The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

10 best handheld vacuum cleaners for hard to reach spots

Clean up any mess without the hassle of bringing out the big guns

Jon Axworthy
Wednesday 17 February 2021 16:35
<p>A great handheld needs to be lightweight and have plenty of suction</p>

A great handheld needs to be lightweight and have plenty of suction

From handfuls of cheerios in the darkest recesses of a baby seat, to dried muddy footprints up the stairs, handheld vacuums can come in very useful.

They need to be the take anywhere machines ready to clean up messes in even the most awkward and hard-to-reach places.

To that end, they need to combine lightweight operation with plenty of suction, all backed up with good battery life, so that you can be confident you’ll be able to finish the job before you run out of juice.

Naturally, the dust bins are never going to be particularly generous on handhelds, so we focussed on how easy they were to empty, allowing us to carry on cleaning with minimum fuss.

How we tested

We put all the products to work around the home, as well as using them to valet the car, to see how they coped with a range of dust and detritus and whether we spent more time unclogging than cleaning up.

Read more:

The best handheld vacuum cleaners for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Gtech multi MK2 K9: £169.99,
  • Best lightweight option – Shark WV251UK: £129,
  • Best for pets – DysonV7 trigger: £199,
  • Best for dry – Black + Decker dustbuster pivot: £99,
  • Best for battery – Bosch Youseries cordless vacuum cleaner: £68.68,
  • Best for the kitchen – Vax gator: £39.99,
  • Best cordless handheld vacuum cleaner – Beldray BEL0944SL revo, £51.40,
  • Best for carpets – Shark CH950UKT: £59,
  • Best heavy-duty handheld vacuum cleaner – Worx WX030 cubevac: £99.99,
  • Best for wet/dry – Vax onepwr hand vac cordless handheld: £49.99,

Gtech multi MK2 K9

Best: Overall

  • Weight: 1.5kg
  • Battery life: 20 mins
  • Dust capacity: 0.8l
  • Charge time: 4 hours

A well-balanced handheld from the UK brand that can handle everything from awkward dusty corners to pet hair on scratching posts and stairs. It’s equipped with a range of tools which make the most of the excellent suction, including a power brush, dusting brush, 36cm extension tube and crevice tool. Gtech also sell a car accessory kit (£50), with a bendy crevice tool, upholstery tool and a dusting brush that extend the handhelds operation to the car. To back all this up, Gtech is renowned for its excellent customer-and-replacement service in case of any problems.

Shark WV251UK

Best: Lightweight option

  • Weight: 0.6kg
  • Battery life: 8 mins (per battery)
  • Dust capacity: 0.1l
  • Charge time: 2.5 hours

We really liked the modern wand design of this model from the popular US manufacturer. It was wonderfully lightweight, making it easy to wield in a cramped car or for reaching above head height for a spot of cobweb clearance.  Emptying wasn’t an issue although the run time wasn’t too generous, but this model comes with two batteries so you can keep them both charged and double the working time of the machine. The good design extends to the free-standing charging station, which can sit out of the way on a utility shelf, garage or countertop.

Dyson V7 trigger

Best: For pets

  • Weight: 1.98kg
  • Battery life: 30 mins
  • Dust capacity: 0.6l
  • Charge time: 3.5 hours

Unsurprisingly, the Dyson excelled in its ability to suck up pretty much everything we pointed it at and was even able to slurp up drink spillages with ease. If you should need it (and we’re not sure why you would) you can get even more power in “max mode”, however be warned as this will shrink the run time down to around six minutes.

The V7 comes with a mini motorised pet hair tool, which was very effective on thick patches of hair left behind by pets, but this will again sap the battery and limit the run time down to around 15 minutes. The V7 is serviced by a one-touch emptying mechanism that worked well every time.

Black + Decker dustbuster pivot

Best: For dry

  • Weight: 1.38kg
  • Battery life: 14 mins
  • Dust capacity: .44l
  • Charge time: 4 hours

The 18V motor powers the performance of this classic that has been updated by giving it a pivoting nozzle to make it easier to clean high shelves or even down the back of radiators. There’s an integrated dust brush, which simply flips up from underneath the nozzle, and a telescopic extension, which gives you more reach when you need it. Plenty of suction meant that we weren’t going over the same area twice and everything was collected in a small dustbin that was easily emptied.

Bosch youseries vacuum

Best: For Battery

  • Weight: 0.6kg
  • Battery life: 9 mins
  • Dust capacity: 0.25l
  • Charge time: 3 hours

A supremely lightweight and ergonomic handheld that is still very capable of a comprehensive clean up around the home. Very straightforward and simple to use with an easy to remove dust box and a USB chargeable battery that is exchangeable with other tools in the YOUseries. The vacuum performed well when faced with a kitchen counter clean up and because it’s so light it was particularly suited to cobweb clean ups and above head height jobs.

Vax gator

Best: For the kitchen

  • Weight: 1.24kg
  • Battery life: 15 minutes
  • Dust capacity: 0.3l
  • Charge time: 12 hours

A lightweight model that performed well for kitchen clean-ups without any loss in power throughout the vacuum’s run time. Even though the Gator looks bulky it really is easy to use above head height and coped well when it went to work in the car too. The slide-out crevice tool worked well and the one-press emptying was one of the most straightforward dust dumping systems that we saw.

Beldray BEL0944SL revo

Best: Cordless handheld vacuum cleaner

  • Weight: 0.65kg
  • Battery life: 30 minutes
  • Dust capacity: 1l
  • Charge time: 5 hours

Another super lightweight wand vacuum that performed well with crumbs, sugar, rice and there’s a boost option to cope with bigger bits and pieces leftover from a day’s worth of meal prep. The weight and suction meant that it was perfectly suited to keeping cobwebs to a minimum and the front emptying mechanism was efficient. The Revo comes with a compact storage and charging station too, that also houses a crevice and upholstery tool.

Shark CH950UKT

Best: For carpets

  • Weight: 1.2kg
  • Battery life: 10 minutes
  • Dust capacity: 0.45l
  • Charge time: 4 hours

In terms of design, it looks like the manufacturer has just miniaturised a cordless stick vacuum, but it’s easy to use around the home with powerful suction that could rival some full-sizers. This one worked equally well on hard surfaces and carpets, emptying wasn’t a problem and the product comes with a full range of tools including a dusting brush, crevice tool and motorised pet tool.

WORX WX030 cubevac

Best: Heavy-duty handheld vacuum cleaner

  • Weight: 2.65kg
  • Battery life: 25 minutes
  • Dust capacity: 0.2l
  • Charge time: 5 hours

Not a handheld in the traditional sense but the Worx warranted inclusion because of its suitability to valet cars and still offer an option for household cleaning when you don’t want the hassle of using a full-size vacuum. With two power levels and compact design, it is an excellent tool for cars, caravans and campers thanks to its extendable hose that also fits a crevice and dust tool, which then store away into the body of the vac. Suction was one of the best we tested, with two power levels to cope with a range of clean ups.

Vax onepwr

Best: For wet and dry

  • Weight: 1.1kg
  • Battery life: 25 minutes
  • Dust capacity: 0.3l
  • Charge time: 3 hours

Solid build quality combines with good ergonomics for this handheld which puts some real suction at your fingertips while keeping the weight of the product to a minimum. The removable bin comes out quickly and cleanly and there is a crevice tool included that can be fitted for getting into tighter spots.

You will have to shell out for a 4.0Ah battery (£79.99) and charger (£29.99), which are sold separately and will certainly factor into your purchasing decision. However, if you have other Vax products, the impressive battery life offers plenty of opportunity to cover the whole house in one go and still have some power left to give the car a quick once over.

The verdict: Handheld vacuums

For grab and go cleaning the Gtech multi MK2K9 offers excellent performance for a range of tasks inside and out, with no loss of suction after cleaning up the daily debris left behind by busy lives. Easy to use it won’t leave you with aching wrists, just a nice clean home.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on home appliances, try the links below:

We’ve also found the best cordless vacuum cleaners for hassle-free hoovering

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.