Best handheld vacuum 2021: the best small vacuums for your home and car

Find the best handheld vacuum cleaner to quickly clean hard-to-reach areas, cars, and crumbs, at the best prices

Included in this guide:

best handheld vacuum: Black & Decker
(Image credit: Black + Decker)

Finding the best handheld vacuum is worth your while, especially if you count yourself as a parent (or pet parent, plant parent works too). Handheld vacs are compact and lightweight, making them practical for those little jobs that a standard vacuum is just too big and bulky. Because most handheld vacuums will fit neatly in a kitchen cabinet or hall closet, they're easy to keep at an arm's reach for a quick cleanup.

There are dozens of options to choose from, ranging from a classic Dirt Devil to a high-tech Shark and everything in between; we researched and reviewed our way through those options to find the best handheld vacuums on the market right now. Whether your biggest priorities are cleaning the car, vacuuming the stairs, or getting into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of the house, there's a vacuum for you on our shortlist of top models. 

Read on to see our top picks. If you're also interested in a new standard-size vacuum for cleaning your home, check out our list of the best vacuum cleaners.

Best Black Friday handheld vacuum deals

BLACK+DECKER dustbuster Handheld Vacuum | Was $59.99, now $45.99 at Amazon

BLACK+DECKER dustbuster Handheld Vacuum | Was $59.99, now $45.99 at Amazon

This value-priced handheld vacuum pairs good performance with user-friendly features for a deal that can't be beat. 

Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Cordless Handheld Vacuum|  was $89.99, now $69.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond (save $20)

Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Cordless Handheld Vacuum| was $89.99, now $69.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond (save $20)

This powerful Real Homes favorite is 20% off, making this great buy even better! 

Proscenic 3-in-1 Handheld Vacuum|  was $99, now $79 at Amazon (save $20)

Proscenic 3-in-1 Handheld Vacuum| was $99, now $79 at Amazon (save $20)

This 3-in-1 handheld design offers up to 30 minutes of power with a mattress brush and a 2-in-1 brush (including a long flat brush and lint brush) across two different suction levels to handle all cleaning tasks. 

Anker eufy HomeVac H11 Pure, Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner|  was $49.98, now $29.44 at Walmart (save $20)

Anker eufy HomeVac H11 Pure, Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner| was $49.98, now $29.44 at Walmart (save $20)

Compact enough to take on the go, or store in a drawer for easy reach for quick clean-ups. 

What is the best handheld vacuum?

If price is no object, the best handheld vacuum cleaner you can buy is the BLACK+DECKER 20V Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum, Cordless, AdvancedClean+. It's powerful, versatile, and easy to use. 

However, there are some great handheld vacuums are lower prices too, particularly the user-friendly (and thoroughly updated) Black + Decker Dustbuster CHV1410L and the Dirt Devil Quick Flip Plus.

But don't stop there: We've also found the best handheld vacuum for cleaning windows (no, seriously); a handheld cylinder vac that's tops for reaching into awkward spaces; a great handheld for removing pet hair; and another that's so sleekly designed that you might want to leave it on the counter to look at. 

Keep scrolling for more detail about each of these dust-busting picks, plus some general information to help you make sure you're getting the best handheld vacuum to suit your cleaning needs.

Best handheld vacuum 2021: ranked

HHVK515J00FF black and decker 20v

(Image credit: Black & Decker)

1. BLACK+DECKER 20V Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum, Cordless, AdvancedClean+

Best handheld vacuum for power: 20 volts of suction for your most powerful clean

Cordless: Yes
Weight: 2.4lbs.
Battery life: 30-35 minutes
Charge time: 4 hours
Capacity: 25.3 oz
Reasons to buy
+Long battery life for a handheld model +XL dust bin+4x more power than standard Black + Decker models
Reasons to avoid
-No attachments

The Black & Decker Dustbuster is one of the most recognizable names in handheld vacuums. If you seek the best and most powerful handheld vacuum on the market, this 20V Black+Decker Dustbuster should fit the need, with 4x more suction power than its other handheld models.

What we like
Its performance, with two power levels to choose from depending on the surface being cleaned.  It also has one of the largest dust bins (with a one-touch empty) and a longer run time than almost any other handheld on this list. Getting into tight corners in your home or between car seat cushions is extremely easy with the built-in extendable crevice tool. Ultimately, it gives you the quick clean you crave with minimal effort on your part. 

Things to note
Beyond the super handy built-in crevice tool, it doesn't come with any extra attachments for upholstery, pet hair or other similar tools. 

black and decker dustbuster chv1410l

(Image credit: Black + Decker)

2. Black & Decker Dustbuster CHV1410L Hand Vacuum

Best user-friendly hand vacuum: A great value that's straightforward and reliable

Cordless: Yes
Weight: 2.6 lbs.
Battery life: 10 minutes
Charge time: 4 hours
Capacity: 20.6oz
Reasons to buy
+User-friendly features+Two power settings+Great value
Reasons to avoid
-Short run time-Can be noisy

The Black & Decker Dustbuster CHV1410L Hand Vacuum isn't your granny's Dustbuster, and it's on our list because it pairs good performance and solid value with user-friendly features. 

What we like
The user-friendly features that really draw our attention for this vacuum are subtle but important. First off, the dust cup/debris reservoir is actually easy to remove and empty — as opposed to some otherwise excellent vacuums that may require you to reach into the dust cup and scoop some lingering debris out by hand.

Second, it gives an audible click when you mount it in the charging cradle, so you know it's properly and securely placed. It doesn't have a power brush attachment, but it does come with an on-board extension to minimize how much you have to bend over, and the crevice-cleaning tool works well.

And of course, this updated Dustbuster cleans well on both hard floors and carpet, and has a power-boost setting for handling tough messes. 

All of that at what's become the low end of the price range for handheld vacuums? This combination of value and features is hard to beat. 

Things to note
You only get about 10 minutes of run-time per charge on this handheld vacuum — about enough time to spot-clean a three-row SUV or small van, if you don't dawdle. Although we find that inconveniently short, it's not out of the norm for handheld vacuums at all — especially in this price range.

We also see a few concerns that this vacuum runs on the loud side. But hey, it's a vacuum; whisper-quiet operation usually isn't on the table for that sort of appliance.

Black & Decker Flexi Handheld Vacuum, dark silver

3. Black + Decker MAX Flex Vac Cordless Handheld Vacuum

Best handheld vacuum for versatility: for those places that are usually out of reach, this vacuum will provide the height you need

Cordless: Yes
Weight: 3.2lbs
Battery life: 20 Mins
Charge time: 9 hours
Capacity: 17.9 oz.
Reasons to buy
+2-in-1 nozzle +Easy-to-remove bowl +Pet-hair brush+Inexpensive
Reasons to avoid
-Concerns about durability

The Black + Decker Max Flex Hand Vacuum gives you the flexibility to get into tough to reach spaces, floor to ceiling, with its 4-foot flexible hose, ergonomic design, and compact body.  

What we like
The 20V Max Lithium Flex Hand Vacuum is durable, powerful, and handy, and its three-stage filtration system does a good job of trapping dust instead of just recirculating it in the air. 

It also comes with handy accessories including a 2-in-1 nozzle, a pet-hair brush, and a crevice tool. But it's the built-in hose — an unusual feature on any handheld vacuum — that really makes it shine for reaching into high or otherwise awkward, hard-to-reach places.

The Max Flex is cordless and has a washable dust cup and filter system to really make vacuuming a hassle-free experience — but we see a few concerns that sometimes you have to reach into the dust cup to really empty it of debris.

Things to note
You really can't beat this vacuum's ability to reach into awkward places, which is why it's here on our list. But we're still waiting for the final word about its durability, after noting some user concerns in that department.

Dirt Devil Scorpion

(Image credit: Dirt Devil)

4. Dirt Devil Scorpion Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Best budget handheld vacuum for quick cleanups: reliable and affordable

Best for: Budget
Cordless: No
Weight: 3lb.
Capacity: .45L
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Quick-flip attachment+Affordable +Large dust bin
Reasons to avoid

If you don’t want to spend as much on a handheld vacuum as you would on a full-sized one, then you can expect the affordable Dirt Devil Scorpion Handheld Vacuum Cleaner to get the little jobs done well. 

If you're on a budget, go with a trusty corded model. Not only is the Dirt Devil Scorpion known for being reliable, but you'll also never have to remember to keep it charged, just plug in and clean! 

What we like
The Dirt Devil Scorpion Handheld Vacuum Cleaner is small, light, and easy to handle — the perfect thing for sucking up crumbs from the car seat, vacuuming underneath the radiators, or other small clean-ups that only take a few minutes, with an ample 15-foot cord for lots of radii. 

The Scorpion features a handy quick-flip crevice attachment is integrated right into the unit; it's great for helping you quickly get into corners and hard-to-reach spots. It also has a upholstery-cleaning tool, hose attachment and sliding brush . The filter can easily be rinsed, making maintenance a breeze. 

It's a cheap and efficient vacuum to have on hand for daily spills, this little vacuum gets the job done.

Things to note
Unless you have an outlet close to your car, you'll likely want to skip out on the Dirt Devil Scorpion for consistent car upkeep. However, unlike cordless models, you have the benefit of extended cleaning for however long it takes to get surfaces cleaned. Many users have found success with it in their car, and appreciate the built-in crevice tool.

Overall, users commented that it had good suction power, but its filtration abilities could be better, and there are concerns about its longevity in terms of suction performance and durability of the parts. 

Shark Cordless HandVac, Pet Model CH950UKTReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Currys PC World)

Best handheld vacuum for pet hair

Corded or battery powered?: 10.8V battery powered
Dust bin: 0.06-gallons
Weight: 2.8lb
Max dB: Not disclosed
Battery life: 15 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Very light+Powerful +Anti-tangle motorized brush+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Long charge time-Short run time

The Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Cordless Handheld Vacuum is that grab-and-go cleaner, such as cleaning up a couch before you sit on it. While many spot cleaners have simple attachments, this one is built for animals, with the self-cleaning pet power brush that can make short work on pet beds and upholstery. If you’re regularly reaching for a larger vacuum to clean up pet hair, the Shark UltraCyclone could very well be your grab-and-go friend for smaller jobs.

What we like
As with Shark’s larger cleaners, the self-cleaning brush is designed to prevent hair from getting wrapped around the roller, but be careful when using it on large clumps of hair. You also get a scrubbing brush and crevice tool in the box, although there’s no storage inside.

Operation is simple, with just an on/off switch. The 10.8V battery can provide similar cleaning power to a regular vacuum, although you only get 15-minutes on a charge and have to wait six hours for a full charge.

Things to note
There’s a small bin, but it’s easy to empty and large enough for spot cleaning. Once removed, you can rinse the bin and filter under a tap to keep it all clean.

Proscenic S1 Handheld Vacuum is designed to make life a whole lot easier. Our small appliances editor put it to the test in this Proscenic S1 Handheld Vacuum reviewReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Proscenic)

Best handheld vacuum for battery life: the option for an extended clean

Cordless: Yes
Weight: 1.39lb
Battery life: 15-30 minutes
Charge time: 2.5 hours
Capacity: 120 ml
Reasons to buy
+Great battery life+Powerful suction+Docking station for charging and display+Quick-charging+Versatile attachments
Reasons to avoid
-Side stream of air can blow debris-The one button can be confusing

For those who expect a lot out of their handhelds, no fear, you'll want to consider the Proscenic S1 Mini Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, which promises up to 30 minutes of power to get you through tracked in dirt in the car or crumbs deep in the couch cushions, or wherever you plan to use it. 

What we like
The S1 does a great job picking up particles big and small. You also have the option of two suction modes: 8,000 Pa and 12,000 Pa. Choosing the lower power setting will definitely help the vacuum run longer. Plus, you'll breathe easy knowing that this sleek device features a washable HEPA-12 filter, so additional pollutants will never be released back into the air from the device. 

Things to note
The Proscenic S1 has a running range of 15-30 minutes, which doesn't seem all that long, but it's the longest of most that we've seen. While the range of time seems ambiguous, our reviewer found it lasted 26 minutes on the lower setting. Pretty good. When it comes time to charge, the S1 can be housed on its charging dock or via its USB-C cable.

eufy by anker, HomeVac H11, Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner,

(Image credit: eufy by Anker)

7. eufy by anker HomeVac H11 Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner,

Best ultra-portable handheld vacuum cleaner: slim design for quick clean ups on-the-go

Cordless: Yes
Weight: 1.2lb.
Battery life: 13 mins
Charge time: 2.5 hours
Capacity: 3oz.
Reasons to buy
+Ultra-lightweight at 1.2 pounds+Sleek design with cover+Surprisingly powerful for such a compact product
Reasons to avoid
-Very small dust-bin-Short run time

While a handheld vacuum is usually more portable in nature, the super lightweight and slim eufy by Anker handheld is about the size of a bottle of wine, and can easily fit in a desk drawer or tucked underneath the seat of a car for quick clean-ups. 

What we like
Small size, yet big on power at over 5,500 Pa. Dust, crumbs, and even pet hair are absorbed in a single pass. The 2-in-1 crevice tool can be used on delicate surfaces like laptops. It also charges with a microUSB, which it comes with, but you can also use any microUSB cable that you have nearby as well.  

Things to note
Well, size and runtime seem to go hand and hand, with just 13 minutes of runtime on a single charge. It has a very small dust bin too (under a tenth of a quart) so you'd probably fill it up in that time anyway.

best handheld vacuum

(Image credit: Shark)

8. Shark WANDVAC Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum

Best handheld vacuum for aesthetics: sleek design, easy to store and power to boot

Best for: Design lovers
Cordless: Y
Weight: 1.4 lbs
Battery life: 10 mins
Charge time: 2.5 hours
Capacity: 2.6oz
Reasons to buy
+Great design+Lightweight+Pet and crevice tools+Relatively short charge time
Reasons to avoid
-Higher price point

The sleek design of the Shark WANDVAC means it's very easy to stash in a cabinet, closet or even a drawer — but at the same time, we'd totally understand if you want to leave it out on the counter for all to see. Definitely the best-looking of all the handheld vacuums we evaluated, the award-winning WANDVAC design blends style and ergonomics for a futuristic look we love.

What we like
Enough about this vacuum's looks. It's also here because we really like its performance, too. It boasts a high-speed, brushless motor for superior suction, comes with a crevice-cleaning tool and multi-surface tool for cleaning upholstery and pet hair, and empties with the push of a button. 

Things to note
The one real drawbacks are that, at just 10 minutes, this unit's battery life is on the shorter side of average for a handheld vac — and because of its ultra-sleek design, the debris-catching dust cup is very small. But for quick jobs it does very well, and looks great while in action and at repose. 

Karcher WV1, black and yellow, shown with attachmentsReal Homes Rated Silver Badge

Best handheld vacuum for windows: keep your windows clean with this specialty vacuum

Best for: Windows
Cordless: Yes
Weight: 1.1lb
Battery life: 20 mins
Charge time: 3 hours
Capacity: 3.38oz.
Reasons to buy
+ Smudge free finish + Long battery life 
Reasons to avoid
-For windows only

Yep, it's a vacuum for your windows. The Karcher WV1 Cordless Handheld Vaccum is part squeegee and part vacuum, making it an entirely unique tool for cleaning windows and other smooth surfaces quickly and efficiently. 

What we like
This handheld vacuum feels like a cross between a squeegee and a carpet shampooer for your windows, first dispensing a mix of cleaning solution and water, then suctioning it back up. Despite its very specific nature, it works very well, and it's a great choice for use on other hard surfaces, like tile. Just don't try to use it on carpet. 

Users are impressed with this handheld, specialty vacuum's battery life and its lightweight feel. Once you're done cleaning all the windows in your house, the walls in your shower stall, and so on, consider giving your car windows a shot as well.

Things to note
Although the Karcher WV1 delivers a great, smudge-free finish for windows and other hard surfaces, it can't clean carpets and other soft surfaces.

How to choose the best handheld vacuum 

When you're looking to buy the best handheld vacuum for your household, there are a few factors to consider to ensure you make the right choice. They are:

Cleaning power aside, we consider the small size and manageable weight to be the most important feature for these small vacuums. If your handheld is too heavy and bulky, you might as well just get an upright vacuum for its greater cleaning power, and use its hose or attachments for spot-cleaning jobs. Most handheld vacuums weigh in at a sprightly 2 or 3 pounds.

Corded vs cordless
Once upon a time, handheld vacuums came with cords that had to be plugged into an electrical outlet. But that appears to be a thing of the past: We actively tried to find a standout corded model that would merit a place on this list, and we came up dry. 

If portability is high on your list of must-haves, we recommend goings straight to our list of the best cordless vacuums, many of which convert into handhelds on their own.

How long do you need to clean?
The omnipresence of cordless handheld vacuums means that they all come with a built-in limiting factor: How long the battery charge lasts. 

A run-time of 10 to 20 minutes is typical, so if you find yourself routinely needing to clean for longer, we recommend looking for a lightweight, easy-to-maneuver upright or stick vacuum cleaner with appropriate accessories for getting into those hard-to-read places you'd usually use a handheld vacuum to reach. 

Like any vacuum, many of these handheld vacuums come with a variety of accessories for a more precise clean and to offer you the ultimate in flexibility. Most should come with a crevice tool, and other nice to have attachments might be specialty brushes for carpets and pet hair, dusting brushes, and even hoses for added reach. 

Level of suction
Handheld vacuums can differ widely in suction capabilities, and sometimes get a bad rap for not being powerful enough, though a 12V product should be more than enough for your light housework. The best handheld vacuums will have multiple suction settings, though many have just a simple switch. 

Dust Bin
Size matters. While you want a handheld vacuum that is lightweight and easy to use, you'll also want to consider the dust bin size, and how much you will be cleaning. Typically, the lighter the vacuum, the smaller the dust bin, but a standard dust bin size for a handheld seems to be about 10-20oz, and on the micro models, they'll be as small as 3oz. Look for designs with see-through containers so you can see how much debris has accumulated as you clean. 

More vacuum info and advice:

Kaitlin Madden
Kaitlin Madden

Kaitlin Madden Armon is a writer and editor covering all things home. In addition to Real Homes, she's written for Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart Living, Refinery29, Modern Luxury Interiors, Wayfair, The Design Network, and lots more. She graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism and currently lives in Connecticut with her husband, two sons, and black lab.