Handheld Vacuum Cleaners - A Buying Guide
What to consider when choosing a handheld vacuum cleaner
While your vacuum cleaner is probably the most powerful cleaning tool that you have in your house, there are times when it is not the most convenient thing to use. A small, occasional spill, cleaning in a narrow space or inside your car (especially when you live in a flat and therefore have no plug point near the vehicle) can all make buying a handheld vacuum cleaner a useful purchase. While not a substitute for a full-size machine – it won’t have the power or capacity to do more than a small job at a time – I personally have found it a great item to have around the house, as long as you get a good one that is appropriate to your needs.
The most important things to consider are:
Cordless technology – while you can buy corded ones (like the Signature Handheld Vacuum at £35) and they are usually cheaper than rechargeable cleaners, I wouldn’t recommend it as having a cord significantly reduces how useful it can be (especially if trying to clean out your car).
Power indicator – if you are using cordless technology, your handheld vacuum cleaner will be charging in a dock before you use it. Therefore, having a power indicator on the vacuum and the docking station will be useful to tell you when you are running out of power and how well charged the cleaner is. Such a simple thing, but so useful; I made the mistake of once buying a Black & Decker budget handheld vacuum for just £15 without this feature, and it has been something I regretted every time the cleaner isn’t powered when I want it or when it dies halfway through a job.
Battery life – the longer the battery life, the more jobs you can do between charges. The higher end handheld cleaners, such as the Hoover Jovis, should be able to manage about 20 minutes of use between charges.
Transparent bins – a simple but useful feature that allows you to see when your cleaner needs emptying. If the cleaner gets too full then suction is lost or the cleaner can stop working altogether, so I have found that being able to see when to empty it is very useful.
Filter type – if you have allergies or asthma, you might want to consider getting a cleaner with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter such as the Dyson Animal handheld cleaner (although this isn’t a cheap option given they cost around £140).
Tools and attachments – depending on what you plan to use the handheld cleaner for, additional attachments such as a crevice tool (particularly good for picking up pet hairs in awkward and confined spaces like around sofas) may be useful for you.
Wet & Dry – handheld vacuum technology has now developed to the point where you can even have wet cleaning options for more demanding cleaning tasks in such a small cleaner, such as the Electrolux Wet/Dry for a very reasonable £35.
Weight – remember to take the weight of the cleaner into consideration, especially if you have problems with your hands and wrists. The Dyson handheld cleaners are very efficient at cleaning, for example, but as they weigh in at nearly 3lbs each, a lot of people would have trouble lifting and using them.
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