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Best Overall: Our Score = 97%
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Handheld Vacuum Buying Guide 2020
While a handheld vacuum cleaner will never quite be up to the job of a full house clean, they’re exceptionally useful to have around. Whether it’s spilled flour, a broken plate, cleaning the car or getting pet hair off the sofa, there are times when a handheld vacuum is much more practical and handy.
When choosing a handheld vacuum, the range of options can be fairly overwhelming, from a £15 own-brand model at the supermarket, to over £300 for a top-of-the-line Dyson. So what do you need to consider?
Corded or cordless:
Part of the convenience of a handheld vacuum is that you’re not restricted by needing to be close to a power outlet, enabling you to easily clean the car or hard-to-reach places at home without resorting to extension cables. However, the trade-off is that you need to make sure the vacuum is charged when you need it, and that the charge will last long enough for your needs. Consider what you’re most likely to be using the vacuum for – you may even consider looking for a 12 volt model that can plug into the car’s cigarette lighter outlet, if that’s going to be your primary usage.
Battery life and charging:
If you do choose cordless, check how long the vacuum is expected to run on a single charge. Bear in mind that the manufacturer will be specifying ideal conditions, so it’s unlikely you’ll achieve the exact time quoted. Also of importance is how long recharging will take, and how you’ll be recharging. Some models will come with wall-mounted cradles that allow them to be constantly on charge (and therefore constantly ready to use), while others will need to be plugged directly into a socket. Look for a battery indicator light that will alert you to when it’s time to charge.
The most basic models won’t come with attachments, and while that’s fine for cleaning up the odd spill, it’s not too handy for use on furniture or in the car, when you’re trying to reach into crevices and awkward spots. Consider looking for a model with a crevice tool and a soft brush.
Higher-powered vacuum cleaners do use more battery power, but will clean more efficiently. To be powerful enough to pick up larger bits of rubbish, look for 15 – 18 volts. This is a clearer indicator of suction power than the motor size, which will usually vary from 4 to 7.5 amps.
Capacity and emptying:
Handheld vacuums will obviously hold much less than a standard vacuum, but it’s worth checking that it will handle the jobs you need it for without needing to be emptied halfway through. 0.5 litres is generally a decent size.
This can vary from under a kilogram to almost 3kg, so it’s worth testing a few out if you can, to see what feels comfortable for you to use.
There are some vacuums available that work equally well on wet and dry spills, and can be used on almost any surface, including carpets. These are extremely versatile and useful for household spills.
As with their full-size cousins, handheld vacuums are available with a range of different filtration systems. These can include HEPA or HEPA equivalent filters to trap allergens, as well as the options for washable or disposable filters.
Brand and price:
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, there’s an enormous range of both brands and prices available on the market. Narrowing down the features you’re looking for, however, should enable you to form a short-list of the models that suit your needs for further research.