How do you manage pet hair in your house without deep cleaning your entire home? What happens when you’re in need of a quick solution to pet hair, say, for allergies or an unexpected visit?
Handheld vacuums are the answer. They’re easy to operate and are designed for fast tidying rather than full-scale cleaning. They’re also versatile enough to use on almost all surfaces and are our go-to for effective, hassle-free pet hair removal.
We’re going to show you the best handheld vacuums for pet hair. But first, here’s everything you need to know about using these devices around your furry friends.
Why Buy a Handheld for Pet Hair?
We wouldn’t be surprised if pets were responsible for the majority of vacuum purposes. Although we love them, their hair tends to get everywhere, and cleaning up after them can be tiresome.
Typically, using a traditional vacuum cleaner makes cleaning pet hair all the more tedious. While they’re highly effective at deep cleaning, they’re often heavy and difficult to set up or maneuver. They’re also usually pretty loud.
Handhelds are a quick fix to the drawbacks of traditional vacuums. These devices can be just as, if not more, useful at removing pet hair. Here’s why we like them, and why you should think about getting one:
1. Easy Access
Does the thought of lugging a traditional vacuum around every time you need to use it excite you? We thought not. That’s why handhelds are better.
If you notice a mess of pet hair on your couch, blankets, or floors, there’s no need to exert yourself. Handhelds are easily stored within reach, so you can grab them and get cleaning without fuss.
They usually don’t require assembly. Even better, if you’re going with a cordless model, you don’t even have to plug it in. They’re made to be convenient.
2. Ease of Use
Following that thought, you don’t have to be a genius to use a handheld vacuum. Almost all models are operated with a simple, to-the-point, button or switch.
More sophisticated models come with special features, like add-ons or suction control. For the most part, however, if you can hold one, you can use it without figuring it out first.
This is great because children can understand them too. So, if you’re a parent, consider getting one for this reason, especially if it’s your child’s pet that you’re cleaning up after. You could get them more involved, and they’re sure to have fun with it.
3. They’re Multi-Surface Tools
It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll find a handheld vacuum that’s “for hardwood floors and only hardwood floors.” Most of them are suitable for use on all surfaces — from tiles to curtains, to the cushions on your sofa.
It’s great news for pet parents. Cat parents will especially appreciate this because they leave fur behind everywhere they go (and let’s be honest — that’s everywhere).
Other vacuum types lack this advantage.
For instance, robot vacuums are designed for flat surfaces only. So they won’t be any good on your drapes, upholstery, curtains, or blankets. Canister vacuums are versatile depending on their specs, but it often involves switching attachments out.
Upright vacuums… well, have you ever tried to vacuum a cushion with one? It just doesn’t work. Handheld vacuums, on the other hand, are just as good for your floors as they are your bookshelves, cupboards, or counters.
Tip: Keep your eyes open for handheld machines with wet and dry capabilities. Not all models are made for liquids, but some are. This is helpful for cleaning up spills around your pet’s water bowl.
Cordless handheld vacuums win extra points here because they’re battery operated. This means you don’t need access to electricity to use them.
5. They’re Better for the Environment
Speaking of electricity, even if handheld vacuums are corded, they still won’t use as much power as traditional vacuums (1). This makes them a greener option that saves you money in the long run. It’s not just that they run on batteries, they’re rechargeable too.
Some handheld vacuums will even come with washable filters, which take their eco-friendly status even further. They’re bagless too, so even if their filters are disposable, there are fewer parts to throw away.
6. Simpler Maintenance
We’ll be honest, handheld vacuums may require more maintenance (because their capacities are smaller). But they’re so much easier to manage. Convenience is the name of their game, so each component is designed to save you both time and effort.
They’re easy to dismantle when you need to clean them out. Plus, since they’re so small they won’t make a mess in the process. Their parts are typically rinseable, and when that’s not applicable, their compact size means less wiping down for you.
Since we’re dealing with pet hair here, this is an underrated perk to handhelds. Collected dirt, dust, dander, and hair can be troublesome to get rid of when dealing with larger machines.
7. Less Noise
This isn’t always the case, but generally, handhelds are much quieter than other vacuums. It makes sense, considering their size.
Pet owners benefit the most from this. Our pets don’t like the sound of large vacuum motors, and it’s painful to see them so frightened. So you just may have a happier pet if you opt for a handheld instead.
8. They Save Money
In many ways, handhelds are cheaper than other vacuums. Not only do they cost less to buy, but their parts are cheaper to repair or replace. You may also find that extra attachments or add-ons are also cheaper if you want to revamp your machine.
Their compact size factors in here too. So, they’re cheaper to ship, and as we mentioned, they’ll save you money on utilities.
Types of Handheld Vacuums
Did you know that there are three types of handheld vacuums? Each has its own perks and pitfalls when it comes to pet hair. So, before you settle on a model, think about which type would serve you best.
Corded Handheld Vacuums
Corded handhelds aren’t as convenient or portable as others, but they’re still a strong contender. They have sufficient cables to retain their maneuverability. Plus, being plug-in means they have greater resources for more suction power.
They’re also highly effective at cleaning, and remain a staple because of their capacity. These devices are not perfect, but they work well. For pets, they’re best if you need a heavy duty, but small, machine.
- They’re more durable than cordless machines.
- They cost less.
- Stronger suction.
- You don’t have to charge them.
- They’re not as popular as cordless machines.
- You need access to electricity to use them.
- They don’t have as much reach.
Stick vacuums are the new kids on the block in the world of handheld vacuums. Although they aren’t considered handheld, most of them can easily convert into one. That’s why we’ve included them here.
Perhaps they have an unfair advantage, but they are by far the most versatile of the three. They’re modeled after traditional vacuums in their capacity, but mimic handhelds in versatility. To us, they’re the complete package — and customers love them.
We recommend these to people who need to deep clean their pet homes, especially in the case of allergies.
- They have the widest capacity.
- They’ve got impressive features.
- Sticks usually come with cool attachments.
- They’re the biggest of the three.
- They aren’t cheap.
We want to focus on cordless vacuums in this article because in our minds they’re the true handhelds. They demand the least fuss and are the most popular among consumers.
They’re light, take up little storage space, and don’t need electricity to run. It doesn’t hurt that they’re cordless too — the most portable of them all.
These are best suited for pet owners who only need to tidy up after their pets, and don’t have heavy demands for their machines.
- They have the most portability.
- No electricity needed.
- They’re the simplest to understand and operate.
- Their batteries need to charge.
- They’re not intended for heavy work.
Choosing the Best Handheld Vacuum for Pet Hair
Not all handhelds are made equal. So if you have specific needs, don’t settle for the first one you see. Vacuums for pet hair should have certain specs, as some machines aren’t designed to clean dander, fur, or litter.
The higher the suction of your machine, the more efficiently it will be able to pick up pet hair. This becomes especially true where carpets and upholstery are concerned.
However, since we’re not dealing with hefty, traditional machines, don’t expect the same capabilities. Unless you buy a stick, your machine simply won’t be as powerful as an upright or canister.
Still, the more hair you need to attend to, the greater your need for adequate suction power.
2. Dirt Capacity
Likewise, how much hair you expect to clean will influence the size of the machine you should buy.
If you have to clean pet hair frequently, a vacuum with a larger dust cup will mean less maintenance for you. A machine with higher capacity is also less likely to clog or lose suction power over time.
But if you don’t have a great need to tidy every time you spot a pet hair, feel free to settle on a smaller, more compact model. It might save you money.
The best handheld vacuums for pet hair come with specific parts or attachments that make cleaning hair easier. These include tangle-free brushes, allergy-friendly filters, or rinseable components (2).
Make sure that the model you’re interested in has sufficient capabilities for hair. Not every vacuum will, so if it doesn’t specify that it’s good for pet hair, skip it. If you disregard this, you’ll likely end up with a machine that doesn’t do what you need to.
Is a Handheld Vacuum Right for You?
Handheld vacuums are great and we’re sure that everyone can find a use for them. But before you run out to buy one, consider a few drawbacks of these machines:
- They’re best for small jobs: Handhelds, in general, are not intended for cleaning your entire home like traditional vacuums. Stick vacuums may get away with this, but that’s because they’re big. Compact handhelds — even corded ones — are best used for quick tidying.
- Frequent maintenance: Depending on how much hair there is, and how often you choose to clean it, handhelds might demand more of your attention. This is because their dust cups are smaller and fill up faster. And since you’re using it for pet hair, you’ll have to be extra vigilant in cleaning it out.
- They’re not stand-alone machines: The best way to use a handheld machine is alongside a traditional or robot vacuum. They compliment each other rather than compete. Don’t expect a handheld to take the place of a big machine.
The Best Handheld Vacuums for Pet Hair of 2020
After hours of research, here are our recommendations. We’ve chosen our top five based on specs, capabilities, customer satisfaction, and of course efficiency in pet hair removal. We think you’re going to like what you see.
1. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser
We’re big fans of Bissell. This is a quality machine with all-around excellent capabilities. As you can tell by its name, it’s made for pet owners, and its main job is to remove hair from your surfaces.
That said, beyond pets, this is a good handheld to have for tidying dust and dirt too. Customers love this model because it’s wonderful in its simplicity. There’s no fuss, effort, or struggle when you use it.
We like the accessories that this model comes with. You’ll get a motorized brush tool, a crevice tool, and an upholstery tool. They’re standard, sure, but they do a fantastic job of managing pet hair.
They work alongside a triple filtration system for maximum efficiency. This machine runs on a 14-volt battery — more than enough to power a handheld. It has an indicator too, so you can keep track of how well its battery is doing.
It can contain 0.7 liters of dirt, and maintenance is effortless. It’s flawlessly designed for easy access to each of its components, to simplify cleaning it out. Because it’s so easy to manage this model, it should stay in tip-top condition for a while.
This is a multi-surface machine that’s good for carpets, hard floors, and fabrics. It also comes with a tabletop adapter for easy, handy storage.
We love that if you buy this machine, you’ll add some good to the world too. Bissel donates five dollars per purchase to an animal charity of their choosing.
Why We Love It
You can use this machine on an array of surfaces, from floors to kitchen counters and cushions. It’s effective on carpets, hardwood, and upholstery, and comes with appropriate accessories for each.
Simplicity in Use
This machine is extremely easy to use. We like that you don’t have to struggle to turn it on or scour a user manual to get it to work. It’s designed for convenience, and it shows.
Compact and Handy
We find the tabletop station to be an interesting feature. It’s nice that you can store this machine wherever best suits you, without having to mount it or pack it away. It will always be within reach and is made more portable by this.
Keep In Mind
It Charges Slowly
A common complaint about this machine is that it takes an agonizing eight hours to fully charge. Some users have also said that its battery doesn’t hold a charge well.
This is fine if you won’t use it too frequently. However, it can be a pain if you’re looking for a machine that’s always ready to go.
|Dimensions||4.5 inches by 16 inches by 5 inches|
|Special features||Tabletop station, indicator, triple level filtration|
|Accessories||Crevice tool, upholstery tool, motorized brush tool, charging dock|
2. Shark Rocket
Here’s a corded handheld we highly recommend. Don’t be fooled by its design. This is a light and versatile machine that’s capable of superseding cordless variations in almost all aspects.
Even though you have to plug it in, it’s still portable, owing to two factors. For one, its cable is 15 feet long. For another, it only weighs 3.7 pounds.
Shark is a firm favorite in the industry, and it’s no surprise. This machine showcases power. Shark says it’s engineered to never lose suction power — an important feature in pet homes.
It’s a multi-surface machine that works well on carpets, hard floors, car interiors, stairs, and upholstery. It comes with a dusting brush and crevice tool, to make cleaning all these spots even easier. You also get washable, reusable filters.
Here’s what we like most: The TruePet motorized brush. Made specifically to remove even stubborn pet hairs, you’ll notice the difference it makes when you use it. What’s also cool is that this machine comes with an extension hose. Now you can get into all those tricky spots that most handhelds can’t reach.
Why We Love It
TruePet Motorized Brush
Motorized brushes tackle stubborn dirt, and we love that this one was built especially for pets. Now you can say bye to those hairs that just won’t budge. This vacuum is more than capable of taking care of them.
We think the extendable hose is an awesome addition that makes a world of difference. Most other handhelds are versatile, but lack reach. This accessory will help you get hairs off and out of places you struggle to get to.
The 15-foot cable is long enough that this model hasn’t lost versatility by being corded. It’s also light, and lives up to the portability we expect from handhelds.
Keep In Mind
Wonderful as it may be, it’s still a corded machine. That means to use it, you need a power source. The length of its cable helps, but you’ll need easy access to wall plugs, or extension cords, to truly make the most of this model.
It Might Not Last
Unfortunately, this model is not the most durable handheld out there. Some customers are disappointed by this, and say it didn’t last as long for them as they hoped. But, take good care of it, and you could extend its lifespan.
|Dimensions||9.7 inches by 4.9 inches by 13.6 inches|
|Special features||Flexible wand, extendable hose, washable and reusable filters|
|Accessories||TruePet motorized brush, dusting brush, crevice tool|
3. Bissell Corded Pet Hair Eraser
Here’s the corded cousin of our top choice. It’s not as popular with consumers, but it’s still a highly capable, excellent machine. We recommend it to those looking to fight pet hair for their health.
There are two aspects to this machine that make it so great for allergies. First, it uses multi-level filtration to clear allergens from your surfaces and the air. Second, it has a unique tool made for removing hair from fabrics and stairs: a flexible rubber nozzle.
There’s also a hard nozzle and a contour nozzle, for hard surfaces and tight spots, like the inside of your car. Applying these accessories takes little effort, as they snap into place seamlessly and can be detached with a release button.
This machine is also easy on your hands, thanks to its special grip. It’s got a 16-foot cable that makes it easy to move around. This handheld’s bin packs as punch — it can hold up to 0.78 liters of dirt.
Why We Love It
It Cleans the Air
Even if you’re not allergic or sensitive to pet hair, an excess of it can still bring about sneezes and sniffles. So, we appreciate the multi-level filtration that cleans your surfaces and the air.
This vacuum has an easy-grip handle that feels good in your hands. It enables more maneuverability and makes it easier (and safer) to carry.
This unique feature makes this model an excellent multi-surface machine. They work well on the surfaces they’re intended for, and switching between them is effortless.
It says a lot about Bissell’s dedication to convenience.
Keep In Mind
The dust cup in this machine is not easy to put back into place, due to a design flaw that users picked up on. Plus, Bissel recommends emptying it out after every use, which raises some frustration for customers.
Remember that this is just a suggestion, and you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
A few customers noted that the suction of this machine is not as strong as they expected. Others have mentioned blowback, through design faults on the machine’s sides.
|Dimensions||10 inches by 5 inches by 8 inches|
|Special features||Cyclone technology, multi-level filtration|
|Accessories||Flexible, hard, and contour nozzles|
4. Dyson Animal V8
Dyson is one of the more revered manufacturers in vacuuming, and its Animal range vouches for it. This is a stick vacuum that serves pet owners who need a little bit more than a quick clean. It’s got all the power of a traditional machine, and all the versatility of a handheld.
This device is one of the most powerful stick vacuums on the market. We’re not surprised because it’s powered by its very own Dyson V8 motor. It’s got a good battery too — you can get up to 40 minutes run time out of it.
It’s best suited for carpets and was built to tackle stubborn hairs on fussy materials.
Even so, it’s a multi-floor machine. Included are four standard, but handy, attachments: a crevice tool, mini-motorized tool, dusting brush, and combination tool.
It’s bagless, so maintenance is simple, and it comes with two modes: MAX and Powerful Suction. The former gives you a quick burst of suction, for when stubborn pet hair refuses to co-operate and you could use a boost. The latter maximizes your suction for longer, more energy-efficient, cleaning.
It also includes an approved allergy-friendly filter and is easily convertible into a handheld. Consumers have long considered this a favorite, and we can’t argue.
Why We Love It
It’s Great for Floors
Since it’s a stick vacuum, this should be your top choice if you’re looking for a pet-friendly handheld that works on floors. This model is especially good at cleaning carpets, even those that are typically considered challenging.
We recommend this one because it’s so good at deep cleaning your home. While other handhelds are better for surface cleaning, this vacuum will refresh your entire home. It’ll even clean the air inside it — that’s hard to beat.
One drawback to standard handhelds is that they often lack cool attachments. Stick vacuums are the opposite, and this one is a testament to this. The four accessories you get are the usual ones, but it’s still great that they’re included.
Keep In Mind
It Costs More
Since this isn’t a true handheld, you’ll have to spend a little extra on it. We don’t think this is a dealbreaker, though. It’s a powerful machine that is well worth the money.
|Power||115 air watts|
|Dimensions||8.8 inches by 9.8 inches by 49 inches|
|Special Features||Two power modes, certified allergy-friendly filter|
|Accessories||Dusting brush, crevice tool, combination tool, mini-motorized tool|
5. Shark Pet Perfect II
Last, but definitely not least, is this cool little guy from Shark. This model stands out because its purpose is to remove pet hair from upholstery. It can tackle both fine and stubborn hair, and pet dander is no match for it either.
It’s a handy machine that you can use on your furniture, drapes, blankets, and car interior. You could even use it to clean your pet’s bed. Though it’s not necessarily meant for carpets, it does a good job on them regardless.
To assist with your cleaning, you get a dusting brush, crevice tool, and an extra-large motorized brush. It also comes with a reusable and washable filter. Though it’s a budget option, it’s a capable machine that you shouldn’t overlook.
Why We Love It
Best for Upholstery
Some pet owners want a machine that’s just powerful enough. One that works to get pet hair off their cushions, couches, and blankets. This machine was designed for that and knocks most other machines out of the park.
Great for Carpets
Most handhelds aren’t sufficient for cleaning carpets. But thanks to the motorized brush roll, this one works like a charm. We don’t recommend attempting to clean your entire carpet with it, but it works in emergency situations.
This machine comes with a mountable docking station, but it’s also compact enough to fit on tabletops. So, if you don’t want to commit a permanent spot on your wall to it, you can move it around as you go. It looks good, and won’t use up a lot of room.
Keep In Mind
You’re not going to get as wide a range from this one as you will from some other handhelds. Remember that this is meant to be for upholstery. Use it as intended and this won’t be a problem.
Some customers note that the battery sometimes cuts out unexpectedly. It could overheat and burn out with excessive use (or neglect). Maintain it well, and you could avoid this, as not all users have this problem.
|Dimensions||4.6 inches by 15.7 inches by 6.1 inches|
|Special Features||Washable filter, versatile docking station|
|Accessories||Dusting brush, crevice tool, motorized brush roll, charging stand|
|Bissell Cordless Eraser||Most Portable||14 V||4.5″ x 16″ x 5″||3.1 lbs||Tabletop station, indicator, triple level filtration||Crevice tool, upholstery tool, motorized brush tool, charging dock|
|Shark Rocket||Most Effective||400 W||9.7″ x 4.9″ x 13.6″||3.7 lbs||Flexible wand, extendable hose, washable and reusable filters||TruePet motorized brush, dusting brush, crevice tool|
|Bissell Corded Eraser||Best for Allergies||440 W||10″ x 5″ x 8″||5 lbs||Cyclone technology, multi-level filtration||Flexible, hard, and contour nozzles|
|Dyson Animal V8||Best For Deep Cleaning||115 a/w||8.8″ x 9.8″ x 49″||5.63 lbs||Two power modes, certified allergy-friendly filter||Dusting brush, crevice tool, combination tool, mini-motorized tool|
|Shark Pet Perfect II||Most Affordable||18 V||4.6″ x 15.7″ x 6.1″||4.92 lbs||Washable filter, versatile docking station||Dusting brush, crevice tool, motorized brush roll, charging stand|
Don’t Be Pet-rified
Clearing pet hair from your home doesn’t have to be a difficult task at all. We’ve shown you the five best handheld vacuums for pet hair, but there are countless more out there. You’re bound to find one that suits your needs.
The most important takeaway is to base your purchase on your circumstances. A super-powered machine with useless filters won’t help someone with allergies. Likewise, perfect filters won’t make much difference if your vacuum isn’t made to pick up hair.
Handhelds are a great middle-ground between power and versatility and we think every pet owner should invest in one. Which of our picks do you think is the most convenient? Leave us your thoughts, questions, and best pet stories in the comments below.