Hand vacuums, the more compact and portable cousins of […]
Hand vacuums, the more compact and portable cousins of stick vacs, are the ideal tool for cleaning up light spills around the house, getting into crevices in cars, and other relatively small jobs. And they're more powerful than they look.
“The expectations for hand vacuums are changing,” says a CR test engineer, Misha Kollontai, who oversees hand vacuum testing. “And manufacturers are raising the bar for what a hand vacuum should be.”
Many of the newly tested models in our hand vacuum ratingsChina Electric Floor Sweepers Suppliers have updated, longer-lasting lithium ion batteries and useful accessories or convenient attachments, a real improvement for this cordless tool.
Advances aside, hand vacuums still aren’t the most efficient appliance if you have a lot to clean. For most, you can expect battery run times between 9 and 30 minutes (then just dock the vacuum on its charger). That's one reason we recommend having more than one vacuum at home.
How We Test Hand Vacuums
Hand vacuums are made to clean up small spills and light debris, not to deep-clean carpet. We test how well they capture surface litter by evenly dispersing 50 grams of sand, 50 grams of rice, and 25 grams of Cheerios on a medium-pile carpet in a designated area, then measuring how much the machine can pick up in 15 seconds. For bare floors, we use the same amount of debris and the same time frame over a tile floor with grout lines.For edge cleaning, we measure how far the hand vacuum hose or crevice tool allows it to reach within tight spaces. For pet hair, we use one gram of Maine Coon cat fur and note whether the vacuum leaves clumps across the floor—and how much you might have to clean off the brush bristles if your model comes with an airflow or pet hair brush.
For emissions testing, we feed 10 grams of maplewood flour into each vacuum, then track how many particles escape into the room. We also distribute 10 grams of wood flour onto an evenly marked floor area, then vacuum that area. As we’re vacuuming, we track how many particles scatter about the room as a result of the vacuum’s agitation.
If you’re looking for full-floor cleaning, see our vacuum Handheld Vacuum Cleaners Manufacturersbuying guide for uprights, canisters, stick, and robotic vacuums. But if you just need a compact machine for spot-cleaning, read on for reviews of the best hand vacuums from Consumer Reports' tests—and a couple to skip—listed in alphabetical order.
CR’s take: Though this model doesn’t have as many tools as other models, it does have robust suction and received an Excellent rating in our carpet cleaning tests. The flip side of that strength? Because its motor is relatively powerful, the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser has a strong exhaust, which could blow dust around before you even get to it. An important note: This is the only corded hand vac among our recommended models, so you don’t have to worry about charging it before use, though of course you need to be close enough to an outlet for the 16-foot cord to reach.
CR’s take: With a hose built into the design, this compact, cord-free Black+Decker Flex makes it easy to suction up debris in hard-to-reach places, like under a car seat or behind your washer. It earned an Excellent rating in our emissions test, which means there’s less dust and debris in the air when you vacuum. It also comes with a rubber pet-hair attachment that helps suction more hair, since it doesn’t stick to the rubber and goes directly into the suction tube. The dustbin is slightly difficult to remove, and you might have to reach inside to eject all the gunk when emptying this model over a trash can.