How to Buy the Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaner and What to Look for

Robot vacuum cleanerImage by NickyPe from Pixabay

Need help selecting the best handheld vacuum cleaner for home and car cleaning? Find out what features to look for, for an efficient and quick cleaning task.

Even though the best small vacuum cleaners can sometimes be used instead of larger upright vacuum cleaners, these handy tools are ideally suited to be an addition to your main vacuum cleaner – for spot cleaning. Handheld vacuums are not designed for deep cleaning but light and quick surface cleaning of the carpets, floors, and furniture.

Here is where you can find all you need to know about portable or handheld vacuum cleaners so that you can buy the right model.

In this article

  1. Types of vacuum cleaners
  2. What are the handheld vacuum cleaners and where to use
  3. Buying guide and what to look for
  4. Top sellers
  5. Advantages and disadvantages
  6. Popular brands

Types of vacuum cleaners

Vacuum cleaners come in many styles, sizes, weights, power, and with various functions and features. All the vacs are designed as corded and cordless, also with the bag and bagless. Either you are looking for the upright or canister model (traditional types), robot, stick, or handheld type, one thing is common for all - they all pick up dirt, dust, and debris, more or less efficiently. You can buy a vacuum for general home use or specifically designed for pet owners or allergy sufferers.

These are popular vacuum types you can buy:

  • Corded upright and canister vacuums – you just have to plug the extension cord (usually retractable) to the power outlet. Corded vacs come with more suction power than other types. These are used for cleaning large areas.
  • Cordless vacuums – small, lightweight, and portable. Designed for spot-cleaning tasks.
  • Bag vacuums – reduce your contact with dirt and dust.
  • Bagless vacuums – instead of bags, they accumulate dirt in a collection bin and use filters.
  • Pet vacuums
  • Vacuums with HEPA filtration
  • Vacuums with cyclonic technology
  • Robot vacuums
  • Sticks
  • Handheld vacuum cleaners
  • Convertible models – these combine uprights and stick features to cover larger areas and used for spot cleaning.

When looking to buy a vacuum cleaner consider the following factors:

  • Room size
  • Surface type
  • Available features
  • Suction power
  • Attachments
  • Ease of use
  • Price

What are the handheld vacuum cleaners and where to use them

Portable vacuum cleaners are also known as handheld and cordless vacuums. They are small, lightweight, and mobile, making them perfect for home or office tasks where the upright or canister vacuum cannot perform well - tight spots or to carry and use it on the go.

Cordless design allows users to take advantage of the built-in battery and clean the dirt where needed, move the device from one to room to another without using the cord, and constantly changing the power outlet. Some models can also be connected to a vehicle power outlet, so you can clean your car wherever you want. Portability is what gives you the freedom to clean the pile of dirt on the floor quickly, car mat, bread crumbs on the countertop, dirt on the blinds, even pet hair.

Are the stick vacuums portable?

Yes, stick vacuum cleaners are portable, offering users mobility and easy maneuverability. Most models are two-in-one, as they can be easily converted to handheld vacuums using the right attachments. Look for the portable sticks that are cordless, utilizing lithium-ion batteries.

How to buy the best handheld vacuum cleaner – Buying guide and features to look for

Price-quality ratio

When looking to buy a handheld vacuum cleaner, the first thing you have to keep in mind is the price-quality ratio. This means that there will always be those vacuum cleaners that will come at an affordable price but offer almost no quality or would lack some useful features. On the other hand, if a unit is expensive, you should never assume that it is good enough for your needs. Look for the reviews and see what the customers have to say. Cheaper models with the OK quality can be found for 40-50 bucks, easily.

For those looking for the latest, small, and compact vacuum cleaners that utilize the most advanced and superior technology, check out this Dyson.

Battery life

The best handheld vacuum cleaners should have a long battery life to satisfy your vacuuming needs in your house, car, or on the go. If you will be using it for longer periods and frequently, there is no point in buying a vac, which gives only a few minutes of vacuuming before you need to recharge it again. Also, decide whether you would prefer a unit with a wall-mounted charger or a cord-charger.

Chose a long-lasting and high-efficiency lithium-ion battery so you can maximize the run time. Using lithium technology, the hand vac can hold a charge for over a year. The most powerful models have a higher voltage (V) specs, so they can run longer before you plug the battery into the outlet for recharging. Make sure the battery is fast charging. Many top-selling models can be fully charged in 4 hours and can run up to 30 min.

Size and ease-of-use

The small size means portability, ease-of-use, and storage. Portable vacuum cleaners should be lightweight for easy carrying and handling. Target hand vacs that weigh approximately 2-3 pounds.

Suction power and performance

The handheld vacuum cleaner should have enough suction power so it can clean all the dirt and debris efficiently. The vac should not lose suction power when vacuuming. Look how many Amps or Watts does the motor have, more-better.

Vacuum cleaners with strong suction power and cyclonic technology allow them to spin dust and debris away from the filter, so the performance stays high.


Buy a vacuum cleaner with a quality filter, such as HEPA, which is beneficial for allergy sufferers. Make sure filters are easy to put on, disassemble, and clean.

Accessories and attachments

If your portable vacuum comes with a selection of attachments and accessories, you can perform various cleaning tasks, including picking up pet hair, cleaning furniture and upholstery. Look for features such as rotating and slim nozzle, brush nozzle, pivoting nose, and extendable crevice tool, wet and dry option, indicator lights, and other.

Popular models

BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Handheld Vacuum

"Excellent and Durable, Great Suction Power, Lasting Battery"
(LA Shopper)

"Should have purchased it earlier"

  • Lightweight design and easy carrying - 3 lbs 
  • Lithium ion battery - 20 V for strong suction
  • Cyclonic action technology
  • Pivoting nozzle
  • Ideal for carpets and floors
  • Customer ratings: 4.2 out of 5

Shark WV201 WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum

"Very light and practical hand vac tool, that will make your life much easier!"

"Another well thought out product with a modern flare"

Design award 2019

  • Ultra-lightweight - 1.4 lbs 
  • Recharge time - 2.5h
  • High speed brushless motor
  • Charging dock
  • Ideal for upholstery and pet hair
  • Customer ratings: 4.6 out of 5

Dyson V7 Trigger Handheld Vacuum

"Awesome for Cleaning Pet Hair from Carpet"
(Chin Music)

"Like All Dysons, Nothing Compares"

  • Lightweight - 3.8 lbs 
  • Powerful digital motor V7 - 30 min suction power
  • Hygienic dirt ejector
  • Mini motorized tool for pet hair and dirt
  • Ideal for homes and cars
  • Customer ratings: 4.5 out of 5


  • Small and lightweight
  • Easy to carry and store
  • Runs on rechargeable battery
  • Ideal for tight spots and hard to get areas
  • Versatile
  • Fast and quick cleanups
  • Cost-effective


  • Lower capacity
  • Short battery life
  • Long recharge
  • Frequent maintenance required

Popular brands

  • Dyson
  • Black and Decker
  • Shark
  • Hoover
  • Eureka
  • Bissell


Portable vacuum cleaners are handheld and cordless, small, and lightweight, giving you the freedom to carry them anywhere and quickly clean the dust, debris, and dirt on the countertop, furniture, floor, upholstery, blinds, seats, mats, and carpets.

More advanced ones can handle both dry and wet vacuuming, including brush cleaning. Due to its maneuverability, portable vacs are handy for cleaning jobs such as vacuuming tight spots, stairs, drapes, blinds, pet hair, and car seats. One of the recommended types is the 2-in1, where the handheld unit is part of the stick vacuum or upright model.

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