Although they can be used to clean floors and area rugs, handheld vacuums typically are used for quick cleanups. They’re smaller and more convenient than a regular vacuum for cleaning surfaces, removing pet hair on furniture, or sucking up debris on upholstery. They also are a game-changer when it comes time to clean your vehicle, since most are battery-powered.

When it comes to shopping for a new vacuum, there are endless options to choose from. To separate the best handhelds from the rest, we spent 15-plus hours researching 20 different models. We compared their feature sets and read dozens of reviews from other publications and from owners themselves to narrow our list down to nine total handheld vacuums to bring in for testing.

Over the course of a 3-week testing period, six of us editors used the vacuums at our homes to sweep up messes from our pets, kids, and ones we made ourselves in our kitchen. For each of the below picks, our editors provided feedback on what they liked or disliked about the handheld vacuums, and considered the following criteria when using them:

  1. How long does the vacuum run before turning off?
  2. Does it effectively suck up crumbs, dust, and pet hair?
  3. Is the vacuum obnoxiously loud?
  4. How well do its included tools work?
  5. How easy is it to use and empty?

In addition to the above testing criteria, we also factored in price and included accessories, such as attachments, charging docks, or replacement filters.

After sucking up enough pet hair, dust bunnies, and crumbs in quantities that would make Pig-Pen from Peanuts jealous, we settled on six favorite models.

BLACK DECKER ~ Dustbuster Advanced Clean

Who It’s Perfect For:
We can’t recommend this vacuum enough for pet owners who desperately want to eliminate pet hair from furniture.

How It Performs:
“The vacuum has two suction speeds (regular and high), so whether you need to suck coffee grounds from the countertop, dust on an end table, or pet hair that’s embedded deep between couch cushions, it offers enough oomph to get the job done effectively. Its battery lasts long enough for me to completely clean the couch, three armchairs, and the kitchen, with some juice to spare.”

Ease of Use:
“I like that the vacuum can stand up on its own, which helps save precious counter space. It has a one-press button to empty its canister. It doesn’t feel extremely heavy or awkward to use, and it isn’t too loud, either.”

Usefulness of Attachments:
“The vacuum has a retractable 13-inch-long crevice tool that makes it easy to reach crumbs or debris, but I mainly use the vacuum’s motorized roller brush tool. I have a husky and a German shepherd that seriously never stop shedding, so it has really come in handy for removing pet hair from my couch and trunk of my Jeep.”

Black Decker HLVB315JCZ01 Dustbuster Cordless Hand Vacuum, Blue

Who It’s Perfect For:
This handheld vacuum is great for shoppers on a budget, looking for a vacuum that offers strong suction and comes with a motorized brush tool.

How It Performs:
“It was very good at cleaning up shredded paper, kitchen debris, and hair of all kinds. I used it on a floor rug and it sucked up hair that I didn’t even realize had been there — which is equally gross and amazing! I ran it for 2 days of normal use (about a total of 30 minutes each day) before it needed to be charged.”

A Word on Noise:
“The vacuum is pretty loud and more high-pitched than an older hand vac I have. This one actually bothers my ears if I’m using it in a tighter area with less porous surroundings, because the echo can be painful.”

Ease of Use:
“It’s a little heavy — especially with the attachment. I imagine if I were elderly, physically disabled, or had an injury it might be a bit cumbersome. Emptying the canister was intuitive and easy, though!”

Dyson V7 Car+Boat Handheld Vacuum

Who It’s Perfect For:
If you want the strongest handheld vacuum money can buy, and price isn’t a concern of yours, hands-down the Dyson V7 Car+Boat offers the absolute strongest suction. It comes with plenty of tools so you can clean the tightest of spaces quickly and easily.

How It Performs:
“This vacuum has a super strong suction that made it a joy to use on my rugs, wood and tile floors, and along walls and on curtains. It picked up dust, dirt, and human hair that my other handheld vacuum had missed for — probably — years! It was extremely satisfying to run it along surfaces and then check out the visible difference and feel the grit-free ground below me.”

Not Without Its Flaws:
“My main complaint is that you have to hold down the button to power the vacuum, and it has a quick run time of only 10 minutes. I wish it lasted longer!”

Plenty of Useful Attachments:
“The main attachment works really well for rugs and floors. I switched to the expandable tube with the narrow brushless attachment to get at the dust on my curtains, lampshades and the corners where my wall and ceiling meet. The other smaller brush attachments seemed like they’d be great for getting into the nooks and crannies of a car. It comes with a car charger which seems especially handy for owners with kids, dogs, or dirty outdoor equipment.”

Ease of Use:
“I did not find the canister-emptying process intuitive and struggled getting the release to work, resulting in my dumping the dirt I’d accumulated onto the rug I’d just cleaned. In theory, getting rid of the dirt in the vacuum should be as easy as pressing a button while holding it over the trash. Overall, I would definitely recommend this as a top-notch handheld vacuum!”

BLACK DECKER Flex Vac With Pet Hair Brush

Who It’s Perfect For:
If you plan to clean your car frequently, or your home has lots of those hard-to-reach spots, this handheld vacuum — that’s actually shaped more like a tiny canister vacuum — reaches those tight spaces with ease. It’s comfortable to use and offers enough suction for most jobs.

How It Performs:
“The suction was fair. I have a cat with short black, brown, and white hair that gets on everything. The vacuum did suck up more pet hair than I realized was lingering on my couch and curtains. The filter does seem to get clogged easily if you’re vacuuming up a lot of debris at once, causing the suction to slow down slightly.”

A Quiet Vacuum With Lots of Attachments
“The noise was pretty low. My scaredy-cat was not fazed by the sound at all. The vacuum comes with three different attachments (with one having a removable brush piece.) The brush helped to loosen the crumbs and fur on the couch and the curtains. The pet attachment — a round rubber piece — was not really useful for me, but I suppose it could be for pet fur that was really stuck in the couch or fabric. I was able to clean for 20 minutes before the battery died.”

Ease of Use:
“The vacuum is lightweight and super easy to tote around. The canister was pretty tricky to open and remove to clean out, but I figured it out after a while. It is fairly easy to clean and I like that you don’t need to buy bags for the canister.”

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Lithium Pivot Vac

Who It’s Perfect For:
“Hands-down, the best part about this vac is how compact it is. The whole vac folds into itself and can be easily hung on a wall or stored away when not in use. Its small footprint makes it extremely useful for tiny New York City apartments. Since the canister is relatively small, I don’t think this vacuum would work well for larger spaces to suck up larger debris, but for my day-to-day dust-and-crumb cleanup in my apartment, it’s perfect.”

How It Performs:
“It has surprisingly powerful suction ability and sucked up hair, crumbs, dust, and debris super easily from my hardwood floor, kitchen and bathroom tile floors, and my microfiber couch. It’s about as loud as my blender and its battery lasted for an hour.”

No Attachments Needed:
“The vac doesn’t come with any attachments, but its built-in crevice wand extension piece is great for reaching more narrow nooks and crannies, which I found really helpful. There is also a little flip-down brush tool for use on easy-to-scratch surfaces, which I used on my hardwood floors.”

Ease of Use:
“The canister is very easy to empty — you just pop it out with a button, and voila. The canister is just a little bit small, so it requires emptying more often, but that’s a given with a smaller handheld vac. The vacuum is very lightweight and comfortable to hold, with adjustable angles for reaching tight spaces.”