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Who are you going to call for the dust bunnies? A duster that can suck is that. We scoured the floors with 30 handheld vacuums in an effort to determine the best one for sucking up dirt, debris, and more.
In our test labs, all-purpose flour, hair, Cheerios and popcorn kernels were thrown onto four different flooring surfaces (hardwood and also low, medium and high pile carpet) and measured for installation, efficiency, maneuverability, ease of emptying, portability and noise level – all things you’ll need to consider when choosing your own handheld.
The dust collectors below have been considered the best tested by PEOPLE.
Best Overall: Bissell Cleanview Deluxe Corded Hand Vacuum
Advantages: The Bissell Cleanview Deluxe corded hand vacuum is easy to install, has powerful suction, and holds plenty of dirt.
The inconvenients: It’s not wireless and it’s noisy.
After 11 hours of hands-on testing, the Bissell Cleanview Deluxe corded handheld vacuum emerged as the clear winner. This bagless vacuum scored high marks in all key categories, starting with configuration (with a rating of 4.5 out of 5). “This bad boy opens ready to go!” noted our tester, praising its effortless assembly.
The lightweight machine received perfect marks for its efficiency on hardwood floors – tackling Cheerios, popcorn and flour in one pass. It killed it again on the low-pile carpets (5), easily sucking up the same objects. On longer carpets it wasn’t perfect (4.5), requiring more than one pass to suck up Cheerios and popcorn on medium pile, and even more elbow grease to tackle. to flour and hair on high-pile carpets. “It’s easier to pull than to push,” notes our tester. Even still, it received the highest marks with stubborn messes like flour and hair on the medium pile and Cheerios and popcorn on the high pile due to its “super powerful suction.”
While the arm attachment is easy to use in our faux living room and on a car console, there are a few caveats. Using the hose requires two hands, one to hold the vacuum and one to hold the hose. The top handle is nice as it distributes the weight, but it’s not as portable as it should be for such a small machine.
The hose is long enough to fit under a couch, but the vacuum’s main handle limits where it can go, especially tight spots, due to the overall shape of the machine. Adding to its limitations is the cord. “For something that small, I wish it were wireless,” our tester noted, adding that they’d shell out even more money if it was wireless.
Ability is strength. The Bissell’s dust cup only needed to be emptied once at the end of all tests. The bin holds a lot, but it was a bit difficult to remove the filter and there was a lot of dust left in the bin. It would have to be wiped down to be really clean.
Despite its compact size, the Bissell has the ferocious power of a larger vacuum cleaner, which unfortunately means it can be noisy. “You wouldn’t want to talk while you’re vacuuming,” our tester said.
Credit: People/Tara Donne
IDEAL FOR PET HAIR: Black + Decker 20V Max Handheld Vacuum with Pet Hair Brush.
Advantages: It is small but powerful and effective on all surfaces.
The inconvenients: It’s a bit noisy and not so easy to carry.
Pet hair doesn’t stand a chance against this wireless handheld that comes with a charging stand and three accessories, including a cute one with a paw print, specially designed for pet hair.
It scored a whopping 5 out of 5 on all surfaces with all varieties of messes made by PEOPLE Tested. It’s a big problem. Our tester was blown away again and again by its capabilities. The long neck makes it super easy to slip under sofas, and it’s small enough to tackle any tricky angles you throw at it. It’s also incredibly easy to empty dirt using the clip on the side, making it a completely mess-free process.
Cons: The price is undeniably high and its two separate parts (pipe and base) make it a bit more of a chore to carry around. It also received a rating of 3.5 out of 5 for noise level, which is surprising given its small size.
Overall, the Black + Decker is perfect for someone who needs a machine that cleans deep or wants to avoid the burden of a regular full-size vacuum. “If you want a powerful handheld vacuum, this is a great option,” our tester said.
14.88 x 10.68 x 6.5 inches
Credit: People/Tara Donne
Best for Quick Pickup: Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum
Advantages: It has a large dustbin and an easy-to-remove filter.
The inconvenients: It is heavy due to the attached rechargeable battery.
A machine that really breathes is what you get when you test the ONEPWR.
It works well around objects on a table, is really easy to use on or under a couch and doesn’t have the bulk of some other models, fitting easily into a car’s console thanks to a tapered nozzle. It performed remarkably well on hardwood floors (“Best performance of all on hardwood,” according to our tester). It performed nearly as well on the carpet tests, sometimes requiring an extra pass to suck up grains or flour.
Its large trash can allows it to continue to deal with messes; it was tested on four different surfaces, and although it looked pretty full, it still sucked up Cheerios. “It’s the end of the fourth surface without emptying the tank, and it still inhales everything and spits nothing out,” our tester said. It even cleaned up extra debris from other vacuum tests! And when it was time to empty it, the filter inside was easy to remove and replace.
Perhaps the biggest downside to the ONEPWR is its weight. The attached rechargeable battery charges it, but that doesn’t seem to affect its ability to make floors shine clean so well. Our tester added, “This one made cleaning easy and fun.”
Credit: People/Tara Donne
Things to Consider Before Buying a Dustbuster
The most important thing you will need to decide when choosing a dust collector is the desired level of additional bells and whistles: cord or no cord, multiple attachments or none at all, etc. If you want to be tightly connected to your machine, a cord won’t bother you, but if you want to be able to get to those hard-to-reach places without having to switch outlets, a cord will definitely slow you down. Attachments can also be something to think about, especially if you’re low on storage space. Also keep in mind that some machines are only meant to be used on certain surfaces.
A corded machine may be slightly more affordable, although there are exceptions. While convenient, it’s important to note that cordless battery-powered machines can be heavier in some cases and also require time to recharge. You will also want to read the fine print regarding warranties.
Let’s face it: nobody wants to spend a lot of time emptying the inside of a vacuum. Look for a dust collector with an easy-open dustbin or with a filter compartment that’s easy to access, remove, and clean up later. Note the shape of the machine you’re considering, as a dust collector with a large bin means you’ll be cleaning it less often, but it may not be able to tackle those tiny, bulky spaces.
How we tested Dustbusters
We tested 30 dust collectors in our fictional living room setting and on the car console. Here we tested the Dustbuster’s ability to clean four different substances on four different surfaces. Testers observed how well the vacuum removed popcorn kernels, Cheerios (some a little crushed/dusty), all-purpose flour, and hair, and counted how many passes each dust collector took to clean the mess. We’ve rated models on efficiency, maneuverability, ease of emptying, and more, focusing on the best machines for different households.
Who are the people tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of in-home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use and more. Based on the results, we evaluate and recommend products so you can find the one that suits your needs.
But we don’t stop there: we also regularly review the categories in which we have awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval, because today’s best product may not be tomorrow’s best. And besides, companies can never buy our recommendation: their products must deserve it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust – every day, every purchase.