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5 Advantages of a Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Written by James Hall |

Why buy a handheld vacuum?

Not sure whether to buy a handheld vacuum? Here are five reasons why every home should consider buying a handheld vac.

Handheld vacuums might not be as powerful as a full-size cordless or upright vacuum cleaner, but that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked.

Despite their small size, the best handheld vacs can be powerful, versatile, and great for those annoying small cleaning jobs. Let’s take a closer look at when a handheld vacuum might be the best choice.

1. Convenience for Quick Cleaning Tasks

Using the WV200UK to clean spilt pasta

The primary benefit of a handheld vacuum is that they are brilliant for quick cleaning tasks.

If you just need to vacuum up a few crumbs, then a small handheld is much more convenient than getting your full-size vacuum out of the cupboard – especially if you’ve got a bulky upright or cylinder vacuum.

Here are a few examples when a handheld vacuum can be useful:

  • Cleaning car interiors
  • Spot cleaning spilt crumbs, cereal, or other dry debris
  • Getting rid of pet hair from sofa cushions or pet beds (as long as the handheld vacuum is capable of cleaning hair)
  • Removing dry mud from hard floors or mats
  • Quickly cleaning stairs
  • Cleaning under or behind furniture
  • Removing dust from blinds and windowsills
  • Vacuuming up spilt cat litter

Many people with children or pets find handheld vacuums particularly useful, as there are often unexpected messes to clean!

2. Cheaper Than Full-Size Vacuums

Prices for a handheld vacuum range from around £30 up to £200 for the priciest models (such as the Dyson V7 Trigger.)

The cheapest models often generate poor suction power and aren’t worth buying. But there are still some excellent handheld vacuums for under £100.

Some examples that we’ve recently reviewed include the excellent Black+Decker Lithium 18V Compact and Shark WV200UK.

Make sure you check the key features of a handheld vacuum before you buy though. These include:

  • Battery run-time and recharging time. Due to their small size, many handheld vacuums have a short battery life. The worst offenders last as little as 5 minutes, although some models can clean for up to around 30 minutes.
  • Tools and accessories. Some handheld vacuums come with extra tools, such as flexible hoses, pet turbo tools, and crevice tools (for skirting boards and seats.) These can make the vacuum more versatile.
  • Weight. It’s important for a handheld vacuum to be lightweight and portable. The lightest options weigh as little as 0.5kg, with heavier models weighing up to 2.5kg.
  • Dust capacity. Small dust capacities mean the vacuum will need to be emptied more regularly. The smallest handheld we’ve reviewed has a 0.1 litre capacity, which is tiny. The largest handheld capacities are around 0.7 litres.

Choose the Right Tool for the Job

If you need a vacuum cleaner for cleaning your entire home, then it’s worth paying more for a full-size cordless, cylinder or upright vacuum. These models have wide floor tools for cleaning larger areas and can generate stronger suction.

3. Great for Sprucing Up Car Interiors

Don’t want to lug your heavy vacuum out to your car? Then a cordless handheld vacuum could be a useful tool for quickly cleaning up crumbs, dried mud, or dog hair on the seats.

Some handheld vacuums are better than others for car cleaning. If possible, look for a model with:

  • A flexible hose for cleaning under seats
  • A long crevice tool for tight spaces
  • A turbo brush for removing more hair from fabrics
  • A soft dusting brush for delicate surfaces

With that said, handheld vacuums aren’t the best choice for a deep clean of your car interior. They lack the required suction power to tackle the most stubborn dirt and larger debris. The limited run-time and small capacity also makes them frustrating for longer cleans.

Along With Car Interiors…

Handheld vacuums are also brilliant for cleaning motor homes, caravans, and van interiors.

4. Lightweight, Small, and Easy to Use

One of the best things about handheld vacuums is how small and compact they are.

The lightest models weigh less than 1kg, making them much less hefty than a full size vacuum (which can weight up to 10kg.) Most handheld vacs also combine a bagless design with a simple layout, to make using them as easy as possible.

In our experience, handheld vacuums typically become the default option for quick clean-ups or spot cleans. They are also easy to store in a cupboard or even a drawer.

A Bonus for Parents

Handheld vacuums are also a great choice if you want to get your kids more involved in household chores. As they are small and lightweight, many children will enjoy using them for spot cleaning.

5. Can Clean Areas Bigger Vacuums Struggle to Reach

Cleaning along skirting board

Does your vacuum’s big floorhead struggle to clean under the cupboard? Or are you fed up with balancing the vacuum on steps when cleaning staircases?

Handheld vacuums excel at these types of awkward jobs. Their small and compact design makes it much easier to fit them in tight spaces, particularly if they come with a crevice tool.

Of course, there are some variations in size when choosing a handheld vacuum. Slimline models often have less power, but can fit in smaller spaces. Bigger handheld models, such as those that have been adapted from full-size cordless vacs, may not be quite as convenient.

Keep In Mind…

Handheld vacuums are not designed for long cleaning sessions. They have tiny dust capacities and a small nozzle that’s only suitable for covering small areas.


Handheld vacuums can’t replace a full-size vacuum cleaner, but they provide many advantages as a secondary cleaning tool. These include:

  • The perfect tool for spot cleaning, both in your home and car interiors
  • Compact, lightweight, and easy to use
  • Cheaper than full-size vacuum cleaners
  • Useful for cleaning awkward locations that a big vacuum can’t reach

If you’d like to learn more about handheld vacuums, or want to view our list of the best models, then check out our full guide to handheld vacuum cleaners.

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