Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
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In need of a new handheld vacuum, but don’t know which is best for you? We can help! After testing numerous popular models, both corded and cordless, we were able to narrow down the best handheld vacuum options for most users.
See below for a quick summary of each of the four handheld vacuums or click here to jump to our complete description of each handheld.
Dirt Devil Scorpion
Strong suction, compact size, on-board accessories, and inexpensive
Shorter cord compared to most others and is one of the loudest handheld vacuums we’ve tested
As long as you don’t mind the cord or noise the Dirt Devil Scorpion is an incredible value, offering exceptional cleaning performance and simplicity in design.
Shark Pet Perfect 2
Handles pet hair well with its powered brushroll, good cleaning performance overall
Replacement parts are expensive, tubular shape makes getting into some crevices more difficult
The Shark Pet Perfect 2 is a solid performer due to the cordless design and powered brushroll (a feature you don’t see on most handhelds).
Bissell Pet Hair
Inexpensive, does a great job of lifting pet hair, lightweight (5 pounds), and easy to store.
Fan tends to blow debris around during cleaning, struggles with larger messes
This handheld vacuum is great if you need to remove pet hair from upholstery and fabrics. Corded unit lets you complete longer cleaning sessions for serious pet hair mess.
Black & Decker 16V
Strong suction, avoids clogging with larger debris, has a decent run time.
Charging base feels cheaply made, rotating swivel head is a weird feature
The Black & Decker 16V has a pretty good run time, offers solid cleaning performance on all of the debris types we tested, and is a great point-and-clean type of a handheld.
Before handheld vacuums existed, a quick fix cleanup was not much of an option. You had to breakout the bulky upright vacuum and try to use one of the extra cleaning accessories, if any were included with the vacuum cleaner.
Now, users have the option to grab a small vacuum, plug it in (or don’t if it’s cordless), and tackle a localized mess in no time. Kiss the upright vacuum goodbye and say hello to the more versatile option, handheld vacuums.
The best handheld vacuum can be broken down into a few different types:
- Corded handhelds
- Cordless handhelds
- Pet hair handhelds
To determine the best handheld vacuum choices, we put all of the vacuums we review through a series of cleaning performance tests. We test each model on a hardwood floor, low pile carpet, and high pile carpet, assessing its cleaning performance and usability. We test four different debris types including: rice, kitty litter, cereal, and sugar.
In addition to these cleaning tests, we analyze the overall value of the vacuum and how it compares to the rest of the market. Several factors affect the value, including cost of the vacuum, maintenance costs, design, usability, maneuverability, etc..
To select which four handheld vacuums are the best, we tested each vacuum in a consistent manner, analyzed the data, and compared the data. After doing so, we measure the runtime of the vacuum (if it is a cordless unit), the dust bin capacity, the versatility of the unit, and much more.
We considered all of the handheld vacuums we’ve tested to date (as well as researching others we haven’t tested yet). But after our tests and analysis there were four clear winners that really stood out as best handheld vacuum choices. Let’s take a look at those now!
The Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip is a powerful, corded, handheld vacuum designed to eliminate localized messes with ease. A built in “Quick Flip” crevice tool gives users the ability to change cleaning styles quickly, in addition to the other cleaning accessories included with the unit.
On the downside, this handheld vacuum is a bit louder than most handheld vacuums we have tested.
Design: The Dirt Devil Scorpion offers a small, egg-like design. Three main buttons are built into this vacuum; the power switch, the dust cup release, and the quick flip release.
Accessories & Parts: The Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip handheld vacuum comes with:
- Shoulder strap
- Quick Flip attachment
Both the hose and brush slide right into the main connection point (suction slot) and are held tightly by the plastic. The addition of these tools makes swapping cleaning styles much more efficient.
Usability: With regard to usability, the Scorpion Quick Flip is quite simple. Plug it in and begin cleaning. There is no charge time or major tasks to complete before using this vacuum. It comes fully assembled and ready for use.
Value: The value of this Dirt Devil handheld is hard to beat. The low price compared to the excellent cleaning performance combines for a top notch value overall. Low maintenance costs and an easy to use design also add to the value, rounding out this vacuum as one of the best handhelds we’ve tested to date.
I would recommend the Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip to people who:
- Want a compact unit – If you need a small, but powerful vacuum, this could be a great choice. The petite size but powerful performance makes for a good combination.
- Want an inexpensive handheld – If you’re working with a budget and need to keep costs as low as possible, the Scorpion Quick Flip is a fine choice, offering a great value.
- Overall Cleaning Score 96% 96%
13.9″ x 3.6″
~$10.50 / year
Dust Bin Capacity
Shark Pet Perfect 2
The Shark Pet Perfect 2 is a handheld vacuum designed to make a pet owner’s life much easier. A motorized brushroll is designed specifically to lift and remove pet hair. The longer body style can be both a positive and a negative, depending on which tool you’re using.
Users may find this vacuum to be a good fit if they’re in need of a fix for pet hair, or if they like the idea of a cordless vacuum with solid cleaning performance overall.
Design: The design of the Pet Perfect 2 is a bit different than some of the other handheld vacuums. This vacuum embodies more of a tubular shape, giving it a longer reach. That said, the thickness of the vacuum can be an issue when trying to get into tighter corners and crevices.
Accessories & Parts: The Shark Pet Perfect 2 handheld vacuum comes with:
- Pet hair tool
- Crevice tool
- Dusting brush
- Charging base
The pet hair tool is the only tool out of the three cleaning accessories that actually snaps into place. Two power pins connect inside the vacuum to enable power to the motorized brushroll. Both the crevice tool and dusting brush simply slide into place.
Usability: Using the Shark Pet Perfect 2 is as easy as it gets for a cordless handheld vacuum. Charge it up, flip the power switch to on, and get to work. Changing the tools for more specific cleaning styles is also quite simple.
Just choose the tool and pop it into place at the nose of the vacuum. Once you’re ready to empty the dust bin you can push down on the dust cup release and the unit will split into two pieces, allowing you to empty the debris into the trash.
I would recommend the Shark Pet Perfect 2 handheld vacuum to people who:
- Have lingering pet hair: If you’re a pet owner and need a vacuum that can get rid of the pet hair quickly, the Pet Perfect 2 could be a fine choice. This handheld vacuum comes with a motorized brushroll that has the ability to lift and remove pet hair from all indoor surfaces.
- Want a cordless unit: The absence of a cord gives this unit optimal maneuverability. If want to stay away from a corded unit, this Shark vacuum has a decent run time and could be a good fit for you.
- Overall Cleaning Score 98% 98%
15.9″ x 6.1″
~$53 / year
Dust Bin Capacity
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is one of the best performing handheld vacuums we’ve tested to date. Although the unit is tiny, it packs a heavy punch. The ability for this vacuum to clean at a high level, especially with regard to pet hair, is nothing shy of impressive.
On the other hand, the dust bin is much smaller than most other handheld vacuums. This means less is able to be cleaned up per vacuuming session, but the mess you clean up will be done so effectively.
Design: Much like the Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip, the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is a corded unit built to offer a smaller size. The compact size allows for easier storage in addition to less strain on the user when in use, due to the lightweight design.
It is equipped with a 16′ cord, weighs 5 pounds, and has a 2.75″ wide cleaning path.
Accessories & Parts: The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser handheld vacuum comes with:
- Soft tip nozzle
- Hard tip nozzle
The Pet Hair Eraser does not include a lot of extra accessories, but the two interchangeable cleaning heads offer strong cleaning performance for most situations.
Usability: All things considered, the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is an easy-to-use unit. Once again, all you have to do is decide which cleaning head you would like to use, snap it on, and plug the vacuum in. No charge time is necessary, as the cord provides the power to the unit.
Maintaining the unit is also a simple task. Change the filter as needed (or once a year), and empty the dust bin.
I would recommend the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser to people who:
- Want a compact pet hair vacuum cleaner – This Bissell handheld vacuum is one of the smaller pet hair vacuums we have seen to date. That said, the smaller design does not hinder the overall cleaning performance, especially when it comes to removing pet hair.
- Don’t need a bunch of accessories – The Pet Hair eraser only includes two interchangeable heads. The lower cost of this vacuum certainly plays a role in the amount of extra cleaning tools and accessories you receive. Yet, if you’re not in need of multiple cleaning tools, this Bissell handheld vacuum could be a great fit.
- Cleaning Score 95% 95%
10″ x 8″
~$11 / year
Dust Bin Size
Black & Decker 16V
The Black & Decker 16V is a cordless unit that carries all of its cleaning accessories onboard. A strong level of cleaning performance and a sturdy design, this Black & Decker handheld vacuum is a suitable option for a wide variety of users.
Design: The Black & Decker 16V is designed with a swivel head, and two tools built into the nozzle of the vacuum. The crevice tool can be slid out of the nozzle of the vacuum directly, whereas the dusting brush flips forward to land at the end of the nozzle. With a swivel head, the vacuum is able to be unlocked and rotated 270°.
A power switch is located on the handle of the vacuum, in addition to a dust bin release button. On the midsection of the vacuum are two “unlock” buttons, which allow users to rotate the head of the vacuum.
This section of the Black & Decker 16V also includes a button to release half of the unit, breaking it into two halves. This unit is 17.25″ long, 5.5″ wide, and 7.8″ tall.
Accessories & Parts:
The Black & Decker 16V comes with the following:
- Charging cable
With regard to the accessories, the onboard feature is nice for those who don’t want to go searching around the house for their extra tools. Everything is kept on the unit, saving time in the long run.
Usability: Using this cordless handheld vacuum is a breeze. Charge it up, turn it on, and clean up a mess. A 15 minute runtime allows users to clean more than one area at a time, or if needed, one large mess. Emptying the dustbin is another simple task.
Press down the dust bin release button and voila! The dust bin pops off and can be emptied into the trash.
I would recommend the Black & Decker 16V handheld vacuum to people who:
- Want a handheld with on-board tools: If you like the idea of having your cleaning accessories attached to the vacuum, the Black & Decker 16V offers just that. Both a crevice tool and dusting brush are located on and in the nozzle of the unit.
- Want a decent battery runtime: This cordless handheld vacuum takes anywhere from 4-6 hours to charge fully, but will last for about 15 minutes on a full charge.
- Overall Cleaning Score 97% 97%
17.25″ x 7.8″
~$7 / year
Dust Bin Capacity
Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaner (Summing It Up)
Hopefully this guide has helped you narrow down which handheld vacuum could be best for you.
Is there another handheld vacuum that you think should be added to the list? Drop us an email and let us know.
Or if you need help choosing your next vacuum cleaner please send us an email. We’d be happy to help!
Derek Hales is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of ModernCastle.com. He is a passionate perfectionist when it comes to testing and reviewing products for the home. When he is not testing new products, Derek enjoys golf, tennis, and PC gaming. Derek lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife, Samantha, son, and poodle, Tibbers.