A handheld vacuum is a small vacuum used for quick pick-ups or for hard to reach areas, such as stairs, small corners, inside a vehicle or in a small apartment. One common handheld vacuum is the DustBuster®, though there are many others manufactured under different brand names. These vacuums are usually fairly inexpensive and make clean-up of small messes easier. They are generally meant to be used in addition to a traditional upright vacuum, and are not meant to replace one.
Handheld vacuum cleaners may be cordless, with a battery that remains on a charger until use, or corded. Corded vacuums generally last longer and are more powerful, but are also more limiting in the amount of space that can be cleaned. Cordless vacuums are often more expensive than corded, though almost all handheld vacuums are under $100 US Dollars (USD).
It is important to check the battery life on cordless handheld vacuums. Some are only designed to last for a few minutes. That may be fine if you are just cleaning up a spill, but if you need to vacuum out your vehicle or up the stairs, a few minutes probably won't do. Some consumers might also consider design when purchasing a handheld vacuum -- newer vacuums are manufactured in artistic shapes, designed to be left out on display all the time. Though there is probably not much difference in ease of use between leaving your vacuum out or storing it in a closet, these designer vacuums are quite popular.
Some handheld vacuums are designed with specific tasks in mind, such as lifting pet hair from upholstery. For these specific needs, it is best to choose a vacuum designed to perform best in that situation. For example, a handheld vacuum designed to pick up pet hair might have a rotating brush to better lift the hair, while a simpler handheld vacuum might only use suction. Conversely, if you are using a hand vacuum to clean more delicate rugs or curtains, you may not want one with a brush roll.
Handheld vacuums can be purchased in most discount stores or online. They usually have a fairly short warranty, so if that is important to you, you may need to shop around. Using a handheld vacuum to clean up small messes such as dry cereal, pet food or litter spilled on the floor can save time and prevent you from needing to drag out a larger, heavier upright vacuum.