Last updated on December 6th, 2018 by Garrick Dee
Handheld vacuums are great tools to have to clean up small messes.
If you have children, this is a must have to clean up that messy trail of chips or cheerios.
So let’s have a close look 5 of the best handheld vacuums.
The list I have here will be for both cordless and corded variants.
It also has interchangeable tools similar to a Dyson that allows this to clean not just dust but also pet hair on upholstery and tight spots around your home.
Next handheld on the list is the Bissell Multi which is another option with a hose. The main different between this and the Black & Decker would be the motorized attachment that the Bissell has that you can attach direct on the hose.
This feature allows this handheld to clean more efficiently on fabric upholstery and carpet stairs.
It’s a bit more expensive than the Black & Decker and there are some quality issues with the hose according to reviews so it isn’t ranked as high.
The Dyson DC59 MotorHead is very close behind at third and easily the most expensive of the bunch. It’s got the most power and the only one capable to clean floors.
If power is top priority for you then go with the Dyson V7 Trigger. It’s easily the most powerful handheld available right now. This variant comes with a mini-turbo brush, crevice and a combo tool that can clean virtually any part of your home.
A short history on handheld vacuums and why you need a handheld
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.
However technology is improving which makes these the latest batch of handhelds worth looking at. Newer variants come with longer running batteries, better tools and cleaning performance.
Some brands like the Dyson DC59 are good enough to be standalone cleaners inside homes with only bare floor.
These tools are must haves for quick clean up tasks where lugging an heavy upright vacuum isn’t practical. It’s the perfect tandem to a larger, deep cleaning upright or canister vacuum.
Here are 5 of the best options right now.
Black & Decker Platinum BDH2020FL 20-Volt
Bissell Multi Handheld
Dyson DC59 Motorhead
Dyson V7 Trigger
Bissell Cordless Pet Hair Eraser
|Pet hair tool|
|Battery||20 volt Li-ion||22 volt Lithium Ion||22.2v Nickel Manganese Cobalt/Li-ion||22.2v Nickel Manganese Cobalt/Li-ion||18 volt li-ion|
|Charging time||5 hrs||5 hrs||3.5 hours||3.5 hours||5 hours (initial charge)|
|18 - 30||15 mins||26 minutes (normal)|
6 minutes (boost)
|Up to 30 mins.||Approx 5 to 15 mins.|
|Weight||3.8 lbs.||3.9 lbs.||4.9 lbs||3.77 lbs||5 lbs|
$ = below $50, $$ = $51 – $100, $$$ = $101 to $200, $$$$ = $201 and up
Here are the 7 things you need to look for in a good handheld vacuum.
1. First thing you need to check is the weight.
Ideally, a good cordless should weigh 5 pounds or less. If it weighs more than 5 pounds, it can be too straining on the wrist when moving it around.
Any good handheld should have (at least) both a crevice and brush tool. These tools will clean most part of your home from upholstery to appliance.
Pet owners should look for something with mini turbo brush. However vacuums with this tool are more expensive.
If you want more reach and maneuverability then get something with a hose. A hose will help you clean tightest crevices between furniture, inside your vehicle and much more.
3. Lithium ion battery
Avoid buying products with a NiCad battery because this type of battery is notorious to power fading and takes too long to recharge. It also will not run as long as a Li-Ion battery.
Getting something with good power is also important. Having a powerful handheld will improve the efficiency of the machine and allow you to clean up faster. The baseline that I use would be the power produced by Dyson handhelds.
Their V7 Trigger for example produces around 24 air watts in normal mode and 100 air watts in max mode. Get something at least close to the 24 air watt figure from a Dyson.
To give you an idea how this compares to an upright, consider that a Dyson upright will top out at 295 air watts.
5. Run time
Get a handheld that will run at least 15 minutes. It’s a benchmark I like to use in all cordless vacuums. Most spot cleaning tasks will take around 10 to 15 minutes. If you rely on your handheld to clean inside a vehicle, get something that will run at least 20 minutes.
You can get a good handheld for around $60. High end options will cost between $200 and $300 but will have better quality and cleaning performance.
Having a standard 1 year warranty is nice but if you can get something with more that would be a deal maker for me.
This handheld is a great option for parents looking for a versatile handheld with enough power to clean spilled cheerios or cut paper left by their young children. The flexible hose extends reach and maneuverability and allows this to clean tight areas.
- One of the most versatile handhelds available right now
- Excellent suction for a compact and lightweight handheld
- Flexible hose allows to better reach
- Small dirt bin
- Take too long to recharge
The Black & Decker BDH2000FL 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.
In terms of maneuverability, power, price and overall versatility, it is hard to beat the Black & Decker BDH2000FL with its bevy of tools. My favorite is the flexible hose that really extends the reach and areas it is capable of cleaning.
The Bissell Multi 1985 is a great option for folks looking lightweight handheld with enough agitation to deep clean upholstery and nimble enough to reach to the different nooks and crannies inside your home.
- Detachable hose allows this handheld to clean tight spots
- Mini turbo brush makes this a better option than the Black & Decker above to clean pet hair on upholstery
- Pretty good ergonomics
- Some quality control issues especially with the hose
- Run time isn’t good with the brush roll on
A few years back, Gtech came with a product that they felt would challenge Dyson.
They simply called it the Gtech Multi. To be honest, it was not much of a success in the U.S. Fast forward a few years and we have a product that’s a drop dead copycat – the Bissell Multi 1985.
Gtech didn’t sue Bissell for copyright infringement so I guess they’re using their reach in the United States to extend their reach.
One reason I put this at number 2 is the price. This variant is a little bit more expensive than the Black & Decker. However what you’re paying more is better functionality and usability. Let’s find out below.
Why the Bissell Multi is a good option?
Like the Black & Decker BDH2000FL, this handheld is unique feature not found in many other variants – a flexible hose.
This feature alone makes this a worthwhile option in any sized home – big or small.
Add to that the interchangeable tools that include a mini-turbo brush, you’ll have something extremely useful not just for cleaning dust but also pet hair.
The Multi comes with a total of 3 attachments – crevice, brush and mini-turbo brush.
What are the potential issues?
One potential issue would be the pull out hose. The plastic that Bissell uses is not high quality. It’s thin and prone to tearing if you’re not careful.
Run time isn’t very long at just 14 minutes. Expect it to run less if you use the mini-turbo brush since the brush uses some current.
Though some consumers say that they’ve gotten up to 30 minutes, others got close to 15 minutes.
The Bissell Multi is provides more functionality than the Black & Decker BL2000FL but it’ll cost a little bit more. This would be a better option if you need something that can clean pet hair.
The Dyson DC59 MotorHead is the most versatile option of the bunch with a removable wand and interchangeable tools. This makes it capable of cleaning upholstery, stairs and floors. It’s also the most expensive but if you value quality and usability this is the best option.
- One of the best value for money Dyson cordless variants available
- Upgraded bin makes it easy to empty
- Excellent power and agitation on carpet and bare floor
- Good run time of up to 30 minutes
- Expensive compared to the other options in this list
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.
Note: The Dyson V7 MotorHead is also available that comes with the upgraded dirt bin that’s easier to empty and the slide switch for the max function. It’ll also run a little bit longer than the DC59. However it does not come with the mini turbo brush that works great at cleaning pet hair on upholstery. It’s a cheaper option and something you might want to look at.
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 Dyson 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!
The Dyson DC59 Motorhead is hands down the best performing vacuum of the bunch. But since this article is about handhelds, it would be a disservice to pick this over the two Black & Decker vacuums above. The only reason you’ll pick this is if you want something with the capability of cleaning floors.
This premium handheld is great for individuals looking for a more premium, high quality handheld that’ll clean upholstery well. It has the V8 bin so it’s easier to empty versus the older Dyson V6.
- Interchangeable tools makes it one of the most versatile options
- Bin design makes it less messy to empty
- Great option for cleaning pet hair
- Still expensive
And the V7 solves this by adapting the bin found in the V8.
What makes the V7 Trigger a good handheld option?
One of the best qualities of a Dyson cordless is the quality. All of the tools in the package are interchangeable and you can purchase an optional hose package if you need more reach.
Removing and attaching the 3 tools isn’t hard at all thanks to the locking mechanism that holds it in place.
It’s these little things that allow a product like this to last a lot longer than a cheap Chinese knockoff.
So let’s say you save $100 buying a cheap vacuum but you have to replace it as often. It will all add up and you’ll end up spending as much if not more because you’ll need to replace it more often.
Some potential issues
Out of the box, this machine does not come with the hose attachment. You’ll have to spend an extra $30 for the tool kit. It’s an extra expense but it will extend the reach of this handheld.
The Dyson V7 Trigger is a great but expensive handheld option that will clean up dirt on upholstery, stairs and even your mattress. If you don’t mind spending $170++ for it, this is a great high quality option that will help keep your home clean.
The Bissell Cordless Pet Hair Eraser is a great option for pet owners looking for a handheld that’ll clean pet hair off upholstery. This vacuum is a specialty tool dedicated for this task. Big downside is the NiCad battery that it uses.
- Specifically designed for pet hair
- Cheap option at just under $50
- Very lightweight
- Ni-Cad battery compromises run and charging time
- Short warranty
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.
This new and improved version of the Pet Hair Eraser is a great budget option if you don’t want to spend over $60 for any of the options above. It still comes with a motorized brush to help pick up pet hair and other embedded dirt on upholstery. But it comes with a NiCad battery so expect power fade and a heavier product because of it.
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
If you don’t mind the cord, the Eureka EasyClean 71B is a good option for cleaning stairs and upholstery. It has a cord so power will be constant and you won’t be limited by short run time.
- Great option for cleaning stairs thanks to the motorized brush and riser visor
- Hose adds to its reach and versatility
- Short power cord
This is one of the best handhelds out there regardless whether corded or not.
It has stiff bristles makes it handy for cleaning 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.
The bottom line
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.
Versatile corded handheld: Shark Rocket HV292
The Shark Rocket HV292 is a great option if you’re looking for Dyson like versatility but you’re not willing to spend over $200 for it. This variant comes with the similar tools a Dyson V7 Trigger plus a hose!
- Flexible hoses extends reach and makes this a great option inside vehicles
- Mini turbo brush will deep clean carpet
- Interchangeable tools make this a good cheap alternative to the Dyson V7 Trigger
- Short power cord
- You’ll need to constantly look for a power outlet
One reason I vacuums with a hose is that it gives you better control of what you’re cleaning.
Having this feature allows you to go in areas a vacuum without it can’t.
This handheld from Shark is one of only a handful of vacuums that has a hose. You can attach any of the tools (crevice and brush) on it and clean away dirt from vents, chair, sofas and much more.
Unfortunately you can’t attach the mini turbo brush on it.
It comes with a 15 foot power cord which isn’t long should be sufficient enough for most tasks.
One advantage that a cord has over something cordless would be the constant power. You don’t have to worry about it shutting down when power runs out in the battery.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to an expensive Dyson handheld, this is a great option. It comes with a versatile enough toolset to clean most areas in your home. The best part is it costs just around $90. However it has a cord so you’re limited by the length of it.
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.
Bissell also provides similar versatility as the Black & Decker but at a higher cost.
The Dyson DC59 MotorHead is a hands down option if you want something capable of cleaning floors. It’s a bit more expensive but worth the cost since it comes with usable tools capable of cleaning most parts of your home.
It is pricey for a handheld but easily the best performing option in the 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.