Best Cheap Handheld Vacuums
$30 - $80Cheapism
$80 - $200Mid-Range
$200 and upHigh End
- Published on
- By Raechel Conover
It's a hassle to get out a large upright vacuum to clean up a small mess. This is where a cheap handheld vacuum comes in, er, handy. If something spills or breaks, you can pull out a handheld vacuum and leave the upright in the closet until the whole house is due for a cleaning. Prices for handheld vacuums range from just under $30 to more than $200, which gets you a top-of-the-line Dyson. We looked at cheap handheld vacuums between $30 and $80. Models in this price range have limited features and moderate suction power. Higher-end vacuums give you more suction power, more accessories, and lighter weight for added convenience. They also can clean up both wet and dry spills. The good news for frugal shoppers is that there are cheap handheld vacuums that will meet most users' spot-cleaning needs.
Cheap Handheld Vacuums Buying Guide
When shopping for handheld vacuums, keep in mind that they come either with or without a cord. Cordless handheld vacuums are convenient and easy to maneuver but need to be charged. A corded handheld vacuum cleaner will run as long as you need it to, but you have to move the cord from outlet to outlet. Despite the convenience of cordless vacuums, for the most part, users give higher ratings to models with cords. However, we also found some good cordless handheld vacuums.
Other features that help make a handheld vacuum even more convenient include the weight of the machine and the special features. Handheld vacuums are designed to be used one-handed, so they should be as light as possible. Many pricey models pride themselves on being feather-light, but plenty of options in our price range are also fairly lightweight; none of the cheap handheld vacuums on our list weighs more than five pounds. Special features include attachments such as crevice tools and upholstery brushes. Some handheld vacuums are specifically designed to pick up pet hair or come with special attachments just for that purpose.
Buyers should also consider the filter type and warranty. Most cheap handheld vacuums use standard filters; only a few use high-efficiency particulate air filters, or HEPA filters, which are said to collect even more dust, dirt, and allergens. All the machines we researched have at least a one-year warranty.
Popular brands in this category include Bissell, Dirt Devil, Black and Decker, Eureka, and Dyson. Dysons are out of our price range, but all the other brands offer cheap handheld vacuums. Our favorites are the Eureka Easy Clean Hand Vac 71B (starting at $40) and the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Hand Vacuum (starting at just $29). Both are lightweight, have long cords, and receive near-perfect reviews from users. We also like the Black and Decker 18V Platinum Series Cordless Hand Vacuum (starting at $50) and the FilterStream DirtTamer Ultima V2510 (starting at $79). Both are cordless and receive good user reviews. The FilterStream DirtTamer Ultima V2510 is also the only cheap handheld vacuum we found that cleans both wet and dry messes, while the Black and Decker 18V Platinum Series Cordless Hand Vacuum is the only model with a replaceable battery, so the entire machine isn't rendered useless if the battery stops holding a charge. The battery is our major gripe with the Euro-Pro SV75 Shark Cordless Hand Vac (starting at $40); it seems to have major issues holding a charge.
Corded Handheld Vacuums
When shopping for a cheap hand vacuum, you'll want to pay attention to attributes such as the weight, filter, and warranty. But the biggest decision to make is whether to look at cordless handheld vacuums or corded handheld vacuums that plug into the wall. Both options have pros and cons.
Cordless Handheld Vacuums.A cordless handheld vacuum is convenient because you don't have to worry about plugging it in and moving the cord as you go. That being said, cordless handheld vacuums won't just keep going and going; they have to be charged, usually on a wall-mounted charger. Some models provide 30 minutes of run time on a full charge, according to About.com, while others offer a mere five minutes. This point is highlighted at GaltTech.com, where an expert reviewer recalls a cordless handheld vacuum that could cover about 13 stairs before losing its juice -- but there were 16 stairs, so the reviewer had to charge the machine just to finish the last three steps.
Cordless handheld vacuums tend to have a harder time holding a charge the older they get and eventually must be replaced. The Black and Decker 18V Platinum Series Cordless Hand Vacuum (starting at $50) is the only cheap cordless handheld vacuum we found with a replaceable battery; most other models are rendered useless once the battery stops holding a charge. The battery in the Black and Decker vacuum can also be used with other Black and Decker products.
The other cordless handheld vacuums on our list are the FilterStream DirtTamer Ultima V2510 (starting at $79) and the Euro-Pro SV75 Shark Cordless Hand Vac (starting at $40). For the most part, manufacturers don't address battery charge time or run time. In fact, only the FilterStream DirtTamer Ultima V2510 has a listed battery run time: 12 minutes.
Hand Vac Filters.Just like an upright or canister vacuum, a handheld vacuum uses a filter to collect dust and dirt particles. While the hand vac filters on most inexpensive models are standard filters, a few budget models use higher-quality HEPA (or high-efficiency particulate air) filters. These hand vac filters are said to be slightly superior because they pick up 99.9% of harmful particles, compared with 99% for other allergen filtration systems. Two handheld vacuums on our list -- the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Hand Vacuum and the FilterStream DirtTamer Ultima V2510 -- have HEPA filtration systems. The rest have standard hand vac filters.
Handheld Vacuum Reviews
Corded Handheld Vacuums.Corded handheld vacuums provide unlimited run time, as they are constantly connected to a power source. The best handheld vacuums on our list are both corded handheld vacuums. For these machines, cord length comes into play. A cord that is too short requires the user to either use an extension cord or move the cord from outlet to outlet to reach different areas. The Eureka Easy Clean Hand Vac 71B (starting at $40) has a 20-foot cord, while the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Hand Vacuum (starting at just $29) has a shorter 16-foot cord.
Weight.Part of the convenience of a handheld vacuum is its weight, which makes it much easier to pull out than a heavy upright. These machines are designed to be used one-handed, so the lighter they are, the better. The lightest handheld vacuum we found in our price range is the Dirt Devil M0914 Extreme Power Handheld Vacuum (starting at $37), which weighs only 3.15 pounds. It is followed by the Eureka Easy Clean Hand Vac 71B, which weighs just four pounds. All the other handheld vacuums we researched weigh between four-and-a-half and five pounds. The manufacturer doesn't list a weight for the Black and Decker 18V Platinum Series Cordless Hand Vacuum, but the shipping weight listed on Amazon is five pounds, so we know the machine itself weighs less than that.
Special Features.While upright vacuums come with a slew of special features and attachments, cheap handheld vacuums are relatively Spartan. That being said, GaltTech.com recommends looking for models that come with at least some attachments, such as an upholstery brush and a crevice tool for hard-to-reach areas. Among the vacuums we researched, the FilterStream DirtTamer Ultima V2510 takes the cake when it comes to special features. It's the only one designed to work on both dry and wet spills. It also has a headlight to help spot dirt, a low-charge indicator, a cleaning wand, a crevice tool, and an upholstery brush. Both the Dirt Devil M0914 Extreme Power Handheld Vacuum and the Black and Decker 18V Platinum Series Cordless Hand Vacuum have the standard crevice tool and upholstery brush, while the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Hand Vacuum has a crevice tool plus an upholstery tool designed specifically to collect pet hair. The Eureka Easy Clean Hand Vac 71B has a crevice tool and a unique Riser Visor in the front, which flips up to reveal a revolving brush that works vertically as well as horizontally to clean surfaces such as stairs. The Euro-Pro SV75 Shark Cordless Hand Vac comes with only a crevice tool.
Warranty.Handheld vacuum cleaners don't last as long as other types of vacuums, according to About.com. That being said, all the models on our list come with at least a one-year warranty. The Dirt Devil M0914 Extreme Power Handheld Vacuum offers the longest warranty: three years on the parts and motor. Both the Black and Decker 18V Platinum Series Cordless Hand Vacuum and the FilterStream DirtTamer Ultima V2510 come with two-year warranties, and the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Hand Vacuum, the Eureka Easy Clean Hand Vac 71B, and the Euro-Pro SV75 Shark Cordless Hand Vac offer one-year warranties.
Best Handheld Vacuums, Hand Vacuum Battery
Users posting handheld vacuums reviews don't have super-high expectations. Most just want a machine that cleans well, holds a charge, and is fairly easy to use and maneuver. Reviewers praise the machines in this category for being compact and easy to use. Most frustration is the result of a poor battery or inadequate cleaning ability.
Cleaning Performance.Consumers purchase handheld vacuums to clean areas such as stairs, furniture, and car interiors, so they expect low-cost handheld vacuums to perform well on those surfaces. Users almost universally applaud the Eureka Easy Clean Handheld Vac 71B. Out of more than 200 reviews at Walmart and more than 1,000 on Amazon, nearly all give the Eureka Easy Clean Handheld Vac 71B a four- or five-star rating. A satisfied customer calls the Eureka Easy Clean Handheld Vac 71B powerful and durable in a review on Amazon and says it's easily the best in a string of handheld vacuums the user has had. Other consumers posting handheld vacuums reviews on Amazon find the Eureka's unique Riser Visor ideal for cleaning stairs and furniture and say the vacuum's excellent suction power picks up stubborn pet hair and dirt.
If you're an animal lover, it may seem like you're constantly looking for a handheld pet vacuum that can rid your home of hair and pet dander. Consumers posting handheld vacuum reviews at Target say they have finally found it in the low-cost Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Hand Vacuum. One user even refers to this handheld pet vacuum as a dream machine because it picks up all the black dog hair from the beige carpet and all the kitty litter the two cats track through the house.
In handheld vacuum reviews on Amazon, users seem happy for the most part with cleaning ability of the Black and Decker 18V Platinum Series Cordless Hand Vacuum, saying that it has good suction. One user reports that it works very well on dust bunnies, hairballs, and crumbs, while another user says it's ideal for pet messes. The cleaning power of the FilterStream DirtTamer Ultima V2510 impresses users posting handheld vacuum reviews on Epinions. One user especially appreciates the vacuum's ability to clean up both wet and dry messes.
The Dirt Devil M0914 Extreme Power Handheld Vacuum also has heavy-duty suction, according to a reviewer at CarVacuums.org.
On the other hand, users posting handheld vacuum reviews at Target gripe that the Euro-Pro SV75 Shark Cordless Hand Vac has poor suction and most of the time just doesn't pick anything up. That may be due to a poor battery, which seems to be the main problem with the machine (more on that on the next page).
Best Handheld Vacuums, Hand Vacuum Battery
Hand Vacuum Battery.Hand vacuum battery life and charge time are the main drawbacks for budget shoppers. Manufacturers don't provide much information on this, so we gleaned our information from reviews. A user posting a review of the Black and Decker 18V Platinum Series Cordless Hand Vacuum at Walmart.com notes that this is the only cheap model on the market that allows you to replace the battery rather than have to throw away the machine once the battery wears out. Another user says the Black and Decker hand vacuum battery pack is large and seems to last a while.
Users are split in their opinions of the battery on the FilterStream DirtTamer Ultima V2510. Consumers posting reviews at ActiveForever say the battery is pretty good at holding a charge, while users report on Epinions that the battery starts to lose its charge after only a few minutes; leaving it on the charger all the time only causes the battery to completely lose its ability to hold a charge. A user posting a review on Newegg says that charging the Dirt Devil M0914 Extreme Power Handheld Vacuum for more than 24 hours at a time similarly shortens the battery's lifespan. Nonetheless, the user had one for more than three years before the battery stopped holding a charge. Other users who have reviewed the Dirt Devil vacuum on Newegg are pleased with the run time of the battery, which one user reports is long enough to clean up two to three messes on a single charge.
Battery life seems to be the main problem with the Euro-Pro SV75 Shark Cordless Hand Vac. One user posting feedback on the Target website says the machine must spend the majority of its time on the charger just to run for a short while. Several user reviews at Amazon report that even after they followed the charging instructions, the battery wouldn't hold a charge after the first use.