Best pet hair handheld vacuums 2022: Tackle the places a stick vacuum can’t reach

Chief among the annoying downsides of pet ownership is the reality that there is pet hair everywhere. It always covers everything and somehow stands up to most cleanup efforts.

Floors are hardly pet hair’s favorite hangout. That would be too easy. Instead, it sits on your clothes or on your couch, and in a pet-shaped crop circle made from animal hair on your bed, as a lasting reminder of their favorite place to sleep. No one doubts the plausibility of fur tumblers pushing themselves into the most awkward of crevices when you’re not in the room. Toy Story style.

Of course none of this is enough to make us not want pets. But that doesn’t mean we have to succumb to a house full of pet hair — not with the right crew of cleaning gadgets. A robotic vacuum cleaner or upright vacuum cleaner covers most of the floor, but for furniture, the car and all the awkwardly shaped crevices of your home where pet hair likes to gather, a reliable handheld vacuum is the ideal vacuum cleaner.

Hot take: the best handheld vacuum is usually a convertible stick vacuum

Is a new big vacuum cleaner on your radar? If so, a handheld vacuum probably shouldn’t be an afterthought. Unless you’re looking for a handheld vacuum to keep in the car, the smartest move is to simply invest in a cordless stick vacuum that converts into a handheld vacuum.

This could mean preferring a Dyson or opting for a more budget-friendly choice from Black + Decker or Samsung. In any case, pet hair virtually woven into the threads of the upholstery or pile of carpet is much less likely to withstand the suction power that feeds a large vacuum cleaner, only more centralized by smaller-scale cleaning attachments. Larger, juicier batteries provide 40 to 120 minutes of cleaning compared to the 15 minutes a handheld can do.


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Of course, you can expect a full-fledged vacuum cleaner to have a full-fledged dust container – one that doesn’t need to be emptied daily. Dust container capacity becomes so expensive so quickly in homes where a single fluffy sofa cushion could fill the dust container of a handheld vacuum. In most modern cordless stick vacuums, that bin is usually guarded by a HEPA filter that traps allergens such as dust mites and pet dander that enter the vacuum.

What makes a vacuum cleaner good for pet hair?

If you are looking for a standalone handheld vacuum, you should consider the following:

Ergonomic design and weight: A handheld vacuum works best when – you guessed it – it’s comfortable to whip around with one hand. Portability is the whole point, so there’s no reason to shop for a handheld vacuum that isn’t cordless. However, modern handheld vacuums vary between ultra-thin designs (probably about 1.5 pounds) that charge on the counter or larger designs that are compatible with multiple attachments or have a larger dust container (probably about 3.5 pounds). Your personal cleaning conditions determine how heavy you should go.

Attachments: Valuable handhelds come with at least one or two attachments to tailor cleaning to specific surfaces, such as an extension to reach into corners or crevices or an upholstery brush. A motorized pet brush is easily most valuable in homes taken over by shedding, although that attachment is a rare addition to budget-friendly handhelds. (And that’s another point of convertible cordless stick vacuums.)

Battery life and charging: The only downside to the wireless route is that you don’t have an outlet as an unlimited power source. Handheld vacuum cleaners are, of course, small on purpose, which means that they often do not have room for a large engine with a large loading capacity. However, the average battery life of eight to 15 minutes should be long enough for your daily spot cleaning (if not, see the “just get a stick vacuum” section).

When you’re not cleaning, they charge. Some cordless vacuums only come with a cable, while others are charged through a special dock that can be stored on the counter. The best docking stations also have places to store the attachments.

Here are our top picks for the best pet hair handheld vacuums in 2022:

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