Best Inexpensive Cordless Handheld Vacuum

To say that for many years I had a love/hate relationship with handheld vacuums would be to put it mildly. I love the idea of a cordless handheld vacuum that is charged up and always ready to make a quick pick-up—in fact, it is on my list of household must-haves.

generic handheld vac in use

But I hate when the thing runs for only a few minutes before it needs to be recharged, is heavy and awkward to use, and has such weak suction it really doesn’t do a very good job of picking up anything.

Backstory

It’s been more than 30 years since I got my first handheld Dustbuster. It would hold a charge for maybe two minutes if all the stars were properly aligned and I held it in just the right position. And the thing completely failed after only a few months—refusing to hold any charge at all. Rubbish!

Since then I’ve had no fewer than five other brands of handheld vacs, putting up with a lack of suction, short-run times between charges, difficulty emptying and cleaning—only to have all of them fail as well.

The pricey Dyson handheld vac was nothing to write home about. Its maximum runtime of about 6 minutes was marginally acceptable but it was really heavy, awkward to empty, and difficult to clean. Plus even it lasted for fewer than three years.

Can’t anyone make a decent cordless, handheld vacuum cleaner that is convenient to use, holds a charge well, runs for at least 15 minutes before needing to be recharged, has powerful suction to pick up all kinds of stuff we need a vacuum to pick up including pet hair; will last for more than a couple of years and not cost a fortune?

Yes, Finally!

It was a Eureka! moment back in Feb. 2017 when I found it—the perfect handheld vac. What’s more, that Black and Decker Dustbuster continues to be my pick for Best Inexpensive Handheld Vacuum. After four years of continuous use and occasional abuse, it operates as new. It still can’t be beat.

dust buster handheld cordless vac

Power

Powered by a high-efficiency 16-volt lithium battery, this hand vac has long battery life. I’ve had it running continuously for longer than 15 minutes without a hitch on a single charge. The powerful battery holds a charge for up to 18 months when off the charger and does not have a memory effect when left sitting on the charger. That means I can leave it there or take it with me in the car or even leave it in another part of the house and it will not lose its charge. It re-charges from completely dead to fully charged in 4 hours.

dust buster collage

 

Suction

This vac has excellent suction. I don’t have pets, but others who do report that it picks up loose hair on hard surfaces very well, which is quite a significant test. I have never had a hand vac as reliable—not even that pricey Dyson. It can suck up Lego bricks, which I find to be the ultimate audition for a handheld vac. Not that I would ever do that intentionally, of course.

Easy-to-use

I love that this vac is super lightweight and has an On/Off switch—no trigger or button I have to hold down continuously for it to run. Little design features like that just warm my heart. I love it so much I have three, all of them purchased in 2017 and located in various areas of my home.

The one I use in my home coffee roasting hobby gets the most intense workout. Coffee roasting produces a lot of sticky, oily chaff during the roasting process—debris that must be removed from the roaster after every session. You wouldn’t believe how this vac not only does the job but has done so tirelessly for nearly four years without a single fail. It just keeps going and going and … going!

Easy to maintain

Dustbuster has a large bagless dirt bowl that is easy to remove and empty. The bowl and the filter are completely washable. Confession: In the four years I have owned and heavily used my three Dustbusters, I have not replaced any filters. I hand wash and dry them and they just keep working like new.

cleaning handheld vac

My only complaint

There is one thing I consider a slight design flaw, which I would change if I could. The charger base must sit on a flat surface with the vac standing on top of it. The charging unit is not designed to be attached to the wall, which I would prefer. However given how well this vacuum operates and all of its positive features, I find this to be minor and easily tolerated.

Best Inexpensive Handheld Vac

I love this cordless handheld vacuum more than I’ve loved any other hand vac and give it many stars—far more than the traditional five! For the money, BLACK + DECKER 20V Cordless Lithium Hand Vac (please do not confuse it with its disappointing cousins that have Ni-Cad batteries) gets my designation of being the Best Inexpensive handheld cordless vacuum.

 

 

 

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Question: Have you had any love/hate experiences with a cordless vacuum? If you’d like to share, please do that using the comments area below.

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7 replies
  1. Adriene Muhammed says:

    If you are looking for the best steam cleaner money can buy, you should be looking at Hoover’s line of steam cleaners. They are a very popular brand and the quality of their machines rivals that of professional equipment.

    Reply
  2. Doris Schrier says:

    I’ve had my dustbuster since 2013 and it’s still going. I use it every day. The only time it quit on me was the switch wouldn’t work. My husband opened it up and “fixed” it with a shim. That was around 3 years ago! I would prefer it to be attached to the wall also but I found a spot for it. If it ever quits, I will be buying another one!

    Reply
  3. Katie French says:

    Mary, We are seeing a lot less dust bunnies around here lately! You wrote my story on these vacs. I had long since given up about 15 years ago and then read your recent article recommending this vac. Because it was you recommending it I thought I’d give one last try, and I’m so glad I did. Everything you said about it is spot on true to the point that I bought one for upstairs and down. I actually like the charger stand because I just set it down and the light comes on and tells me it’s charging. I like that, LOL 😉 My sister came to visit from New Hampshire, and now she has one! Thanks yet again Mary

    Reply
  4. Kathy Glaser says:

    I have one of the newer BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld Vacuums, Cordless, Gray (HHVK415B01). I love it. It’s a little bit heavy but it picks up ALL the bunches of cat hair floating over my kitchen floor, as well as the kibble that misses the cat’s mouth. I use it every day for a couple of minutes and charge it maybe once a month.

    Reply
  5. Jan Tappan says:

    I bought one of these in 2017 based on your recommendation – and it was fantastic! But it only lasted 3 years. During its last 6 months or so, the motor made an awful noise as it got started and the suction capability decreased. The motor finally refused to start at all, and I bought a second one. You’re right, it is the best hand held vac available. When I ordered the second one, I noticed that many people had the same experience as I did. I hope this one will last longer.

    Reply
  6. Karen Trahan says:

    Dear Mary,
    My old DustBuster lasted for many years and I only had to replace the battery once. Two years ago, I purchased a new one after the old one finally died. It only lasted 2 years. And the battery cannot be replaced! I wanted to switch brands, but DustBuster was the only one with the thinner, pull out wand. Anxious to see how long this new one lasts.

    Reply

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