Best of the Best
Dyson V7 Car+Boat
Weight (Heaviest Tool)
: 3.7 lbs. | Runtime
Fantastic cleaning performance
Great for difficult to reach places
Excellent battery life
If you are looking for a handheld vacuum that is the absolute best you can get, hands-down, then you are going to want the Dyson V7. This top-notch handheld vacuum couples exceptional cleaning performance with an impressive battery life, all in an extremely convenient and easy to use package. This product can handle most messes, from fine dust to mini-wheats without issue. It also comes with tons of different attachments that let you clean in confined areas and it picks up pet hair with ease.
Unfortunately, this superb performance comes at a bit of price. This vacuum is a bit on the heavier side and it is quite a bit more expensive than the other products we have reviewed, retailing for around $130 more than the next most expensive handheld that we have tested. However, if you want the absolute best handheld vacuum that you can get, then the Dyson is the clear choice — even if it is going to cost you.
Read Full Review: Dyson V7 Car+Boat
BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac BDH2020FL
Weight (Heaviest Tool)
: 3.1 lbs. | Runtime
Makes it easy to clean hard-to-reach areas
Surprisingly good at picking up pet hair
Mediocre battery life
Not as convenient to use
If you find the price tag of the Dyson V7 to be a bit on the outrageous side, then you might want to consider the BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac. The Flex Vac does a great job at cleaning up dust and dirt around your home and even does a fairly impressive job at cleaning up the tougher messes you may encounter. This handheld is a bit different than the other models, as it has an integrated hose that all of the attachments mount to. This can be both a curse or blessing, as it makes it much easier to clean in small areas, but it also makes it a bit less convenient to use, as it requires two-handed operation.
Unfortunately, this can make it a bit less convenient to use than some of the other models that only require a single hand to use. This vacuum is also on the heavier side and is a bit louder than some of the other models. Regardless, this is still one of our favorite vacuums to recommend to anyone shopping on a budget but is still willing to spend a bit more for a top-notch performance.
Read Full Review: BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac BDH2020FL
Best on a Tight Budget
BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser
Weight (Heaviest Tool)
: 3 lbs. | Runtime
Amazing with pet hair
Great at tougher messes
Not the best for cleaning confined areas
So-so battery life
If you already spent a chunk of money on a new upright vacuum and don't want to spend a ton on a handheld, then the Pet Hair Eraser by BISSELL is a great choice. This handheld vacuum is a great choice if you are looking to clean up pet hair and tough messes, without breaking the bank. It also does an excellent job at cleaning up dirt and dust.
Unfortunately, this isn't the best for getting into every little nook and cranny and struggles a bit when it comes to cleaning under furniture or appliances compared to the top products. It also is a bit on the loud side and is only average when it comes to weight and battery life. However, it does an overall solid job and costs a fraction of what the top products do, earning it a Best Buy award.
Read Full Review: BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser
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Some of the best handheld vacs on the market today.
Why You Should Trust Us?
Our TechGearLab handheld vacuum team is comprised of Austin Palmer and David Wise. Austin and David are both veteran tech reviewers, having tested and reviewed over 400 different products in the past few years, exhaustively comparing their performance side-by-side. In particular, Austin has easily spent over a 1,000 hours developing testing plans and comparing the performance of different upright vacuum, stick vacuums, and robot vacuums, bringing this extensive experience to our handheld vacuum review. In addition to professionally writing and reviewing tech products for the last three years, David also lives in a house with two long hair cats, two long hair dogs, and shag carpet straight from the 60's, making it the perfect place to torture test these products. In addition to our own extensive background and experience with vacuums, we have also consulted professional house cleaners and a large pool of friends and family members about our test plans and selections, loaning out the products to confirm our results. Here at TechGearLab, we buy all the handheld vacuums that we test and will never accept free samples from manufacturers, ensuring you get the most accurate and unbiased reviews around.
To decide which handheld vacuum truly ruled them all, we spent a ton of time researching over 50 different models, looking at everything from manufacturer's specifications, user experiences, and other reviews to decide which handheld vacuums had the most potential. We then bought all the best to test head-to-head and find out which ones are really worthy of winning an award. In total, we did over 20 different tests, grouping them into 6 weighted rating metrics, with our full results discussed below. In total, we spent over 150 hours exclusively testing handheld vacuums and rating their performance to pick out our award winners.
Analysis and Test Results
Before we get into the specifics of how each vacuum performed, let's look at how much these products actually cost. While our Editors' Choice award winner, the Dyson V7 is undeniably a fantastic product with unmatched cleaning power, it also might suck up all your spare cash with its $240 price tag. If that is giving you sticker shock, then the BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac BDH2020FL should be the next product you consider. It clean almost as well as the Dyson V7, though it can be a bit more cumbersome to use. However, it costs a bit less than half of what the Dyson does, making it a much better value and earning it the Best Buy award. If you are on the tightest of tight budgets, then the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser is the one for you, also earning the Best Buy award. This is the least expensive product that we have tested that is really worth getting — anything less expensive is quite deficient when it comes to overall performance.
The Dyson V7 completing our baseboard cleaning test.
Dust & Dirt
The first thing we looked at when evaluating these products is how well they did at cleaning up common dirt and dust, as well as how well each one cleaned small ledges, edges, and corners. To test the dusting abilities, we statically charged a photo screen, then sprinkled flour over it and timed how long it took each vacuum to clean it. For dirt, we spread out mud on a hard surface, then let it dry and tasked each vacuum with cleaning it. Altogether, these assessments are responsible for 20% of the total score for each handheld vacuum.
Easily outperforming the rest of the pack, the Dyson V7 claimed the top spot in this metric, earning a 9 out of 10 for its superb performance. This handheld vacuum did exceptionally well in our dusting test, cleaning all of the fine particles off the statically charged sheet in about 13 seconds. It did even better with dirt/dried mud, only taking around 4 seconds to completely clean up the entire mess.
The V7 is one of the best at cleaning small ledges.
The brush attachment for the Dyson is quite long, with particularly long bristles that are on the softer side, making it very effective at cleaning small areas, like the corner of a window sill or along the top lip of a baseboard.
Following the Dyson's stellar performance, a pair of BLACK+DECKER models, the Flex Vac and the HHVI315JO42 both tied for the runner-up position, each earning a 7 out of 10. These both did quite well in our dusting test, each took about 21 seconds to clean up all of the dust. — just a bit longer than the Dyson V7. The HHVI315JO42 also did very well when it came to cleaning up dirt, only taking a second longer than the Dyson.
This BLACK+DECKER vac did a great job at removing crusted on mud from linoleum floor.
Unfortunately, the Flex Vac didn't do that well when it came to dirt, taking about five times as long as the Dyson to clean up the same amount of mess. However, the Flex Vac did a lot better than the HHVI315JO42 when it came to cleaning smaller areas.
We let mud and dirt dry on a section of linoleum floor, then tried to clean it as best we could.
Next, the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser, the HoLife, and the Homasy all received a 6 out of 10 for their decent dirt and dust cleaning abilities. The BISSELL doesn't really have a great brush for dusting, only an upholstery attachment without bristles and a motorized bristle brush that is a bit much for dusting. Surprisingly, it actually did quite well in our dusting test with the upholstery attachment, only taking a second longer than the Flex Vac or the HHVI315JO42. It also did very well at cleaning up dirt and dried on mud, matching the performance of the Dyson and the HHVI315JO42. However, its upholstery attachment is a bit of a pain to use in smaller cracks and corners.
The BISSELL didn't have a great attachment for cleaning the tops of baseboards.
Both the HoLife and the Homasy are essentially identical handheld vacuums, both doing very well in the dirt cleaning test and rather poorly when it came to dusting — their stiff bristles are far from the best for this application. However, their brush attachments do work fairly well for cleaning out the corners of places like a window sill, but not as well at thinner ledges.
This vacuum does a decent job at cleaning tight spaces.
The Shark ION W1 and the BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02 both finished at the back of the pack, each earning a 5 out of 10 for their mediocre cleaning abilities when it comes to dust and dirt. The Shark is a tiny handheld vacuum that took significantly longer to complete our cleaning tasks, but at least it is reasonably effective at cleaning small spaces and corners.
The Shark doesn't do much well, but it is quite good at dusting cracks and crevices.
The BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02 did even worse in the dusting test, failing to collect all of the flour after 45 seconds of cleaning and even leaving some scrapes and scuff marks behind. It also didn't impress when it came to small space but did do fairly well at cleaning up the caked on dirt, only taking about 8 seconds longer than the V7 or the Pet Hair Eraser.
The V7 is the best you can get for cleaning up tough messes.
Next, we considered the performance of each vacuum when it came to tougher messes to clean, such as different types of debris on couch cushions and automotive carpet, as well as larger particles. Additionally, we also compared the effective airflow each vacuum had using an anemometer in a sealed chamber. In total, these four tests constitute 20% of the total score for each vacuum.
The Dyson V7 again nabbed the top spot, earning another 9 out of 10 for its stellar series of results. Starting off, we spread some flour out on a section of automotive carpet, then scored each one on how well it cleaned it and how many passes it took. We used the most appropriate tool supplied with each vacuum, which was the motorized brush for the Dyson.
It did exceptionally cleaning up the flour, getting the carpet quite clean after a few passes. It also did very well at collecting crushed oat from both a cushion and the carpet, getting close to 99% of the mess without any issue and without flinging any particles aside.
The Dyson got a decent amount of the flour after a few passes, but needed a few more to completely clean the carpet.
It also sucked up mini-wheats in our large particle test without any cause for concern and did fairly well in our anemometer wind speed test — though it didn't put up the highest score of the group, outmatched by the BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42.
Following the V7, the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser came next, meriting an 8 out of 10. This vacuum matched the performance of the V7 when it came to flour — even slightly exceeding it when it came to flour collected per pass.
The BISSELL removed flour much faster than the Dyson, but in the end, they were about the same after 8 passes.
It also matched the performance of the V7 in our oat tests, but couldn't quite compare when it came to collecting mini-wheats. Additionally, it also measured slightly lower in the anemometer test.
Next, the BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02 earned a 7 out of 10. It did much worse than the V7 or the Pet Hair Eraser when it came to collecting flour, but matched the performance of these top two products in our mini-wheat collection test and fell just a tiny bit short when collecting oats from both the cushion and carpets. It also matched the V7 in the anemometer assessment, outperforming the BISSELL.
The 'JR02 sucked up all the oats with ease.
The bulk of the vacuums all came next, with the Flex Vac, the BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42, the HoLife, and the Homasy all earned a 6 out of 10. The HoLife and the Homasy both did an excellent job in the flour test, getting most of the flour up from the carpet, but couldn't quite match the top products.
The HoLife did surprisingly well at cleaning up flour.
This pair also does very well at sucking up the mini-wheats — as long as there isn't an attachment on — but both struggled a bit with the oats, leaving a bit behind in the harder to clean areas of the cushion and in the fibers of the carpet. They also did about average in the wind speed test.
The Flex Vac sucked up the mini-wheats without any issue at all, but did a rather lackluster job at collecting the flour and oats, doing about the same as the HoLife and the Homasy with the oats and a bit worse with the flour. However, it did outperform both of those products in the sealed chamber anemometer test.
For being such a small vacuum, the Shark surprised us by easily sucking up the mini-wheats.
The BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42 did a terrible job in the flour test — worse than any other product — but did do a little better than the Flex Vac when it came to cleaning up crushed oats. It also did a great job with the mini-wheats and put up one of the highest wind speeds in the anemometer test.
The 'J042 handled the oats with ease.
The Shark ION W1 again finished at the back of the group, earning a 4 out of 10 for its below average performance. It surprisingly did quite well with the flour and mini-wheats, though it couldn't compare to the V7. Unfortunately, it failed somewhat miserably at cleaning oats from the cushions and had the lowest measured air flow, dropping it to the back of the pack.
The hose attachment on the Dyson lets you clean even the hardest to reach places.
Our next metric challenged each vacuum on how well it could clean in cramped and confined space. We ranked and scored each one on how well it could clean debris out of a sliding window track and on how far it could effectively clean under a low piece of furniture and under an appliance. These assessments again are responsible for 20% of the overall score for each vacuum.
While it should no surprise at this point that the Dyson V7 again claimed the top spot, this time it was joined by the BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac, with both vacuums earning a 9 out of 10. The Flex Vac actually did slightly better than the V7 at cleaning debris out of the window track, having a slightly skinnier crevice attachment.
The integrated hose on the Flex Vac requires two-handed operation, but you can reach almost anywhere in your home with it.
To see how well they would do at cleaning under furniture, we used a shelving unit with a 3" gap between the base shelf and the floor, then measured how far each one could effectively clean. Both of these vacuums can reach as far as you can when using the crevice tool and hose attachment — almost 3' in our tests!
You can clean as far as you can reach with the V7.
Next, we made that test even harder by adding a piece of cardboard that cut the size of the gap to 1.25" — a gap that you might find between your car seat and the center console or under an appliance — then repeated the test. Both the Flex Vac and the V7 again did the best out of the group, cleaning up to 8" away from the opening.
Next, the Shark ION W1 caused a bit of an upset, earning a 7 out of 10. It matched the top products when it came to cleaning out the window track and reached up to 13" in the larger opening, but only made it 4" when we halved the size of the gap.
The Shark has a surprisingly long reach in larger gaps, but fares poorly in smaller ones.
The BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02 came next, earning a 6 out of 10. It left a bit more mess behind in the window track than the Shark or the Dyson. It couldn't quite reach as far as the Shark in the wider opening but did slightly exceed it in the thinner gap. However, it couldn't come close to comparing to the reach of the vacuums that have a hose attachment, like the V7 or the Flex Vac.
The 'JR02 does a fairly good job at cleaning cramped areas.
A trio of vacuums all came next, with the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser, the HoLife, and the Homasy all earning a 5 out of 10 for their results. The BISSELL did very well cleaning the sliding window track, but only has a mediocre reach for deeper slots — basically the length of the crevice tool.
Even with the crevice attachment, the Pet Hair Eraser didn't have a great reach.
The Homasy and the HoLife performed very similarly to the BISSELL, though they both reached slightly further in the thicker slot and slightly less in the thinner slot.
The HoLife doesn't have much of a reach in either gap size.
Finishing out the back of the group, the BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42 merited a 4 out of 10. This vacuum did clean out the shallow window track very well but had almost no way to effectively clean further the 3" in the thin slot and 6" in the wider slot — the least reach of the group.
The HoLife has one of the more impressive batteries of the bunch.
As all of these products are cordless, it makes sense to take their battery life into account to determine the score. We started each vacuum with a full battery, then ran them until they died to score them. Most of these products only have a single cleaning mode, but a few have both a high power and low power mode. For these products, we based our score on a 70/30 split between low power and high power mode. This test constitutes 15% of the final score for each one.
The V7, the HoLife, and the Homasy all tied for the top spot, earning an 8 out of 10. The Dyson has two cleaning modes so we used our adjusted calculation, lasting for 26 minutes before quitting — almost identical to the HoLife. The Homasy followed, cleaning for a little over 25 minutes.
The BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser came next, earning a 6 out of 10 for its 20 minutes and 42 seconds of runtime. However, we did note that the maximum runtime dropped by about three minutes when using a motorized tool. Other vacuums with a motorized brush accessory — like the Dyson V7 — will also suffer a slight drop in runtime when using that tool.
The motorized brush head on the BISSELL is great for cleaning, but it can drain your battery faster than stationary attachments.
The BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac and the HHVI320JR02 both received a 4 out of 10 for their results, with the Flex Vac lasting for 15 minutes on the dot and the BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02 making it an additional 24 seconds before calling it quits.
This pair was followed by the BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42, which earned a 3 out of 10 for its 12 minute and 20 second runtime and the Shark ION W1, which earned a 2 for its slightly short of 10 minute runtime.
The single click attachment system for Dyson accessories is exceptionally convenient to use.
Also accounting for 15% of the total score, we moved on to evaluating and ranking how convenient it is to clean with these vacuums. We compared the weight and ergonomics of each model, the size of the collection bin and the ease of emptying it, and if the tools and attachments are integrated into the main module or if there is a convenient way to store and manage them, as well as the noise level of each mobile vacuum.
The Dyson V7 again held off the rest of the pack, earning the highest score of the group — a 7 out of 10. This handheld had a moderately sized 0.5 L collection bin that is exceptionally easy to empty.
The V7 is also one of the easiest handheld vacs to empty.
It is also one of the quieter vacuums, but it is a bit on the heavy side and we haven't really found a good way to manage the plethora of attachments that it comes with, as there is no integrated storage on the main vacuum module or separate storage rack included.
The V7 includes a myriad of different attachments but doesn't offer a convenient way to store them.
Next, the majority of the vacuums all earned a 6 out of 10, including the Pet Hair Eraser, the HoLife, the Homasy, the BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02, and the HHVI315JO42. These are all about average in weight, weighing between two and three pounds.
The HoLife, the Homasy, and the Pet Hair Eraser are all very quiet — only a tiny bit louder than the V7. The paid of BLACK+DECKER models are significantly louder, being some of the loudest of the group aside from the Flex Vac.
None of these five have any sort of tool storage or integrated tools, with the exception of the HHVI320JR02 which has an integrated flip brush and an extendable crevice tool, ensuring that you can't lose them.
You can rotate the integrated tool 90 degrees on the 'JR02.
These all have comparably sized collection bins, with the HHVI320JR02 having the easiest to empty bin, followed by the HHVI315JO42 and the Pet Hair Eraser.
The HoLife requires a bit more effort to empty than many other products.
Both the HoLife and the Homasy are a bit harder to empty and clean, taking a bit more time than the other products.
The pet hair tool on the Flex Vac was surprisingly effective at cleaning up pet hair, even though it isn't motorized.
For our final metric, accountable for the leftover 10% of the score, we ranked and scored the pet hair pickup abilities of each product. We placed pet hair on both a couch cushion and on the low-pile automotive carpet, then awarded points on how much was successfully picked up, again utilizing the most effective attachment for each vacuum.
Finishing off an almost perfect showing, the Dyson V7 claimed the top spot, again tying with the Pet Hair Eraser. Both of these vacuums earned a 9 out of 10, making it clear that a motorized brush attachment is the answer if you want to pick up pet hair. Both vacuums cleaned up at least 99% of the hair from both surfaces in less than a minute.
The motorized brush on the V7 made short work of pet hair
This pair's top-notch performance was followed by the BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac, which merited an 8 out of 10. While this vacuum doesn't have a motorized brush, it has a pet hair specific attachment with hard rubber bristles that actually works quite well, though it did leave a small amount of hair behind and took a bit longer than the BISSELL or the Dyson.
The Shark ION came next, earning a 6 out of 10 for doing fairly well with the cushion, but only doing a mediocre job of cleaning the carpet.
The Shark did decently well with pet hair.
None of the remaining vacuums did very well and aren't really a good option if you are hoping to use your new handheld vac to clean up after your furry friends. The BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42 earned a 4 out of 10 and the HHVI320JR02 merited a 3. Both of these vacuums actually cleaned up 70-90% of the hair from both surfaces, but most of it got tangled up in the brush and failed to make it to the collection bin.
Finally, both the HoLife and the Homasy earned a 2 out of 10 for their abysmal performance, with all of the hair becoming tangled in the brush and none making it into the bin — we would strongly caution against using either of these to clean up pet hair.
Hopefully, you now have a clear idea of which handheld vacuums would be the best fit for your needs and budget. If you want more information on a specific product, check out its individual review or check out our How We Test page for more information pertaining to our actual testing procedure. Alternatively, you can check out our Buying Advice guide for more background on these products and why you might want one if you are still on the fence about actually purchasing one.