Two Handheld Vacuums Deliver Big Results at Different Prices

dyson DC31

Dyson is known for its luxury design, but this handheld model still delivers power.

If you are like me—a busy mom with kids and pets—you are probably using your vacuum at least once a day. A big family typically means lots of mess. There is pet hair to deal with, cracker crumbs on the floor, and dirt tracked in from the soccer cleats. Fortunately, most of these messes are little, but that means that bringing out the full-size vacuum cleaner every time can become a real drag. These are the times when a handheld vacuum becomes a worthwhile purchase. But, with so many to choose from, it can become difficult to narrow the field. Here are our top two picks for the best handheld vacuums on the market today at two very different price points.

Dyson DC31 Handheld Vacuum

Dyson DC31 Handheld Vacuum

Dyson DC31 – “Best Handheld Ever Made” – dragonzwing14, Reviewer since 2011

Dyson is a name that has been around since 1993 and is often considered a “luxury” brand in the world of vacuum cleaners. The downside is that along with that reputation comes a luxury price tag. The Dyson DC31 (90/100) retails for right around $380, but many Viewpoints reviewers think it’s worth the cost. Here is the breakdown on the features:

  • It’s ergonomic and lightweight at 2.9 pounds. “Feels great in your hand and is not too heavy.” -lilshortwun, Reviewer since 2010
  • The digital motor incorporates root cyclone technology for suction that is more consistent and more powerful than conventional motors. “It is extremely powerful and I have no problem holding it by the handle and getting to those hard to reach places. I can use it about 8 minutes on a full charge – plenty of time for those quick pickups.” -crwrjw, Reviewer since 2010
  • Dual-power mode provides 10 minutes of high suction or 6 minutes with 70 percent higher suction.
  • Bagless technology allows you to quickly and easily empty the waste bin with the push of a button. “The washable filter also means that all parts [are] durable without the need for constant replacement.” -cowfunone, Reviewer since 2011

VIDEO: See the Dyson DC31 Handheld Vacuum in action. 

Black & Decker Platinum Series 18V Handheld Vacuum

Black & Decker Platinum Series 18V Handheld Vacuum

Black & Decker Platinum Series – “A must for homes with small children.” – jeniroca, Reviewer since 2011

For quick spot-cleaning jobs, the Black & Decker 18V handheld vacuum (89/100) is guaranteed to get the job done and boasts a smaller price tag ($69.99). This is a perfect vacuum to use under the kitchen table and around the pet food bowls, but won’t maintain a charge long enough to vacuum out your car.

“This vacuum will maintain good suction for over a minute of operation. This product is excellent for small clean ups but just doesn’t maintain suction long enough to clean the floors and seats in a car, unless you use multiple batteries.” –scotthorn22, Reviewer since 2009

Although the charge on the Black & Decker does not last as long as the Dyson DC31, Viewpoints reviewers are very pleased with the performance of this handheld vacuum, saying, “the power on the Black & Decker Platinum Series 18V Handheld Vacuum is really great; its powerful suction has easily picked up cracker crumbs, cat litter, cat food pieces, and crumbled dead leaves for me easily. I am very impressed at how quickly and thoroughly it cleans up my messes.” -libraryminx, Reviewer since 2010

This handheld vacuum is easy to clean, like most bagless systems. Just push a button to remove the debris container. And, unlike many handheld units, the Black & Decker allows you to simply unsnap the battery pack and dock it for charging. There is no need to plug in the entire unit.

You can’t go wrong with either of these handheld vacuum cleaners. Choosing one really depends on your vacuuming needs. If you are looking for something to replace your broom and dustpan, the Black & Decker should suffice just fine. On the other hand, if you have greater needs, such as multiple cleanings a day or the desire to vacuum out your car, the Dyson would be a better choice. Either way, both handheld vacuums are exceptional brands and should last you through many years of messes.

If you’ve tried a handheld vacuum, leave a review here for how well it performs.

Editor’s note: If you have professional experience with vacuums, Viewpoints is recruiting experts in priority product categories to write for our blog. Check out this overview of the Viewpoints Category Expert Program, including qualifications, compensation and how to apply.

Amanda Bryant (56 Posts)

Amanda Bryant is a design professional with an interest and expertise in products for the home and office. She is founder and principal of HangItUp Chicago, a fine art rental business partnering exclusively with Chicago-area companies.


  • Kelly

    I’ve used Dyson producs for years now and I never plan to switch to another model. They simply offer the best combination of power and versatility !

  • Kelly

    I’ve used Dyson producs for years now and I never plan to switch to another model. They simply offer the best combination of power and versatility !