Best Handheld Vacuum of 2020
Best Overall Handheld Vacuum
Dyson V7 Car+Boat
For the absolute best handheld vacuum you can get, look no further than the Dyson V7. We believe this heavy-hitter combines superb cleaning performance and impressive battery life in an extremely easy-to-use package. The Dyson handles most messes from fine dust to mini-wheats without issue. It also comes with an assortment of attachments that make cleaning in confined areas even easier. We especially love that it can pick up pet hair.
Not surprisingly, all this performance is pricey. Also, the Dyson is heavier than most competitors. However, if you want an absolutely great handheld vacuum and are willing to pay for it, the Dyson is an obvious choice.
Read Full Review: Dyson V7 Car+Boat
Another Great Option
BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac BDH2020FL
If you want excellent all-around performance at a more affordable price, then the BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac is a great option. It does a great job taking care of ordinary dust and dirt while also proving to be adept at handling tougher messes. Unlike the other models we tested, it has an integrated hose for all of the attachments to mount to. This makes it much easier to reach into small areas, but it also makes it a little less convenient to use because it requires two hands to operate.
On the downside, it is heavier and louder than some other models. However, this is still a solid vacuum for anyone seeking good performance at a reasonable price. It can't quite compete with some of the premium models but holds its own quite well, especially considering that it costs substantially less. We think its a great use for your handheld vacuum budget.
Read Full Review: BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac BDH2020FL
Great Value for Spot Cleans
If you are looking to spend the least amount of money possible, then the HHVI315JO42 is worth a look. This budget handheld vac did well when it came to cleaning up most messes and exceeded expectations at picking up dirt and dust — especially for such a minimal investment. It also is fairly convenient to use, it isn't overly heavy and it sports a decent capacity dust bin that's easy to empty.
This BLACK+DECKER does struggle at picking up pet hair and has a limited run time, so it's not really suited for cleaning entire rooms. It is also on the louder side. We noticed it struggled a little at cleaning the most confined crevices but it definitely does an acceptable job when you take its bargain price into account.
Read Full Review: BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42
Best for Pet Hair
BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser
If you are searching for an easy way to pick up pet hair without breaking the bank, then the Pet Hair Eraser by BISSELL is the solution. It's one of the best we've seen at cleaning up after furry friends and does a solid job with other types of messes, all while having a low price tags.
Unfortunately, it isn't too good at getting into nooks and crannies and it struggles around furniture and under appliances. We also noticed that it's loud and offers average performance in terms of weight and battery life. All things considered, it still does a good job at a fraction of the cost of the top products, 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. In addition to our extensive background and experience with vacuums, we also consulted professional house cleaners and solicited feedback from friends and family about our test plans and selections, loaning out the products to confirm our results. At TechGearLab, 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. In addition, 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. The performance of each vacuum in each metric is described below, with these results aggregated to determine overall scores and which products warranted awards.
Related: Buying Advice for Handheld Vacuums
While the Dyson V7 is undeniably a fantastic product with unmatched cleaning power, getting one could easily suck up all of your spare cash. If that's not in cards, then the BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac BDH2020FL is worth a strong look. It cleans almost as well as the Dyson V7, though it can be a bit more cumbersome to use. Despite this flaw, it costs quite a bit less, which makes it a much better value. 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 other models are quite a bit better if you can afford to upgrade.
Dust and Dirt
Our initial round of assessments focused on how adept each handheld vacuums is at dusting and cleaning up caked-on dirt and grime. We also compared how effectively each product cleaned a narrow ledge — like a baseboard — as well as 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.
Easily outperforming the rest of the pack, the Dyson V7 claimed the top spot here, earning a 9 out of 10 for its superb performance. This mighty mini did exceptionally well in our dusting test, cleaning all of the fine particles off of the statically charged sheet in about 13 seconds. It did even better with dirt and dried mud, only taking four seconds to completely clean up the entire mess.
The brush attachment for the Dyson is quite long, with particularly large, soft bristles that make it highly effective at cleaning small areas, like the corner of a window sill or along the top lip of a baseboard.
Behind the Dyson, there was a pair of BLACK+DECKER models — the Flex Vac and the HHVI315JO42 tied for the runner-up position, each earning a 7 out of 10. These both did quite well in our dust-busting test, each taking 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.
Unfortunately, the Flex Vac didn't perform as well when it came to dirt, taking about five times as long as the Dyson to clean up the same amount of mess. The Flex Vac, however, 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 all received a 6 out of 10 for their respectable dirt and dust sucking abilities. The BISSELL doesn't have a superb brush for dusting — it comes with an upholstery attachment without bristles as well as 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 Dyson and the HHVI315JO42. However, its upholstery attachment is not practical for smaller cracks and corners.
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 fairly well for cleaning out the corners of places like a window sill, but not as well at thinner ledges.
The Shark Wandvac and the BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02 both delivered mediocre results, each earning a 5 out of 10. 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 small spaces and corners.
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 scrapes and scuff marks 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 V7 or the Pet Hair Eraser.
At the bottom of the group, the BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L received a 2 out of 10 for its 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 bristles on the brush head are longer than other models and the motor appeared to lack the suction to overcome this distance.
It was a similar story with the caked-on mud and dirt. 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 at getting into corners and narrow ledges but never cleaned them that well in our tests.
Next, we considered the performance of each vacuum when it came to tougher messes, such as debris on couch cushions and car carpet, 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.
The Dyson V7 again nabbed the top spot, earning another 9 out of 10 for its stellar results. 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, which, in the case of the Dyson is the motorized brush.
It did exceptionally well cleaning up the flour, getting the carpet nearly spotless after a few passes. It also did very well at collecting crushed oats from both a cushion and the carpet, cleaning close to 99% of the mess without any issue or flinging any particles aside.
It sucked up mini-wheats in our large particle test and did fairly well in our anemometer wind speed test — though it didn't achieve 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 besting it slightly when it came to the amount collected per pass.
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 and the CHV1410L both merited a 7 out of 10. The HHVI320JR02 did much worse than the V7 or the Pet Hair Eraser when it came to collecting flour, but matched the performance of these top products in our mini-wheat test and fell just a tiny bit short at collecting oats from the cushion and carpet. It also outperformed the BISSELL and matched the V7 in the anemometer assessment.
The CHV1410L did even worse than the HHVI320JR02 at picking up flour, leaving tons behind on the car carpet and the couch cushion. However, it matched the HHVI320JR02 at collecting the crushed oats and the mini-wheats. 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 all followed behind, each receiving 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 they couldn't quite match the top contenders.
The Homasy and the HoLife also did very well 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 at collecting the flour and oats, performing near the same as the HoLife and the Homasy with the oats and a bit worse with the flour. However, it did surpass both of those products in the sealed chamber anemometer test.
The BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42 did a terrible job in the flour test — worse than any other product — but it was 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 surprisingly achieved one of the highest wind speeds in the anemometer test.
The Shark Wandvac again finished at the back of the group, earning a 4 out of 10 for its below-average performance. It did quite well with the flour and mini-wheats, though it couldn't compare to the V7. 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 a piece of furniture, an appliance, or between the seat of a car and the center console. Taken together, these tests account for 20% of the total score for each product.
While it should be no surprise at this point that the Dyson V7 claimed the top spot again, this time it was joined by the BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac. Both vacuums earned a 9 out of 10. The Flex Vac actually did slightly better than the V7 at cleaning debris out of the window track due to a slightly skinnier crevice attachment.
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. Both of these vacuums can clean as far as you can reach when using the crevice tool and hose attachment — almost three feet in our tests!
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. Both the Flex Vac and the V7 again outperformed the rest, cleaning up to eight inches in from the opening.
The Shark Wandvac was somewhat of a surprise, 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 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 came next, both receiving a 6 out of 10. The HHVI320JR02 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 surpass it in the thinner gap. However, it couldn't come close to comparing to the reach of the vacuums that have a hose attachment, such as the V7 or 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.
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 performance. 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.
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, the BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42 merited a 4 out of 10. 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. 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, and it lasted 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 noticed that the runtime dropped by about three minutes when using a motorized tool. Other vacuums with a motorized brush accessory — like the Dyson V7 — will likely suffer similar drops in runtime when using their tools.
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. Finally, the CHV1410L and the Shark Wandvac both earned a 2 out of 10 for their dismal performance 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 the weight and ergonomics of each model, the size of the collection bin, and the ease of emptying it. We also factored in if the tools and attachments are integrated into the main module, 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.
It is also one of the quieter vacuums, but it's a bit on the heavy side and we haven't really found a good way to organize the plethora of attachments that it comes with because there is no integrated storage on the main vacuum or the included storage base.
The Pet Hair Eraser, the HoLife, the Homasy, the BLACK+DECKER HHVI320JR02, the HHVI315JO42, and the CHV1410L all followed, each receiving a 6 out of 10 for their above-average convenience. All of 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 — only a tiny bit louder than the V7. On the other hand, the BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42 and the CHV1410L are some of the loudest products we have 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 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.
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 solution 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.
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 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 Wandvac came next, earning a 6 out of 10 for doing fairly well with the cushion, but only doing 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 earned a 4 out of 10 and the HHVI320JR02 merited a 3. Both of these vacuums 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 followed, each receiving a 2 out of 10 for their disappointing performance. This pair of vacuums did pick up plenty of pet hair from the carpet or cushion but none of it 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.
Following that dismal performance, the BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L did even worse, earning a 1 out of 10. This handheld vacuum not only failed to collect any hair in its bin but it also left some behind on both the couch cushions and the carpet. All of the hair it did pick up got tangled in the brush and took even longer to remove than the HoLife or Homasy.
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