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Best Handheld Vacuums of 2019

These handy tools can complete your lineup of cleaning supplies

A handheld vacuum sucking up dirt.
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As any parent of a toddler knows, it’s a pain to haul out an upright or canister vacuum to clean up the Cheerios strewn under and around a high chair. That’s the perfect job for a handheld vacuum. Hand vacs are also the right tool for attacking the mess that accumulates in the backseat of your SUV. Many of today’s handheld vacs can quickly dispatch such debris.

“The expectations for hand vacuums are changing,” says Misha Kollontai, who oversees Consumer Reports’ handheld-vacuum testing. “And manufacturers are raising the bar for what a handheld vacuum should be.”

Many of the newly tested cordless models in our handheld vacuum ratings have updated, longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries, and the run time for the models in our tests range from 9 minutes to 30 minutes. A number of new models come with useful accessories and convenient attachments.

Because handheld vacuums aren't intended for deep cleaning, we adjust the tasks in our tests to match their expected capabilities.

To determine how handheld vacs capture surface litter, we evenly disperse sand, uncooked rice, and Cheerios on a medium-pile carpet, then measure how much the vacuum picks up in 15 seconds. We also test how well a small vacuum cleans edges and gets into tight spots, how well it removes pet hair—or how badly—and how much noise the vacuum produces.

If you need a more powerful vacuum, check our ratings for stick vacuums or even trade up to a full-sized canister or upright. But if all you need is a compact machine for spot-cleaning, read on for reviews of the best handheld vacuums from CR’s tests, listed here in alphabetical order.

1

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser 33A1
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser 33A1

    Bissell Pet Hair Eraser 33A1

    CR’s take: Although this version of the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser doesn’t have as many tools as other handheld vacuums, it does have robust suction and receives an Excellent rating in our carpet cleaning test. The flip side of that strength? Because its motor is relatively powerful, the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser has a strong exhaust, which can blow dust around before you even get to it. An important note: This is the only corded handheld vacuum among our recommended models, so you don’t have to worry about charging it before use—but you do have to be within 16 feet of an outlet for the cord to reach.

    2

    Black+Decker DustBuster CHV1410L
    Black+Decker DustBuster CHV1410L

      Black+Decker DustBuster CHV1410L

      CR’s take: The cordless Black+Decker DustBuster picks up nearly all the debris in both our bare floor and carpet tests—no small feat for a handheld vacuum. Our engineers note that it’s easy to place this model on its charger with a satisfying "click" to confirm the connection. The filter is snugly set inside the dustbin and is easy to remove and empty, which is a reason it earns an Excellent rating in our emissions test. This model doesn’t come with detachable tools but has a built-in slide-out crevice tool and a pop-out brush. It's a little noisier than the competition and makes a light whistling sound when you turn it on.

      3

      Black+Decker Flex BDH2020FL
      Black+Decker Flex BDH2020FL

        Black+Decker Flex BDH2020FL

        CR’s take: With a hose built into the design, the compact, cord-free Black+Decker Flex makes it easy to suction up debris in hard-to-reach places, like under a car seat or behind your washer. It earns an Excellent rating in our emissions test, which means there’s less dust and debris in the air when you vacuum. It also comes with a rubber pet-hair attachment that helps suction more hair because it doesn’t stick to the rubber and goes directly into the suction tube. The dustbin is slightly difficult to remove, and you might have to reach inside to eject all the gunk when emptying this model over a trash can.

        4

        Dyson V7 Trigger
        Dyson V7 Trigger

          Dyson V7 Trigger

          CR’s take: One of the more expensive options in our handheld vacuum tests, the powerful, cordless Dyson V7 Trigger looks like a Dyson stick vacuum minus the wand. It’s the only handheld vacuum in our ratings with two power modes (normal and max), and the only one that runs for up to a half-hour on one battery charge. It receives an Excellent rating for bare-floor cleaning, leaving little noticeable debris behind on the lab floor. It also comes with a crevice tool and a removable brush that makes maintenance—removing pet hair from the brushroll—a breeze. Though the Dyson isn’t the worst at reaching tight spots with ease, it’s not the best, either. If you need a vac that can get into deep crevices, consider a model with a longer crevice tool or hose, like the Black+Decker Flex BDH2020FL above.

          5

          Shark Ion W1 WV201
          Shark Ion W1 WV201

            Shark Ion W1 WV201

            CR's take: Not all handheld vacuums can tackle pet hair with aplomb but the Shark Ion aces that test, earning an Excellent rating. It's also a champ at cleaning bare floors and getting into hard-to-reach places, and it's not too shabby at cleaning carpet. The vacuum and all its attachments can be stored on the charging base, making it a real space saver. And at just 1.4 pounds it's the lightest hand vac in our tests. The only downside to its small size is the small dust bin, which may have to be emptied more than once if you have a sizable spill.

             

            Haniya Rae contributed to this article.

            Mary H.J. Farrell

            Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.