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Best Handheld Vacuum

By: Kelly Burgess on May 04, 2017

Editor's note: Black & Decker is the star of our handheld vacuum report: their cordless lithium-ion vacuums just can't be beat. If pet hair is your peeve, Eureka will whisk it away. Regardless of your vacuuming needs, we recommend corded or cordless handheld vacuum that will make short work of any mess.

Black & Decker CHV1410L Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 2.6 lbs. Charge time - 4 hrs. Run time - 15 mins.

Best cordless handheld vacuum

The Black & Decker CHV1410L is a terrific choice if all you need is a basic handheld vacuum. Reviewers say it's surprisingly powerful and are thrilled to get a lithium-ion battery at this price point. Owners say it will run for about 15 minutes after a full charge, plenty of time, most agree, for the type of messes that you need a hand vac for. It includes two accessories -- a crevice tool and a combo brush -- that store on-board.

Buy for $49.00
Black & Decker BDH2020FLFH Review
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Weight - 3.2 lbs. Charge time - 4 hrs. Run time - 20 mins.

Cordless pet hair vacuum

Most portable vacuums struggle with picking up pet hair, an area in which the Black & Decker BDH2020FLFH excels, reviewers say. This cordless handheld vacuum features a pet hair brush that gets raves for removing stubborn pet hair from chair and couch cushions, while the stick vac floor extension and a few other accessories make this handheld even more versatile. The powerful, 20-volt lithium-ion battery runs for about 20 minutes on a full charge.

Buy for $100.53
Eureka Easy Clean 71B Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 4.8 lbs. Cord length - 20 ft. Collection type - Bagless

Best corded handheld vacuum

The Eureka Easy Clean 71B is perfect for cleaning tasks that take longer than a few minutes to deal with, according to experts and owners. This corded portable hand vacuum is incredibly durable and reviewers say it's a particularly good choice for tough jobs like pet-hair pickup and cleaning carpeted surfaces. A riser visor lifts over the brushroll for cleaning vertical surfaces. The Easy Clean earns a lot of praise for its long, 20-foot cord and powerful suction.

Buy for $43.99

Types of Handheld Vacuums

Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaners

Because they're not tethered to a cord, cordless handheld vacuums are very versatile. The best hand vacs use Lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion) batteries. With a Li-ion battery, full power is maintained until the battery runs out of juice. However, they can take four or more hours to charge, and then have a runtime of about 12 to 20 minutes. This makes them best for quick touchups, rather than extensive cleaning jobs.

Corded Hand Vacuums

These typically have power cords between 12 and 25 feet long. Corded models aren't limited on run time, they vacuum for as long as you need them to. For some cleaning tasks like stairs or an automobile, you may need an extension cord, though. We saw more complaints about a corded vacuum seeming heavy, even if it weighs less than comparable cordless vacuums, which leads us to conclude that there is a fatigue factor in using even a relatively lightweight handheld vacuum for a long period of time.

Handheld vacuums are ideal for quick cleanup jobs

Everyone needs a good, full-sized upright or canister vacuum cleaner for big jobs, like weekly whole-house cleaning or for giving your carpet a thorough, deep vacuuming. However, when you have a smaller mess, like a dry spill of flour or rice in the kitchen, or a coating of cat hair on the cushions, it's nice to be able to reach for something small and light -- which is why handheld vacuums are so popular.

These small gadgets are good not just for spot-cleaning, but also for accessing places that can be a challenging reach for the larger accessories on full-sized vacuums, or for dealing with areas where hauling a large vacuum is cumbersome, like vacuuming stairs. Portable vacuums are also great for cleaning cars or boats, and for using in RV's. The best handheld vacuums will have either a nozzle that acts as a crevice tool for getting into small spaces, or onboard accessories that include a crevice tool. Many have hoses and specialized brushes for dusting. The best also can rotate or angle to clean hard-to-reach items like ceiling fans.

Of course, a handheld vacuum won't be suitable for all cleaning jobs. Most people need a good upright vacuum, which we cover in our separate report on vacuum cleaners, for whole-house cleaning and digging deep to pull dirt and debris out of pile carpet. Canister vacuums use slender wands that can reach farther into tight spaces, like under beds, while stick vacuums are great to have around for maintaining a hardwood or tile floor on a day-to-day basis, or for cleaning up spot messes without having to stoop. If you need something a bit more heavy-duty, see our wet dry vac report for a top portable option.

Finding The Best Handheld Vacuums
Our Sources
"Small Vacuum Ratings and Reliability"
"The Best Handheld Vacuum"
"The Best Handheld Vacuums of 2017"

Portable vacuum cleaners get somewhat less coverage than other types of vacuums, but we found a few reviews that include testing at sites like ConsumerReports.org, TheSweethome.com and TopTenReviews.com. While there aren't a lot of handheld vacuums included in these roundups, that's because, in general, there are fewer hand vacs than other types, and, these days, many full-sized stick or upright vacuums have the option to detach a part of the vacuum to convert to a handheld.

Still, handheld vacuums have their place -- and their fans -- and it was these fans we turned to help us narrow down our choices after reviewing the professional tests. Owners are very passionate about their vacuums, and we spotted thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of reviews for the vacuums we chose. These user reviews give the best overview for how each handheld vacuum operates in real-world, long-term use. In evaluating these reviews, we consider performance on different flooring surfaces, pet-hair removal, features and attachments, and ease of use and durability to help you find the best portable vacuum for your cleaning needs.

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Handheld Vacuums buying guide

What every best Handheld Vacuums has:

  • Light weight.
  • Long cord.
  • Ample filtration.

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