The cleaning tool I never knew I needed: why you should consider a handheld vacuum

Ditch the dustpan! This tiny vacuum saved my sanity – and floors.

Confession time. I love vacuum cleaners. Nothing gives me more pleasure than running the vac around my house, sucking up all the dog hair, dirt and debris. It instantly makes me feel in control and, if you have the right vacuum cleaner, it’s even quite fun. Yep. This is how I get my kicks.

Over the years, I’ve owned many types of vacuum cleaner and currently have both a corded upright and a cordless vacuum cleaner which I use regularly. I’ve never felt the need to buy a small handheld one – until now. And I can’t see me ever going back.

Person using a handheld vacuum cleaner -Credit: Shutterstock/Sebra

As a technology writer, I’ve tested lots of things, but nothing gave me more joy than when I created our best cordless vacuum cleaner guide. My home looked like a branch of Curry’s, but I took great delight in pushing all the different vacuum cleaners around – my floors have never been so clean.

If you’re wondering about my favourite vacuum cleaner brand, it’s Shark all the way for me. The suction is great, the vacuums are easy to use and they make light work of pesky husky fur.

Being cordless, my current model – the Shark Stratos Plus Cordless Vacuum IZ400UK – is also able to separate out into a handheld, which I use a fair bit. For this reason, I’ve never felt the need to invest in a little handheld cleaner, but since getting one, I’ve seen the error of my ways.

Not only is a small vacuum cleaner super useful, it’s also quite life changing – here’s why:

1. It’s quick and easy to use

Crumbs be gone!

My hallway is often covered in dried up mud thanks to a messy teen and muddy dog walks. It used to infuriate me having to get the big vacuum cleaner out 10 times a day, but now I have my handheld positioned in the hallway, it takes seconds to suck up the grime.

Oh and don’t even get me started on its amazing cobweb-catching abilities. I have high ceilings which I can’t quite reach with a duster, but a handheld vacuum has been able to suck the little blighters clean away. And because it’s light, it’s easy to manoeuvre, even when you’re holding it in the air.

The handheld cleaner I’ve been using is by Beldray. It’s honestly been a revelation. It has technology found in bigger vacuum cleaners, but it’s seriously lightweight.

Minimal effort is needed, which is great if you’ve got any issues with your grip or can’t cope (or in my case, be bothered) with a heavy upright.

Featured product

Beldray Airlite Cordless Hand Vacuum

RRP: £49.99

Beldray Airlite Cordless Hand Vacuum

Did you have a DustBuster?

Technology has moved on a lot from the days of the super popular Black + Decker DustBuster.

Introduced in 1979, it soon became the must-have household gadget. More than a million DustBusters were sold in its first year, four times that of the traditional handheld vacuum market, so chances are you had one. Inexpensive, lightweight, and convenient, it was designed for quick clean ups of surface dirt and spills.

The good news is you can still pick up DustBusters – and they are sill nice and cheap. Not only can they do dry spills, some can also handle also wet ones, but they don’t come with attachments like many of the newer handhelds do. And they definitely don’t have the suction power either.

Featured product

BLACK + DECKER Wet & Dry Dustbuster

RRP: £44.99

BLACK + DECKER Wet & Dry Dustbuster

2. It’s perfect for upholstery

It’s your sofa’s best friend

Handheld vacuums are the ultimate upholstery whisperers. Their sleek nozzles reach into every nook and cranny, sucking away pet hair, fluff, and whatever else lurks in the fabric’s depths.

Mine has been a godsend since I decided to buy a pink velvet sofa. Yes, I’m not sure what possessed me with a white dog, but this is where the handheld has come into its own. I just put on the dinky brush tool and away I suck.

The crevice tool is also great for cleaning in between cushions and the back of the sofa where all those pesky crumbs like to fall.

3. It’s made for stairs

Stairway to cleanliness

Lugging your full-size vacuum up and down the stairs is a recipe for sore arms and bruised toes. Handhelds take the hassle out of stair-cleaning, making it a breeze to banish dust bunnies and cobwebs from every step.

And don’t think that handheld vacuum cleaners won’t have the power to cope with such a big job.

The Beldray airlite cordless hand vacuum comes with two power settings and the top one definitely packs a punch.

Another handheld I’ve tried and liked for stairs is the GTech Multi MK2 K9 Cordless Handheld Pet Hair Vacuum. It’s not as lightweight but it really does pick up everything, making it perfect for pet owners. Like other GTech vacuums it also has a pretty impressive battery life.

I still like to vacuum the stairs regularly with my cordless for maximum hair removal, but the handheld does mean I can keep on top of things on a daily basis, without exhausting myself.

Featured product

GTech Multi MK2 K9 Cordless Handheld Pet Hair Vacuum

RRP: £199.99

GTech Multi MK2 K9 Cordless Handheld Pet Hair Vacuum

4. It’s great for cleaning car interiors

Car cleaning champion

From crumbs under the seats to muddy paw prints on the floor mats, your car’s interior is a grime attractor. I’ve tried vacuuming my car before with accessories attached to my both my cordless and corded cleaners, however, a lightweight handheld is now my preferred option.

The crevice attachment literally gets in everywhere – yes, even that annoyingly small gap between the door and car seat – and makes easy work of restoring the interior to (almost) like new.

The bonus of using the Beldray handheld for this job is that the teen likes to get involved. The first time I used it, he said it looked like fun and within minutes he’d done a brilliant job of hoovering up the dust and (admittedly mostly his) crumbs. The fact it looks like some slightly futuristic weapon probably also helped fuel his desire to help!

On a serious note though, my son is autistic and does struggle to use some equipment due to proprioception issues, so it was great to see him use the vacuum with no help from me.

5. It’s super easy to store

Compact convenience

Unlike their bulky brethren, handheld vacuums are the kings of storage. They tuck away neatly in drawers, hang on hooks, or perch on shelves, always ready for action without hogging precious floor space.

Most cordless ones also come with handy charging/storage devices. Mine sits neatly in the hallway, ready for when I need to jump into action. The fact that it’s compact and looks nice enough to leave out means I’m always more likely to use it than the cordless, which is stashed away in a cupboard.

While owning a tiny vacuum cleaner may not be a revelation for some, for me, it’s been game changing.

I’m saving time. I’m getting the teen to help out with chores. And as someone who lives with long Covid, I’m also saving my energy. When you don’t have to lug a big vacuum cleaner up the stairs or between rooms, you have much more energy to sort out the mess.

I won’t be ditching my beloved Shark any time soon, but a tiny vacuum is definitely part of my vacuum arsenal now – and should be one of yours too.

Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her


Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

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