The Best Handheld Vacuums of 2017

By Jonathan Chan

It can be a hassle to bust out your full-sized vacuum when you've got a mess to clean up in the car or the kitchen. That's where a handheld vacuum can help. Lightweight, easy-to-store, and battery powered, they're a great defense against dirt.

While some of these smaller units can be every bit as tenacious as their larger cousins, they often force tradeoffs. For example, more powerful suction can hurt battery life, and a lighter cleaner can cost more.

That's why we rounded up ten of the top-selling handheld vacuums to see which one is worth your hard-earned cash. From pricey Dysons to affordable Dirt Devils, we subjected every vacuum to a week-long battery of real-world tests. In the end, we evaluated the results to determine which models are best for your home.

Updated October 13, 2017

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Dyson V7 Car+Boat Best Overall
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan
Our overall winner, the V7, had power and versatility.

Dyson V7 Car + Boat

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  • Editors' Choice

Dyson V7 Car + Boat

Best Overall

The cordless Dyson V7 Car+Boat won our top spot for best handheld vacuum. That's because it's a perfect mix of long battery life, powerful suction, and a flexible set of included attachments. We understand a $239 price tag is a little hard to swallow for most people, so if you're willing to get by with the minimum number of attachments, the V7 Trigger lacks the Car & Boat's included car charger and some tools—but runs about $40 cheaper.

In our tests, the V7 beat all its competitors on pickup, cleaning over 75 percent of the dirt we laid out for it. Battery life is up to 30 minutes of low-power cleaning, or seven minutes at full power—which we used for testing.

Its attachments also impress: The motorized brush head is compact, just six inches across, and designed to resist tangling hair. The Car+Boat model also includes two dusting brushes, a crevice tool for tight spots, and a flexible hose that extends out two feet for more reach under seats.

Black+Decker Pivot Best Budget
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan
The Black+Decker Pivot 20V was great for its price.

Black & Decker BDH2000PL

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  • Editors' Choice

Black & Decker BDH2000PL

Best Budget

If you want to spend less—a lot less—than the Dyson, we recommend the Black+Decker Pivot 20V. Unlike the Dyson, which is based on a stick vac design, the cordless Pivot is a dedicated handheld unit.

One of the great design features is a pivot joint that lets you bend the unit 200º. This literal flexibility lets you turn the Pivot into a hook to get cobwebs off the tops of cabinets, or fold it up for easy storage. However, its big body and lack of a hose make its hard to maneuver under car seats. The crevice and dusting tool are permanently attached, too.

We clocked the Pivot's run time at eleven-and-a-half minutes—third of all the vacuums we tested. It came in second place during our pickup test, capturing 70 percent of the dirt we laid out. Considering that it only costs around $70, that's an impressive showing.

At the end of the day, if you need help cleaning up small messes in tight spaces, but don't need a vacuum that's top of the line, the Pivot is a safe choice.

How we test

Testing vacuums and picking a winner was a three-step process. The first step consisted of weights and measurements. Out of the box, we put on the heaviest attachment and placed the vacuum on a scale. We then measured the "reach" of each vacuum: how far it extends from your hand for cleaning.

How we tested
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan
We tested 10 of the top-selling handheld vacuums.

Next came the performance tests. We measured battery life and pickup of dirt, crumbs, and pet hair. To make everything fair, every vacuum was allowed to charge for 24 hours before and after the battery test. If a powered brush head was available, it was attached. All tests were performed on the highest power settings.

Finally, we took our top picks and brought them out of the lab and into a dirty car. We put uncooked rice on the floor to simulate debris like tracked-in road salt and discarded snacks. We stuffed pet hair between the seats, and scattered dirt all over the trunk.

We also judged our top picks based on how easy it was to change attachments, and how balanced each vacuum felt in hand during cleaning.

Testing
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan
We used sand that was around 450 microns wide to conduct our dirt pickup test.

Black & Decker HNV215BW52

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Black & Decker HNV215BW52

Do you ever have spills at your home that are too small for a mop, but too big for a paper towel? Well, that's where the Black+Decker HNV215BW52 comes in.

Retailing for around $40, this mini wet-dry vac mastered both. During our dirt pickup test, it captured 60 percent of the dirt, placing it in the top half of our roundup. And it picked up water, too, so you won't have to go through a roll of paper towels. This was the lightest handheld we tested, tipping the scales at only 1.5 pounds.

So, why didn't it win? Well, its battery life was weak. It only ran for a total of 10 minutes, and we noticed a decline in suction at around the 8 minute mark. That might be fine for a small spill, but that's not nearly long enough for cleaning a car or any of the other more involved uses for a compact vacuum.

Black & Decker CHV1410L

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Where To Buy

$49.00 Amazon Buy

Black & Decker CHV1410L

The Black+Decker CHV1410L is a great kitchen cleaner. Like the Pivot, its crevice tool and dusting brush are attached at the tip.

It only weighs 2.8 pounds, and can stand up while charging on your countertop. During our testing, the CHV1410L picked up 62 percent of the debris we left out for it—8 percent less than the Pivot. We say this model is good for light dusting and crumb cleanup, but it can't handle any heavy-duty work.

Bissell MultiReach

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Bissell MultiReach

Like the Dyson V7, the Bissell MultiReach is based on a stick vacuum design. It also costs as much as the D7. While the D7 has 16 minutes of continuous maximum power and onboard lights to illuminate dark spaces, it also weighs more than the Dyson, and didn't clean as well in our tests.

We were able to fit the Dyson V7 in more places, too. For the same price, we think the V7 is a better handheld vacuum.

Shark Ionflex Duoclean IF251

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Shark Ionflex Duoclean IF251

The pricey cordless Shark IonFlex 2X DuoClean converts from a stick vacuum. It can clean for up to 26 minutes with all the bells and whistles engaged, and comes with two removable, rechargeable batteries.

Unfortunately, as a hand vacuum, the IonFlex isn't very good. With a motorized brush head attached, it tips the scales at 7.7 pounds—so your hand will get tired long before the batteries run out. It also costs more than most stick vacuums we've tested, and its Pet Multi Tool doesn't have spinning brushes, powered or otherwise.

The IonFlex also comes with a large brush head that's normally found on full-sized vacuums—good for big messes, but not for the sort of spills you'll pick up with a hand vac.

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand Vacuum 1782

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Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand Vacuum 1782

The Bissell Pet Hair Easer sits in the middle of all the performance rankings, and only costs $50. Its battery only lasted 14 minutes, and the motor started to fade at the 11 minute mark. With that power, the spinning brushes did fine with fur—but only picked up around 52 percent of all the dirt we laid out for it.

With a maximum weight of 3.3 pounds, you'll be able to tote the Pet Hair Easer around without fear of fatigue. Plus, every purchase means a donation to Bissell's pet rescue foundation.

Shark SV780 Pet Perfect II

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Where To Buy

$48.00 Amazon Buy

Shark SV780 Pet Perfect II

The Shark Pet Perfect II has a lot in common with the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser. It has the same basic shape and tools. However it couldn't match its performance, picking up only 43 percent of the testing dirt. Its battery only lasted 11 minutes, and it also weighed 0.3 lbs. more than the Bissell.

Its major advantage is that it's a tad more compact, taking up two inches less space than the Pet Hair Eraser. Both are around $50, so it's a choice between more power or better maneuverability.

Dirt Devil SD12000

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Dirt Devil SD12000

The Dirt Devil SD12000 is the only corded hand vacuum on our list. It retails for under $25, so we're willing to cut it some slack (pardon the pun). With its 20-foot cord, this Dirt Devil weighs in at 3.5 pounds. It picked up only 54 percent of the test dirt we put down, and it floundered when it came to getting crumbs off our test carpet.

Instead of picking up large debris, the whirling brushes flicked them aside. With no variable settings, there's no way to slow it down or turn off the brush—which is why we don't recommend it.

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