Stand a Fighting Chance in the Lifelong Battle Against Pet Hair with Some of the Best Handheld Vacuum For Pet Hair

TL;DR: The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum is a best all-rounder machine on our hunt for the best handheld vacuum for pet hair.

Here’s our shortlist of handheld vacuums we’ll be covering:

A good, hardworking handheld vacuum is a must in any households with pets. The dust bunnies collecting in the corner of the room can wait until the weekend cleanup. Not so much the hair-covered couch you’re sharing with your furry housemates.

I’ve been living with multiple of these walking-breathing-shedding machines. And I am as desperate as can be to get out of this hairy situation.

This is considering how lazy and unenthusiastic about cleaning I am. So finding the best handheld vacuum for pet hair is becoming a life-long mission, so here I go.

Never bring a knife to a gunfight – Why are YOU choosing a handheld vacuum for pet hair?

Getting the right tool for the job is essential. The handheld vacuum, like all the other type of vacuum, is designed for a very specific task and situation. It is small and nibble, and that is it’s designer’s intention.

Before we dive into comparing the different make and model and which would be best for your needs. Let’s do a quick check if a handheld vacuum is in fact the right tool for the job. Here are a few things you should consider:

Area size

How big is the area are you trying to cover with the handheld vacuum?

Is it the living area, the staircase, home office, bedroom, or the litter box area?

Thinking about the square footage of the area you will be cleaning with the vacuum. To me, this is the deciding factor if the handheld vacuum is the right type of vacuum for the job.

Frequency of cleaning

How often do you plan to use the handheld vacuum?

Is it meant for the weekly clean, daily spot clean or yearly super deep clean?

So figure out where and when this machine will fit in your cleaning routine. This helps you think about how easy it is to haul it out of it’s storage place and use it.


What surface are you trying to clean?

My pets are allowed everywhere in the house, what about yours?

That’s why pet hair ends up in every nook and cranny imaginable. So, are you looking to use your handheld vacuum on hardwood floors, carpeted areas, your upholstery, counter tops, or tiled floor?

Different vacuums has varying degree of effectiveness on different surfaces.

Electrical outlet availability

This relates to the first point about the area size. In a small room, you can reach all the corners even if you only have one electrical outlet.

But if you’re moving from room to room, you’ll need to unplug and plug all the time. Also, are you using it in the car? This is something to consider when you get a corded vacuum.

The job

Lastly, what IS the job of your handheld vacuum?

Think hard and be honest about this to yourself.

Are you getting it for your woodworking workshop? Or will you be keeping it permanently in your car?

You need to be clear about it. If you’re someone like me, thinking that the vacuum would be used for multiple purposes, think again.

I know myself to be a rather lazy cleaner, especially with hauling cleaning tools around the house. That’s why I’m seriously contemplating my friend’s idea of having one vacuum cleaner on every floor of the house. But buying used ones of course. We’re not rich like that.

The thought of having to run to the car to grab the vacuum every time I see a pile of pet hair on the couch, I would rather sit there and pretend I didn’t see it. That’s my modus operandi – Pretend I didn’t see it.

Is a handheld vacuum the best tool for the job?

We’ve now established the different aspects of the cleaning job we want to tackle. Let’s see if it calls for a handheld vacuum (or something else).

These are of course my assessment, you might disagree, so feel free to comment down below. I think a tool should be used as it’s intended, otherwise it’ll be plain frustration.

Area size: A handheld vacuum is intended for a small area. It’s usually used for covering a small area only: the lounge area, the litter box and feeding area, or the car interior. It’s never intended for cleaning the whole house, useless you live in a tiny home or RV.

Frequency of cleaning: If you answered “daily spot cleaning”, then you’re right! A handheld vacuum is designed for spot cleaning, to clean a visible spot. Spot cleaning daily, or even every few days, can make a big difference when you do your weekly thorough clean.

Surface: A good handheld vacuum should be able to handle most surfaces. And since we’re all pet owners here (or do they own us? I sometimes feel like I’m my cat’s slave.

Remember this one time when I was cleaning out the litter box and she decided to poop while I’m doing it. Everything had to go on pause while we waited for Her Majesty to finish taking a dump. I digress.), it’s mostly to clean up after them.

Pet hair, spilled kibbles, litter tracked all over the bathroom floor, you get the idea. It’s most commonly used to clean tiled or hardwood floors and upholstery, and sometimes the carpet or counter top. The car interior is another favorite.

Electrical outlet availability: I favor a cordless handheld vacuum. It’s much more convenient and easy to haul around the house. Having a unplug and plug as I move from spot to spot (trailing behind my pet) is simply too much work.

So if you’re like me, a cordless one would be great. Otherwise, count your electrical outlets and make sure you have one near where you want to vacuum.

The job: If you plan to use the handheld vacuum to do a few minutes of daily spot cleaning around the house, then you’re in the right headspace. This means following the trail of pet mess, and cleaning the car occasionally. Anything beyond that would probably set you up for frustration with the machine.

I’m going to share with you 5 top rated handheld vacuum for pet hair. I think all of them are decent, but with slight variation on what situation or job they’re more suited for.

Shark WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum

Best lightweight handheld vacuum for pet owners

This is a very good looking machine indeed. I mean, just look at it, how gorgeous is that piece of equipment. The sight of it gives me motivation to start vacuuming, just to bask in its glossy sleek glory. But it’s not all form and no function.

Yes! The Shark WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum is a small but powerful machine. But only if you use it the right way. The most important thing to remember is to empty the dust cup often!

Since the vacuum is lightweight (only 1.4lbs!) and portable, the dust cup is naturally small as well – only about half a cup. If you don’t empty it often enough you’ll start to lose suction power.

Sure it can still suck up the kibbles or cat litter off hard surfaces. But it’ll not do very well when you try to get pet hair off the bed or couch.

It’s slender shape makes it easy to reach tight spaces, but it also means that the nozzle/suction area is quite small. If you’re used to and like the size of standard handheld vacuums, then this might be too small for you.

This baby Shark is made for lazy-person spot cleaning – daily cleanups that last only a couple of minutes. With a fully charged battery, this vacuum will not even last a full 10 minutes. It’s not going to do much more than just a (very) quick clean. Charging it takes about 2.5 hours.

One of the biggest cons about the Shark WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum is the noise. It’s not just loud (up to 90 dB!), but high-pitched.

Cats and dogs are much more sensitive to noise than we humans are. Your furry companions might not be too keen about the daily disturbance.

Speaking about things that stress cats out, according to Dr. Jill Sackman, “High-frequency sounds such as whistling tea kettles and even the sound of our voices can cause anxiety”. So do your due diligence to keep your pet stress free, especially if you’re going to spot clean every day.

Pros: Very lightweight, Very good looking, Easy to use charging port

Cons: Small dust cup, Shorter run time, Loud, high-pitched – not very pet-friendly

Black+Decker 20V MAX Flex Handheld Vacuum

Best heavy duty handheld vacuum for pet cleanup

This cordless, portable unit is a powerhouse. The suction power is one of the strongest. The pet hair attachment is extremely effective with getting rid of even the most stubborn pet hair.

But having a powerful machine usually means a heavier built. This handheld is on the heavier side, weighing 3.2lbs.

The Black+Decker MAX Flex Handheld Vacuum has a roundish body (and the flexible hose). The design is a departure from the oblong shaped body of handheld vacuum. It more closely resembles a canister vacuum.

You would need both hands to operate the machine – one to hold the machine, the other hand to maneuver the hose. This is great to reaching higher places, since you don’t need to lift the whole unit high up. But in general not as handy as the standard handheld vacuum that only need one hand to operate.

The dust cup has great capacity, up to 2 cups, and emptying it is a fuss-free process. Both the cup and filter are washable. This is a game-changer, especially for clean ups around the cat litter box. The dust and possibly fecal matter can be cleaned out effectively.

The run time on this machine is about 20-30 minutes, and the suction power doesn’t fade. The machine just stop operating once the battery is out. This handheld vacuum comes with a charging base and taking around 4 hours to get a full charge.

One of its biggest drawbacks is the noise level. As you would expect from most powerful vacuums, they usually come with a noise to match.

The high-pitched noise (at approximately 90 dB) almost warrants a pair of earplugs. Although the suction is made for pet hair, but having it scares the living daylight out of my pets every time I use it would not be very ideal.

Pros: Large dust cup capacity, strong suction, long run time

Cons: High-pitched noise – not pet friendly, charging port can be finicky

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Handheld Vacuum

Best budget handheld vacuum for pet hair

This is the most budget friendly unit in this lineup. It’s also the only one that’s corded. If you want a handheld vacuum, without the frills, but still works perfectly fine for pet cleanup, then consider the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum.

Like all the other handheld vacuums on this list, it comes with a specialized pet hair attachment. They are well designed to pick up pet hair from your upholstery.

Having a cord does limit the portability of this handheld vacuum, but it comes with a very long cord. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average living room in American homes is around 200 square feet. So the 16 ft cord is definitely sufficient for most users.

It has a wider and chunkier design. It weighs 5lbs (heaviest on this list). It can start to feel a bit too much when you have to maneuver it back and forth, hovering over the surface.

This is one tool that needs to be used exactly as it’s intended. One of its weaknesses is that it blows air out the sides. That can be frustrating if you’re cleaning hair (or other feather-light objects) off a hard surface. Everything will start floating in the air. But not if you’re using this as it’s intended – to clean pet hair off the upholstery. This machine might be a one trick pony, but does the trick extremely well. Once you make that mental shift, you’re well on your way to loving it.

For other types of pet messes like spilled kibbles or tracked litter, it works just fine. The powerful suction power of this handheld vacuum can definitely suck up all the fine litter dust in all the nooks and crannies. And did I mentioned it’s huge (3¼ cup) dust cup capacity?

Pros: Large dust cup, no-fade battery, works well on upholstery

Cons: Corded, poor air vent design

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium Ion Handheld Vacuum

Best all-rounder handheld vacuum for pet hair (and mess)

This versatile unit is an all-rounder, and it’s very comparable to the Shark Cordless Pet Perfect. It really does what it is intended for (and more) – cleaning up after pet mess, especially pet hair.

The motorized brush is specially designed to sweep up pet hair from the carpet or upholstery. But with this motorized brush, it would require more work on larger surfaces, it is not as wide as the one on the Shark Cordless Pet Perfect.

Quick cleanups around the house with this machine is a breeze. It has one of the strongest suction power in its class.

It is easy to use, and all the attachments comes off and on easily. The dust cup snaps open with an easy release button and you can clean out the dust cup with water and mild detergent.

The accordian-style filter can be a tad bit difficult to clean, but it’s doable. At a 2.9 cups capacity, the dust cup on the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is the right amount for the duration of each charge.

The run time on the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum is about 17 minutes. It takes about 6-8 hours to fully charge with a charging cord (no fancy dock here). This is pretty standard battery performance for handheld units. It’s enough for most daily quick cleanups, and I find that there’s actually still minutes to spare.

There is almost zero drop-off in suction power. It can still handle the toughest jobs of sucking out hair from fabric even towards the end of its run time.

Between the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser and the Shark Cordless Pet Perfect, the Bissell is almost twice the weight (4.25 lbs vs 2.48 lbs). But it is still a more suitable machine for household with pets, simply because of the noise level. It has a low humming noise.

It is more tolerable than the typical high-pitched screeching sound that other units on this list produces. You’re probably not going to use it in the middle of the night. But it’s relatively quiet considering the suction power it produces.

Pros: One of the quietest handheld vacuum around, strong suction power, easy cleanup

Cons: On the heavier side, filter can be tricky to wash

Shark Cordless Pet Perfect Handheld Vacuum

(Second) Best all-rounder handheld vacuum for pet hair

This all-rounder mid-range handheld vacuum is very similar to the performance and durability of the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum. It handles pet hair on carpet and upholstery very well.

Much like the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser, this Shark unit comes with a motorized brush specifically for pet hair. The motorized brush is 3 inches wide. The coverage proves very effective size for jobs like vacuuming carpeted stairs. Its width allows for more debris to be caught in one sweep, and that means less back and forth motion for you.

It has decently strong suction power. It is powerful enough to pull stubborn hairs out of fabric. And the suction power doesn’t fade towards the end of the charge.

Most of you reading this will probably be using the motorized brush most of the time for pet hair clean up. And with that brush attachment on, the run time of this machine is about 13 minutes (a couple less than the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser). It takes about 6 hours to full charge with charger cord (no docking station here as well).

Like all vacuum, the dust cup/bag needs to be cleaned out regularly to maintain good suction. For this unit, a major design flaw is how messy the process of emptying the dust cup can get.

Longer hair tend to get stuck in the cup. And can only be effectively removed by tugging at the hair (most likely with your hands. I hope you’re not grossed out). The filter doesn’t seem to be well constructed or properly sealed as finer dust tend to get pass it.

The Shark Cordless Pet Perfect Handheld Vacuum is lightweight (2.48 lbs). It is easy to haul around the house and maneuver around tight spaces.

Lastly, the main reason why it’s not being crowned king on this list is because of the noise. It’s tab bit too loud and your pets are not going to thank you for that. 

Pros: Strong suction power, specialized motorized brush, lightweight

Cons: Loud, dust cup messy clean up

We have a (somewhat) clear winner!

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are probably still other great handheld vacuum remains to be discovered. But we do have a clear winner in the list of best hand vacuum for pet hair – Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum. And coming in close at #2 is the Shark Cordless Pet Perfect Handheld Vacuum.

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is a versatile machine, but does extremely well in cleaning up after pets. It holds a charge long enough for quick spot cleaning.

And it would be able to cover a decent amount of surface before it needs charging. It is effective on most common surfaces, including hardwood, ceramic, tile, carpet, area rugs and car interior.

And since my pets are granted free rein of the house, including the human’s bed, I would need to move around the house to get to their favorite spots. Having a cordless handheld vacuum is a must in my book. And yours too, if you’ve allowed the furries to take over.

And this handheld vacuum does a fantastic job at keeping the daily frustration with pet hair at bay. Keep it hooked onto its charging cord, and it is ready to spring into action when the dust bunny comes calling.