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Looking for the best handheld vacuum? We are here to help!
If you are looking for a handheld vacuum, then allow us to lead the way.
Our experience with handheld vacuums includes hands-on personal use and quality testing combined with the most comprehensive consumer research.
If you would like to find one quickly, take a look at the top-rated handheld vacuums (these are the only vacuums you need to consider for most use cases).
Top 5 Comparison
How to Choose the Best Handheld Vacuum
Most people really don’t care about the type of vacuum they use to suck up dirt, crumbs, dust, pet hair (and all that unidentified stuff) off of the floor. It used to be about whichever was the cheapest, but nowadays quality counts.
You don’t notice how important a vacuum is until your old one stops working. Then when you decide to buy a new one you realize there are so many options. How do you make sure you are getting the best handheld vacuum that meets your needs?
Types of Handheld Vacuums
Let’s start with the types of handheld vacuums first.
They are organized by cord type (cordless or corded), floor type (carpet or hard floor), bag type (bag or bagless), and of course by features.
Cordless Handheld Vacuums
This type of handheld vacuum is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Corded Handheld Vacuums
This type of handheld vacuum utilizes a power cord and requires either a DC 12V (cigarette lighter socket) or a traditional home electric power outlet.
Handheld Vacuums for Carpet
This type of handheld vacuum is specifically designed to clean dirt, dust, pet hair, and other debris from carpets. It will typically come with nozzle attachments designed for rugs.
Handheld Vacuums for Hard Floors (wood, tile, linoleum, etc.)
It is much easier for a vacuum to suck up debris from hard floors than carpets because there are less obstructions, such as the carpet fibers, to get in the way. Most handheld vacuums can do a decent job at least on hard floors. However, many handheld vacuum brands come with special attachments and extensions to make it easier to clean hard floors.
Bagged Handheld Vacuums
This type of handheld vacuum utilizes a bag that securely houses the debris which can be easily removed and replaced whenever it becomes full. Replacement bags are required.
Baggless Handheld Vacuums
This type of handheld vacuum utilizes a chamber that traps dirt and debris which can then be emptied and cleaned to be used again.
A Brief History of Handheld Vacuums
Believe it or not, like any other industry, vacuums have a history. This common household cleaning appliance revolutionized the way housecleaning was done in homes. Rather than good old sweeping and leaving behind dust and particles, the vacuum could leave the air cleaner and suck the dirt up not only faster but more efficiently than sweeping ever could.
Essentially, the vacuum is a device that is used to suck up dirt, dust, and other debris. Originally, it was done through manual movement but over time the technology improved. Below is a historical overview of vacuums. It is meant to make you laugh as you picture yourself using one of the early prototypes, but there is a little history lesson hidden in there too.
- 1858 by Hiram Herrick of Boston – leading from the design of a broom corn, the broom and dustpan sweeper was a rolling apparatus that you rolled over the floor and gathered the dirt into a pan.
- 1860 by Daniel Hess of West Union, Iowa- Is what was referred to as the actual “vacuum device” since it needed a suction to pull in the debris rather than just gathering it. It featured rotating brushes that worked the floor while the bellows built the suction to pull in the debris, it worked with a belt driven fan cranked by hand and was rather bulky and difficult to move around
- 1868 by Ives W. McGaffey, – the whirlwind was bulky and worked similar to the others in that it had to be hand cranked while in use. Losing suction while moving across the floor often caused the debris from the hose to wind up back up on the floor. McGaffery’s vacuum machine stood in an upright position.
- 1876 by Melville R. Bissell of Grand Rapids, Michigan – designed a “carpet sweeper” model very similar to the model of Hiram Herrick. This was the first successful marketing of a manual design to date. The design is known as the Bissell and similar designs are still in use today.
Powered vacuum cleaners
1901 by Hubert Cecil Booth – an oil powered vacuum known as the Puffer Billy. The Puffer Billy was an utter failure as it required a horse drawn carriage for transport.
Modern Vacuums Cleaners
1905 by Walter Griffiths Birmingham, England- improved upon the manual vacuum cleaner and made the first modern vacuum cleaner. It used suction through a pump and sucked debris through a flexible hose. It’s recognition as the first manual vacuum cleaner is in the overall appearance.
1906 by James Murray Spangler– created the first complex vacuum featuring an electric fan, handle (a broom handle), and a bag (pillow case). A year later he filed a patent for a carpet sweeper with a rotating brush and sold the design to W.H. Hoover, a leading vacuum company still in business today. In fact Spangler has quite a few patents filed in the early 1900’s
John S. Thurman, St. Louis – created a gasoline-powered “pneumatic carpet renovator”, it was an air blasted machine that loosened the debris from the carpet and blew it into a container. Thurman made house calls and was semi successful in his cleaning service but not marketing the product as household item.
1975 Decker cordless vacuum
1985, James Dyson- designed and marketed the widely popular Dyson Vacuum Cleaner. They utilize a vortex to pick up debris and have a more versatile head that moves in various directions but still requires a back and forth motion to work.
1991 Dyson G-Force
1902 Hubert Cecil Booth – a reversal of John S. Thurman,St. Louis’ air blasting carpet renovator machine, Booth’s used suction to remove debri and was eventually installed as a central vacuum in the more elite home. It was not a device that was small enough to fit into a normal home due to its massive size.
Vacuum cleaners were a great addition to the homes across the world. They cleaned homes faster than ever and rid the houses of debris that caused sickness such as allergies. Early inventors tried to emulate upon each other and work off the designs to create a model that would last. However it was the design of Spangler that ignited an industry and probably the reason why you are reading this. While he is not credited with the invention he is credited with the revolution of the vacuum cleaner. His model was the first belt driven motor. It was the missing component that ultimately led to the modem vacuum.