5 of the Best Cordless HandHeld Vacuums
For Cleaning Small Messes
Handheld vacuums have come a long way since Carol Gantz introduced the first cordless dustbuster in 1979.
The idea was good.
But execution was lacking as early generation handhelds had weak suction and poor run time.
Technology has improved such that these tools are now viable options. Even as standalone tools for small homes that don’t have any carpet.
Here’s a real world example…
In our small townhouse there aren’t any outlets available inside the bathroom.
So if I had to vacuum dirt accumulated on the exhaust, I’d have to plug it on an outlet located in a room a few meters away.
Even if the cord was long enough, the process of unwrapping and wrapping up the cord is a big hassle just to clean the exhaust vent.
This is where a cordless handheld comes in play. It does not have any cord so portability is its greatest strength.
You just pick it up from its charging base then clean up what you need to clean then store away afterwards.
There’s no need to look for an outlet to plugin to.
To help you navigate through this guide you can click any of the links below to jump directly to a section of the article you want to read:
- Comparison Chart
- What’s your budget?
- How to Choose One?
- Our pick: Black and Decker BDH2000FL
- New and Improved – Black & Decker BDH2000PL Pivot
- If Money Wasn’t an Issue: Dyson DC59 MotorHead
- Handheld with a Brushroll: Hoover Platinum Linx Pet Handheld
- Handheld with Good Reach: Black and Decker Platinum BDH2000L
- Corded Options
- To Wrap It Up
Here are 5 of the best options right now.
Black & Decker Platinum BDH2020FL 20-Volt
Black & Decker BDH2000PL Lithium Pivot Vacuum
Dyson DC59 Motorhead
Bissell Cordless Pet Hair Eraser
Black & Decker Platinum BDH2000L 20-volt
|Pet hair tool|
|Battery||20 volt Li-ion||20 volt Lithium Ion||22.2v Nickel Manganese Cobalt/Li-ion||18 volt li-ion||20-volt li-ion|
|Charging time||5 hrs||2 hrs (based on reviews)||3.5 hours||5 hours (initial charge)||N/A|
|18 - 30||15-20 mins based on reviews||26 minutes (normal)|
6 minutes (boost)
|Approx 5 to 15 mins.||15 - 30|
Three key things you need to look for.
Less than 5 pounds
First, check how much it weighs.
Ideally, it should weigh around 5 pounds or less. Anything more and it’ll be too straining on the wrist when you clean areas above eye level.
Second, check the attachments included.
A good handheld should have a crevice and brush tool. These tools help clean most areas in your home from crevices, upholstery to appliances. Upright vacuums (and some stick vacs) can’t clean these areas.
Pet owners should look for something with a mini turbo brush or pet tool. But expect to pay a premium for these add-ons.
Lastly, it should run for at least 15 minutes.
Spot cleaning generally would take anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes. So anything less than that would be a waste of money in my opinion.
This isn’t the best per se. But it combines compact design, reach and versatility.
It has enough attachments that can clean a lot of areas other than floors.
Plus it isn’t too expensive at just below $100.
This handheld only weighs 3.8 pounds. So it’s light enough to move around.
Why is it number 1?
One feature I like is the 4-foot flexible hose that extends the reach. This would be a great tool to have cleaning your vehicle because you don’t have to carry the whole vacuum all the time.
The hose allows you to put more pressure on the surface to clean stuff like pet hair.
If you’d try this on vacuums with pull out attachments there is a risk of pushing the tool back in if the lock isn’t sturdy enough.
What makes this a great buy is the attachments. It has 3 of them.
There’s the crevice and brush tool for crevices and cleaning up dust. And there’s the pet hair attachment.
Pet owners will love this vacuum.
It comes with an oddly designed pet hair attachment that according to reviews is effective in removing pet hair off upholstery.
Combine this with the flexible hose you have a robust and effective combo for removing pet hair.
The 20-volt lithium ion battery takes roughly 5 hours to fully charge. It’ll runs for 16 minutes based on a test done by Tools in Action.
This battery is not removable so when it fails, you’ll have to send this back for repairs.
Or call them up and see if it’s possible for them to send you a new unit if it’s still under warranty.
What are the downsides?
The dirt container is rather small. And can be messy to empty particularly static filled pet hair and dust.
But this is made up by the versatility of the 4 foot hose and availability of a pet hair attachment.
The original Pivot handheld was a success because of the foldable cleaning head that helps cleaning hard to reach shelves. But it had one glaring weakness – the battery.
It used a Nickel Cadmium battery that was prone to power fade and had a shorter lifespan.
The Black & Decker BDH2000PL solves this issue because it uses a lithium ion battery.
What are the improvements?
This new Pivot is equipped with a 20-volt lithium ion battery that takes only 2 hours to fully charge.
This new variant is lighter (just 3 pounds) because Li-Ion batteries weigh less while the older Pivot weighs around 3.9 pounds.
Why is it number 2?
The BDH2000PL has more power compared to the two Dyson vacuums I mentioned (35 vs 28 air watts).
So that’s 7 air watts more power which is around 25% more. Impressive!
Upgrading the battery eliminated power loss and improved charging time from 16 down to 2 hours.
Suction power is impressive as it will pick up debris as long as it’ll fit in the rectangular nozzle.
What are the downsides?
The biggest downside would be the small dirt bin which makes this only suitable for spot cleaning.
Another downside is the narrow space between the inner wall and filter that makes it hard to empty. You’ll need to use your finger to dislodge dirt wedged on that spot.
So it can be a bit messy.
Run time is short at just 15 minutes. Though some reviews say it run as much as 20 minutes which is decent but not world beating.
This is best used as a clean as you go vacuum to tackle little messes here and there.
Also it will not be as effective on pet hair as the BDH2000FL because it does not have any pet hair tool that agitates pet hair on upholstery.
If you’re looking for a handheld to clean pet hair, go with the BDH2000FL. For quick pickups, this would be a great choice.
Here’s a video the shows it’s features and how powerful it is (you’d have to skip to the 5 minute mark to see the cleaning demo).
If you have some $$$ to burn then the Dyson DC59 MotorHead is a great option. Of the vacuums in this list, this is the most versatile.
With a bevy of interchangeable tools, this handheld/stick vacuum will clean every part of your home.
And with the release of the Dyson V8 and now V10, this variant is a bargain.
This MotorHead comes with the same bristle brushroll as the V6 Absolute. So it has more agitation and will clean better on carpet.
Take note that the DC59 is essentially the same as the V6. Both variants use the same motor and will have the same power and run time.
Why is it number 3?
The main cleaning head has a motor that powers the motorized brush resulting in 75% more agitation compared to the previous generation DC44.
Not only is it more powerful, the motorized brush has a larger diameter.
This means that it is possible to deep clean low to medium pile carpet with a cordless vacuum.
It also includes other attachments like a crevice, mini motorized brush and brush tool to tackle different parts of your home.
What are the downsides?
The biggest one would be the price. This product is will cost more than $300 which is the same price as a Dyson upright or canister. Heck it costs more than a Miele but this is the price you pay for cordless technology.
Cleaning large debris like cheerios will be a chore because of the low profile opening. So it’ll snow plow through these types of dirt on bare floor.
A better option if your home only has bare floor would be the Dyson V6 Fluffy that comes with the soft roller cleaning head that will inhale large bits of dirt easy.
But for finer stuff like dust, powder, dust bunnies, cob webs and crushed biscuits, this will do a great job.
Do you want to see it in action?
Well here’s a big mess test on hardwood and carpet to demonstrate the suction power. Spoiler: it picks up a lot!
Finding a handheld vacuum with a brush roll is pretty rare. And finding one that performs decently is even harder. So when I saw this Bissell, I had to check it out.
This is actually the second “Pet Hair Eraser” that Bissell is selling.
The first one came in with a cord but it did not have any motorized brush.
It used a ribbed mechanism made from flexible rubber that agitates dirt when scrubbed on the surface.
While this design works pretty well, it isn’t as efficient as a motorized brush because you’ll have to push down to agitate.
Another downside is the cord which pretty much limits you to areas with an outlet nearby.
No more cords
Not having a cord makes it possible to use this vacuum inside a vehicle.
That’s were a cordless handheld like this comes into play and it comes with all the tools you need for spot cleaning a lot of nooks and crannies.
The biggest downside would be the battery, instead of using a lithium ion battery it uses a NiCad battery that adds to the weight and prone to power fade.
And it does not have any sort of hose that would allow it to reach hard to reach spots such as your car’s interior or areas around your sofa’s cushions.
You are totally dependent on the crevice tool for such areas.
Other than that, this is a pretty good product for cleaning dust and grime off upholstery thanks to the motorized brush.
The B&D Platinum BDH2000L is the cousin of BDH2000FL. And is part of the new Hoover Platinum Series, all using the same 20-volt lithium ion battery.
Why is it number 5?
The 20 ounce dirt bin will allow it to clean moderately large messes without having to empty it as often.
The pull out crevice tool allows this to clean edges of sofas as well as baseboards and extends the reach of the nozzle by a little bit.
This is a great tool for cleaning up small spills here and there.
Great for parents who have toddlers running around the house because you can pick up little messes as you follow them around.
What are the downsides?
While this product has decent suction, a big concern would be the pull out crevice attachment.
The locking mechanism that should hold it in place lacks sturdiness which results in the crevice tool folding up.
So this limits its usage to picking up loose dirt like sand on hard wood floors.
There is no pet attachment as well so you can’t use this to remove pet hair off upholstery or carpet.
So this would be great for homes with little to no carpet and without pets for quick clean ups.
It costs below $60 so budget shoppers take notice.
All of the options above feature cordless vacuums that in my opinion would be best suited for spot cleanup tasks.
But just in case you need more power for specific tasks here are some options with a cord.
Upholstery and Stair Cleaning: Eureka EasyClean 71B
This is one of the best handhelds out there regardless whether corded or not.
The stiff motorized brush makes it handy for picking up pet hair on stairs and upholstery.
Combine that with the “Riser Visor” feature, you’ll have the flexibility of cleaning horizontal and vertical areas of carpeted stairs, neat right?
It also comes with a detachable hose for cleaning hard to reach areas like edges of sofas or chairs and the areas between sofa cushions.
The corded feature plus the motorized brush gives this vacuum decent cleaning power for cleaning sofas and mattresses.
If you’re looking for an upholstery cleaner that is lightweight and versatile then the EasyClean will be a great option. It also works great cleaning stairs.
Even if it isn’t the most powerful vacuum in this list, the Black & Decker BDH2000FL is about as versatile as they come thanks to the flexible hose and unique pet hair tool.
It has just enough suction to clean small spills and runs long enough to spot clean, even for a quick clean up inside the car.
The lithium ion battery ensures minimal power fade plus it will last longer than any NiCad powered handheld.
And while the Dyson is enticing with it’s power and floor cleaning capability.
It is too expensive for a handheld but it is easily the best performing in this group.
You an opt for any of the handheld options in their V6 product line depending on your need but even the cheapest variant will still be much more expensive than any of the Black & Decker handhelds in this list.