Searching for the Best Handheld Vacuum of 2016
There are so many choices how do you determine which model is the best handheld vacuum for you? You keep reading my reviews of the best handheld vacuums for your needs and I will walk you through the features and tools of the top-selling handheld vacuums to help you make an informed decision before you buy.
The “Dustbuster” Models
If you just want an economical, small dustbuster-type handheld vacuum my top picks are the Black and Decker 20V Pivot Vacuum (model BDH2000PL) and the Eureka Rapid Clean Step. For the price, features and power these are the best dustbusters for pet hair and stairs.
Black & Decker 20V Pivot Handheld Vacuum
I love the quality of the Black+Decker Pivot and consider it the best handheld vacuum for pet hair on furniture or car upholstery. At only $70, or less on sale, this is a great little handheld to grab if you want to clear cat hair off the sofa for guests or clean the floor of a small closet.
Here’s what you’ll love about the B&D Pivot Vac:
- Strong, long lasting battery to get the job done
- Easy to maneuver with the pivoting head and no cord to bother with. At only 3 pounds a senior or little kid can manage it
- Washable HEPA filters
- This is the best dustbuster for pet hair
- 2-year warranty
Here’s what you should know about the Black and Decker Pivot Handheld Vac before you buy. It’s not perfect and takes four hours to completely recharge. That’s a long time to leave half of a big mess languishing on the floor or couch.
This not a handheld vacuum for cleaning light fixtures or blinds because of the lack of an extendable hose, but great for between car seats or along baseboards.
Eureka Rapid Clean Step
At only $45-$55 the Eureka Rapid Clean Step is the most economical dustbuster handheld vacuum you can get for the quality and versatility. I am going to be bold and call it the best handheld vacuum for stairs. The wide head and suction power on this little corded model really gets down into deep pile carpets and sucks up everything from pet hair to sand.
The Eureka Rapid Clean is also great for hard flooring too. It has a handy bare floor brush that flips down and a switch to shut off the brush roll.
The cord might be a turn-off for some, but it is really nice to have consistent power to vacuum out your boat or car without it running out of juice mid-cleaning. The cord is 25 feet long so you can get from the top to the bottom stair without having to move the plug-in.
The only cons with this vacuum is that it has no mount for storage, so it will be taking up cabinet or closet floor space and the hose is very short. Good for cleaning between car seats but it won’t reach down behind the washing machine. For the price, though, it’s a great little dustbuster.
Handheld Vacs That Clean Like An Upright
The technology in vacuum cleaners has come a long way, baby. For a reasonable price you can get a handheld that cleans like an upright with amazing suction, a lightweight ergonomic design without the hassle of bags and with washable filters that never need replacing. My top two, moderately priced but best handheld vacuum cleaners are the corded Shark Rocket Ultra Light and the Black and Decker Platinum Lithium Ion Flex (model BDH2000FL).
Shark Rocket Ultra Light
If your budget is around $200 then this is a great handheld vacuum that cleans like an upright and with a cord, it can really vacuum your whole house.
There are numerous Shark Rocket handheld vacuums to choose from. The key differences between them are the accessories they come with, the dust bin size and the warranty. The Rocket True Pet has a 7-year warranty while all the others only come with a 5-year one.
Here is why I like the Shark Rocket Ultra Light and it is my top pick for the best small handheld vacuum in the mid-price range.
- Variety of models to choose from to meet your specific needs (accessories galore)
- Ergonomic handle, swivel head, fairly lightweight but sturdy
- Cleans like an upright but you can remove the handle and it’s a handheld for tight spaces
- Two Settings-one for carpet, one for hard flooring
- Long cord (30 feet) so you can clean most rooms without moving the plug-in
The Shark Ultra Lights are some of the best handheld vacuums for pet hair. The True Pet model is specifically designed to suck up the longest, most stubborn pet hair off the carpet, furniture or your car seats.
On hard flooring the Shark Ultra Light handheld vacuum cleans like a dry mop but with suction to actually remove the dust from surfaces, not just spread it. When you change the setting to carpet, the brush really digs in, even into shag and deep pile to suck up fine particles.
The Shark Ultra Light does have a few misses, and I guess that’s why it’s considerably cheaper than its closest competitor the Dyson DC59 Motorhead (also reviewed here). The chief complaint with it is the need to use the hose to pick up bigger chunks of stuff like cereal off hard flooring. It’s also one of the heavier handhelds at seven pounds.
For the price, the suction power and customizable models you really can’t beat a Shark Ultra Light Handheld vacuum, though.
Black and Decker Platinum Lithium Ion Flex (BDH2000FL)
For a cordless comparison to the Shark Ultra Light I offer you the Black and Decker Platinum Lithium Ion Flex handheld vacuum. This sleek, very lightweight cordless model is one of the best handheld vacuums for pet hair because of the rubberized pet hair tool. Other great features of the B&D Platinum 20V are:
- The powerful battery that lasts and can be continuously recharged with no ill effects. According to Black and Decker it has “smart charge technology” that allows for that.
- It is less than four pounds meaning a kid or my grandmother can easily handle it
- HEPA filters to trap fine particles and keep them out of the air (great for households with allergy sufferers)
- The charge base stores the tools so they don’t get lost
- The long hose allows you to clean blinds and light fixtures
- It’s only around $100 to $115
The only shortcomings the Black and Decker Platinum has is that it takes four hours to fully recharge the battery so it’s not going to last through a whole house vacuum unless you live in a studio apartment. However, instead of dragging out the regular vacuum you can’t beat the B&D Platinum 20V for an inexpensive cordless handheld vacuum that works on carpeting, hard floors and really gets rid of pet hair.
A Handheld Vacuum Fit For A Queen: Dyson DC59 Motorhead
My top pick for a handheld vacuum that really could replace your regular vacuum comes from Dyson, the highest of the high end vacuum manufacturers. The Dyson DC59 Motorhead will set you back around $400, but here is why it’s really worth every penny.
It’s The Little Things
Dyson does pay attention to the details. The DC59 Motorhead is the best handheld vacuum you can buy because of certain design features that really set it apart from its closest competitor, the Shark Rocket Ultra Light.
- Weight balanced with the motor near your hand but only a measly 4.9 pounds
- The head is designed to create a seal with the floor to suck every last crumb and speck of dirt out of deep pile carpets and off hard floors consistently with no need to switch settings
- You can remove the entire roller brush to extract long hair or fibers that get wrapped around it
- Long battery life for a cordless; in regular mode it lasts about 24 minutes. In boost mode it lasts around 15 minutes
The soft bristle brush really digs into carpet but it won’t scratch your hardwood floors. The suction is so strong that even with the brush running no particles will get flung around the room. The mini motorized tool is a miracle worker on upholstery, too.
The only thing you might not like about the Dyson is that you have to hold down a lever to keep it running. It’s not hard and won’t tire out your hand, though. This is actually a smart feature that saves battery life over continuously running handhelds.
Dyson set the diamond, platinum standard for bagless vacuums that never lose suction and they continue to advance the technology to keep their products at the top. If you have the budget, the Dyson DC59 Motorhead is the best handheld vacuum you can buy and you won’t be disappointed with its performance.