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How to Purchase a Handheld Vacuum

How to Purchase a Handheld Vacuum


Different households have different surfaces to clean, different levels of dirt, and so on. Asking questions about the purpose of buying a handheld vacuum cleaner is essential. It helps you to determine the model that’s in line with your vacuuming needs or requirements. You wouldn’t want to purchase a unit that leaves traces of debris or one that runs out of power before you’re through with your tasks, for example. You also wouldn’t want to have in your possession a vacuum with capabilities you don’t need. Based on your situation, consider the following.

What tasks do you intend to be using it for?

Handhelds are handy for light tasks, being lightweight and portable. You can use them to clean on-spot spills with ease. However, heavy-duty tasks such as cleaning carpets that are high-pile demand for a more powerful vacuum. Otherwise, you may become frustrated by your handheld vacuum when it cannot produce enough suction to pick up huge amounts of dirt, hair or stubborn stains. Large areas to clean would also call for a powerful vacuum that runs for long enough without the question of battery drain. In that case, a handheld vacuum that uses a power outlet would be ideal. In short, choose your handheld based on how light or heavy the tasks you want to use it for are.

What cleaning radius do you need?

It’s good to know that cordless handhelds don’t have a limited cleaning radius, and are ideal if you intend to use the vacuum to clean far areas such as the garage, stairs, porch or deck. With a unit that has sufficient running time for the battery, you can vacuum virtually every place of your home, both inside and outside. A corded one, despite being powerful, restricts you to only cleaning the areas near the power outlet. Despite this downside, you may still feel the need to buy a corded handheld. If so, I would advise that you choose one with a longer cord so your cleaning area isn’t too limited.

Do you have pets?

Pets shed hair that many vacuum cleaners would struggle to pick up, especially if the pets are heavy shedders. They also spill pet food and water around and create messes that require a vacuum with a strong enough suction to clean. In this regard, you would be better off choosing a corded handheld that assures you of strong suction and continuous power. If you have to buy a cordless, I would advise you to choose a model that offers adequate suction and a pet hair pickup technology. A model that features a spinning brush roll would be more efficient at picking up pet hair. Also, one that features a rubber brush roll. Most handhelds come with a pet tool to help you with vacuuming long and short pet hairs. Go for those if you have the problem of excessive pet or human hair in your home.

How portable do you need it to be?

This mainly depends on where you will be using the vacuum or how much weight you’re willing to carry around. Highly portable handhelds are ideal outdoor vacuuming such as car cleaning or when on the go. A cordless one would be the most suitable for such situations since you do not require a power outlet to operate it. Modern cordless handhelds are even powerful enough to assure you of adequate suction for tasks such as vacuuming your car’s interior and other outdoor cleaning activities. If you don’t plan to use your handheld vacuum outside the house, portability may not be such a major issue. You can, therefore, opt for a larger and more powerful corded unit. The cordless types of handhelds are usually lightweight and small sized. Only choose them if you want a unit you can use in any place in your home and outside, such as when traveling. For your car’s cleaning needs, you may want a light one that can also run off the car’s battery.

Do you have kids in your home?

If yes, then you would need a handheld vacuum for various reasons. The kids are likely to spill foods and liquids when you least expect them to. Having a handheld helps you take care of such messes immediately they occur and without difficulty. A cordless handheld can be kept within reach, on a shelf or countertop to take care of such instances. It’s way easier to clean on-spot stains and debris with a handheld than have to drag your heavy upright to the spot where the mess is. These types of vacuums also allow your kids to clean the messes themselves if they’re old enough. With one in your house, you don’t have to do every vacuuming job. A cordless handheld is the ideal one if you want a vacuum you can use for quick cleanups of spills or one that your children can use. The corded types can be burdensome to the kids due to their bulky nature. The cord could also be a trio hazard and not safe for the children to use.

Do you have a problem handling heavy objects?

A handheld vacuum is precisely that; a vacuum that’s operated while being held in your hand. A heavy one can be quite a burden, and matters can worsen if you have a problem with your hand or wrist. Apart from the normal fatigue that a heavy handheld would cause you, the wrist or hand problem could become serious if you buy a heavier model. It would be advisable that you find a lightweight and compact cordless that doesn’t put a strain on your hand. Also, go for a light one and with an ergonomic handle if you have to vacuum large areas all at once.

What’s your budget?

While handheld vacuums are relatively low-priced, some types are cheaper than others. Corded handhelds are mostly not as expensive as the battery-powered types. If working with a tight budget, you may choose to forgo the portability of the cordless and opt for the cheaper but bulky corded ones. But that’s if you intend to use it within a confined area. If you live in a small apartment or studio, you wouldn’t need to carry your vacuuming unit to far areas. A corded vacuum cleaner would then be the most suitable to buy. For a large home, a battery operated handheld would do a good job cleaning alongside an upright.

Features to Look For in a Handheld

Having looked at what questions to ask when looking to buy the best handheld vacuum cleaner, it’s now time to discuss the features and functions to consider. It’s essential if you’re to find a handheld vacuum that meets your expectations or one that cleans superbly. Manufacturers will often put additional functions in their vacuums which only add to the units’ prices without benefitting you much. Sometimes, these features don’t even contribute to enhancing the cleaning power of the vacuum. By understanding the best features to look for, you can be in a position to avoid paying for the functionalities you don’t need. That would help you to find the most efficient yet cost-effective handheld vacuum cleaner out there. Let’s look at the features to consider based on your situation and needs.

Wet and Dry Cleaning

Some handheld vacuums can clean both dry debris and wet messes. This functionality is essential if you have children in your home who are likely to spill liquids. Also, pets that are likely to overturn their food and water bowls. But then, handhelds that have the dry/wet feature are usually high powered ones to produce the required suction power. As a result, they may be bulkier and are often the corded type. Portability is then somewhat minimized. I would advise that you choose this feature carefully based on the situation in your home and what tasks you intend to use the vacuum for.

Corded or Cordless

This is among the main features to consider when choosing the best handheld vacuum cleaner. Each type has its advantages and downsides based on the vacuuming needs and ease of use. Corded vacuums are usually more powerful than the cordless types. Because the power is continuous, you re able to vacuum large areas uninterrupted. Corded handhelds are, therefore, suitable for large homes or where a lot of debris has to be cleaned. The strong suction enables them to pick up dirt even from carpets and area rugs. However, some manufacturers make cordless handhelds that have adequate suction power, almost that of conventional vacuums. The only downside is that they appear bulky and fail the portability and far-reach test that cordless handhelds are known for. Back to the corded type, I should say that they’re only ideal if you don’t consider moving them about much or using them outside the house.

Cordless handhelds are known for their versatility when it comes to light cleaning tasks. You can use them anywhere in your home, and with ease. They’re not limited to being operated through a power outlet which means you can easily use them to vacuum the stairs or your car outside. Cordless handhelds allow you to clean different rooms in your home for their unrivaled portability. They’re also lighter and have a better reach. You can use them in both high and low places, on the shelves, and under furniture with ease. Besides that, the light nature of cordless handhelds means you can use them for extended hours and not feel much fatigued. They’re also compact enough to allow you to vacuum various the tight and hidden spots in your home.

Cordless and corded handheld come with different features and capabilities. The type you choose will determine the features to look for so your vacuuming unit meets your cleaning expectations. These are the features we will discuss next; based on whether you have chosen to buy corded or cordless type.

Cordless Handheld Vacuum: Features to Look out For

Type of batteries

There are several battery types manufacturers incorporate in their cordless vacuums. In modern vacuums, lithium-ion batteries are the most commonly used, and for a good reason. They’re fast charging, plus their power doesn’t drop with the drain of charge. That means a vacuum that uses lithium-ion batteries will maintain its suction power throughout until the battery charge reaches a point where it cannot rotate the motor. With the ability to charge quickly, lithium-ion batteries ensure your cleaning tasks are not delayed. More still, lithium-ion batteries can keep a charge for months when your vacuum happens to be sitting idle.

Battery Level Indicator

While some buyers may overlook this feature, it’s an important one. It saves you the frustrations of situations where your vacuuming unit runs out of power unexpectedly because you couldn’t tell how far the battery had drained. A battery level indicator means you can plan your cleaning tasks so you don’t have to stop midway to charge the unit. You also get to know when it’s time to recharge the battery or estimate how long a charge will last you.


Cordless handhelds come with batteries with varying capacities and different motor power ratings. Low-capacity batteries drain faster, while powerful motors cause the batteries to run out rather quickly. Some cordless vacuums can have extremely short battery runtimes of less than 10 minutes. If involved in vacuuming large areas, that can be a huge disappointment as you would need to recharge the unit one or two times into the cleaning task. Unless your cleaning tasks are going to be pretty light, I would advise that you choose a vacuum with a decent runtime. That way, your cleaning activities will be smooth and take less time to complete. A battery that lasts for at least 30 minutes would be suitable-that’s unless you have large areas to vacuum for every cleaning session.

Charging time

Not all batteries come with the same charging time. Some take longer, while others are fast-charging. Choose a handheld that takes between 3 and 4 hours to be fully charged. Most cordless models come with lithium-ion batteries and feature this length of charging time. They would be ideal for your home’s cleaning needs since you do not need to wait for long before you can use the vacuum that’s plugged into a power outlet to charge.

Removable and replaceable battery

Cordless handhelds that come with removable batteries allow you non-stop cleaning. All you need to do is obtain a spare battery that you can use when the other one runs out of charge. Because the battery is removable, it means you can use one while the other charges in the charging station. Apart from the uninterrupted vacuuming, a replaceable battery allows you to put a new one in place of a faulty or dead battery. This allows you to continue using the vacuum cleaner. That may not be the case with vacuums that come with a fixed battery that cannot be replaced. Once the battery no longer functions, these types of vacuums are rendered unusable.

Battery capacity

A higher battery capacity means a stronger motor that provides for a powerful suction, and most probably, a longer runtime. Despite the higher price, it means a more efficient vacuum capable of cleaning a variety of surfaces. Battery capacity is usually indicated by the manufacturer and serve to provide you with an idea of how the vacuum is likely to perform regarding dirt pick up. The suction technology matters, of course, but battery capacity also plays a big role in determining how strong the vacuum’s suction is likely to be. Vacuums with higher values for battery power will come at a high price but are worth for the improved cleaning and longer runtime.

Features to Look for in Both Corded and Cordless Handhelds

Suction power

In every vacuum, whether handheld or not, suction power is so important that you cannot afford to overlook it when shopping for your handheld. The value of suction shows you what cleaning ability the vacuum possesses, and you can use it to choose the one to purchase based on that tasks you will subject it to. Some manufacturers will indicate a vacuum’s suction power while others don’t. In the case the manufacturer doesn’t, you can use the motor’s power rating to find an estimated value. Different models and brands will have varying values for the power to pick up dirt. This is because of the different technologies employed in the suction system and different motor power ratings. When choosing your handheld, base your selection on the surfaces you will want to clean. A low-traffic home can do with a handheld that has a moderate power of suction, while a high-traffic one would require a more powerful unit.

Bin capacity

Cordless handheld vacuums are highly portable and compact. However, this comes with the disadvantage of them having a small dirt bin. Unless you’re keen on this feature, you can end up buying a model whose bin capacity may not suit your cleaning requirements. Look for a model that won’t force you to keep emptying it now and then. The capacity you choose largely depends on the areas you intend to use it on. High traffic areas would require you to find a vacuum with a large enough bin, even if it happens to be at the expense of size. Also, if the areas you will be cleaning are large and you don’t want to waste time emptying the bin before you’re through with the task.

Ease of emptying the dust bin

This may not be a big concern as most vacuums come with this feature. Nevertheless, a handheld whose dirt compartment opens at the touch of a button would be ideal of the emptying convenience it offers. If the bin flips open downwards, the better; it allows you to hygienically dispose of the dirt into a trash can. Some models will feature a dust bin that also detaches from the unit. This feature is desirable in the handheld you opt for. It allows you to easily wash the bin under running water before re-inserting it into the vacuuming unit.

Translucent bin

I believe you wouldn’t loathe the idea of having a handheld that allows you to see how much dirt and debris has collected in the dust bin. Having a handheld that features a see-through dirt cup is essential so you can monitor the buildup of debris and determine when to empty it. Many vacuums come with this feature, but it would still be better for you to look out for it.

Filter type

Just like any other vacuum, a handheld’s filtration system should be a matter of concern when buying one. Handheld vacuums usually don’t come bagged, which calls for an efficient mechanism to filter out tiny particles. While some manufacturers will have own-designed filters, HEPA is the standard for the post-motor filter. HEPA filters trap the smallest of particles and are essential for your handheld if you have a health problem with allergens. Ensure, too, that the handheld you opt for comes with a filter that will last you for long enough. Washable filters are better than the ones that need replacing once clogged up with dirt. They relieve you of the expense of filter replacements.

Hose extension

A hose allows a handheld vacuum to extend its reach and having a model that offers this functionality would be essential. It means more vacuuming capability for the unit since it can cover a longer distance and reach right spots. Should you choose this option, expect to have in your possession a bulkier and heavier vacuuming unit. Unless you’re after compactness, a hose can greatly enhance the versatility of your handheld vacuum.

Cord length

Should you opt for the corded type, ensure the cord is long enough for the areas you will be cleaning in your home. Other than the cord, there are other ways to make the vacuum have a far reach. The cleaning radius of your handheld can be enhanced by the use of a hose or an extension cord so you’re not too limited by the insufficient length of the cable the unit comes with.

Ease of Storage

Some handheld models come with a wall mount that enables you to hang the unit on the wall for storage. While this feature is not a must, you would fund it useful if space in your home is limited. Other than a wall mount, you may want to consider a handheld vacuum that’s small-sized for the ease of storage, especially if you live in a small apartment. Cordless types usually feature a charging station that acts as storage while the battery charges. The feature enhances the convenience of storing the vacuum as well as retrieving it when needed.

Other Features to Look for

Consider, too, the accessories a handheld comes with or allows. A crevice took makes vacuuming tight spots easier and is essential if you’ve so many of these areas in your home. An upholstery tool is useful for the cleaning of curtains, mattresses and other fabric surfaces. It allows you to pick up dust, hairs, and other debris from the surfaces with ease and efficiently. A dusting brush also serves to enhance the cleaning ability of your handheld. A broad-mouthed cleaning head improves the vacuum’s ability to pick up dirt. However, it lowers its suction power. A narrower head means more suction power but at the expense of being able to clean larger debris. Depending on the type of messes in your home, you can know which size suits your cleaning requirements.

Handheld vacuums typically weigh about 3 or 4 pounds. This weight is ideal for a vacuuming unit that you have to hold in your hand for long. A weight that exceeds that could cause you fatigue if you have to clean for long. The weight of the vacuum you opt for should, therefore, match the cleaning times you expect to be using it for. Weight is also an important factor to take into consideration if you want your kids to be using the vacuum. Heavier models would be a burden and hinder your children from participating in the vacuuming activities. Because you may not always be available to clean up every spill or other mess that occurs, it would be better that you choose a model that’s not too heavy. Seniors, too, would find a bulky unit too heavy to use. A cordless handheld would be the !most suitable for them. They can carry it anywhere in the home including upstairs. Because there are no cords or power outlets to worry about, a cordless handheld would be safer than a corded one.

The dimensions of a handheld is another concern when buying one. Handhelds are known to be compact. It’s most probably one of the reasons you’ve decided to acquire one. Therefore, choose a model whose dimensions suit your preferences. A small-sized handheld is easier to store. You can easily tuck it away in a cabinet, or you could store it in a wall mount. If concerned more about the power of the handheld, you could decide to overlook the issue of dimensions and focus on the voltage and suction power.

Vacuuming shouldn’t be a dull and cumbersome activity. A handheld that doesn’t allow for easy vacuuming can make you loathe using it to clean. You, therefore, need to choose a model that’s effortless to maneuver around obstacles while going about your cleaning activities. A pivoting head is one of the features that allow this, and a handheld that comes with it is better than one that doesn’t. You may also want to look for a handheld whose on and off buttons are conveniently located so and easy to operate. Some models have the ” on trigger that does not need to be held down all the time to keep the vacuum running continuously. For convenience and ease of use, you may want to choose those ones.

Lastly, I would advise that you consider the manufacturer’s warranty. Many companies back their vacuums with a warranty of 1 year. However, manufacturers who are confident their products are quality enough will usually have extended warranties. Some of them will offer two-year warranties or even more. While the length of a vacuum’s warranty shouldn’t deter you from buying a handheld that matches your requirements, it can be an indicator of how durable the product is likely to be. Manufacturers will also limit the validity of their warranties to certain situations. Be sure to understand the limits so you are not caught unawares.

Final Thoughts

I believe that you now have an idea of what you want in the handheld vacuum you intend to buy, and can now make a wise choice. Handhelds are among the most versatile vacuums you can have in your home. Having one that suits your vacuuming requirements can ease your cleaning tasks and help keep every place around your home free of dirt and debris. Finding the right product is the most important aspect of shopping. It helps you avoid instances where you dislike the product later when you’ve already purchased it. The best handheld vacuum cleaner would make your vacuuming tasks not only easy but fun to carry out.

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Shahina Swain - January 7, 2021

I bought my holife handheld via Amazon and after first time buy and using the device I’m struggling to empty the contents as I cannot unlock the compartment part. Can you help please?

Many thanks

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