For many people, having a vacuum is a necessity. However, it can be hard to find the space to store it. Or maybe you just don’t want to deal with a big and bulky machine.
So the hunt begins for the best small vacuum cleaner. The best small vacuum may vary between users, but overall these vacuums are going to weigh less than 15 pounds and be compact enough to fit into a small closet.
Luckily, modern vacuum cleaners make it so that small doesn’t necessarily mean giving up suction power, features, or technology. There is a wide selection of small vacuums that will get the job done, and look good doing it.
The guide below is going to help you find the best small vacuum for you.
What makes the best small vacuum?
In the quest to find the best small vacuum, we knew we were going to set some ground rules. After all, aren’t virtually all handheld and robot vacuums going to be the smallest?
This guide is intended to identify the best small vacuum from every category, highlighting the best small uprights, the best small handhelds, the best small canisters, the best small sticks, and the best small robot vacuums.
Click the buttons below to jump straight to each small vacuum type section:
So given that we were comparing small vacuums across the board, we designed a common scale to compare all of the vacuums against. Since we were most concerned with size here, we analyzed:
For dimensions, we looked at the overall cubic inches that the vacuum took up. This number was generated by the following equation: LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT
The scale ranges from 0 up to 10,000 cubic inches, roughly the size of one of the largest vacuums on the market, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball upright vacuum.
Vacuums that were smaller than 3,300 square inches would be considered “small,” vacuums larger than 6,600 square inches would be considered “large,” and anything in the middle would be “average.”
For weight, we used a similar process, with our scale ranging from 0 up to 20 pounds. For reference, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball upright weighs 19.18 pounds.
Vacuums that were lighter than 6.7 pounds would be considered “lightweight,” vacuums heavier than 14.5 pounds would be considered “heavyweight,” and anything in the middle would be “average.”
When it comes to the smallest whole-home vacuums, robot vacuums are one of the best small vacuums money can buy. Robot vacuums are generally less than 13″ in diameter and most are under 4″ tall. This allows the vacuum to squeeze under furniture, under beds, and into tight spaces.
Robot vacuums are also automated to navigate and clean the space autonomously. Some small robot vacuums have wifi connectivity that connects with an app on your smartphone or tablet. From this app, you can start, pause, cancel, or schedule a clean from anywhere.
While there are numerous small robot vacuums that we could feature and would certainly qualify as the “best small robot vacuum”, the three we have selected represent robots with a small size, that don’t require sacrificing cleaning power.
iLife A4s Robot Vacuum
The iLife A4S robot vacuum is extremely small at only 12″ in diameter and 3″ tall.
While it lacks wifi connectivity, it does have excellent cleaning performance and was even able to pick up large debris during our cereal test.
Also, although the iLife A4s doesn’t have wifi connectivity, it does have a remote control so you retain some of that hands-free programming and usability with this vacuum.
This unit claims to have a 120-140 minute run time and is one of the quietest running robot vacuums we’ve reviewed to date.
As an added bonus, this small robot vacuum is usually around $200, making it a great choice for the budget-conscious shopper.
12″ x 12″ x 3″
- Size Score 4%
- Weight Score 25%
Roomba 980 Robot Vacuum
At a significantly higher price point, you have the Roomba 980 robot vacuum. The 980 model is 13.9″ in diameter and 3.6″ tall, not too much larger than the iLife A4s, but it also comes with quite a few more bells and whistles.
The Roomba 980 has wifi connectivity, advanced navigation, more powerful suction, and also includes two virtual wall barriers to help block off sensitive areas.
The Roomba 980 also generates digital map reports as it cleans, which is basically a record of where Roomba goes during the entirety of a cleaning cycle.
Overall, the Roomba 980 is the most advanced Roomba models on the market (as of February 2018). It offers top-of-the-line technology and is designed to understand and navigate complicated floor plans or larger homes.
This robot vacuum also comes with two virtual wall barriers, which you can use to section off particular spaces you don’t want Roomba to explore.
13.9″ x 13.9 x 3.6″
- Size Score 7%
- Weight Score 44%
Ecovacs Deebot N79 Robot Vacuum
The Ecovacs Deebot N79 falls somewhere between the iLife and the Roomba 980, in terms of price, quality, and size. This robot vacuum is 13″ in diameter and 3.1″ tall.
The Deebot N79 does have wifi connectivity for scheduled cleanings, an optional remote control, and excellent cleaning performance.
Unlike the Roomba 980, which uses a rubber-style brushroll, the Deebot N79 uses a bristle-style brushroll.
If you have excessive pet hair in your home, you may want to be cautious of the bristle-style brushroll, as hair can easily wrap and tangle within the vacuum.
Despite this quick note about the pet hair, cleaning performance was excellent on all flooring types. You can check out the complete cleaning test results here.
13″ x 13″ x 3.1″
- Size Score 5%
- Weight Score 34%
Small handheld vacuums encompass nearly all handheld vacuums. Generally, handheld vacuums are 5 pounds or lighter and are small enough to fit in a small basket, a closet, or even the trunk of your car. Here at Modern Castle, we’ve reviewed quite a few handheld vacuums.
When considering small handhelds specifically, we’re looking for models that are not only compact, but also have similar cleaning power of the larger units.
After all, what’s the point of a little vacuum if it only picks up a little bit of the mess? For our best small handheld vacuums, check out these little vacuums below:
Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip
The Dirt Devil scorpion Quick Flip handheld vacuum is a simple vacuum, but with nice cleaning performance and great usability.
This handheld vacuum comes in at 13.7″ long x 6.4″ wide x 8.5″ high and weighs only 3.75 pounds.
This model comes with a brush and attached crevice tool. There is even a hose attachment that extends your reach by approximately 2.5′, as well as a shoulder strap for longer cleaning sessions.
For a small vacuum, this hose attachment was nice, and not especially common in similar priced units. Overall, the cleaning performance on the Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip was excellent.
It performed the best on hardwood floors and struggled the most with fine debris (like kitty litter and sugar) when on high pile carpet. Nevertheless, it’s still one of the best cleaning performances in a handheld we’ve tested to date.
13.7″ x 6.4″ x 8.5″
- Size Score 7%
- Weight Score 19%
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser handheld vacuum is one of the smallest vacuums we’ve reviewed to date. It is 10″ long, 8″ tall, and 5″ wide. It weighs only 5 pounds and comes with two optional cleaning heads: a rubber nozzle or a hard nozzle.
The rubber nozzle is excellent for cleaning pet hair off of furniture or car interiors, and the hard nozzle is better suited for hard floor messes.
As an added bonus, this little vacuum is usually in the $25-$30 range, making it the perfect option for people with a tight budget or those who want a secondary vacuum, but not a huge price.
If you like the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser, but want a cordless model, be sure to check out the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser cordless.
It’s slightly larger and does have a little bit different look, but it’s cordless and can run for about 15 minutes with a full charge.
10″ x 8″ x 5″
- Size Score 4%
- Weight Score 25%
Dyson V6 Trigger
If you like Dysons, and don’t mind spending a little extra, the Dyson V6 Trigger may be the handheld for you. It’s approximately 16.3″ long, 6.1″ tall, and weighs 3.4 pounds.
If you need a handheld vacuum that can tackle large debris spills, you may want to consider something like the Shark Pet Perfect 2 handheld vacuum.
The Dyson V6 Trigger comes with a crevice tool, combination tool, and a charger. The handheld V6 Trigger is similar to the Dyson V6 stick vacuum, in terms of usability and power. Attachments vary.
The Dyson V6 Trigger is a cordless handheld vacuum and can run for up to 20 minutes (in regular mode) and up to 6 minutes (in max mode).
16.3″ x 6.1″ x 10″
- Size Score 10%
- Weight Score 17%
Canister vacuums are nice options for people who want the power of an upright, but don’t have room to store a tall unit. These vacuums were once the most popular models and now seemed to have taken a back-seat compared to compact stick vacuums or smart robot vacuums. But canister vacuums seem to be making a comeback in the vacuum market.
Modern canister vacuums are sleek, short, and lightweight in-hand.
Many modern canister vacuums have wheeled bases, like the Bissell Hard Floor Expert and Miele C1 Compact. Also, they usually have a carrying handle, for moving up stairs or over longer distances. Canisters can also use a bagged or bagless system.
Bagged canister vacuums are good for people who:
- Have allergy sensitivities, as replacing the bag tends to be cleaner than emptying a dust bin.
- Don’t mind buying replacement bags as needed.
Bagless canister vacuums are good for people who:
- Don’t want the added cost of buying replacement bags.
- Want to be able to see when the dust bin is full.
Miele Compact C1
The Miele Compact C1 is 11″ wide x 18.2″ long x 8.7 tall. This vacuum is on the medium side compared to other canister vacuums, coming in at around 16.1 pounds.
The Miele Compact C1 also has a handle, as well as three wheels affixed to its base. It comes with a variety of accessories, including combination floorhead, hard surface floorhead, hose, dusting brush, upholstery tool, crevice tool, and accessories clip.
It’s not inexpensive, but it’s also not overly priced either. Miele packs a surprising level of power, versatility, and accessories into this compact canister vacuum.
11″ x 18.2″ x 8.7″
- Size Score 17%
- Weight Score 80%
Bissell Hard Floor Expert
The Bissell Hard Floor Expert canister vacuum is another compact option. This vacuum is 19.2″ long, 15″ high, and 12.9″ wide. Again, not the smallest canister, but the real benefit to this one is the weight. At 9.3 pounds, this canister vacuum is almost 7 pounds lighter than the Miele Compact C1.
This small canister vacuum includes a couple of really nice adds. For one, the Bissell uses a bagless system so you can see the debris as it fills up the dust bin. There is also a comfort handle, which allows this canister to feel more like a stick vacuum and helps you avoid awkward angles while cleaning.
Lastly, the Bissell Hard Floor Expert has a substantial wheeled base. Especially if you plan on using the canister for whole-home cleaning, the wheeled base is a real bonus.
This small vacuum is called the “Hard Floor Expert,“ but the results of our vacuum cleaning tests showed that it actually performed remarkably well on all floor types. Its greatest weakness was cleaning large debris (like cereal) off of hardwood floor.
19.2″ x 15″ x 12.9″
- Size Score 37%
- Weight Score 59%
For stick vacuums, you’ve got a few options, as stick vacuums are already smaller than traditional uprights and generally weight 10 pounds or less. In addition to their small size, stick vacuums may also have an advantage since many of the units are considered 2-in-1s and can easily convert between an upright vacuum and a handheld.
The Electrolux ErgoRapido stick vacuum is another excellent option for a small lightweight stick vacuum that doubles as a 2-in-1 handheld. This vacuum is approximately 42.5″ tall and weighs only 5.5 pounds.
Both the handheld and the upright are battery powered and, with a full charge, these units can last about 20 minutes.
The ErgoRapido includes a HEPA filter, charging cable and two cleaning attachments— a crevice tool and dusting brush.
The Electrolux ErgoRapido is a nice choice for people who are looking for a small stick vacuum, but don’t want to pay a premium price.
Although exact prices can fluctuate, you can generally find this model available for under $150, a nice option for the budget-conscious buyer.
This stick vacuum can easily convert to a small handheld vacuum with the push of one button. The handheld has the same suction power and dust bin capacity as the full stick vacuum.
5″ x 10.8″ x 42.5″
- Size Score 23%
- Weight Score 28%
Dyson V6 Stick Vacuum
The Dyson V6 stick vacuum is a small stick vacuum and even more versatile due to its battery powered, cordless operation. The V6 has a max height of 47.5″ and is 9.8″ wide. It weighs about 4.5 pounds.
This small stick vacuum comes with a variety of tools and attachments as well as a charger and wall-mounted hanging base. Using these attachments, the V6 can run as a stick vacuum or a handheld vacuum.
The Dyson V6 stick vacuum comes with one brushroll cleaning head, the extension wand, four attachment tools, and a charger with hanging wall storage.
If your home frequently has large debris spills, but you still want a small Dyson stick vacuum, consider the Dyson V8 Absolute with Fluffy attachment.
This cleaning head can easily clean up large debris. The package also includes the direct drive cleaning head, which is similar to the head used on the V6. This head is more effective when cleaning low or high pile carpet.
The Dyson V6 stick vacuum is cordless, and with a full charge can run for about 20 minutes on regular cleaning mode or 6 minutes on “Max Clean.”
9.8″ x 8.2″ x 47.5″
- Size Score 38%
- Weight Score 23%
Shark Rocket DeluxePro
Shark Rocket DeluxePro stick vacuum is 48″ tall with a 10″ wide cleaning path and 10″ overall depth. This vacuum weights approximately 8 pounds. One of the benefits of this small vacuum is that it doubles as a stick vacuum as well as a convenient handheld.
There is a wide range of attachments that come with the Rocket stick vacuum allowing it to adjust, based on the environment that needs cleaning.
- Hard Floor Genie: This cleaning head is designed for cleaning hard floors and includes a microfiber cleaning pad for catching small particles.
- Bristle Brushroll: This cleaning head is designed for carpeted floors or area rugs. There is a large bristle-style brushroll which agitates and sucks up debris as it cleans.
As a handheld, there are three different attachments for a variety of uses:
- Crevice tool: This tool is used for getting in tight nooks and crannies or hard-to-reach places, like in between sofa cushions.
- Upholstery tool: This tool is used for cleaning dirt, pet hair, and other debris from upholstery surfaces.
- Motorized brush tool: This tool is used for other small spaces where you need the extra power of a motorized brush. The design of the spinning brushes helps to prevent tangles and vacuum up a variety of debris.
- Dusting tool: This tool has short, soft bristles, which can be used for gentle dusting of furniture, baseboards, ceiling fans, etc.
For storage, you can hang up Shark Rocket using the included wall-mounted hook or attach the handheld portion to the base and roll away.
10″ x 10″ x 48″
- Size Score 48%
- Weight Score 28%
By nature, most upright vacuum cleaners would not be considered small. For this reason, we omitted it from the jump icons at the top, but that’s not to say that there’s not a good compact upright vacuum out there.
In order to be considered a compact upright, the vacuum would have a full-size mode, when cleaning, and then compress into a smaller, more compact size for storing.
One of the best compact uprights that we’ve tested to date is the Dyson Ball Animal Compact upright vacuum.
Dyson Ball Animal Compact Upright Vacuum
The Dyson Ball Animal Compact is a great option for people who want the power of an upright, but don’t have a lot of space to store a large unit. This vacuum can compress from a max height of 43″ down to 30″.
For many homes, this is small enough to fit in the bottom half of a small closet, under the stairs or even in a large cabinet. The entire unit is about 11.9 pounds, with a 9.5″ wide cleaning path.
The Dyson Animal Compact upright would be great for homes with a mix of hard floors and high or low pile carpet. It comes with a few different accessories and has a 25′ power cord.
One note: If your home typically has large debris spills, like cereal, you may want to reconsider, as this model cannot pick up large debris very well (except with the hose).
For an upright vacuum that performs better at picking up large debris, check out the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser upright vacuum.
It’s slightly larger than the Dyson Animal Compact, but still smaller than most traditional upright vacuums. Cleaning performance for cereal on hardwoods is a bit average, but on carpeted surfaces, the Bissell really does a nice job.
10.3″ x 12″ x 30″
- Size Score 37%
- Weight Score 60%
What Makes the Best Small Vacuum?
Obviously, right out of the gate, size is going to be one of the most important factors when you’re on the hunt for the best small vacuum. Size of vacuums can vary from small vacuums that nearly fit in the palm of your hand, like the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser, to large uprights that come with numerous attachments and features, like the Shark Navigator Pro upright.
And even when you’re considering size, it’s important to remember that size isn’t everything. With a smaller size, the vacuum will generally have a smaller dust bin capacity, fewer accessories, a less powerful motor, or shorter run time (if it’s battery powered.)
When considering how small you can go, be sure to consider what type of cleaning you’ll be doing most often. If you’ll be using your vacuum for cleaning floors, chances are, a handheld vacuum just isn’t going to get the job done. For a whole-home clean, you’ll likely need to look for a lightweight stick vacuum or small compact upright.
By the same logic, if you only need a vacuum for small messes or to keep in your car or office, a portable handheld could be perfect. Once you identify which type is right for your job, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision on the exact size and model to purchase.
Again, not to sound like a broken record, but consider the right tool for the job. Here at Modern Castle, we put all of our vacuums through a series of cleaning tests where we see how they perform against four different debris types on three different floors.
We test on engineered hardwood, low pile carpet, and high pile carpet. When selecting your best small vacuum, be sure to check out the cleaning scores for each vacuum review.
You can lean more about our vacuum review process here.
Again, think about the type of debris you often have in your home.
Are you the Keeper of the Cheerios? If so, be sure to find a small vacuum that can tackle large debris, like the Neato Botvac D3 robot vacuum, the Shark Pet Perfect handheld vacuum, or the Miele Compact C1 canister vacuum.
If pet hair is the more important cleaning task, you might want to check out these small vacuums for cleaning pet hair, like the Roomba 890 robot vacuum, the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser cordless handheld vacuum, or the Dyson Ball Animal Compact upright vacuum.
What type of vacuum do I need?
As you’ve seen in this review, the hunt for the perfect small vacuum stretches from pocket-sized handhelds to powerful compact uprights, and everything in between.
Below is a list of questions to help you decide which vacuum type is right for you and your home:
- Do you have stairs in your home?
- Do you have pets in your home?
- How many square feet is your home?
- What type of debris are you generally cleaning?
- Do you clean quick messes frequently or do less frequent whole-home cleanings?
- Are you looking for something cordless or corded?
- Do you want to schedule your vacuum to clean when you’re not home?
- What’s your budget?
The list really could go on and on, but these should be enough to get you started.
Here’s a quick summary chart of all the vacuums that would rank as “Best Small Vacuum”, within their respective vacuum type and based on our review of each vacuum. To learn more about how we evaluate and score each vacuum, check out our vacuum review process here.
|Ball Animal Compact||Upright||$$||89%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Rocket DeluxePro||2-in-1||$$||92%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|V6 Stick||2-in-1||$$$||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|ErgoRapido||2-in-1||$||94%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Pet Hair Eraser||Handheld||$||94%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Scorpion Quick Flip||Handheld||$||96%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|V6 Trigger||Handheld||$$||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Compact C1||Canister||$$||96%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Hard Floor Expert||Canister||$$||91%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Easy Lite||Canister||$$||90%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|A4S||Robot||$$||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Roomba 960||Robot||$$$||95%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Deebot N79||Robot||$$||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
Need More Help?
Still cannot decide what small vacuum is best for you? Send us an email here. We’d be happy to help you!