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Best handheld vacuum 2024: for deep cleaning in tight corners

With the best handheld vacuum, you can suck up dirt and dust from sofas, stairs, and car seats

A dog on a white sofa, looking at one of the best handheld vacuums, the Shark WandVac.
(Image credit: Shark)
Best handheld vacuum 2024: Jump Menu

Bissell Pet Hair Erase Vacuum cleaning under a fridge.

(Image credit: Bissell)

1. The list in brief ↴
2. Best overall: Black + Decker Pivot Vac
3. Best flexible: Black + Decker Flex Vac
4. Best mini: Shark WandVac
5. Best for pet hair: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser
6. Best wet and dry: Black + Decker Spillbuster
7. Best for car: ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner
8. How we test
9. Meet the team

A handheld vacuum isn't a household essential, but it might make cleaning a whole lot easier. With the best handheld vacuum, you can clear up small spills and stains in seconds, and reach those awkward spots between the seats or under the bed with ease.

As a product tester, I've worked with some of the world's best vacuums. Don't get me wrong: these handheld vacuums can't compete for coverage or capacity, but their small size and narrow nozzles makes it easier to clean stairs, car seats, and all sorts of upholstery. 

Some of the best handheld vacuums feature flexible wands or rotating nozzles to dig up deep dirt. There are wet and dry vacuums to tackle small-scale spills, as well as pet hair vacuums with in-built odor erasers. With so much on the market, it's easy to feel spoiled for choice. 

That's where I come in. I've narrowed it down to the six best handheld vacuums for every cleaning occasion. I've assessed each vacuum on the basis of power, performance, capacity, and the all-important price.

The quick list

If you've already got your eye on a handheld vacuum, you can use our navigation menu to skip straight to that section. If you'd rather take stock of your options, browse the best handheld vacuums below. 

Best handheld vacuums 2024

You can trust Homes & Gardens. Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing the latest products, helping you choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Full disclosure: I haven't personally tested each and every one of these handheld vacuums. My cleaning closet only has so much space. Where I haven't been able to get my hands on a product, I've scoured the specifications and read countless customer reviews to make sure I'm recommending the best handheld vacuums.

The best handheld vacuum overall

Black + Decker 20V Max Handheld Vacuum against a white background.

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Black + Decker 20V MAX* Lithium Pivot Vac

Best handheld vacuum

Specifications

Weight: 3 lb
Battery life: 15 Mins
Charge time: 4 hours
Capacity: 15 oz.

Reasons to buy

+
Pivot design for greater flexibility
+
Built-in attachments
+
Stores compact and upright

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited attachments 
-
Short battery life 
-
On the more expensive side
Buy it if

✅ You're looking for something small but mighty: this is one of the most powerful handheld vacuums out there.
✅ You want a deep clean: this vacuum pivots to pick up the maximum amount of dust and dirt.
✅ You're short on storage space: the attachments are built-in, so you don't need to worry about losing them.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You have pets: there's no special brush to pick up pet hair.
❌ You're tight on time: this vacuum takes four hours to fully charge.
❌ You're on a budget: there are much cheaper handheld vacuums out there.

The bottom line

🔎 The Black + Decker Max Pivot Vac features incredible suction for a handheld vacuum. It's just a shame that it takes so long to charge.

The Black + Decker Pivot Vac is the best handheld vacuum on the market. Packing 20V of power, it can dig up deep dirt from carpet, wood, and linoleum floors, as well as upholstery. This mini model weighs just three pounds, so it should be easy to hold up high and reach down low to clean awkward spaces.

What sets this handheld vacuum apart is the pivot function. When you flip a switch, you release the nozzle to rotate up to 200 degrees to clean the ideal angle for your space. The Black + Decker Pivot Vac features a runtime of 15 minutes, which is a long time for a little vacuum, and boasts a 15oz. capacity to pick up dust and debris.

For a small appliance, the Black + Decker Pivot Vac takes up an awful lot of space. Once you've finished cleaning, you need to store the vacuum in its charging base. If you can't hide it in your cleaning closet, you'll need to tuck it in the corner of your laundry room. It's a bit of an eyesore, all black body and gray plastic, which is unlikely to blend with the rest of your decor. 

If you can look past appearances, you'll find a lot to like about the Black + Decker Pivot Vac. For performance across carpet, wood, and linoleum floors, it just can't matched.

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
PowerMost powerful on the market★★★★★
PerformancePivot works on all floor types★★★★
CapacityGood for a handheld★★★★
PriceOn the more expensive side★★★

The best handheld vacuum for flexibility

Black + Decker Cordless Handheld Flex Vac against a white background.

(Image credit: Home Depot)

2. Black + Decker Cordless Handheld Flex Vac

Best handheld vacuum for versatility

Specifications

Weight: 5.3 lb
Battery life: 15 mins
Charge time: 4 hours
Capacity: 17 oz.

Reasons to buy

+
Pet hair brush
+
Easy to hold
+
Powerful suction

Reasons to avoid

-
Loud
-
On the more expensive side
-
Takes a long time to charge
Buy it if

✅ You have pets: this handheld vacuum comes with a pet hair brush.
✅ You want to clean floor to ceiling: the best thing about the Flex Vac is its flexible hose.
✅ You're keen to deep clean: this is one of the most capacious handheld vacuums.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're looking for something small but mighty: you'd need two hands to hold this Flex Vac.
❌ You're tight on time: this handheld vacuum takes four hours to charge.
❌ You're on a budget: there are much more affordable handheld vacuums out there.

The bottom line

🔎The Black + Decker Flex Vac doesn't run for long. but while it does, it can clean whole rooms from floor to ceiling.

Black + Decker vacuums have all sorts of special features. Where the first vac could pivot, this Flex Vac can stretch from floor to ceiling for a thorough deep clean, thanks to the four-foot flexible hose.

Good news for pet owners: the Black + Decker Flex Vac comes with a pet hair brush to dig up fur from carpets, stairs, and other upholstery. Inside the machine is a three-stage filtration system which traps odors to keep your home smelling fresh. This vacuum would be ideal for use in a dog bed or crate for the car.

For a handheld vacuum, the Black + Decker Flex Vac is rather unwieldy. You'd need to hold it with both hands to support the base and direct the flexible hose. Weighing a little more than five pounds, it's a fairly heavy weight to lift over your head or stretch out to the side. 

With that said, the Flex Vac folds up nice and small and proves easy to store on counters or inside closets. It's hard to believe that such a compact vacuum could be so capacious on the inside. 

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
PowerMost powerful on the market★★★★★
PerformanceGentle on carpet★★★★
CapacityMost capacious on the market★★★★★
PriceOn the more expensive side★★★

The best mini handheld vacuum

Shark WandVac against a white background.

(Image credit: Shark)

3. Shark WANDVAC Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum

Best handheld vacuum for quick pick ups

Specifications

Weight: 1.4 lbs
Battery life: 10 mins
Charge time: 2.5 hours
Capacity: 2.6oz

Reasons to buy

+
Light 
+
Easy to use
+
Quick to charge

Reasons to avoid

-
Short battery life
-
Limited capacity
Buy it if

✅ You want to clean small spills and stains: it's easy with this handheld vacuum.
✅ You have pets: the WandVac comes with a special brush roll to pick up pet hair.
✅ You struggle to lift heavy weights: this is the lightest handheld vacuum on the list.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to clean several spaces in the same session: this handheld vacuum has a short runtime.
❌ You want to clean from floor to ceiling: this little vacuum has a limited capacity.
❌ You're on a budget: for a handheld vacuum, the WandVac is seriously expensive.

The bottom line

🔎 The Shark WandVac would make an ideal cleaning companion for the car, but it's less suited to wide open spaces.

When I picture a handheld vacuum, this is the sort of thing I see. The Shark WandVac is long and lean, the sort of thing that you could actually hold in one hand and wave across dust and debris. It comes with a special charging station for compact storage on counters or inside cabinets. 

The Shark WandVac is small but mighty, with powerful suction on carpets, linoleum and hard wood floors. Accessories include a multi-surface pet tool with a tapered nozzle to pick up hair from carpets and upholstery without damaging the fabric. 

There's also a detachable dust cup for easy emptying. And you'll need to empty a lot: this handheld vacuum has a limited capacity of just 2.6 oz. A few customers have complained about the position of the button that detaches the dust cup. Apparently, it's easy to press by accident. This sort of design flaw wouldn't be a dealbreaker for me, but it could get irritating, fast.

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
PowerGood while it lasts★★★★
PerformanceSmall but mighty★★★★★
CapacityOn the smaller side★★
PriceA lot for what you get★★★

The best handheld vacuum for pet hair

A Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium Ion

(Image credit: Bissell)

4. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium Ion Hand Vacuum

Best handheld vacuum for pet hair

Specifications

Weight: 3lbs
Battery life: 17 mins
Charge time: 6 hours
Capacity: 0.7L

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful suction
+
Long battery life
+
Comes with cleaning tools

Reasons to avoid

-
No smart features
-
No sealed filtration
Buy it if

✅ You have pets: this is the best handheld vacuum for picking up pet hair.
✅ You're tight on time: this handheld vacuum has the longest battery life.
✅ You're on a budget: this is one of the more affordable handheld vacuums on the market.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want something that feels premium: the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser feels a little plasticky.
❌ You want to clean several times a day: this handheld vacuum takes eight hours to charge.
❌ You're short on storage space: the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser comes with lots of attachments, but no bag or base to store them in.

The bottom line

🔎 The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is one of the most powerful and capacious handheld vacuums out there, but I spotted a few design flaws.

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser boasts tens of thousands of five-star ratings on Amazon and I can understand why. For a little vacuum, it's pretty capacious, and picks up pet hair from carpet, hard wood, and linoleum floors alike. 

There are a smattering of more mixed reviews across the site. One customer acknowledged the extra-long runtime of the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser, but complained that it takes so long to charge. 

Once you've run it down to zero, you'll have to wait eight hours for the vacuum to power all the way back up. You couldn't clean twice in one day, though you could charge overnight to clean first thing in the morning.

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser might test your patience, but when it's good, it's good. Weighing just three pounds, it's light to lift and carry from room to room, while the narrow nozzle can reach into corners and along sideboards. 

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
PowerExtra-long run time★★★★★
PerformancePowerful on pet hair★★★★★
CapacityProportional to size★★★★
PriceReasonable RRP★★★★

The best wet and dry handheld vacuum

Black + Decker Spillbuster against a white background.

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Black + Decker Spillbuster

Best handheld vacuum for wet and dry messes

Specifications

Weight: 5.4 lb
Battery life: 15 minutes
Charge time: N/A
Capacity: 17 oz.

Reasons to buy

+
Powered scrub brush
+
Built-in formula dispenser
+
Dishwasher-safe parts

Reasons to avoid

-
On the more expensive side
-
A little tricky to lift
Buy it if

✅ You're prone to spills and stains: the Black + Decker Spillbuster should wash those right out.
✅ You like your machine to do the work: this handheld vacuum features an in-built formula dispenser.
✅ You hate washing up: the collection bowl and the vacuum nozzle are dishwasher-safe.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You struggle to lift heavy weights: as handheld vacuums go, this one is pretty bulky.
❌ You're tight on time: your best bet is to charge this thing overnight.
❌ You're on a budget: you could probably pick up a wet dry vacuum for less.

The bottom line

🔎 The Black + Decker Spillbuster can tackle wet spills and dry stains in the same cleaning session. Shame it takes so long to charge. 

Whether you've got a wet or dry spill on carpet, linoleum, or hard wood floors, you should be able to get it out with the Black + Decker Spillbuster. This handheld vacuum can clear up anything from dried mud to pet mess. 

If you haven't used a wet dry vacuum before, it might take you a minute to get your head around the three step cleaning process. Once you've worked out where all the buttons are, and when to press each one, you should be able to suck up solid debris and spray stains using the in-built formula dispenser. All that's left to do is scrub.

If you're reading this article, the chances are that you like to keep things clean, but you'd rather not get your hands dirty. You'll be pleased to hear that the Black + Decker Spillbuster is easy to wash and dry. Most of the parts are dishwasher-safe, and the collection bowl opens all the way out so that you can get your sponge right in there.

My biggest complaint concerns the battery. A 15 minute runtime is pretty good for a handheld vacuum, but customers claim it takes at least eight or nine hours to charge. It's not the sort of thing that you could pick up and put down at leisure, even though quick, convenient cleaning is the entire point of a handheld vacuum. 

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
PowerTakes a long time to charge★★★
PerformanceMixed reviews★★★
CapacityOne of the most capacious on the market★★★★★
PriceReasonable RRP★★★★

The best handheld vacuum for the car

ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner against a white background.

(Image credit: 9to5Toys)

6. ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner

Best handheld vacuum for the car

Specifications

Weight: 2.6 lb.
Cord Length: 16 feet
Runtime:
Capacity: Unlisted

Reasons to buy

+
Uses a 12V car adapter for use
+
Includes a storage container
+
LED light to see dark areas
+
HEPA filtration

Reasons to avoid

-
Corded
-
Only usable with a car adapter
Buy it if

✅ You're on a budget: this is one of the most affordable handheld vacuums on the market.
✅ You spend a lot of time in the car: the ThisWorx Car Vacuum is especially equipped to dig up dust and dirt from the drive-thru.
✅ You suffer from allergies: this handheld vacuum incorporates a HEPA filtration system.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're shopping for cordless: you'll need to plug the ThisWorx Car Vacuum into the power socket.
❌ You want a deep clean: this isn't the most powerful vacuum on the market.
❌ You don't have a car: you won't appreciate all the special features of the ThisWorx Car Vacuum.

The bottom line

🔎 The ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner is Amazon's number one best-selling vacuum, but you might want something different for linoleum and hard wood floors.

Right now, the ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner is the number one best-selling vacuum on Amazon. Not just the best-selling handheld vacuum, but the best-selling vacuum, period. This little machine boasts hundreds of thousands of five-star reviews, and it'll only set you back about $30. 

If you spend a lot of time in your car, you'll know how much dust and dirt can accrue in such a small space. The ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner is designed to pick up car-specific spills and stains, including sand from the beach and pet hair from the dog crate. 

This handheld vacuum features specialized cleaning attachments, including a flathead brush for serious scrubbing and a brush nozzle for increased suction. Once you're finished cleaning, you can fold up the ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner and pop it in your trunk, ready for the next session. 

Just one thing: you won't be able to clean on the go. Where every other vacuum on this list is cordless, the ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner is strung from a 16-foot cord. You'll need to park your car close to a power socket to make the most of this machine.

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
Power106W motor★★★★
PerformanceSlim enough to reach between seats★★★★★
CapacityUnlisted★★
PriceHighly affordable★★★★★