The best handheld vacuum cleaners for compact cleaning

Every home needs a small but mighty vacuum cleaner.

handheld shark vacuum

by Emily Gilbert |
Updated on

For smaller messes, the best handheld vacuum cleaners are ideal for whipping out without having to drag out your big and often heavy household vacuum. Whether you want to tackle unexpected spills or need a helping hand to get into a tight corner and other hard-to-reach areas, handheld models offer portability and targeted cleaning.

While these devices won’t be as powerful or have the same dust capacity as your full-sized upright or stick vacuum cleaner, they’re a very useful cleaning gadget to have. A handheld vacuum cleaner is efficient for quick clean-ups of smaller messes, such as crumbs on your countertop and pet hair on your sofa. It's also great for keeping those more difficult spots clean – like in between cushions and up the stairs. Use it to clean the car and tackle the garage, where you need flexibility and freedom without power cords getting in the way.

Best handheld vacuum cleaners at a glance

• Best overall: Gtech Multi Platinum Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner – Buy now on Argos
• Best for suction: Shark Premium Handheld Vacuum WV270UK – Buy now on AO
• Best lightweight handheld vacuum: Gtech ProLite 1-03-266 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner – Buy now on AO

When it comes to choosing the best handheld vacuum cleaner for your needs, there are a couple of things you’ll want to consider. We’ve explored them in detail in the FAQs at the bottom of this article. Additionally, think about the types of cleaning jobs you'll be doing and pick a vacuum that has a run time and dust capacity to tackle them. We also recommend looking at the attachments included to make sure you’ve got tools that are capable of dealing with the task at hand.

With all of that in mind, we've done the research to bring you the best handheld vacuum cleaners to suit every type of task, catering to a range of budgets. Thanks to these nifty little cleaners, you can wave goodbye to lugging your traditional vacuum around your home to clean up those smaller messes and enjoy a more streamlined routine for keeping everywhere dust and debris-free.

Shark WandVac 2.0 WV270UK
Reviews Editor Emily Gilbert tests the Shark WandVac 2.0

Best handheld vacuum cleaners

Best overall

Gtech Multi Platinum Cordless Handheld Vacuum CleanerCredit: Argos

Boasting a 22V battery, the Gtech Multi Platinum Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner offers a run time of up to 30 minutes and can be charged and ready to go in just three hours, which is pretty impressive for a handheld model. A range of accessories are included as standard, including scented cartridges, an extension tube, a dusting brush, a crevice tool and a powered mini-floor tool, so you'll be fully equipped for fully refreshing the sofa or giving the car a mini-valet.

Customer review: "Having already got the upright Gtech vacuums, we wanted to get the handheld for our stairs, etc. When we saw this was on offer at the time and only slightly more expensive than the "base model", it was an easy choice. It's extremely powerful, does a great job, and the scented filters are an added bonus for us as dog owners."

Pros

  • Impressive run time
  • Suitable for hard floors, carpets, stairs, upholstery and more
  • Great for homes with pets

Cons

  • It is a more premium option compared to others on our list, but the features make it well worth it.

Best for suction

Shark Premium Handheld Vacuum WV270UKCredit: Shark
Price: £147

ao.com

We love the design of the Shark Premium Handheld Vacuum WV270UK. Sleek, slim and lightweight at just under 700g – what's not to like? From collecting crumbs on the kitchen worktops to pet hair in between the sofa cushions, it offers two suction modes so you can choose the perfect power for the task at hand. It charges while stored on its base and has a one-touch, easy-empty dust cup. 

Reviewed by Reviews Editor Emily Gilbert: "As much as I love my Dyson V15 Detect, I was after something smaller that I could use for quickly sucking up dry spillages and pesky crumbs and the Shark WandVac has been ideal. Not only does it look great on our kitchen counter but it's lovely and lightweight and so easy to whip out and use whenever I need. I personally find the battery lasts long enough for my needs but I appreciate some with bigger houses may want longer."

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Aesthetic look
  • Two power modes

Cons

  • It could have longer run time

Best lightweight handheld vacuum

Gtech ProLite 1-03-266 Cordless Vacuum CleanerCredit: AO
Price: £129

ao.com

Experience the freedom of lightweight cleaning without compromising on the power with the Gtech ProLite Cordless Vacuum Cleaner—one of the lightest vacuums on the market. Weighing less than 1kg, this handheld vacuum is perfect for people who struggle with mobility.

Customer review: "My wife wanted a lightweight hoover that had a strong enough suction for carpet edges around skirting boards. Excellent, very light and powerful. Happy wife, happy life."

Pros

  • Up to 30 minutes run time from a single charge
  • It comes with a dusting brush that is ideal for cleaning delicate surfaces
  • Two-speed settings to suit different cleaning tasks

Cons

  • Some customers wanted a slightly more potent suction

Best for wet and dry messes

Black+Decker Wet and Dry Cordless Handheld Vacuum CleanerCredit: Argos

Great to grab for those quick jobs, the Black+Decker Wet and Dry Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner will suck up crumbs and spills in a jiffy. The two-in-one functionality means that it's not just designed for dry messes, but it will effortlessly scoop up spilt liquids like coffee or juice, too. It's super manoeuvrable, so it can get into all those awkward nooks and crannies you may not be able to reach otherwise.

Customer review: "Initially, I was not looking to buy this item, but the one I wanted was out of stock. I’m glad I decided to purchase it. It’s powerful and picks up all small items, wet or dry. It is good for vacuuming things off the carpet, excellent for hoovering the car, not heavy, easy to use and comes with added attachments."

Pros

  • Two-in-one wet and dry functionality
  • It comes with a range of attachments
  • Wide mouth to suck up more at once

Cons

  • As it sucks up more at once, you may find that you need to empty it more frequently

Best for awkward spaces

BLACK+DECKER PV1820LGB Compact Pivot VacuumCredit: Amazon

The clever BLACK+DECKER PV1820LGB Compact Pivot Vacuum features a nozzle that pivots up to 200 degrees, making it ideal to access those awkward spaces from any angle. It's perfect for cleaning lampshades, between sofa cushions, and higher shelves, as well as car interiors. The flip-out brush is great for those delicate surfaces, and there's also an integrated extendable crevice to tackle between sofa cushions and car seats quickly and easily.

Customer review: "I can honestly say that this product is top quality and is adequate for my needs. The suction power is great. I'd rate its power 5/5. For a handheld, it's comparable to a corded vacuum. It's a little heavy on the hand, especially if you've been holding it for the full length of its run time (approximately 10 minutes at full charge). The extendable hose at the front of the vacuum is very useful - as is the pivoting mechanism which enables you to reach otherwise difficult places."

Pros

  • Large dust capacity
  • Pivoting nozzle
  • Flip out brush that is ideal for delicate surfaces

Cons

  • Heavier than some on our list

Best for quick clean-ups

eufy Cordless Handheld Vacuum CleanerCredit: Amazon

Mini but mighty, the Eufy HomeVac may weigh in at just 1.2 lbs, but it certainly packs a punch with 5500Pa suction power to help you suck up every spec. The sleek, non-slip design makes it comfortable to hold with precise handling at the same time, so you can easily whip it out for those little crumbs and other messes on your countertops. Make use of the extension nozzle to help you deep clean the corners of your sofa.

Customer review: "I use this fabulous little vac in my conservatory for sucking up dead flies and small bits of debris the dogs bring in. I was careful to fully charge it before first use and run it completely flat. The charge lasted two weeks, and I use it two or three times a day. Super easy emptying, storing (looks very neat) and charging."

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Modern design
  • Speedy charging

Cons

  • Short run time

Best budget-friendly option

Beldray BEL01096 Airlite Handheld VacuumCredit: Amazon

If you're after a nifty little vacuum to clean up smaller messes around the home and in the car without breaking the bank, we'd recommend the Beldray BEL01096 Airlite Handheld Vacuum. You can be tough on those more stubborn areas as it has dual speed settings to help you tackle them and a crevice tool when you need a more targeted clean, such as in between seats and sofa cushions.

Customer review: "Handy little kitchen tool, always on standby and compact."

Pros

  • Great for those on a budget
  • Lightweight
  • Includes a HEPA filter that is great for allergy sufferers

Cons

  • Although there are two power modes, the suction could be better

Handheld vacuum cleaners FAQs

What do I need to look for in a handheld vacuum?

Lightweight and compact: Your handheld vacuum cleaner should be light and compact to make it a handy alternative to your main floor vacuum. As you use it by hand, you'll want the device to be light to suit your hand strength. Handheld vacuums make great little car vacuum cleaners. Therefore, you want something that’s not too big or heavy and is easily transportable.

Brush attachments: Not all handheld vacuums will have attachments, but we think this is especially useful for your vac. It will help to pick up stubborn crumbs, fluff, dust and hair from those tricky places, such as between your sofa cushions. Consider a vacuum with attachments that best suit your needs.

Running time: These machines are small but mighty; they often have powerful suction but with a very long charge time and short run time. If you live in a larger home or have many surfaces that you're looking to oust in one charge, pick a vacuum with a longer running time.

Dust capacity: Dust capacity will be significantly smaller on a handheld vacuum compared to stick and upright vacuum models. However, they're more than capable of coping with those smaller messes. The larger the capacity, the less often you'll need to stop to empty it.

Do I need handheld vacuum cleaners or a cordless vacuum cleaner?

If you own a cordless vacuum cleaner, check whether it doubles as a handheld vacuum, as some models do. If it doesn't, then it's really down to personal preference. A cordless vacuum cleaner is going to cost more — they're bigger and will have a longer run time and dust capacity. If you're not looking to buy a brand-new vacuum and want something that you can easily whip out or reach awkward spots in your home, then a handheld vacuum would do nicely.

Features & Reviews Editor Emily Gilberthas been a journalist since 2016 and has worked across a variety of specialist and lifestyle brands both in print and online. Specialising in product reviews, Emily is the first to know about all the exciting new releases, her favourite being gadgets for the home.

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