From Dustbuster to Dyson, we tried a bunch of hand vacs, and were surprised by just how powerful they’ve become.

Your life’s probably a mess. Unless you’ve got maid service, your place is full of dust, dirt, pet hair, and doughnut crumbs like the rest of us. Even if you employ a maid, they won’t be around when you fumble popcorn into your couch on Netflix night. And if you have a robot vacuum for routine cleanings, they can’t (yet) climb your couch or tables for dribbled cookie crumbs. A good handheld vacuum is incredibly useful.
Handheld vacuums exist along a continuum. The larger, powerful vacs work great if you have deep carpeting or routinely vacuum staircases or cars. For most of us, a smaller model is enough for the little spills that typically bring out a hand vacone that’s easy to wield and doesn’t take up much space at home. I tested these five in an apartment with hardwood floors, a lot of dog hair (but no dog), and shallow, medium, and shaggy carpets. No, I don’t live in a thrift shop. My place is just … well equipped for this sort of test. Whichever end of the vac continuum you’re on, we’ve got a recommendation for you.
And since you’re here, check out more of our guides to in-home gear, such as the six best TVs for every budget and the best indoor air purifiers, and take a look at all the rest of our buying guides.