Don’t let mess cause you stress, with our pick of the best handheld vacuum cleaners for tackling simple spillages in seconds
If all you want to do is scoop up a few crumbs from a lunch grabbed in front of the TV, or clean up after a post-school assault on the biscuit barrel, why haul the upright vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard under the stairs when a handheld vacuum is more convenient and will do the job just as well?
Handheld vacuums have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and you don’t even need to sacrifice much when it comes to cleaning power. In our tests we found that the best handheld vacuums are as good at cleaning up our carefully controlled test spillages as their larger cousins, making them ideal for dealing with spot cleaning.
You wouldn’t want to tackle an entire house with one of these miniature marvels but, when the moment for a quick, focused clean-up comes around, you will be glad to have one to hand.
Best handheld vacuum cleaner: At a glance
|Best handheld vacuum cleaner for pet owners
|Gtech Multi K9 (~£200)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best value handheld vacuum cleaner
|Shark Cordless Handvac Pet Edition (~£79)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best handheld vacuum cleaner for convenience
|Hoover H-Handy 700 Express (~£39)
|Check price at Amazon
How to choose the best handheld vacuum cleaner for you
Handheld vacuum cleaners come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they should all be small and manageable enough to use single-handed.
To choose an appropriate model for you, it’s initially worth thinking about what you already have. If you only have a large upright vacuum cleaner, then a substantial, powerful handheld cleaner will help you clean significant messes without having to get out your main vacuum. However, if you already have a stick vacuum, a smaller handheld might suffice.
How much should I spend?
You shouldn’t need to spend more than £200 to get the handheld vacuum cleaner of your dreams. This is where the very top-end models sit, so if you don’t want to spend that much, it’s perfectly safe to go lower. Lay out less than £50 and it’s likely the manufacturer has had to cut some corners to hit the price point, but you don’t have to spend much more than that to find some excellent-value models.
What attachments should I look for?
If you only want to use the vacuum to pick up crumbs off furniture and cobwebs from tricky corners, you only need simple attachments such as brush tubes and crevice tools. For more serious work, such as removing animal hair from upholstery or cleaning the stairs, a motorised head is a must-have. These have spinning brushes inside that make shorter work of stubborn jobs. Be aware, though, that they do drain the battery of the vacuum faster.
Does size matter?
There are two key size-related elements worth keeping in mind when buying a handheld vacuum: the weight and the bin capacity. Few handheld vacuum cleaners are uncomfortably heavy, but if you’re going to use it to clean high corners it might pay to opt for a lighter model.
Bin sizes vary considerably, too. Look for a larger bin of at least 400ml in size so you don’t have to keep emptying it. Smaller, lighter devices might be more convenient to carry around but bear in mind that the smaller the vacuum, the smaller the bin, and that means you will need to empty it more frequently.
How we test
Every vacuum we review has gone through the same series of Expert Reviews tests. To get an idea of how powerful each machine is and how long it will last on a single charge, we measure the suction and battery life. If a cleaner has multiple power settings, we test them all.
Then, to test the cleaning capability of our vacuums, we spill measured quantities of Cheerios and flour onto both carpet and hard floor. Each vacuum cleaner gets a single pass to collect as much as it can from each spill. We then weigh the amount collected to see how well it performs.
This way we can properly compare the performance of every vacuum cleaner we review to ensure we’re recommending the best.
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The best handheld vacuum cleaners to buy in 2024
1. Gtech Multi MK2 K9: Best handheld vacuum cleaner for pet owners
Price when reviewed: £200 | Check price at Amazon
The unique thing about the Gtech Multi MK2 K9 is that it releases a pleasant aroma while it’s clearing up your mess. This might sound like a gimmick but if you’ve got a pungent pet or just like things smelling – as well as looking – clean, it’s a godsend.
It’s a decent vacuum, too, tackling our test spills with ease. It collected Cheerios through its nozzle without fuss and gathered a good proportion of flour with the included motorised head attachment on a single pass, gathering the rest on a couple of subsequent passes.
The clever design keeps the crevice tool to hand, tucked away in the handle, and it comes with spare filters and a couple of brush add-ons, one short and one long. The battery charges by connecting it to a cable and can be removed from the main unit if you want to charge it separately.
Read our full Gtech Multi MK2 K9 review for more details.
Key specs – Size: 315 x 730 x 470mm (WDH); Weight: 1.5kg; Bin capacity: 400ml; Vacuum type: Handheld; Bagless: Yes; Suction power: Not stated
2. Shark Cordless HandVac Pet Model: Best-value handheld vacuum cleaner
Price when reviewed: £79 | Check price at AmazonIf you don’t want to spend a lot but don’t want to compromise on cleaning power, the Shark Cordless HandVac should be top of your list. The Pet Model comes with a motorised head that doesn’t need to be reserved for pet hair, as it did a fantastic job of tidying up flour in our tests as well. It also comes with a crevice tool and a brush attachment.
The Shark doesn’t have particularly powerful suction, but the clever design pulls debris away from the inner workings and traps it, making the most of the large 450ml bin and ensuring it doesn’t clog up. The handle is at a slightly awkward angle but it’s fine for quick cleaning jobs. It’s also reasonably light and won’t take up much room in your cupboard.
Read our full Shark Cordless HandVac review for more details.
Key specs – Size: 520 x 95.2 x 108.5mm (WDH); Weight: 1.39kg; Bin capacity: 450ml; Vacuum type: Handheld; Bagless: Yes; Suction power: Not stated
3. Hoover H-Handy 700: Best handheld vacuum cleaner for convenience
Price when reviewed: £39 | Check price at AmazonA handheld vacuum cleaner should be ready for action at the drop of a box of cereal, and the Hoover H-Handy 700 certainly falls into this category. It’s a wand-shaped vacuum that sits snugly in its charging stand so it’s always ready to go, and you don’t have to remember to plug it in again when you’ve finished as it starts charging just by seating it in the stand. The three-in-one attachment sits behind so it’s always ready to go.
Its small size has a downside, though, which is that the 150ml bin could only gather around 13g of our test spillages before it became full and blocked the suction, so it’s best reserved for smaller spills. It’s also slightly fussy to empty, needing the collection bin and the filter removing before you can empty the chamber.
Read our full Hoover H-Handy 700 review for more details.
Key specs – Size: 418 x 66 x 69mm (WDH); Weight: 640g; Bin capacity: 150ml; Vacuum type: Handheld; Bagless: Yes; Suction power: Not stated
4. Roidmi Nano P1 Pro: Best portable vacuum cleaner
Price when reviewed: £116 | Check price at AmazonThe Roidmi Nano P1 Pro takes the portability of vacuum cleaners to a new level. About the same size as a can of hairspray, this vacuum is easy to store, carry around or keep in the car. What’s more, it charges via a USB-C port, so can be hooked up to a phone charger when it runs out of juice.
The bin capacity is small at just 100ml so it can’t handle large messes without regular emptying, but it’s incredibly handy to have around, especially if you regularly need to clean up small messes such as dust and crumbs.
It’s neatly designed, too, with a top that flips up to become the cleaning nozzle, a brush attachment that pops up at the flick of a switch and a built-in LED light so you can see exactly where you’re cleaning.
Read our full Roidmi Nano P1 Pro review for more details.
Key specs – Size: 60 x 60 x 275mm (WDH); Weight: 500g; Bin capacity: 100ml; Vacuum type: Handheld; Bagless: Yes; Suction power: Not stated
5. Shark WandVac 2.0 (WV270UK): Best handheld vacuum cleaner for versatility
Price when reviewed: £179 | Check price at Amazon
The Shark WandVac 2.0 is a significant step up from its predecessor, with a new Boost button for additional suction, and a battery that lasts almost twice as long. That’s still only 15 minutes, but it should be plenty of time for cleaning up the kind of small spills that this handy device is designed for.
It’s always at the ready, which is one of the best things about it. Its stand doubles up as its charging station, and also holds the vacuum’s two attachments: an upholstery nozzle for getting dirt off furniture, and a combination crevice tool and dusting brush. It looks good, too, with a small footprint and a narrow aspect when viewed from the front.
If you’re looking for a versatile handheld vacuum cleaner that’s always ready for action, the Shark WandVac 2.0 is hard to beat, despite being a little pricey.
Read our full Shark WandVac 2.0 (WV270UK) review for more details.
Key specs – Size: 63 x 70 x 390mm (WDH); Weight: 650g; Bin capacity: 100ml; Vacuum type: Handheld; Bagless: Yes; Suction power: Not stated