Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time). This guide builds on hundreds of hours of research and testing conducted by Wirecutter staff since 2013, including by Wirecutter’s Sarah Bogdan.
If you don’t own pets and need a hand vac only for the occasional spilled Cheerios or coffee grounds, buy the Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean CHV1410L. It’s a perennial best seller with strong reviews from owners, and in our testing we’ve found it comfortable and effective. We’ve recommended the CHV1410L since 2017, and in our most recent round of testing, in 2023, it proved once again to be one of the best basic handheld vacuums available. But it has a shorter run time than our top picks, and it isn’t great at cleaning upholstery.
The Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean+ HHVK515JP07 cleans up pet fur better than any other handheld model we’ve tried. It has great suction, which is enhanced by a motorized brush that agitates debris and dislodges shark pet hair vacuum stubborn fur from grippy upholstery. It charges in under three hours and runs for up to 25 minutes (one of the longest run times among the models in our test group), and it has a built-in extendable crevice tool.
The Shark® WANDVAC® Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum is the extraordinary answer to your everyday mess! This sleek handvac combines lightweight portability with the incredible suction power of a high-speed brushless motor. My carpet looked like it had been newly shampooed after using the Shark Rocket Pet Pro.
That’s why you might want a corded vacuum like the Dirt Devil Scorpion. This traditional handheld has an especially powerful motor since there’s no risk of the battery running down too quickly. The vacuum holds about 15 ounces in its dirt bin and has a triple-level filter. Best of all, you don’t need to pay a pretty penny for one of these machines; some of our favorites are priced in the $50 to $100 range.
Its filters are washable and replaceable, too, and its bin volume is the largest of the handheld vacs we’ve tested. Corded stick vacuums offer a convenient design without the worry of battery life. This one has a cord that’s 30 feet long, so it won’t limit where you can go. Also, the top part of the vacuum can detach, so it’s easy to store anywhere. Our testers loved that this vacuum was self-propelled, making picking up pet hair that much simpler.
We then judge how well each handheld vacuum deals with pet hair by grinding fur from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home into the carpet. When it comes to cleaning awkward spaces, a trusty handheld vacuum is a must-have. These compact machines make light work of sofas and car interiors, while their cordless design makes them easy to grab for emergency pre-hosting touch-ups.