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10 best handheld vacuum cleaners

Life is messy with kids, but if you want to make it that little bit neater, then a handheld vacuum cleaner can be a quick and easy way to clean up. Here's our pick of the best.

By Anna Cook | Last updated Mar 22, 2022

Handheld vacuum cleaner

Has your child ever caused an epic cereal spillage right before you dash out the door? Or has your dog managed to shed enough hair to make a particularly large blanket? Yep, we’ve been there too.

When it’s just too much hassle to get the big vacuum out, handheld vacuum cleaners can suck up mess in seconds.

But which come out on top? Here are the best handheld vacuum cleaners to buy right now as recommended by parents.

1. Best overall handheld vacuum cleaner: Dyson V7 Trigger Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Dyson V7 Trigger Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

“I love my Dyson handheld. It means I no longer freak out about my 15-month-old making a mess as I can clean it up in no time.”

Small in stature but powerful in functionality, this handheld vacuum cleaner is ideal for those who need an efficient, compact vacuum. It’s powered by the innovative Dyson V7 digital motor which means it's lighter and faster than ever before.

Its state-of-the-art filtration system retains the highest levels of allergy-causing particles, so ideal if anyone in your family suffers from asthma or allergies. It specialises in sucking up ground-in dirt and animal hair, and has a useful low battery warning light.

Taking just over three hours to fully charge, you get 30 minutes of run time with the Dyson – much longer than most handhelds. If you're struggling with particularly ground-in mess, the burst function is also a great bonus.

What we like

  • Long run time
  • Burst function for tricky mess
  • Filtration system is great if you have asthma or allergies

What we don't like

  • Pricey

Key specs

  • Weight: 1.38kg
  • Run time: 30 minutes
  • Capacity: 0.54l

2. Best budget handheld vacuum cleaner: Bush Handheld Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Bush Handheld Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

For under £25, you can get a bargain with Argos’s Bush Handheld Cordless Vacuum. It even comes with a handy crevice tool included.

When you’ve filled it up, you can remove and empty the washable dust cup. The single cyclone filtration technology will stop debris from clogging the filter, which means you won't need to change it as often.

It has a great run time at 15 minutes, and is nice and lightweight at only 1.4kg. The battery can’t be replaced though, which means once it doesn’t charge you have to throw it away.

What we like

  • Great value
  • Comes with a crevice tool

What we don't like

  • Suction not as powerful as some

Key specs

  • Weight: 1.4kg
  • Run time: 15 minutes
  • Capacity: 0.5l

3. Best handheld vacuum cleaner for pet hair: Shark HandVac Cordless Hand Vacuum Cleaner CH950UKT

Shark HandVac Cordless Hand Vacuum Cleaner CH950UKT

Mumsnet users rave about full-size cordless Sharks, so it’s no surprise that they also love this handheld.

The HandVac is ideal if you have a pet as it comes with three handy accessories, including a Motorised Pet Tool to remove embedded pet hair from upholstery.

At under £50, it’s great value when you consider the cost of full-size Sharks and you still get Shark’s two-year warranty if you register your vacuum cleaner.

The only downside is the run time – it lasts just 10 minutes before it needs to be recharged.

What we like

  • Shark’s technology for a bargain price
  • Great for pet hair

What we don't like

  • Only offers a 10-minute run time

Key specs

  • Weight: 1.39kg
  • Run time: 10 minutes
  • Capacity: 0.46l

4. Best handheld vacuum cleaner for stairs: Gtech Multi MK2 Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Gtech Multi MK2 Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

“Gtech all the way. We have their handheld vacuum cleaner. We use it for hoovering pet hair and it picks up more than any other. Definitely a best buy.”

Gtech, along with Dyson, is one of the brand names that comes up again and again on the Mumsnet forums. So are you team Gtech or team Dyson?

The Gtech comes in slightly cheaper than the Dyson, but it also has 10 minutes less run time (at just 20 minutes) and a slightly smaller capacity at 0.4 litres instead of 0.5.

But Gtech fans rave about its power and say that, when it comes to small spaces, pokey corners and grit-gathering cracks, the Gtech can take them all. Users also say it’s really good for stairs and upholstery.

What we like

  • Long run time
  • Powerful at picking up debris

What we don't like

  • Expensive if bought brand-new

Key specs

  • Weight: 1.5kg
  • Run time: 20 minutes
  • Capacity: 0.4l

5. Best handheld vacuum for hard-to-reach areas: Black & Decker PD1820L Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Black & Decker PD1820L Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

“With some handhelds, I found that the air created by the fan tended to blow away and scatter everything I was trying to suck up. The Black & Decker with the hose avoids that completely. I'd highly recommend it. If you unclip the hose bit, you can get into little nooks and crannies or reach high up.”

This lightweight cordless handheld vacuum gives you power and flexibility to clean any surface. It’s compact, lightweight and its wraparound 1.5-metre hose allows you to clean hard-to-reach areas – the insides of lampshades, between sofa cushions, higher shelves or your car’s interior.

The translucent 560ml dustbowl features a side door to dispose of debris directly into the bin without you touching it. Battery life is about 15 minutes and it comes with a charging docking station that also stores accessories.

What we like

  • 1.5-metre flexible hose to clean awkward areas
  • Fully removable compartment so you can dispose of the debris without touching it

What we don't like

  • No dock for charging
  • Not for heavy-duty cleaning

Key Specs

  • Weight: 2.27kg
  • Run time: 15 minutes
  • Capacity: 0.5 litres

6. Best lightweight handheld vacuum cleaner: Vax Gator Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Vax Gator Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

“The battery lasts a long time. It’s not as bulky as a Dyson and is reasonably priced. I use mine to pick up crumbs on the kitchen floor and the mess created by our guinea pigs (kept indoors). Can highly recommend it.”

The Vax Gator is a powerful handheld vacuum cleaner that’s ideal for picking up dust and debris quickly.

The lightweight, cordless design means it's very manoeuvrable and it weighs just 1.3kg – less than half the weight of other models.

Its mouth also flips open for easy, hygienic emptying, and it has a built-in crevice tool for cleaning in tight corners that’s fully retractable for storage.

What we like

  • Lightweight
  • Flip lid to empty is very hygienic

What we don't like

  • Takes a long time – around six hours – to charge

Key specs

  • Weight: 1.3kg
  • Run time: 15 minutes
  • Capacity: 0.3 litres

Related: Cleaning hacks to speed up the (endless) housework. 

7. Best handheld wet and dry vacuum cleaner: Hoover 39300254 Jovis Wet and Dry Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Hoover 39300254 Jovis Wet and Dry Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

“We have a Hoover Jovis Wet and Dry. It's really powerful and fantastic! Highly recommend it.”

Hoover is often the main brand thought of when it comes to vacuuming and with this Wet and Dry model it’s easy to see why.

It has 15 minutes of cleaning without having to recharge, but the main selling point is that it’s multi-functional. Not only can it clean up dry debris, but small spills can be mopped up from kitchen surfaces or floors with the squeegee tool provided.

Added to that is a crevice tool attachment that’s great for leaving those hard-toreach places spotless and dirt-free.

What we like

  • Cleans small spills as well as debris

What we don't like

  • Not as powerful as some

Key specs

  • Weight: 1.34kg
  • Run time: 15 minutes
  • Capacity: 0.3 litres

8. Best corded handheld vacuum for allergies: VonHaus Bagless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

VonHaus Bagless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

This model by VonHaus isn’t just super stylish – it’s also great if you suffer from allergies as it has a HEPA filtration system. Plus, it comes with a whole host of other health benefits.

There’s an 8V UV light and a vibration feature which help to clean 99.95% of bacteria – these could lead to nasties like E. coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus – and it’s great at removing nasties from mattresses, curtains and other upholstery.

It’s corded so less flexible than cordless models, but the plus side to this is that you don’t have to worry about running out of charge.

What we like

  • HEPA allergy filter
  • Vibration feature to help clean bacteria.

What we don't like

  • Heavier than other models at over 3kg

Key specs

  • Weight: 3.19kg
  • Run time: N/A – it’s corded
  • Capacity: 1.2 litres

Read more: The best carpet cleaners, whether you want to tackle a tough stain or simply freshen them up, we've got a great selection of our users favourites. 

9. Best handheld vacuum cleaner for cars: Black & Decker 12V Pivot Auto Dustbuster

Black & Decker 12V Pivot Auto Dustbuster

This corded handheld vacuum is perfect for car cleaning as the charger fits into the 12V cigarette lighter. It’s cord is five metres long so capable of reaching all corners of even the biggest cars.

The built-in extendable crevice tool gets crumbs out of the nooks and crannies of toddler car seats, and there are 10 different settings whether you’re removing the dust from delicate buttons or stubborn mud from the floor.

What we like

  • Corded so doesn’t run out of battery
  • Long cord that fits in the cigarette lighter

What we don't like

  • Only suitable for cars, so limited use

Key specs

  • Weight: 1.5kg
  • Run time: N/A – it’s corded
  • Capacity: 0.35l

10. Best small handheld vacuum cleaner: WORX WX030 CUBEVAC Cordless Compact Vacuum Cleaner

WORX WX030 CUBEVAC Cordless Compact Vacuum Cleaner

The WORX offers a very solid and hardwearing unit for an affordable price. That means it’s heavier than many models at 2.22kg, but the extendable hose – at 48 inches – means you can place the unit on the floor while you access hard-to-reach areas.

It charges in just one hour and eight minutes and then you get 22 minutes of run time. The onboard storage means that the brush and crevice accessories are always with you when you need them. Even better, the crevice tool extends to reach into really tight spots.

What we like

  • Quick charging time at just over an hour
  • Flexible hose for hard-to-reach areas

What we don't like

  • On the heavy side at over 2kg

Key specs

  • Weight: 2.2kg
  • Run time: 22 minutes
  • Capacity: 0.4l

Are handheld vacuums worth it?

Handheld vacuum cleaners are worth it if you’re looking for an occasional vacuum that can be used in hard to reach areas or for adhoc spills. Cordless handheld vacuums in particular are great for cleaning the car (if you have one).

How do I choose a handheld vacuum?

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a handheld vacuum:

  • Corded or cordless – with corded handhelds, you never have to think about charging, but cordless are much more convenient as you’re not restricted to being within cord distance of a plug.
  • Battery run time – if you choose a battery-operated handheld vacuum cleaner, then you need to consider the battery run time. Top-of-the-market models tend to last for 20 minutes (or half an hour if you’re lucky), but others need charging after as little as five minutes. Look out for an indicator to let you know when the battery is running low.
  • Weight – you’ll need something that’s lightweight so it’s easy to pick up and put down. Most weigh around 1.5kg, although they can weigh anywhere from 0.7 to 2.3kg. You won’t be using it for long, but the lighter it is the less likely it is to end up unused in the cupboard.
  • Accessories – if you have a pet, then a turbo pet tool for picking up stubborn hairs can help. Crevice tools are great for getting into the corners of stairs and underneath the sofa.
  • Storage – some handheld vacuums come with a charging dock so you can attach them to the wall. More basic versions just charge by plug.
  • Capacity – if you want to clean up a lot of mess and fur, then look for handheld vacuums that have a big storage capacity. Most have around 0.5 litres, which is around a quarter of a full-size vacuum cleaner.

How long do handheld vacuums last?

Handheld vacuums can last around two to three years depending on how often you use yours and how you look after it.

To maximise its life expectancy, you should regularly empty the dust bag and clean the filters to stop them from clogging up with dust, pollen, and bacteria particles.

You should also remove long hairs and debris from the motorised brush and try not to vacuum up too much Lego!

Which is the best handheld vacuum?

There's a reason the Dyson V7 Trigger Handheld Vacuum Cleaner comes so highly recommended on the Mumsnet forums and that’s because you get a lot of features – including pet tools, allergy filters – and it’s built to last. We think it’s the best handheld vacuum to buy right now.

A very close second is the Gtech Multi MK2, which has a similar spec and is equally hardwearing. If you want to spend under £60 though, you can’t go wrong with the Shark HandVac Cordless Hand Vacuum Cleaner. Mumsnet users love it and, while it’s less powerful than the Dyson or Gtech, it’s an all-round, good-value handheld vacuum cleaner.

How we chose our recommendations

Our recommendations for handheld vacuums came from Mumsnet users themselves. We searched the Mumsnet forums for posts about which handheld vacuums Mumsnet users found effective and efficient at dealing with daily spills and pet hair particularly. We also looked at other trusted reviews to see which handheld vacuums performed well across the board.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.