picture of a dyson handheld vacuum

A handheld vacuum can be a great cleaning tool for any home, so it’s no wonder that so many people now choose to buy them. That being said, there are many different models out there and the difference in quality and price can be significant. Sorting through the different models and finding the best value for your money can be difficult, but this guide should provide you with a better understanding of what to look for in a handheld vacuum.


Budget vs. premium

In the range of handheld vacuums that are available, the consumer will find a major disparity when it comes to price. There are some cheap models that cost £20 or less and on the high-end, there are models that cost upwards of £200. Below is a Dyson video which shows the type of product you can expect at the top end of the market. As you’ll see. it’s pretty impressive.

For the most part, the consumer is going to get a much better machine when they go with the higher end models, but there are some good budget handhelds. The more expensive models are probably going to have more features and provide better performance and they are also likely to have a better build quality.

What the consumer really needs to consider in this regard is what they intend to use the handheld for, how often they need to use it and how many years of use do they want to get out of it. Depending on your needs and how often you intend to use the vacuum, a less expensive model might fit your needs. If you are looking for the best value for your money, the handhelds in the middle price range usually offer good performance and versatility at a reasonable price.



Corded vs cordless

Corded Handhelds

Most of the handhelds that are sold today will be cordless, but many of the budget models still come with a cord. For some consumers, this may not be a big deal, but a cord picture of a vax cordless handheldis going to make the machine less convenient because you are going to be tied to a working radius. If you are going to buy a model with a cord, then you should check to make sure that it has a long enough reach to get to all of the places that you may need it.

Cordless Handhelds

The cordless handheld models are going to be more convenient and easier to use, but the consumer does have more factors to consider when they are purchasing a model that is battery-powered.




Battery Life

If you want to get a cordless model, then the amount of operating time that you get off a single charge will be something to consider. Since these models are intended forPicture of a battery charging up quick cleaning, the runtime may not matter quite as much as it would with a stick model, but you still want to know that you will have enough time to complete the job.

Charging Time

The amount of time it takes to charge is another consideration with these models. Any handheld is going to take at least a few hours to charge once the battery has been depleted, but if you intend to use the machine frequently, then you don’t want a model that is going to be out of commission for the rest of the day after you use it.

How it Charges

With the best models, the machine charges in a dock that provides the double function of charging and storage. Other models may simply have an adaptor that plugs into the machine. The charging dock is more convenient for storing and it means that the machine is ready to go whenever you need it.




picture of handheld cleaning up breakfast cerealEffectiveness

Consumers should understand that most handhelds are not going to offer cleaning power that compares with their primary vacuum. To gain the advantages of portability and ease of use, you generally have to sacrifice a little power.

As a consumer, you want to consider the motor power of the machine and you also want to consider some of the design features. For the most part, you are not going to find the same type of power or features in a handheld as you would with a larger vacuum, but some of the more expensive models will come with a good level of voltage and features like motorised brushes and cyclonic suction.



Size & Weight

The idea behind a handheld vacuum is to provide the user with a machine that is lightweight, compact and easy to use with one hand. With these intentions, it means that factors like size and weight are even more important. If the vacuum is too heavy or bulky, then it is going to be difficult to use with one hand and therefore, not very convenient. Additionally, an oversized handheld will not fit in all of the places that you may need it to.

When you are shopping for a handheld, you want a model that is light enough to use with one hand and compact enough to fit in tight spaces. Along with that, you want to consider how well-balanced the machine is and the design of the handle. All of these factors will affect how easy the machine is to handle as you clean.



With handheld models, your options for filtration will be staged filtration and HEPA filtration. Across all types of vacuums, HEPA filters will generally be the most effective form of filtration, but this is especially true with handhelds. With a larger vacuum, it will be easier for a manufacturer to fit more stages into the machine if it has standard filtration, but with a handheld, they are probably only going to be able to go with 4-stage filtration. If dust emissions are an issue for you, then you are going to want to look for a model with HEPA filtration.

Concerning filters, the consumer may also want to consider whether they want lifetime filters or replaceable filters. Neither one is clearly better than the other in regard to effectiveness, but lifetime filters never need to be replaced. The user may need to wash the filter from time to time, but it does save time and money.



picture of a man vacuuming his carCar Vacuums

Almost any handheld is going to be good for cleaning the inside of an automobile, but there are models that are specifically designed for this purpose. Many of them will come with special attachments for car cleaning and they are made to work off the power outlet in your car. The fact that they operate on the 12V power supply in the vehicle will mean that you can take the vacuum with you everywhere and use it whenever you need to clean the vehicle, but it also means that the machine will have a limited amount of power. A good car vacuum will provide dirt pick-up that is good enough for light messes and to keep the car looking good in between a thorough cleaning, but the vehicle is going to need the occasional cleaning with a more powerful vacuum.

In addition to the normal considerations that you would put into buying any handheld vacuum, with a car vacuum you will also want to make sure that it has tools for car cleaning, that it has a cord that is long enough to reach the entire interior of the vehicle and that it has a case to keep it neat and safe when it is not in use.



picture of a woman stowing away a dyson handheldStorage

A handheld model may be lightweight and compact, but that does not mean that there is no concern for storage. As mentioned above, there are some different concerns for corded models and cordless. For corded models you do need to be aware of cord storage and for cordless machines, you need to think about whether it has a charging station that also doubles as a place for storage. As far as the best storage solution for a handheld goes, most consumers would agree that a cordless model with the charging dock is the best solution. It keeps the machine safe, charges the battery and the machine is there and ready whenever you need it.



Additional things to consider…

Capacity – With a handheld model, another one of the things that you sacrifice to the lightweight, compact nature of the machine is dirt capacity. Most models are bagless and they are made to be easy to empty.

Bagged or Bagless  The majority of modern handhelds are bagless, but there are some that still use bags. For handheld vacuums, bagless does seem like the better solution because the low capacity means that you would have to frequently buy and change vacuum bags.

Cleaning Hose – Most of these machines will not have a hose that can be detached for additional cleaning tasks, but it is a nice feature. The hose will be able to fit in more places than the intake area of the handheld, so this feature will make the machine more versatile.

Settings – For the most part, these machines are only going to have an on/off switch and that is it. However, there are some machines that have a turbo mode for getting really tough to clean dirt. If the machine is battery powered, the user should realize that the vacuum is going to have a shorter operating time on the highest setting.

Attachments – With full-sized vacuums, getting a basic set of attachments almost goes without saying, but with handhelds, attachments are not always part of the package. If doing the additional jobs is important to you, then you want to make sure that the machine has these attachments or some type of provision that allows you to do the additional cleaning jobs like dusting and upholstery cleaning.

Noise – For some people, the noise that is generated when cleaning can be an issue. If you are one of these people, then you will want to look for information on how loud the machine is when it is on.

Warranty – Every vacuum should come with a warranty. A good warranty means that the manufacturer stands by their product and that is why you will generally see the longer warranties coming from the more reliable vacuum makers.


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