a comparably large bin for a lightweight vac. In our tests, it picked up both light and heavier debris well. But at typically more than $150, it is pricey for what it is: Its construction seemed flimsy, and we had to be especially careful when reattaching the bin after cleaning it. At some point during our testing, a dust deposit had created a tiny gap between the main body and the bin, and one of our testers was sprayed with an explosion of baking soda.

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The Shark Wandvac Cordless Handheld Vacuum and the Shark Wandvac Power Pet look snazzy and have decent suction, but we found their tiny bins frustrating. And the positioning of each model’s power button right below the bin-emptying button led to more than one instance of our testers accidentally emptying the bin.

The Black+Decker Dustbuster Reviva 8V Max Cordless Hand Vacuum REVHV8J40 is made from “50% certified recycled material and contains the amount of recycled material equivalent to the weight of 15 16.9 fl-oz single-use plastic bottles,” according to Black+Decker. But apart from the filter, none of the REVHV8J40’s parts are replaceable. And while this vacuum is great for sucking up coffee-ground spills on a counter, it was mediocre at best when confronted with heavier debris in our testing.

The Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean Slim HLVC320J01 seemed promising at first because of its decent suction, but it had an especially slow charge time (10 hours) and an extremely narrow crevice tool. We also had difficulties opening the dustbin during our testing and ended up showered with glitter.

Standard handheld vacuums

We considered the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ but were put off by its poor airflow and suction, as well as its six-hour charge time. Its crevice tool was too narrow to pick up larger debris, and its motorized brush was significantly inferior to that of our also-great pick.

Some readers have asked us about handheld wet-dry vacs from DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Ryobi. We have not tested them, but they appear to be well suited for cleaning up the type of metal debris that you’d find near a workbench and that wrecks some regular hand vacs. In our guide to shop vacs, we do recommend two full-size models, which are a better fit for more heavy-duty jobs. We may test handheld wet-dry vacs in the future.

We don’t recommend any plug-in or corded handheld vacuums. After researching and testing a variety of corded handhelds, including the Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip, we’ve concluded that there aren’t any great options in this category. We didn’t find corded models to be better cleaners than our picks in our tests, there’s no guarantee they’ll last longer, and they’re much less convenient.

Care and maintenance

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Too often, vacuum owners decide that their machine is broken, when in reality just a simple cleaning is in order. The makers of bagless vacuums, including handheld vacs, sell their models based on the convenience of not needing bags, but the appliances still require regular cleaning and maintenance, said James Brown, a vacuum service specialist and collector: “Realistically, the average person won’t clean it out as often as they should, which will go on to cause issues.”

Our full article on how to clean a vacuum cleaner has information for cleaning all types of vacuums, but here are five ways to keep your handheld clean and maintained:

Empty and clean the bin. An overstuffed bin blocks airflow, and that causes the suction to suffer. Hold the bin over a trash can and tap it until it’s empty. If the bin gets grimy, pop out and wash the whole bowl and then let it dry fully.

Wash or replace the filters. Check your vacuum’s owner manual for specific instructions on cleaning the filter, and do this task as often as the manual recommends (PDF). In all of our picks, the filters (PDF) are washable (PDF). “Remember that the motor is trying to draw air to breathe through the filter. Clean the filters often, like at least every other use,” said Tom Gasko, vacuum-cleaner collector and repair specialist and owner of Mid Missouri Vacuum.

Check for clogs. Anything oversize or slightly sticky runs the risk of gumming up the works. Peer into the mechanism and pull out anything you see.

Clean the attachments. Clean off fur, hair, strings, and hay. “A brush clogged with hair means the motor is going to draw a lot more juice out of the battery and really reduce the amount of time that you can get out of the vacuum,” Gasko explained.

Consider whether it’s a charging issue. If, once all the parts are clear and clean, your handheld vacuum still isn’t performing, the batteries may be dead, or there could be some other fault in the charging system, such as dirty charging contacts or a broken power adapter.

Sarah Bogdan, Liam McCabe, Michelle Ma, and Seamus Bellamy wrote previous versions of this guide, which was first published in 2013. This guide was edited by Courtney Schley and Ingrid Skjong.




  1. Damian Lee, engineer at Ember and former engineer at Dyson and Shark, video interview, January 31, 2023

  2. Tom Gasko, vacuum cleaner collector and repair specialist and owner of Mid Missouri Vacuum, video interview, February 1, 2023

  3. James Brown, service specialist and museum curator at Mr. Vacuum Cleaner, video interview, December 30, 2022

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