This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a list of the best gear for your home. Read the original full article at TheSweethome.com
For small spills and tight spots that a regular vacuum can’t reach, we recommend using the Black & Decker BDH2020FLFH 20 V MAX Flex Vac ($130). Its powerful 20-volt lithium-ion battery delivers about 16 minutes of strong, steady suction, which means better cleaning for longer than most of the competition can muster. Equally important, its 4-foot flexible hose reaches where other hand vacuums can’t, like under car seats. And it even accepts clip-on attachments like a regular vacuum would. We spent 56 hours researching and 20 hours testing handheld vacuums over the past few years and the Flex Vac has proven to be the most versatile portable vacuum out there.
Who needs a portable vacuum?
The Black & Decker BDH2020FLFH looks more like a miniature canister vacuum than an old-school Dustbuster, but that makes it a more versatile cleaner.
A handheld vacuum excels as a smaller, lighter, nimbler sidekick to a plug-in upright or canister vacuum. It cleans spots a big vac can’t easily reach: countertops or the floor of a car, for example. And since there’s no cord to unravel, it’s super easy to grab off the charging dock for 10 seconds to suck up a few dust bunnies or grains of spilled cereal. Black & Decker claims that the BDH2020FLFH takes four hours to recharge and has a 16-minute runtime. In our testing, that was pretty accurate. However, if you think you can replace a floor vacuum with one of these, you will be sorely disappointed. They’re simply not designed for that kind of heavy lifting.
The BDH2020FLFH and (left to right) the crevice tool, combo brush (attached), and pet hair tool attachments.
The Black & Decker 20 V Max Lithium Flex Vac BDH2020FLFH looks more like a miniature canister vacuum than an old-school Dustbuster, but it’s a much more versatile cleaner because of that. The 4-foot stretchable hose can unwrap from around the body, making it more adept at cleaning at weird angles, in tight spaces, or above your head. Since the hose unwraps from the body, it’s easier to wrangle than a regular all-in-one handheld vac (and it’s actually smaller than it looks in pictures, too).
Much of the Flex Vac’s cleaning prowess comes from its attachments. The combo brush helps knock loose the particles that want to cling to fabric or carpet, a task other hand vacs can struggle with. The crevice tool is helpful even just as a wand extender, but also makes it easier to get in nooks like the storage compartments built into car doors, the tight areas around the seats of a car, and between the columns of old-school radiators, where years of dust can build up.
And if you’re a pet owner, the pet hair removal tool is a big help. It’s nothing fancy: just a textured, rubberized head with a hole in the middle. Ideally, you’d use a mini turbo brush tool for hair, but not many hand vacs come with one of those, and this simple design does the job just fine.
The Flex Vac’s dust bin swings open for easy emptying, and can be removed from the vacuum for cleaning.
None of this versatility or thoughtful design would matter if the vacuum lacked the power to suck up most kinds of debris. Fortunately, it has plenty of it, producing 25 air watts (a metric used to measure the movement of air through a vacuum cleaner) of suction. On paper, that’s a bit stronger than many competing models.
Once you’re done cleaning up whatever mess you’ve made, the BDH2020FLFH’s dirt canister is easy to clean out: pull a latch on the side of the vacuum’s body, tip it into the garbage, give it a thwack, and you’re done. The canister is also removable, which makes it much easier to clean.
In a nutshell, our favorite handheld vacuum is right for most. But we have other picks for people who need to spend a little less or have speciific needs. The Dyson V6 Trigger has even more suction than our pick, but at $200, it’s a little pricey for a handheld vacuum. The best $50 hand vac is the Black and Decker PHV1810 18V Pivot Vac, even if it can’t deal with pet hair very well and batteries are weaker and take longer to charge. For a handheld vacuum specifically built to deal with pet hair, the (corded) Eureka EasyClean 71B for $38 is a good pick.
Wrapping it up
After a lot of time researching testing handheld vacuums, its pretty clear to us that the Black & Decker BDH2020FLFH 20 V MAX Flex Vac is the handheld vacuum we’d get.
This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to TheSweethome.com