What are the features that make the best small vacuum? The most important features of these handy household cleaning tools include their portability, lightweight designs, and powerful suction capabilities. The best vacuum cleaner can easily clean up dirt, dust, and pet hair in tight spaces.
You should consider a small vacuum that is portable enough for your needs, but you also need to look at suction power, available attachments, and canister capacity. Finding the right combination of all these features is necessary for a convenient cleaning experience. Plus, it’s also important for your dwelling needs, especially if you need a top-rated vacuum for an apartment.
Finally, you’ll need to decide between a corded or cordless small vacuum. A corded vacuum is more powerful, but it’s also more limited in its overall range. A cordless vacuum offers reliable battery life and the ultimate level of portability at the expense of less power.
Keep reading to learn more about the best small vacuums.
Top Small Vacuums
#1 BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Vacuum Cleaner
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model offers a powerful punch in a perfectly sized package. This vacuum offers advanced cleaning technology, like cyclonic action. Another plus is the range of accessories that come standard with each purchase.
- Uses 50% less energy
- Features a slim, rotating nozzle
- Advanced cyclonic action technology
- Charger may wear out
If you want to see exactly how well your vacuum is working, this product is the perfect solution. It includes a translucent dirt bowl that shows you exactly how much debris you’ve recovered from vacuuming. You’ll know exactly how well the model is working, which adds a boost of confidence to your cleaning routine. The energy efficiency of this design is another big plus. However, the charger is known to wear out a little too quickly.
This design is also safe to use on multiple surfaces. From carpet to hardwood, to curtains to couches, and more. The rotating nozzle is slim enough to fit into tight spaces so that every crevice can be thoroughly cleaned. Finally, the cyclonic technology spins dust and debris out and away from the filter. This keeps the suction running strong. If you need to clean up both debris and spills, you should also consider the best wet dry vac.
#2 BISSELL AeroSlim Vacuum Cleaner
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The sleek, aesthetic design captures attention and adds to your home decor. It also comes with extra tools, is perfect for on-the-go cleaning, and can charge through a USB port.
- Powerful battery
- Able to charge through USB
- Incredibly compact design
- Might be too small
With a sleek, portable design, the BISSELL AeroSlim stays true to its name. You can take it anywhere with you due to its small stature. However, don’t mistake size for power. This is an incredible piece of technology with all of the features you love packed in. The incredible suction of this model is surprising given that it’s charged through a USB cord. That makes it even more convenient for on-the-go cleaning jobs. However, it is a little on the small side for some users.
Alongside the USB charging capabilities, this portable vacuum offers a 2-in-1 crevice tool and dusting brush. You’re able to store these right on the model’s stand, so storage isn’t an issue. This means that you have everything you need to keep things spic and span no matter where you are. Whether you’re heading for a drive or just in the office, it’s a great way to make sure your environment is clean at all times.
#3 VacLife Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR DEEP CLEANING
WHY WE LIKE IT: This tiny but mighty model is fantastic for multi-purpose usage around the house. However, it’s even better for households with pets or children and is powerful enough to get the grime off of auto interiors.
- LED light technology
- Professional attachments
- Powerful, long-lasting motor
- Loses suction over time
This product comes in handy for all of life’s little accidents. If you’re using it in your home, you’ll love how quickly it sucks up several types of debris: from dry pet kibble to spilled cereal, to tracked-in dirt. While this is great as an everyday option, you can also incorporate it into deep cleaning sessions. The manufacturer includes two professional attachments that make every job you do that much quicker.
Your first attachment is a brush tool. This helps loosen up ground-in pet hair or bring dust to the top of a material. The second is a crevice nozzle tool. You can get into tight corners, small spaces, and between cushions with ease. Beyond the professional attachments, there is also an LED light that brightens up dark spaces. You’ll never miss a spot again if you have that little light guiding the way.
#4 THISWORX Car Vacuum Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR AUTOMOBILE DETAILING
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a powerful motor and cyclonic technology, this model will surprise any savvy shopper. Its lightweight body means you can easily carry it around on the go, making it perfect to keep in your automobile.
- Cyclonic force technology
- Features a 106 watt motor
- Interior auto cleaning kit
- Might be too small
We love that it’s perfect for small cleaning jobs that require a little extra power. Daily messes can make your day so much more stressful. However, having a tiny cleaning machine ready to go can get you back on track. This model packs 106 watts of power into the motor, terminating any grime it comes into contact with. It may be too small to use for household cleaning, however.
With an interior auto cleaning kit included, this vacuum is a great bargain for any budget-conscious shopper. It’s perfect for keeping in the car so that you can keep the interior just as clean as the day you bought it. The three attachments include a flathead nose, an extension tube, and a brush head. This means even the little crevices and tiny spaces can be made spic and span daily.
#5 Dirt Devil Scorpion Vacuum Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR CONTINUOUS POWER
WHY WE LIKE IT: As the name suggests, this model is quick, lightweight, and handles any messes in its way. The reusable, washable filter means no more expensive replacements, and the cord allows for continuous power throughout its usage.
- Offers continuous power
- Reusable, washable filter
- Mostly transparent body
- Uses a cord
You’ll get your space cleaner than ever with the Dirt Devil Scorpion. Similar to the Dirt Devil SD20000Red, the Scorpion model is made to tackle messes from day-to-day life and offers continuous power. It includes a couple of great attachments, including a 2.5ft long tube to help get into those small spaces. There’s also a dusting brush and onboard crevice tool to help make the most out of every situation. When you’re done, the dirt cup detaches. However, continuous power comes at the cost of a cord.
If you decide to bring it into your car, the attachments come in handy. In fact, the attachments are made with automobiles in mind. No tight space is impossible for the Dirt Devil Scorpion to infiltrate. The brush tool can get even the most ground-in mud out of floorboards, while the powerful motor sucks it up effortlessly.
#6 Brigii Mini Vacuum Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR PORTABILITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: This product provides convenient access for tiny messes you don’t want to drag out your larger model to clean. This unique model is fantastic to add to your cleaning repertoire regardless of what you already have on hand.
- Charges through USB
- Hand-operated model
- Doubles as a pump
- Might be too small
This little vacuum has a unique design that allows you to clean up anywhere you go. You can keep it solely for auto usage since it can plug into a USB port. Coming in at 8.5in long with a weight of 1lb, it truly is a portable option that won’t wear out your arm. This is great news for anybody looking who wants the option to clean up quickly without making themselves exhausted. It will not work as a household cleaner because of its tiny size, however.
If you’re particular about cleanliness, you can even use it in your backpack or your purse to clean up crumbs, dirt, and dust. The possibilities are truly endless when you have this vacuum to help beat out life’s daily messes. Your computer is another place where this tiny option comes in handy, especially if you have a habit of eating at your desk.
Beginner’s Guide to Small Vacuums
What Are Small Vacuums?
Small vacuums are a compact version of traditional vacuum cleaners. These useful household cleaning tools pick up dust, debris, pet hair, and other particles around your home. You can use a small powerful vacuum cleaner to clean dry messes on floors, furniture, and rugs.
Small Vacuums vs. Traditional Vacuums
Small vacuums work in the same way as a regular vacuum cleaner. They both use an electric motor to create the suction power that picks up debris and particles around your home.
The main differences come into play when you consider size, suction power, and capacity. Small vacuums offer a more compact design when compared to traditional vacuums, which results in a few performance differences between the two.
Since compact vacuums typically only house small motors, they also offer less suction power when compared to a larger vacuum. Small vacuum cleaners also have a smaller tank capacity, meaning you’ll need to empty them more often.
However, a small vacuum’s compact design results in greater portability and versatility. You’ll be able to reach tight spaces more easily with smaller vacuums. The small size also makes it easy to carry your vacuum with you, especially if you opt for one of the cordless vacuums available today.
How Small Vacuums Work
Compact and handheld vacuums utilize the same approach to functionality, like any other kind of vacuum cleaner. They feature an intake port, an exhaust port, an electric monitor, a fan, and a bag or canister to contain the debris you suck up.
When you power on your small vacuum, the electric motor causes the fan to spin and push air toward the exhaust port. This creates a drop in pressure near the intake port, thanks to a partial vacuum effect. This generates suction power which picks up debris.
Once the debris is picked up, it passes into the vacuum’s bag or canister, which features a filter that keeps the debris contained.
Some vacuums also feature roller brushes near the intake port that kick up dirt, hair, and dust from your floor so they are more easily sucked up.
Do You Really Need a Small Vacuum?
The best small vacuum cleaner is well-equipped to clean hard-to-reach places, making it particularly useful for deep-cleaning days when you want to hit all the nooks and crannies. If you’ve found that your larger upright vacuum doesn’t work everywhere, then a small vacuum may be a necessary addition. A perfect example of a small but reliable vacuum is the small shop vac.
You will also benefit from the best compact vacuum if you need to clean something outside of the house. Their added portability increases their overall usefulness, especially when you are away from a wall outlet.
All in all, if you’re looking to add versatility and flexibility to your cleaning habits, then a compact vacuum is a perfect choice.
Is a Small Vacuum Worth Buying?
- You Need Portable Cleaning: The best part about small vacuum cleaners is their top-rated lightweight designs and portability. If you don’t want to lug around a large vacuum, then a small option can help you immensely. Plus, a compact cordless vacuum cleaner can be beneficial if you ever need to take your cleaning away from a dedicated wall outlet.
- You Live in a Small Space: If you live in a small space like a studio apartment, there really isn’t a need for you to purchase a large vacuum. Small vacuums don’t require nearly as much storage space and still offer more than enough suction power to clean up smaller areas.
- You Want to Supplement Your Cleaning Supplies: If you’re looking for a cleaning arsenal well-suited for any task, you’ll definitely want a small vacuum cleaner to tackle jobs that require more precision and flexibility. You may also acquire a steam mop vacuum to help remove stubborn stains.
- You’re On a Budget: The best compact vacuum cleaner is generally more affordable than its larger counterparts. If you’re on a tight budget, then a small vacuum can provide all the cleaning power you need without breaking the bank.
Why a Small Vacuum May Not Be For You
- You Live in a Large Space: If you live in a large home, then a small vacuum likely won’t be the best for you to use on a regular basis. Larger spaces mean more debris, which leads to more frequent canister emptying with small vacuums. Trying to clean a big area with a small vacuum can be very inconvenient.
- You Regularly Clean Large Messes: If you’re cleaning up large messes with heavy debris, then a small vacuum may not give you the powerful suction capabilities you require.
How Long Will a Small Vacuum Last?
According to Consumer Reports, your small vacuum cleaner should last you an average of eight years before you need to replace it. However, its actual lifespan can vary depending on how you treat the product.
You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommended instructions for use, especially when it comes to maintenance. Replace or wash your filter on a regular basis. You should also empty your canister or replace your bags when they get full.
When you properly maintain your vacuum, it will most likely last for the entire expected lifetime.
How to Choose the Best Small Vacuum
Choosing the best small vacuum doesn’t have to be difficult when you know which factors are the most important to consider. Below, you will find a few questions you can use to determine which compact vacuum will be best for your specific cleaning needs.
In general, as long as you choose a small vacuum that offers you enough suction power, tank capacity, and portability for your needs, you’ll be on the right track. If you need to make sure you don’t bother others with the noise while in use, check out our guide on the best quiet vacuum.
Small Vacuum Key Factors to Consider
1. What type of small vacuum should you purchase?
There is a wide range of different vacuum types from which you can choose. Each carries its own set of pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the most common types of small vacuum:
- Upright Vacuum: These vacuums are the most common types available today. Upright vacuum cleaners stand upright, balancing on top of the intake nozzle and roller. These are best for cleaning up messes on a variety of different flooring types, including low pile carpet, high pile carpet, hardwood, vinyl, and tile. Upright vacuum cleaners offer an all-in-one cleaning package with all components part of the same unit.
- Stick Vacuum: These machines are a type of upright vacuum cleaner, but they are more compact and portable. They offer small canisters and cordless designs for greater versatility in spot cleaning and reaching tight spaces. Stick vacuums are typically also bagless vacuums for easier overall maintenance.
- Handheld Vacuum: Handheld vacuums are the most compact and portable vacuums available today. They are lightweight enough that you can use them with a single hand and are ideal for cars and minor household chores. The best handheld vacuum offers cordless operation, too, so you don’t have to worry about cord length. We have a guide on great vacuums for computers you can check out to help keep your workspace clean.
- Canister Vacuum: These vacuums feature a wheeled body with a carrying handle and a long vacuum hose. They are more portable than an upright vacuum and capable of reaching tight spaces, but they can be awkward to maneuver at times.
- Robot Vacuum: If you’re looking for a vacuum that incorporates advanced technology, then you might want to consider a robotic vacuum cleaner. These are completely autonomous cleaners that map your home and follow a set cleaning schedule. A robot vacuum isn’t as powerful as a full-size vacuum, but it’s much more convenient.
2. What canister size should your small vacuum offer?
The canister size you purchase for your small or handheld vacuum ultimately depends on the amount of cleaning you need to accomplish in a single run. The most compact options feature canisters under a gallon in capacity. Larger models in this category offer 1-2 gallon tanks.
If you purchase an option with a smaller canister, you’ll need to empty it more regularly. This isn’t that big of an issue if you’re only tackling smaller messes.
3. What kind of power do you need for your small vacuum?
Most household vacuum cleaners offer a maximum of 12 amps of power because that is the maximum power output of wall outlets. You’ll often see manufacturers advertising their vacuums’ 12-amp power.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the clearest indicator of a vacuum’s power. While we always recommend one with 12-amp power, you should also consider specific design features intended to increase suction power.
Design factors like intake rollers, multiple fans, and different power levels all increase your vacuum’s suctioning capabilities. It’s also worth noting that vacuums specifically designed to pick up pet hair are typically more powerful than other models.
4. Should you buy a corded or cordless vacuum?
When it comes to small and handheld vacuum cleaners, the more portability you get, the better. As such, we always recommend cordless models over corded options. After all, you can use a vacuum with a rechargeable battery anywhere, as long as you have a charge.
If you do opt for a cordless vacuum, be aware of battery life. Depending on your needs, you may want one with a larger battery capacity. Many models also feature a removable battery, so you can have multiple replacements on hand for larger jobs.
5. Do you need any attachments or accessories for your small vacuum?
Depending on the type of small vacuum you purchase, you may be able to use a variety of attachments and accessories. Of the various types, stick, upright, and canister vacuums are more likely to offer accessories.
The most common accessories include things like a crevice tool, an upholstery tool, a dusting brush, and various other brush tools for different floor types. You may also want a vacuum with an extendable hose or a longer power cord so you can reach farther without needing to unplug and find a new outlet.