Looking to buy a handheld vacuum cleaner? They can prove useful for cleaning up the little spills and messes of day-to-day life, but only one impressed us enough to be a Best Buy.
We sent the latest crop of handheld vacuum cleaners to our independent test lab to find out which ones really do suck, and the results were pretty mixed.
One model stood out above the rest for its cleaning power and a few others were worth considering, too. Some proved mediocre, though, leaving crumbs behind and failing to spruce up surfaces.
See our top pick in our best handheld vacuum cleaner guide, or read on for a rundown of key models we tested and why you might want to consider a cordless stick vacuum instead.
Dyson, Shark and Vax models put to the test
From cheap and cheerful £20 handheld vacuums, to all-singing, all-dancing £200 options, these are the models we’ve challenged to clean up in our tests:
Shark WV200UK, £129
- Weight 0.9kg
- Run time 10 mins (per battery)
- Dust capacity 0.10 litres
If you’re keen to avoid the bulkier handhelds and clean up small spills with an air of sophistication, the Shark WV200UK could be the one for you.
It’s a small and incredibly lightweight handheld vac with a charging dock that sits neatly on a desk in an office or on the kitchen counter.
Be warned, the dust capacity and battery life are also on the small side, but the WV251UK version comes with a spare battery that you can easily swap in if the first one runs out.
It’s often on offer for the same price as the original model, so it’s always worth double checking the price of both to get the best value.
Find out if it’s a dream cleaning machine in our full Shark WV200UK review.
Vax OnePWR Cordless Hand Vac, £50 (minus battery)
- Weight 1.90kg
- Run time 42 mins
- Dust capacity 0.6 litres
The Vax OnePWR Cordless is half the price of the Shark and has a bit of a retro look. It’s powered by the same battery used with Vax’s Blade 3 and Blade 4 cordless vacuums, so you can swap battery packs across the range if you have a Vax collection in the making at home.
Hold up before you buy, though, as the price can be a little misleading. At £50 it’s certainly cheap if you have a OnePWR battery and charger already, but it doesn’t actually come with those bits included.
The charger is £30 and the cheapest battery is £70, so if you don’t own any Vax OnePWR products already you’re actually looking at spending £150 to buy this handheld, making it one of the pricier options around.
Is it worth it? Read our full Vax OnePWR Cordless Hand Vac review to find out.
Dyson V7 Trigger, £200
- Weight 1.98kg
- Run time 32 mins (8 mins on turbo)
- Dust capacity 0.6 litres
If you’re willing to spend big on a handheld vacuum cleaner, you’re sure to come across the Dyson V7 Trigger.
It’s very similar to the full-size Dyson V7 cordless stick vacuum – minus the floorhead, tube attachments and some other tweaks. The stick version isn’t much pricier, either (sometimes it’s even on offer for £199), so it’s worth taking a look at whether the full V7 package is a better deal for you.
The V7 Trigger comes with plenty of accessories (and rightly so at this price) and it has a ‘hygienic dust ejector’ that wipes down the inside of the dust container as you empty it, which can be handy for getting trapped fluff and dust out.
Does it clean better than the rest? Find out in the full Dyson V7 Trigger review.
Bush Handheld Cordless Vacuum Cleaner 308/4102, £20
- Weight 0.91kg
- Run time 21 minutes
- Dust capacity 0.4 litres
No, the price is not a typo. Argos own-brand Bush is known for its budget appliances, but a handheld vacuum cleaner for £20 really is as cheap as it gets.
As you might expect from a vac at this price, it’s a simplistic model that comes with a single accessory – a crevice tool.
Its battery life is nonetheless a respectable 21 minutes. However, the battery can’t be replaced, so you’ll eventually have to throw it away once it loses its ability to hold a charge (as all batteries of this type do). This means it’s not a sustainable choice.
Is it a good budget buy otherwise? Check our full Bush Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner 308/4102 review.
Worx Cube Vac WX030, £90
- Weight 2.22kg
- Run time 23 mins (13 mins on turbo)
- Dust capacity 0.4 litres
The eye-catching Worx Cube Vac was designed with car cleaning in mind, so it’s worth a look if you’re tired of feeding an extension lead through the window.
The flexible hose should help you clean the nooks and crannies of your car that other handheld vacuums can’t reach, and there are handy compartments on the cube itself for storing the crevice tool and furniture brush.
It’s a little heavier than the other handhelds listed here, but not heavy enough to be a problem.
Read our Worx Cube Vac WX030 review to see if it will suck those stubborn crumbs out of your car seats.
Should you buy a cordless vacuum instead?
If you’re keen on taking full advantage of cord-free cleaning, you may want to consider going for a full-blown cordless vacuum cleaner instead of a handheld.
Most cordless vacuums have detachable handheld units, giving you the flexibility to use the same vacuum to clean small spills and whip over your floors.
Cordless vacuum cleaners are generally much more expensive than handhelds, though – the average price of the handhelds we’ve tested is £96, whereas the average cordless vacuum sets you back around £248.
If you already have a corded vacuum cleaner you’re happy with and don’t want to fork out for a cordless, a handheld can still prove useful for those little spills you’d rather not haul out your main vac for.
But if you want to get the maximum from your investment, check our list of the best cordless vacuum cleaners for the top cheap options.
Latest handheld vacuum reviews for 2020
Here’s the full list of handheld vacuums we’ve recently tested. Click on the individual links to read the full reviews.
- Beldray BEL0944SL Revo, £57
- Black & Decker Dustbuster Flexi PD1820L, £73
- Black & Decker Dustbuster BHHV320B, £75
- Bush Handheld Cordless Vacuum Cleaner 308/4102, £20
- Dyson V7 Trigger, £200
- Gtech Multi MK2 K9, £169
- Shark WV200UK, £129
- Vax OnePWR Cordless Hand Vac, £50 (£150)
- Worx Cube Vac WX030, £90
Prices correct as of 22 September 2020.
How to maintain your vacuum – see our handy guide to keeping suction strong