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Pet hair, stairs and car messes are no match for these hand vacs.
We updated this guide in June 2022 to ensure all products tested and vetted by the Good Housekeeping Institute Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab were in stock and reflected current pricing.
For smaller messes, a good handheld vacuum provides quick cleaning without a lot of heavy lifting — and it doesn't require much precious storage space. These mini vacs won't replace a full-size vacuum when it comes to deep cleaning, but they are handy for instantly tackling dry spills, tracked-in dirt and pet hair stuck to just about anything. You might even consider more than one handheld vac as they also tackle messes outside your home: Stash one in the garage to keep your workshop, garden bench and car clean too.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab tests handheld vacuum cleaners for how well they pick up lightweight and heavy debris on bare floors and low pile carpets, as well as ease of use, cleaning and maneuverability, plus battery life and efficiency. Our winners, below, have a good run time and are lightweight enough to maneuver.
For more information on how we test vacuums, read on. Whether you are replacing a vacuum or adding one to your cleaning arsenal, these are our picks for the best handheld vacuum cleaners to buy in 2022:
Not your typical handheld vac, the Worx model has a unique compact shape, a removable battery that fits into other Worx tools and a top handle. Its crevice and brush tools store right on board, and its built-in flexible hose reaches four feet.
A top performer in our cleaning tests, this model easily picked up all the debris and pet hair we put down, even without using the max power setting. The hose makes it easy to reach into tight spaces, and it ran for 23 minutes at standard power on one charge. Although it's a little heavier than other handheld vacuums, you don't need to hold it up to use it.
The compact and lightweight AeroSlim is ideal for quick pick-ups on hard surfaces, with its combo crevice tool and soft brush accessory that takes care of crumbs on your laptop, in your car or in between the sofa cushions. The storage stand with its built-in cap holds the vacuum upright — and it stores the accessory tool, too, so it’s always where you need it. This vacuum has a washable filter and charges via a USB port.
The nubby rubber nozzle of this well-priced little vacuum was made for those pesky pet hairs. It flexes and contours around chair arms and stair treads to get every last piece. For dry spills on bare floors (like kitty litter), remove the rubber tip and extend the wide, built-in crevice tool for quick pick-up. Even though this model is not cordless, the 16-foot power cord provides great reach.
Don’t let the Eufy’s slim shape fool you. About the size of a wine bottle, this sleek and lightweight (just over one pound!) handheld vacuum is full-featured. It includes a crevice/brush tool, a washable filter and a cap that lets it stand upright for storage or charging.
Small but mighty, the Eufy rivaled bigger models for cleaning ability. A soft grip makes it comfortable to hold. It runs quietly for up to 13 minutes, and lights alert you when the battery needs charging.
Thanks to Black + Decker’s motorized mini brush attachment, there’s nowhere pet hair can hide. An extra-long pullout crevice tool and the extra-large bottom-emptying dust bin make cleaning up after pets even easier.
This model aced our pet-hair-pickup test and did well with other messes too – even without using the boost power setting (although some sand scattered on hard flooring). The filter is washable, and we like that the vacuum stands upright on end for charging or storage. Using the standard setting, it ran for 32 minutes on a charge.
It might have been designed for a workshop or a garage, but Rigid's hand vacuum is right at home inside the house. This powerful champ zapped messes and pet hair nearly as well as ones with rotating brushes. It includes a 22-inch extension tube, crevice tool and floor nozzle, but not a battery and charger, which you need to purchase separately. The removable battery is interchangeable with other Ridgid tools, it charges exceptionally quickly and its large capacity gives the vacuum a long run time. We like the easy-grip handle, the washable filter and the extra-large twist-off dust cup, which is a cinch to empty.
This Hoover is a little powerhouse, with an onboard crevice tool that makes it easy to clean hard-to-reach places. It easily nabs dirt and debris, and during our tests even pet hair was not a problem. We love how simple it is to empty the dust cup and remove the filter to clean.
The removable rechargeable battery is a very handy feature. It's compatible across other ONEPWR System indoor and outdoor cleaning devices, so if the battery runs out on your hand vacuum, you can borrow the battery from, say, your ONEPWR leaf blower, upright vacuum or carpet cleaner. You could also purchase a spare battery to keep charged and ready for a longer cleaning session.
The Shark WandVac is compact, super lightweight and ideal for those quick clean-up jobs. The accessory bank attaches to the charging dock, keeping the duster crevice tool and multi-surface pet tool right where you need them. It performed well in our tests, and was especially good at picking up pet hair with the multi-surface pet tool, although much of the fluff was caught up on the tool. We like its washable filter and that it recharges faster than other slimline handheld vacuums.
Although it can easily handle dry pickup, the corded MR-50 is a steamer that excels at wet pick-up, especially pet messes, eliminating the need for chemical cleaners. It comes with a squeegee and nylon brush attachments as well as a spare washable filter. Little wheels by the nozzle help you perfectly position the vacuum to suction. Then, flip the switch and steam the area, using dry or wet steam. During our tests, no stains or odor remained. We loved how quiet and simple the whole process was and also how easy it was to empty and clean the machine afterwards.
This lightweight and inexpensive vacuum plugs into any 12V outlet and has a 10-foot power cord. It performed well in our tests, picking up dirt and debris as well as pet hair from vehicle carpeting and seats. It comes with a crevice tool and brush tool as well as a carrying bag to keep the vacuum and accessories neatly stored together in your trunk or garage.
A smart pick for your workshop, the cordless DeWalt is ideal for craft and DIY projects. Its powerful suction and extra-large tank lets you clean up big messes — even wet spills. It’s easy to empty and clean too. The attached extendable hose gives an extra two and a half feet of reach so you can get into awkward nooks and crannies, and we love that it has a HEPA filter. This kit includes a charger and removable battery, which is interchangeable with batteries in other DeWalt tools.
Designed for vacuuming upholstery and mattresses, the corded and compact IRIS has a very powerful suction mechanism to shake loose and remove dust, dust mites and other allergens. Its special sensor and colored lighting system lets you know if the surface is completely clean, and its ergonomic handle and hinged body make it easy to use. During our tests, it performed poorly trying to pick up debris from a hard floor, although it picked up pet hair from carpet and crumbs from a fabric covered chair with ease.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab tests handheld vacuums on bare floors and low pile carpets for how well they pick up light debris like sand, baking soda, dry oatmeal, orzo pasta and pet hair. We also test their suction with heavy items, like screws and nuts. We record the weight and judge how easy the filter is to change or clean, how easy the dust cup is to empty and how comfortable the vacuum is to hold and use. Any special features or attachments are also assessed. For cordless models, we monitor the run time. We then ask real consumers to use and rate each vacuum before we determine our test winners.
If you're looking for other top-rated vacuums, rest assured the GH Cleaning Lab tests all types of vacuums, from canister vacuums to robot vacuums to upright vacuums. We assess how well they remove dirt that's deeply embedded into pile carpet and simulated pet hair that s spread evenly on a carpet’s surface. We look at how well they remove large and small debris from hard flooring (like hardwood, tile or linoleum), how well they clean along floor edges and how strong their suction is. We also test them for ease-of-use and cleaning/emptying, maneuverability and weight as well as battery run-time when applicable.
✔️ Cord vs cordless: Corded and cordless vacuums each have their pros and cons. With corded handheld vacuums, you’ll never have to worry about the battery running out no matter how long you are using it. However, it may be inconvenient to switch plugs if you are moving from room to room or are not near a power outlet. Cordless handheld vacuums give you the freedom to take the vacuum wherever it's needed, but you run the risk of the battery running out.
✔️ Size and weight: Consider the size and weight of the handheld vacuum and, if possible, try it out to make sure it feels comfortable to hold. You want to make sure the vacuum does not strain your hand or wrists.
✔️ Attachments: If you’ll be using the handheld vacuum for more than just a quick pass over hard surfaces, you may want to consider what type of attachments you’ll need, such as a crevice tool to get into corners or brushes to help vacuum upholstery or pick up pet hair. Those with brushes make it easy to remove dust from draperies, window sills, door frames, mattresses and other out-of-the-way spots that may be awkward for a larger vacuum to reach.
✔️ Storage: Slim vacuums with attachments on board or housed in the charging base are the easiest to store neatly, especially if your space is limited. Models with removable batteries mean you can keep only the battery plugged in and store the body and attachments out of sight.
✔️ Features: Other innovations across both cordless and corded models include comfortable grips, easy to empty dust cups, washable filters, multiple speeds and more. Some pick up wet messes and remove stains.
Carolyn Forte, the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Care and Cleaning Lab Executive Director, has a B.A. in Family & Consumer Sciences from Queens College, City University of New York, and is a consumer products expert. She has been testing, speaking and writing about appliances, textiles, cleaning products and more at Good Housekeeping for more than 40 years as well as consulting with the appliance industry, especially washing machine manufacturers, about appliance testing protocols and consumer laundry habits.