7 of the best small vacuums

Gone are the days when bigger meant better – these petite powerhouses clean carpets, cars, sofas and everything else you can think of

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After years of slavishly lugging around heavy upright vacuum cleaners, but getting a thoroughly good clean for our efforts, we might understandably be given to thinking that even the best small vacuum would have a lot to live up to. After all, with a body that small, where does all the supercharged cleaning kit go? Luckily, manufacturers of handheld vacuums are coming up trumps with powerful and compact models that clean just as well as bigger vacuum cleaners. There are so many out there, the challenge now becomes finding the best small vacuum cleaner for what you need.

The only potential pitfall is the smaller crud capacity, meaning more trips to the bin to empty the dust compartment than you’d expect from a larger vacuum. However, for owners of small homes who don’t have that many square metres to see to – and who, let’s face it, are the target audience for compact vacuum cleaners anyway – this shouldn’t prove a problem.

Having recently sworn off making corded vacuum cleaners, Dyson are unsurprisingly the crown princes of compactness, making two of our best small vacuums, the V8 Absolute and the V7 Trigger.  

The best small vacuum

1. iRobot Roomba 980

Take your home one step closer to an episode of The Jetsons with this smart robot cleaner

Specifications
Best for: Time efficiency
Type: Robot
Cordless?: Yes
Capacity: 0.6ltrs
Weight: 4kg
Reasons to buy
+ Schedule cleans up to seven times a week + Effective even on tricky pet hair 
Reasons to avoid
-Some areas are tough to reach

What’s better than cleaning with an ultra-light cordless vacuum? Letting a cute little robot vacuum clean on your behalf while you put your feet up with a cuppa, right? Right. As a result this is the best small vacuum cleaner for robot vacuuming.

The iRobot Roomba is the original and, for us, still the best robot vacuum cleaner, with an impressive work ethic that has loved and improved capabilities in the form of the new 900 series. It makes short work of pet hair and tight corners, love the smartphone compatibility and customisable cleaning schedule, and commend its ability to switch between hard and soft surfaces with ease. 

This does mean you need to clear away any obstacles, which can feel like effort. In reality it's like this little robot cleaner is making you keep tidy so the house is always looking great. One of the best parts is that this can be set to work away while you're out, so you never hear or see the cleaning, you just come home to a welcoming clean and tidy house.

Dyson V8 Absolute

2. Dyson V8 Absolute

From stick to handheld and back again, reach every corner and cranny with the Dyson V8

Specifications
Best for: Does-all compact
Type: Stick
Cordless?: Yes
Capacity: 0.54ltrs
Weight: 2.61kg
Reasons to buy
+ Powerful stick and handheld + Wall-mounted charging and storage 
Reasons to avoid
-Price

The Dyson V8 Absolute might look a little on the leggy side for a 'small' vacuum, but hear us out. This is the best small vacuum cleaner for easy cleaning, fast.

Its long stem allows it to reach into those tricky, cramped spots we often encounter in small houses, without banging elbows or shins in the process; it transforms into a powerful and convenient handheld vacuum with just a click; and its wall-mounted charging station makes for easy storage without errant wires hanging around. 

We love how light and powerful it is and its specialist soft head for cleaning hard floors. The two speed settings are also invaluable as the high speed mode lets you pick up even the toughest of dug-in dirt. Then if you want to continue at the normal rate you can still enjoy strong suction but with the added ease of mind knowing that the battery will go that much further to get even a three bed house covered in one, ahem, sweep.

Black & Decker Flexi Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

3. Black & Decker Flexi Handheld Vacuum Cleaner PD1820LGB

A flexible hose and small footprint makes this Black + Decker vacuum a force to be reckoned with

Specifications
Best for: Versatile handheld
Type: Handheld
Cordless?: Yes
Capacity: 0.5ltrs
Weight: 1.5kg
Reasons to buy
+ Flexible hose for hard-to-reach spots + Handy attachments 
Reasons to avoid
-Design

Black and Decker aren’t just purveyors of power tools, they also make a pretty good vacuum cleaner. In fact this is the best small vacuum cleaner for flexibility.

The 18v lithium ion battery makes for a powerful clean, while a small, lightweight body and flexible 1.5m hose make toting it around the house and getting to those hard-to-reach places a cinch. With handy attachments including a crevice nozzle for getting crumbs out of car seats and an upholstery brush for sofas and curtains, it’s a versatile vacuum, too, more than earning the little space it takes up in the cupboard. 

This might not be the most attractive of vacuums but if it gets the job done and that's the main thing, right? And since it folds down so small it'll be tucked away out of sight most of the time anyway. 

Dyson V7 Trigger

4. Dyson V7 Trigger

Trigger-happy cleaners, look no further

Specifications
Best for: Powerful portable
Type: Handheld
Cordless?: Yes
Capacity: 0.4ltrs
Weight: 1.38kg
Reasons to buy
+ Really powerful handheld + Quiet operation 
Reasons to avoid
-Fills up fast.

As its name suggests, the Dyson V7 Trigger is a great weapon to have in your arsenal in the fight against dust and dirt. This is the best best small vacuum cleaner for cars and plenty more besides.

With an impressive amount of muscle – a 110,000 rpm motor and 15 cyclones, to be a little more precise – and up to 30 minutes of battery power, you can get a properly thorough clean without having to slow down or do multiple passes. Even better for households with small children, night workers or easily spooked pets, it’s got the Quiet Mark stamp of approval, meaning it won’t disrupt while it’s doing its thing. 

While the lightweight handheld does sacrifice storage space for portability it's so easy to empty that really isn't something you need to worry about as an issue. A variety of head options and extenders from Dyson mean this beauty can be used in cars, on staircases, on couches and anything else that might otherwise hoard dust secretly.

Zanussi ZAN3002EL

5. Zanussi ZAN3002EL

A light and powerful cylinder vacuum in an unassuming package

Specifications
Best for: Light, compact cylinder
Type: Cylinder
Cordless?: No
Capacity: 1ltr
Weight: 3.2kg
Reasons to buy
+ Conventional cylinder cleaner + Lighter and more powerful than competitors 
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed long handle

If you’d prefer to stick with tradition but are still stuck for space, this Zanussi model is our best cylinder small vacuum cleaner of the bunch. 

Rather than go straight for a Henry, which can be heavy to lug around the house (sorry Henry, we still love you!) consider this lightweight compact instead. Its cord rewind function and storable size are great, but its big winner is that it outperforms many cheap cylinder vacuums on carpet, exhibiting comparable suction to an 1800W vacuum while only using 1400W. Energy- and space-efficient. 

The reach on the head is superb so this is a great vacuum for anyone with back issues that doesn't want to be bent forward while cleaning up. It also makes for an ideal way to clean staircases without having to carry the entire vacuum as you hike up each step.

Beldray BEL0581V2

6. Beldray BEL0581V2

For great performance on carpets and boards alike

Specifications
Best for: All floor types
Type: Stick
Cordless?: Yes
Capacity: 0.5L
Weight: 3.56kg
Reasons to buy
+ High-efficiency brush for hard floors + Affordable Dyson alternative 
Reasons to avoid
-Not as powerful as some

It might look somewhat familiar, but while we suspect the design of the Beldray Quick Vac Lite owes a little something to Mr Dyson, it’s far from a mere copycat. This is the best small vacuum cleaner on a budget.

At a good way under £100, but with functionality that suggests a much higher price tag, performance is impressive, especially on hard floors. It comes with a small upholstery brush, crevice tool, 360-degree rotating brush and extendable tube to cover any eventuality, and while Dyson handhelds will understandably have the edge in terms of power, this light, manoeuvrable vacuum may be a great alternative. 

The hose end of this unit is extendible meaning it can adapt to suit the various heights of multiple users and works for areas like stairs and even cars.

VonHaus Stick Vacuum Cleaner

7. VonHaus Stick Vacuum Cleaner

This stick cleaner’s good-sized dust compartment belies a small price tag

Specifications
Best for: Budget buy
Type: Stick
Cordless?: No
Capacity: 1.3ltrs
Weight: 2.9kg
Reasons to buy
+ Incredibly good value + Sponge filtration to catch smaller particles 
Reasons to avoid
-Design

VonHaus’ stick vacuum cleaner transforms easily, thanks to the optional extension tube, from a capable upright to a nifty handheld, so it’s ready at a moment’s notice to take on all manner of surfaces. That makes this the best small vacuum cleaner for versatility.

And, at well under £50, it’s easily our best budget vacuum cleaner. If you don’t want to spend a lot on a cleaner but don’t think you’ll get on with the traditional bagged design of the Zanussi, consider this: a 1.3 litre tank means fewer trips to the bin when cleaning large areas, and the included crevice tool and sponge filtration system ensures no small bits go awry either. 

The storage on this beast is admirable compared to most of the competition so if you have a larger house you won't need to worry about stopping to empty the container as much as you might with other small vacuums.

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If you're simply looking for a handheld vacuum cleaner, head straight to our list of the best.