Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaners of 2017 – Reviews & Top Picks!

Written by James Hall | 0 Comments| Last Updated: June 7, 2017

The best handheld vacuum cleaners provide convenient cleaning for small spills, cars and above furniture. Here are our top recommendations for handheld vacs in the UK.

AEG AG71a RapidClean AEG AG71a RapidClean
  • Power: 700W
  • Dust Capacity: 0.6 litres
  • Filter: Washable
  • Price: £
  • Powerful corded model that's great for cars or stairs.
Black + Decker Lithium Black + Decker Lithium
  • Power: 18V Battery
  • Dust Capacity: 0.44 litres
  • Filter: Washable
  • Price: £
  • Excellent suction and versatile pivot design. Our #1 handheld.
Black + Decker PD1420LP Black+Decker PD1420LP
  • Power: 14.4V Battery
  • Dust Capacity: 0.56 litres
  • Filter: Standard
  • Price: £
  • Great for pet hair with fur attachment and 1.5 metre hose.
Budget
Black + Decker Dustbuster Black+Decker Dustbuster
  • Power: 4.8V Battery
  • Dust Capacity: 0.175 litres
  • Filter: Washable
  • Price: £
  • Can suck up both dry and liquid spills. Good budget model.
Vax H85-GA-B10 Gator Vax H85-GA-B10
  • Power: 10.8V Battery
  • Dust Capacity: 0.3 litres
  • Filter: Standard
  • Price: £
  • 15 minute run-time and built-in crevice tool. Stylish model.

 

An upright or cylinder is essential for a deep clean, but for small patches of dirt and dust a handheld vacuum is far more convenient. These mini vacuums are usually cordless, highly mobile and are perfect for quick cleans. This section contains all our handheld vacuum reviews, along with information on how to choose the right model.

Before We Start…Are Handhelds Any Good?

Let’s start with the obvious question – are these models actually worth buying? The short answer is yes, but only as a complement to your main vacuum.

The majority of handheld cleaners are cordless models. They don’t have to be plugged into a power socket when in use. However, we’ve put them into a separate category from upright cordless models, as the two have very different purposes.

Handheld models have a short battery life than upright cordless models. They are also much smaller and less bulky. This means they aren’t designed to replace your upright or cylinder. They aren’t good for cleaning large areas, don’t have much comparative suction power and run out of battery quickly.

Instead, they are designed for convenience. Portable vacuums are great if you want to quickly clean up spilt crisps, clean the inside of a car or just an area of carpet you missed with your upright. Many people love owning one as a complement to their main model.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is a big difference in suction power between the top handhelds…and the worst models. While the suction power is never going to rival an upright, it’s still important to choose one that’s powerful enough to do a decent job on small dry spills.

A number of brands manufacture handheld models. Vax and Black + Decker have two of the largest ranges, but AEG, Dyson and many others also produce excellent vacuums.

This page contains handheld vacuum cleaners reviews from a variety of brands, including those listed above. We’ve also added a buyer’s guide further down the page.

Which are our Top Handheld Vacuum Cleaner Reviews?

ImageProduct NamePrice RangeWeightPower TypeDust CapacityRead More
Black + Decker Lithium Compact Pivot£1.9kgCordless/Rechargeable0.44 litreView Price
AEG AG71a RapidClean Stair and Car£2.6kgCorded0.6 litresView Price
Black + Decker PD1420LP Flexi Vac£1.4kgCordless/Rechargeable0.56 litresView Price
AEG Rapido AG6106WDT Wet and Dry£1.8kgCordless/Rechargeable0.5 litresView Price
Vax H85-GA-P18 Gator Pet£1.8kgCordless/Rechargeable0.3 litresView Price
Black + Decker Wet and Dry Dustbuster£1.22kgCordless/Rechargeable0.175 litresView Price
Vax H85-GA-B10 Gator£1.2kgCordless/Rechargeable0.3 litresView Price

Best Cordless Handheld Vacuum

Black + Decker Lithium Compact Pivot Vacuum ReviewBlack + Decker Lithium Compact Pivot

One of our favourite cleaners is the Black + Decker Lithium Compact Pivot 18V. It’s a stylish model with excellent suction, ECO charge technology and an easy empty system. While it might be the most expensive model on this list, it might be worth the money if you need a handheld with more power.

The Lithium Compact Pivot is powered by an 18V battery, which is considerably more powerful than many other cordless handhelds. The ion batteries also mean it’s more comfortable to hold – and it can be fully charged in just four hours.

One of the most interesting features is the pivot system. This allows you to easily clean in difficult to reach areas, such as above book shelves and under sofas.

Reviews of the Black + Decker Lithium Compact Pivot 18V have been very positive. A reviewer writes that it’s robust and great for cleaning cars and stairs. Another reviewer praises how powerful the machine is compared to other cordless vacuums.

If you’re interested in getting a powerful handheld, then the Black + Decker Lithium Compact Pivot 18V provides a good balance between price and performance. The pivot system also makes it a joy to use around the home. Click here for our full review.

Note: There are several versions of the Black + Decker Lithium Compact Pivot with various voltages. This mini-review is of the 18V version.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 18V Battery
  • Weight: 1.9kg
  • Dust Capacity: 0.44 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable

Key Features:

  • Excellent suction power due to the 18V battery
  • Pivot design for convenient cleaning
  • ECO charging system switches off when battery is charged

View Price

Best Corded Handheld Vacuum

AEG AG71a RapidClean ReviewAEG AG71a RapidClean Stair and Car

If you’re looking for a handheld vacuum cleaner for stairs or cars, then the AG71a could be the perfect choice.

It’s a corded handheld with a powerful 700W motor, stretch hose and a crevice nozzle. The model comes with a “Stubborn Brush” visor which helps to clean deeper into carpets. It also excels at car cleaning – although the cord makes it less portable.

Reviews of the AEG AG71a have been positive, with the model receiving a high average rating on shopping sites. A reviewer writes that it is very powerful and great for getting into the corners of stairs. Another reviewer writes that the lead is long and that it’s simple to empty, although having a cord at all means it’s not the most portable vacuum cleaner on this list.

We think the AEG AG71a RapidClean is an excellent cleaner. If you’re tired of lugging your upright up and down each step individually, then this is a much better solution for cleaning steps. It’s also one of the most powerful options in this category, making it an excellent choice as a handheld car vacuum (assuming the cord isn’t a problem). Click here to read our full review.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 700W
  • Weight: 2.6kg
  • Dust Capacity: 0.6 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable

Key Features:

  • Powerful corded model
  • Stretch hose
  • “Stubborn Brush” for a deeper clean on carpets

View Price

Best Handheld Vacuum for Pet Hair

Black + Decker PD1420LPBlack + Decker PD1420LP Flexi Vac

The PD1420LP is a great all-rounder that’s also one of the best car vacuums. The standout feature is the flexible 1.5 metre hose, which provides greater versatility than a typical portable vacuum. The hose can be fixed in place when not needed (see picture).

Other features include a pet hair attachment, which is great for getting rid of hair from cushions, curtains or sofas, and a triple filtration system. Black + Decker has also included a docking station with the machine.

The cleaner lasts approximately 10 minutes on a full charge, which is a relatively short run-time. While this should be enough time for quick clean-ups or getting rid of dust and dirt from your car, it’s not suitable for extended cleaning sessions.

Even so, the Black + Decker PD1420LP is an excellent choice if you need the versatility of a hose without buying a full-size cleaner. The pet hair attachment is also great for getting rid of fur that’s become stuck to your sofas and cushions.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 14.4V battery
  • Weight: 1.4kg
  • Dust Capacity: 0.56 litres
  • Filter Type: Standard

Key Features:

  • Pet hair attachment for cleaning fur from sofas
  • 1.5 metre hose
  • 10-12.5 minute run-time

View Price

Best Wet and Dry Handheld Vacuum

AEG AG6106WDT Wet and Dry HandheldAEG Rapido AG6106WDT Wet and Dry

If you’re looking for a mini vacuum that can handle liquid spills, the AG6106WDT is our #1 recommendation. It’s a powerful cleaner with a lithium-ion battery, wheels for more convenient cleaning and wet and dry technology.

The AEG Rapido range has been designed to provide quick cleaning with a low charging time (approx. 4 hours). It also uses cyclonic technology to prevent dust clogging the filters as it fills up. This is a big advantage over lower-quality cleaners, as without cyclonic air movement the vacuum can gradually lose suction as it cleans.

Other features include a lithium-ion battery, washable filter and a mountable wall charging station. It also comes with a crevice nozzle, rubber squeegee and a turbo mode. The run-time is approximately 14 minutes.

The AEG AG6106WDT is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a wet and dry vacuum to handle spills. Like most of the other models on this list, it’s never going to replace a full cleaner in terms of suction power. But it’s still reasonably powerful and very convenient to have in the home.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 7.2V battery
  • Weight: 1.8kg
  • Dust Capacity: 0.5 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable

Key Features:

  • Wet and dry technology
  • Soft wheels
  • Lithium-ion rechargeable battery

View Price

Other Recommended Cleaners

Vax H85-GA-P18 Gator PetVax H85-GA-P18 Gator Pet

The first Vax on this list is the impressive H85-GA-P18. It’s a stylish rechargeable model that’s specifically made to clean pet hair – although it’s suitable for everyday spot and spill cleaning.

To make cleaning pet hair more effective it comes with a TurboTool. This is great for getting deeper into car seats, sofas, pet bedding and cushions to remove more hair without needing a full-size vacuum. While it’s never going to replace a full-size cleaner, the TurboTool can help keep pet hair under control between full cleaning sessions.

Other features include a relatively long 20 minute run-time, built-in crevice tool and a 0.3 litre capacity. It’s slightly heavier than the other Vax on this list, but that’s due to the TurboTool. It also has an easy-to-empty design via the “Gator” mouth.

Considering the relatively low price of the Vax H85-GA-P18, we think it provides excellent value for money if you’re looking for a handheld pet vacuum. The TurboTool does a great job of getting pet hair out of fabric, while the crevice tool is useful for getting into tricky-to-clean areas.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 18V Battery
  • Weight: 1.8kg
  • Dust Capacity: 0.3 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable

Key Features:

  • TurboTool for cleaning pet hair
  • 20 minute run-time
  • Built-in crevice tool

View Price

Black + Decker Wet and Dry Dustbuster ReviewBlack + Decker Wet and Dry Dustbuster

The Black + Decker Wet and Dry Dustbuster, as the name suggests, can handle both dry dust and liquids. It’s also cheaper than the AEG, making it one of the top handheld cleaners if you’re on a budget, although the capacity is smaller at just 0.175 litres.

Black + Decker have designed this model to be good for all-round cleaning tasks. It’s a cordless model, with a bagless container and charging base. The machine also comes with a removable dirt bowl, so you can empty it without getting your hands dirty.

Reviews of the Black + Decker Wet and Dry Dustbuster have been largely positive. A reviewer writes that he’s been impressed, and adds that as long as you clean the sponge filter the suction power is adequate for basic tasks. Another reviewer writes that it provides excellent value for money.

It is worth mentioning, however, that there are some reviewers who have been disappointed with the suction power and battery life. This might be due to false expectations though – this is a cheap handheld vacuum that is never meant to get close to the power of a regular model.

This model is a small handheld vacuum that’s still capable of doing a great job on most surfaces. Considering the low price and ability to tackle wet and dry spills, we think the Black + Decker provides good value for money. It also has a simple design and is easy to empty, which is important in a bagless vacuum. Here’s our full review for this vacuum.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 4.8V Battery
  • Weight: 1.22kg
  • Dust Capacity: 0.175 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable

Key Features:

  • Wet and dry cordless
  • Transparent body so you can see when it needs to be emptied
  • Washable filter

View Price

Vax H85-GA-B10 Gator ReviewVax H85-GA-B10 Gator Cordless

The Vax H85-GA-B10 Gator cordless vacuum cleaner is a stylish model built by one of the giants of the vacuum industry. It’s powered by a 10.8V battery with a runtime of 15 minutes, which should be enough for most cleaning tasks.

Other features include a lightweight design, built-in crevice tool, easy-empty system and a two year warranty from Vax.

Reviewers have been happy with the performance and value for money of the Vax H85-GA-B10 Gator. Comments include that it’s an “excellent entry level cleaner” and that it is “ideal for quick jobs.” It’s not the most powerful handheld on the market, but is suitable for basic clean-ups.

We think the Vax H85-GA-B10 Gator is a decent model that’s perfect if you don’t want to spend a huge amount. There are much more powerful models available, and these might be necessary for pet hair or other difficult objects. Even so, considering the low price it’s hard to argue that the Vax H85-GA-B10 Gator doesn’t provide excellent value. Click here for our full review.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 10.8V Battery
  • Weight: 1.2kg
  • Dust Capacity: 0.3 litres
  • Filter Type: Standard

Key Features:

  • Simple machine with a stylish design
  • Powered by a 10.8V battery
  • 15 minute run time on a single charge
  • Built-in crevice tool

View Price

 

How to Choose a Handheld Model

As we mentioned in the introduction, there is a huge variation in quality, suction power and features between models. This section is designed to arm you with the knowledge you need to choose the best handheld vacuum cleaner for your home.

Your Requirements

As we always say at SpotlessVacuum.co.uk, there is no such thing as the best handheld for every situation. There are excellent models out there, but the most important thing is to get one that suits your requirements.

Here are some factors to consider before you start looking:

  • Do you have pets? Will you be using it for pet hair? If so, a more expensive model that specialises in vacuuming dog or cat hair might be the best option.
  • Will you be using the vacuum to clean your car? If so, make sure you choose a cordless model (most models are cordless, although there are corded handheld vacuums too – more on that later).
  • Will you be using it for extended cleaning sessions? If yes, a longer battery life is essential.

This is just a sample of what you need to think about. But it should hopefully get you thinking about the right types of questions.

Price

The typical handheld ranges from around £15, for the most basic models, up to over £200 for advanced models with strong suction and additional features.

Don’t be tricked into thinking higher priced models are always better though. This is not necessarily the case – price is not always a good indicator of quality.

So what’s the difference between cheap and expensive in this category? The cheapest models usually have a simple design and often don’t come with many attachments. The lack of a crevice tool on the most basic options can make it difficult to get into nooks and crannies.

On the other hand, the most expensive models often come with motorised tools such as turbo brushes. These are designed to make cleaning faster and more efficient, although not all tools function as well as users would like.

Dust Capacity

Handheld cleaners typically have a small capacity, but the amount varies between devices. Larger dust capacities allow you to vacuum for longer without needing to empty the container.

Whether this is an issue for you or not depends on how much you are likely to use the vacuum. Whether the model is easy to empty can also make a difference. As a general rule, the average handheld has a capacity of around half a litre.

Battery Life

Again, the battery life varies greatly depending on the model. We think battery life is one of the most important considerations, because a handheld that only lasts a few minutes is more likely to be left in your cupboard than actually used.

The shortest battery life models last around five minutes on a full charge. This might be fine for very quick cleaning, but it can be frustrating to need to recharge the vacuum after every use.

At the other end of the spectrum, the longest battery life we’ve seen for a handheld is around 30 minutes. This is much more convenient and means you can clean multiple areas before needing to recharge.

Additionally, it’s important to find out how long the machine takes to charge. There’s nothing worse than a battery life of five minutes…with a model that takes half a day to charge.

Suction Power and Cleaning Ability

Suction power can vary a lot between models. Cordless vacuums also tend to have lower suction power than corded models, as greater power leads to a reduced run time.

The best way to judge suction power is to read buyer reviews, as manufacturers don’t make it easy to judge the performance of a vacuum from its specification.

Another consideration is whether the model can handle wet spills as well as dry. Wet and dry handheld cleanersare much more versatile, and are great for cleaning up spilt drinks. However, a wet and dry model must have strong suction, as liquid is more difficult to pick up than dirt and dust. Again, buyer reviews can help you decide whether the vacuum is truly capable of picking up liquids.

You may also want to consider a model with a hose. Stretch hoses can be useful for getting to places that a standard cleaner can’t, but they also increase the overall weight of the machine. Long reach hoses also increase the price.

Accessories

The cheapest handheld vacuums usually don’t come with accessories, but more expensive models may come with additional tools. These can include crevice tools or soft brushes, and can increase the versatility of a cleaner. Specialised pet hair handheld vacuums often have a pet tool for getting hair up from sofas and other furniture too.

As always, think about where you want to use the appliance. This will give you a good idea as to which tools are essential for your needs.

Cordless or Corded?

Example of a corded handheld vacuum

The AEG in the picture above is a corded vacuum, which makes it less convenient than a cordless but with greater suction.

When most people think of getting a handheld model, they are usually expecting to buy a cordless model. While cordless handheld vacuums have a number of advantages, it’s still worth considering whether a corded model might be a better option. Here’s a breakdown of each type.

Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaners

  • Handheld cordless vacuums are powered by batteries, so they don’t need a plug socket when in use.
  • This makes them more convenient and great for cleaning cars.
  • The lack of a cord, however, limits their runtime before needing to be recharged.
  • Some models don’t have a replaceable battery if it fails.
  • The best cordless handheld vacuum for you largely depends on your budget, but the Black + Decker Lithium Compact Pivot is a good place to start (see review above).

Corded Handheld Vacuum Cleaners

  • Corded models are powered by the mains supply.
  • This means they need access to a plug socket when in use.
  • Corded models are less convenient when cleaning cars or away from plug sockets.
  • They are often more powerful, however, as they don’t need to rely on a battery.
  • We think the best corded handheld vacuum is probably the AEG AG71a. It’s a powerful model that’s great for stairs and cars.

Do You Want a 2-in-1 Model?

Some models, especially in the cordless range, are 2-in-1 models. This means they function as both upright and handhelds depending on which mode they are used in.

The advantages of 2-in-1 models are obvious: more choice when it comes to cleaning and greater versatility. The downside is that they are usually less convenient to use than a true handheld, and also tend to cost more money.

To help you decide whether a 2-in-1 is right for your home, here’s a video showing how the Morphy Richards 732000 works. This model primarily functions as an upright, but includes a detachable handheld (we reviewed the 732000 here):

Other Considerations

  • Weight. Handheld models are designed for convenience and ease of use, so weight is something to consider. Most cleaners in this category are relatively lightweight, with some weighing less than 1kg. Others can weigh over 2kg, which might not sound like a lot, but can make a difference – especially when cleaning high areas.
  • Battery Level Indicator. While not essential, it can be useful to see when the vacuum is fully charged.
  • Guarantee or Warranty. The longer the warranty the better (in most cases).

Summary

Handheld vacuums are a great option if you want a backup that can quickly and easily clean up small messes. They can’t come close to replacing a full cleaner, but are useful for those annoying tasks that are too small to be worth getting out your primary machine.

The most important thing is to have realistic expectations. Cheaper handheld cleaners, while still useful if you buy a high quality model, are unlikely to have strong suction power or long battery life. So make sure you read hand held vacuum cleaners reviews from experts and customers before you buy.

We hope this article has helped you choose the best handheld vacuum cleaner for your needs. If you have any questions, just let us know in the comments section below.

A-Z of In-Depth Handheld Vacuum Reviews

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