Best Handheld Vacuum of 2021
$89.00 at Amazon
|$73 List||$80 List||$70 List||$50 List|
$44.98 at Amazon
|Pros||Great for getting those hard-to-clean areas, good value||Fantastic at picking up pet hair, great value||Excellent battery life, fairly convenient||Exceptional runtime, fairly easy to clean with||Great for tough messes, inexpensive|
|Cons||Lackluster battery life, two hands to operate, obnoxiously loud||Not the best for tight spaces, can't clean small gaps or corners||So-so cleaning performance, terribly with pet hair||Abysmal at picking up pet hair, not the best at cleaning||Not great with pet hair, unimpressive battery life|
|Bottom Line||A great all-around vacuum that excels at cleaning hard-to-reach areas||This vac excels at picking up pet dander and is a great choice for those on a budget||This middle-of-the-road vacuum failed to impress||We would be hard-pressed to find an area where this vacuum stands out from the rest||The HHVI320JR02 isn't great, but at least it's cheap|
|Rating Categories||Flex Vac BDH2020FL||BISSELL Pet Hair...||HoLIFE Portable...||Cleaner KB-9005||BLACK+DECKER...|
|Dust & Dirt (20%)|
|Tough Messes (20%)|
|Hard To Reach Areas (20%)|
|Battery Life (15%)|
|Pet Hair (10%)|
|Specs||Flex Vac BDH2020FL||BISSELL Pet Hair...||HoLIFE Portable...||Cleaner KB-9005||BLACK+DECKER...|
|Measured weight (no tool)||3 lbs||2.6 lbs||2.4 lbs||2.4 lbs||2.4 lbs|
|Measured weight (heaviest tool)||3.1 lbs||3 lbs||2.5 lbs||2.5 lbs||N/A|
|Usage type||Dry||Dry||Dry & wet||Dry & wet||Dry|
|Dust capacity||0.5 L||0.73 L||0.6 L||0.6 L||0.61 L|
|Wet capacity||N/A||N/A||0.1 L||0.1 L||N/A|
|Measured runtime||15 min||Without motorized brush: 20 min 42 sec
With motorized brush: 17 min
|26 min 10 sec||25 min 18 sec||15 min 24 sec|
|Charge time||4 hours||8 hours||3-5 hours||3-5 hours||13.5 hours|
|Measured noise (at arms length)||82.5 dBa||71.4 dBa||68 dBa||70.7 dBa||83 dBa|
Best Overall Handheld Vacuum
BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac BDH2020FL
If you're seeking versatile performance at a budget-friendly price, our top recommendation is the BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac. This vacuum handles everyday dirt and dust well while also adeptly tackling bigger messes. Unlike some other models that we tested, all of the attachments are mounted onto an integrated hose. This makes it much easier to reach into small areas, but it sometimes requires two hands to operate, which is slightly less convenient.
We found it to be noisier and heavier than some other models, and its battery life was shorter than some. Still, if you're looking for a high-performing handheld vacuum at a modest price, this is a good choice, standing on its own with a solid price to performance ratio.
Read Full Review: BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac BDH2020FL
Great Value for Spot Cleans
If you're on a super tight budget, give the Black+Decker HHVI315JO42 a look. For its bargain price tag, this handheld vac option did a great job cleaning up most large messes and surpassed expectations when sucking up dust and dirt. It's easy to use and features a decent capacity dust bin that is lightweight and straightforward to empty.
This Black+Decker isn't going to be the best option if you are looking to clean entire rooms with your handheld vacuum. It shows a lackluster performance at picking up pet hair, and its shorter battery life means it is best suited for smaller messes. It can also be quite noisy and have a hard time getting dirt out of smaller cracks and crevices. However, it still performs adequately for the price and is a great budget buy.
Read Full Review: BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42
Best for Pet Hair
BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser
The Pet Hair Eraser by BISSELL is the right solution if you are searching for an easy way to pick up pet hair without breaking the bank. While it does a good job at cleaning up your average household messes, we think it's at the top of the pack when cleaning up after furry friends. It also performs all of this while having a low price tag.
On the downside, it did sometimes fall short when trying to reach under appliances and furniture and the other nooks and crannies you have to get into to get a sparkling clean space. We also noticed that it is loud and offers average performance in terms of battery life and weight. Ultimately, it still does a good job at a fraction of the top products' cost, especially when it comes to pet hair. We would highly recommend it to anyone shopping for a handheld vacuum to clean up after their fur-babies.
Read Full Review: BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser
Why You Should Trust Us
Our TechGearLab handheld vacuum team consists of Austin Palmer and David Wise. They are both veteran tech reviewers, having tested more than 400 different products over the past few years. Austin has spent more than 500 hours evaluating vacuums of all types, from upright, stick, and robot models to the handhelds in this review. In addition to professionally reviewing tech products for the last three years, David lives in a house with three long-hair cats, two long-hair dogs, and shag carpet straight from the '60s, making it the perfect place to torture test these vacuums. Along with our extensive background and experience with vacuums, we also consulted professional house cleaners. We solicited feedback from friends and family about our test plans and selections, loaning out the products to confirm our results. At GearLab, we buy all the products we test and never accept free samples from manufacturers.
We exhaustively tested these vacuums head-to-head, conducting over 20 different assessments with each product. We used side-by-side comparisons to examine how well each one cleans up pet hair, dust, dirt, and caked-on mud, as well as how effectively each handheld vac can reach into cracks and crevices. Also, we measured the weight, battery life, and noise levels of each product and considered their ergonomics and ease of use.
Related: How We Tested Handheld Vacuums
Analysis and Test Results
Our testing process is divided into six weighted metrics — Dirt & Dust, Tough Messes, Hard-to-Reach Areas, Battery Life, Convenience, and Pet Hair — with each metric including multiple different tests. Each metric's performance is described below, with these results aggregated to determine overall scores and which products warranted awards.
Related: Buying Advice for Handheld Vacuums
The Black+Decker Flex Vac is worth a serious look. Though it can be a bit more cumbersome to use than some models, it does a great job cleaning and retails for an affordable price. For those on an even tighter budget, the Black+Decker HHVI315JO42 is also a great choice. This is our top recommendation if you're searching for a new handheld vac with limited funds, though the Flex Vac is quite a bit better if you can afford to upgrade.
Dust and Dirt
Our initial round of assessments focused on how adept each handheld vacuum is at dusting and cleaning up grime and caked-on dirt. We also compared how effectively each product cleaned a narrow ledge — like a baseboard — and inside a tight corner. To compare dusting performance, we used a nylon light-diffusing screen, charged it up with some static, and then spread flour on it, aiming for the point where the flour stuck to the surface when you tilted the screen up at an angle. To score their performance with stuck-on messes, we let some mud dry on linoleum, then attempted to scrub it off and clean up the mess. Combined, these tests account for 20% of each vacuum's final score.
A pair of BLACK+DECKER models, the Flex Vac and the HHVI315JO42, tied for the top spot. These both did quite well in our dust-busting test, each taking about 21 seconds to clean up all of the dust. The HHVI315JO42 also did very well when cleaning up dirt.
Unfortunately, the Flex Vac didn't perform as well when it came to dirt. However, it did a lot better than the HHVI315JO42 when it came to cleaning smaller areas.
Next, the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser, the HoLife, and the Homasy had a respectable showing for their dust and dirt-sucking abilities. The BISSELL doesn't have a superb brush for dusting — it comes with an upholstery attachment without bristles and a motorized bristle brush that's overkill for dust. Surprisingly, it did quite well in our 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 mud, matching the performance of the HHVI315JO42. However, its upholstery attachment is not practical for smaller corners and cracks.
The HoLife and the Homasy are virtually identical handheld vacuums. They both did 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 particular application. However, their brush attachments work reasonably well for cleaning out the corners of places like a windowsill, but not as well at thinner ledges.
The Shark Wandvac and the BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02 both delivered mediocre results. The Shark is a tiny handheld vacuum that needed more time to complete our cleaning tasks, though it did redeem itself slightly for its adeptness at cleaning corners and small spaces.
The Black+Decker HHVI320JR02 did even worse in the dusting test, failing to collect all of the flour after 45 seconds of cleaning while even leaving some scuff marks and scrapes behind. It also didn't impress when it came to small spaces. However, it performed fairly well at cleaning up the caked-on dirt, only taking about eight seconds longer than the Pet Hair Eraser.
At the bottom of the group, the Black+Decker CHV1410L received showed an underwhelming performance. This vacuum took forever to clean up the flour and forced us to give up after a minute because it looked like nothing we could do would completely clean up the mess. The brush head bristles are longer than other models, and the motor appeared to lack the suction to overcome this distance.
It was a similar story with the dirt and caked-on mud. The CHV1410L did a great job loosening the mess and moving it around, but the vac never did all that much when it came to cleaning. The brush head attachment is quite capable of getting into narrow ledges and corners but never cleaned them that well in our tests.
Next, we considered each vacuum's performance when it came to tougher messes, such as debris on car carpet and couch cushions, as well as larger particles. Additionally, we compared each vacuum's effective airflow using an anemometer in a sealed chamber. In total, these four tests constitute 20% of the total score for each vacuum.
To start, we spread some flour out on a section of automotive carpet, then scored each vacuum on how well it cleaned and how many passes it took to do the job. We used the most appropriate tool supplied with each vacuum.
The Black+Decker HHVI315JO42 achieved the highest score of the group, followed by the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser. This vacuum performed quite well when cleaning up flour. It also did well in the oat tests.
The Black+Decker HHVI320JR02 and the CHV1410L both merited a 7 out of 10. The HHVI320JR02 did much worse than the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser when collecting flour and fell just a tiny bit short at collecting oats from the carpet and cushion, but it matched the performance of these top products in our mini-wheat test. It also outperformed the BISSELL in the anemometer assessment.
The CHV1410L did even worse than the HHVI320JR02 at picking up flour, leaving tons behind on the couch cushion and the car carpet. However, it matched the HHVI320JR02 at collecting the mini-wheats and the crushed oats. The CHV1410L also exceeded the HHVI320JR02's airflow measurement in the anemometer test.
The Flex Vac, the BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42, the HoLife, and the Homasy followed. The HoLife and the Homasy both did an excellent job in the flour test, getting most of the flour up from the carpet, but they couldn't quite match the top contenders.
The Homasy and the HoLife also did great at sucking up the mini-wheats — as long as they didn't have an attachment on — but both struggled a bit with the oats, leaving some behind in the harder to clean areas of the cushion and in the fibers of the carpet. They performed around average in the wind speed test.
The Flex Vac sucked up the mini-wheats without any issue at all but did a lackluster job collecting the oats and flour. However, it did surpass the Homasy and the HoLife in the sealed chamber anemometer test.
The Black+Decker HHVI315JO42 performed abysmally in the flour test, but it was a little better than the Flex Vac at cleaning up crushed oats. It also did a great job with the mini-wheats and surprisingly achieved one of the highest wind speeds in the anemometer test.
The Shark Wandvac again finished at the back of the group for its below-average performance. It did quite well with the flour and mini-wheats. Unfortunately, it flat out failed at cleaning oats from the cushions and had the lowest measured airflow, which dropped it to the back of the pack.
We followed up our cleaning tests by evaluating how effectively each vacuum could reach into tight spaces. To do this, we used each cordless vacuum to clean out a sliding window track and measured how far they could reach into narrow gaps, such as under an appliance, a piece of furniture, or between the center console and the seat of a car. Taken together, these tests account for 20% of the total score for each product.
To see how well they would do at cleaning under furniture, we used a shelving unit with a three-inch gap between the base shelf and the floor, then measured how far each one could effectively clean underneath. The Flex Vac cleans as far as you can reach when using the crevice tool and hose attachment — almost three feet in our tests! It also excelled at cleaning debris out of the window track, thanks to a skinny crevice attachment.
Next, we made that test even harder by adding a piece of cardboard that narrowed the size of the gap down to 1.25" — a gap that you might find under a kitchen appliance or between a car seat and the center console — then repeated the test. The Flex Vac outperformed the rest, cleaning up to eight inches from the opening.
The Shark Wandvac was somewhat of a surprise, matching the top products when cleaning out the window track and reaching up to 13 inches in the larger opening. However, it only made it four inches when we halved the size of the gap.
The BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02 and the BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L performed decently. The HHVI320JR02 left a bit more mess behind in the window track than the Shark. It couldn't quite reach as far as the Shark in the wider opening but did slightly surpass it in the thinner gap. However, it couldn't come close to comparing the vacuums' reach with a hose attachment, such as the Flex Vac.
The CHV1410L and the HHVI320JR02 both sport almost identical tools that were too wide for the window slide and had to be rotated 90 degrees to fit, which we found wasn't as effective at cleaning. Both of these handheld vacuums could reach about 5.5" into the crack between a car seat and the center console in our test car and just 10" under a nightstand.
The BISSELL did very well cleaning the sliding window track but only has a mediocre reach for deeper slots — basically the crevice tool's length.
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.
Finishing out the back of the group is the Black+Decker HHVI315JO42. This vacuum cleaned out the shallow window track very well but had no way to effectively clean further than three inches in the thin slot and six inches in the wider slot — the least reach of the group.
All of these products are cordless, so battery life is an important consideration. We started each vacuum with a full battery, then ran them until they died. Most of these products only have a single cleaning mode, but a few have high power and low power modes. We based our score on a 70/30 split between low power and high power mode for these products. This test constitutes 15% of the final score for each one.
The HoLife and the Homasy had the longest battery life, with 26 and 25 minutes, respectively. The BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser clocked out after 20 minutes and 42 seconds of runtime. However, we noticed that the runtime dropped by about three minutes when using a motorized tool. Other vacuums with a motorized brush accessory will likely suffer similar drops in runtime when using their tools.
The Black+Decker Flex Vac and the HHVI320JR02 both had shorter than average battery life, 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.
The Black+Decker HHVI315JO42 had a 12 minute and 20-second runtime. Finally, the CHV1410L and the Shark Wandvac had dismal performances in this metric. These two vacuums both lasted for roughly 10 minutes before completely dying and took 4 hours and 2.5 hours to recharge, respectively.
Convenience accounts for 15% of the total score. We compared each model's ergonomics and weight, the size of the collection bin, and the ease of emptying it. We also factored in if the attachments and tools are integrated into the main module, if there is a convenient way to store and manage them, and each mobile vacuum's noise level.
The Pet Hair Eraser, the HoLife, the Homasy, the BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02, the HHVI315JO42, and the CHV1410L all featured above-average convenience. These vacuums are fairly typical when it comes to weight, tipping the scales between two and three pounds without any tools attached.
The HoLife, the Homasy, and the Pet Hair Eraser are also very quiet. On the other end of the spectrum, the Black+Decker HHVI315JO42 and the CHV1410L are some of the loudest products we've tested in this category, reaching sound levels of 83 decibels on our sound meter at a distance of three feet.
The HoLife, the Homasy, and the Pet Hair Eraser lack any sort of storage on the main base for their tools, which can be a bit of a pain to organize and store. Both the HHVI320JR02 and the CHV1410L have an integrated tool with a flip-out brush and telescoping crevice attachment. We found this to be far more convenient, as you always have all the tools on hand and you can't lose them.
These models all have comparably sized collection bins, with the HHVI320JR02's being the easiest to empty, followed by the HHVI315JO42 and the Pet Hair Eraser.
Both the HoLife and the Homasy are a bit harder to empty and clean, and it takes a bit more time to do so.
For our final metric, accounting for the remaining 10% of the score, we ranked and scored each product's proficiency at picking up pet hair. 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.
The Pet Hair Eraser finished up with an almost perfect showing, making it clear that a motorized brush attachment is the best solution if you want to pick up pet hair. It cleaned up at least 99% of the hair in less than a minute from both surfaces.
This top-notch performance was followed by the Black+Decker Flex Vac. While this vacuum doesn't have a motorized brush, it has a pet hair-specific attachment with hard rubber bristles that works quite well, though it did leave a small amount of hair behind and took a bit longer than the BISSELL. The Shark Wandvac performed fairly well with the cushion, but only did a mediocre job at cleaning the carpet.
None of the remaining vacuums did very well, so they're not good choices if you hope to use your new handheld vac to clean up after your furry friends. The Black+Decker HHVI315JO42 and the HHVI320JR02 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.
The HoLife and the Homasy had the most disappointing performance of the bunch with pet hair. This pair of vacuums did pick up plenty of pet hair from the carpet or cushion, but none made it into the collection bin. All of the hair became tangled in the brush attachments for these tools and took significant amounts of time to pick out. The Black+Decker CHV1410L did even worse, not only failing to collect any hair in its bin, but also leaving some behind on both the couch cushions and the carpet. The hair it did pick up also got tangled in the brush. Needless to say, we would strongly caution against using any of these three vacuums 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. However, remember that all of these vacuums are best suited for cleaning up small messes in between deeper cleans and should supplement, rather than replace, your existing vacuum.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise