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In this guide
Do you consider toast crumbs to be your biggest nemesis? There's nothing more infuriating than watching toast being buttered recklessly, spraying crumbs across your freshly-vacuumed floors. If you've ever found yourself staying in on a Saturday to get the gunk out of your vacuum cleaner, this guide is for you.
Handheld vacuums combine the convenient size of a dustpan and brush with the speed and efficiency of a vacuum cleaner. The best handheld vacuum is lightweight, compact, and powerful, with enough battery to do a few laps of the kitchen before the next charge. They're usually less grunty than conventional vacuum cleaners, but they make up for it in size and convenience. We've combed the web for Australia's top handheld vacuums so you can spend your weekend more wisely.
How we picked
We usually start by checking CHOICE, Australia's biggest consumer advocacy group. They haven't reviewed handheld vacuum cleaners, so we went straight to ProductReview.com.au to see what real Aussies thought. We chose several of the highest-rated handheld vacuum cleaners, but found that some had been replaced by newer models. One brand also dominated the results.
This took us back to the drawing board. So, we took a virtual shopping trip to be sure our recommendations were up to date. After culling a few picks to counter brand dominance, we weighed up our remaining selection. Balancing cost, grunt, and effectiveness, we finally settled on 5 handheld vacuums. Here are the dustbusters we reckon are Australia's best in 2021.
The best handheld vacuum for most
Choose this if
This BLACK+DECKER Cyclonic Action Dustbuster is a well-designed handheld vacuum that balances price with oomph for banishing crumbs, Play-Doh, and the creatures lurking between the couch cushions. We like its clever flip-out brush, washable filters, and extendable hose to get into even the smallest nooks and crannies.
What we love
Handy brush attachment flips down to gently clean polished floors or delicate surfaces.
The battery charges within 5 hours, and there's an indicator on top of the appliance.
For extra oomph when you need it.
Easy to clean
Quickly see when it needs emptying with a bagless, see-through dirt bowl.
Slim, extendable nozzle for small spots like behind the TV and under the fridge.
You can wash the filters to keep your dustbuster clean and the suction strong.
At around $99, the Black + Decker dustbuster is reasonably priced.
The not so good bits
Dustbusters aren't the most sustainable way to vacuum, because their batteries tend to die after 2-3 years. While the BLACK+DECKER 21.6Wh Lithium-ion Dustbuster Cyclone holds its charge in the short-term, reviews showed Aussies were disappointed after a few years. The battery isn't replaceable, either.
This handheld vacuum comes with a jack plug charger, rather than a wall-mounted charger (which would double as storage). This means you'll have to find somewhere to store your awkwardly-shaped vacuum and charger.
If there's one thing BLACK+DECKER does well, it's busting dust. This 21.6Wh Lithium-ion with Cyclonic Action is no exception, and it's popular with Aussies for its sensible design, solid power, and great price. It scores around 4 stars from 30+ reviews on ProductReview.com.au, with a removable, washable filter to keep the sustainably-minded happy. Our only major complaint is that it doesn't have a replaceable battery.
The BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Cyclone does have a clever brush attachment which you flip down to use on hard or delicate surfaces like timber flooring or curtains. This saves you having to rummage through the back of the laundry cupboard. The 'cyclonic action' part of this dustbuster also spits dust away from the filter, which keeps the suction going strong. We like that you can see into the back of this handheld vacuum, so you know when it's time to empty it.
Reviews show that this BLACK+DECKER dustbuster does the whole car in one go, but some reviewers said their batteries died completely after a couple of years of use. The extendable nozzle was a hit with Aussies, who like how easy it is to clean the filter and barrel, and this lightweight model also boasts an 'Intelligent Boost' mode for those heavier-duty jobs.
Related: The Best Cordless Stick Vacuum
The best value handheld vacuum
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The Kambrook Captiv 11v Handvac has some of the best consumer reviews. While it's louder than other dustbusters, it’s one of the cheapest on the list. Aussies love this no-nonsense sucker because it's like a dream tradie, offering a fair service at a reasonable price.
What we love
This handheld vacuum is easy to store and charge, with a wall-mounted charging bracket included.
Crevice and brush tools make for a surprisingly versatile little vacuum.
Reviewers were pleased with how long the Captiv runs for. One person said theirs goes for around 30 minutes before needing another charge.
It's one of the most affordable handheld vacuums you'll find in Australia.
The not so good bits
One reviewer complained their Captiv started to die after 2 years of use, which is a problem with handheld vacuums across the board.
This is one of the louder models, but for around $50, that may not bother you.
The Kambrook Captiv 11v Handvac isn't the most advanced handheld vacuum, but what it lacks in features, it makes up for in price and performance. We like that this no-nonsense handvac does what it says on the box. With a removable dust canister and filter, it's also pretty easy to clean, though you will have to get your hands dirty.
The Kambrook Captiv is a budget-friendly handvac with a 12-month warranty. You can choose between bright purple and lime green models, which include both a brush attachment and crevice tool to get into small spots with ease. We like that it has a wall-mountable charging base too, so you don't have to re-Kondo yet another drawer to store your new appliance.
Aussies give this portable vacuum cleaner around 4.5 stars from a handful of reviews on ProductReview.com.au, and are surprised at how well it sucks up pet hair on car seats. They also rate this handvac for its easy-to-use design, with one reviewer saying it's easy to hold with arthritic fingers and hands. There are a few comments about how loud the Kambrook Captiv is, but we'd happily put up with it at this price.
Related: The Best Pet Hair Vacuum
Others worth considering
The Dyson V7 Trigger is a high-tech handheld vacuum that wouldn't look out of place in Back to the Future. While Dyson hasn't figured out time travel yet, there's no doubt the vacuum giant knows about saving time with cleaning efficiency. That's where the V7 comes in. This powerful little machine weighs just over 1.5kg, and offers impressive performance with up to 30 minutes of battery life on the lowest setting.
The Dyson V7 Trigger comes with crevice and combination tools, and has a MAX mode which reviewers were frustrated to find only lasts around 5 minutes. It's easy to empty, and has impressive suction power. It's easily the priciest handheld vacuum cleaner in Australia, and will set you back around $300. In saying that, we still think it's one of the highest-quality hand vacs on the market. Dyson also offers a money-back guarantee for peace of mind.
If the tops of your cupboards would pass a white glove test, the BLACK+DECKER 18V Lithium-ion Dustbuster Pivot Hand Vacuum is made for you. With an extendable nozzle that pivots 200 degrees, this foldable handheld vacuum can be twisted and turned to quickly banish dust from even the highest shelves. We like the extendable nozzle, and that it comes with a charging base.
The BLACK+DECKER Handheld Pivot Vacuum also includes a soft brush attachment for dusty Venetian blinds and the car air con, and it's easy to empty. You just open the unit over the bin, and watch all the crumbs fall out. Aussies like it, giving it nearly 4 stars from over 40 reviews. Unfortunately, this hand vac falls short on the battery front. While people love its design, few are happy about paying over $100 for something that doesn't last more than a couple of years.
The Kmart Rechargeable Hand Vacuum is the cheapest handheld vacuum we found in Australia. At just over $40, it's a steal, especially because of its wet and dry function. It has an indicator light so you know when it's charged, and the crevice tool is built-in to the nozzle so you can flip it down to get into dusty corners. There's also a wall mount, which is impressive at this price.
Emptying the Kmart hand vacuum is a little more fiddly than other models. To clean out debris, you need to release the front, remove the filter, and give it a wash. This is probably fine if you use your dustbuster once a week. On the flipside, the filter needs to dry before the next use, so this could get tedious with high use. While it gets 2 stars on ProductReview.com.au from a few reviews, several Kmart buyers are stoked.
The bottom line
There's a place in every home for a handheld vacuum, even if you're not a compulsive cobweb-duster. For starters, they make cleaning the car after a beach trip a total breeze. They're also a lifesaver for anyone with kids or pets, picking up popcorn crumbs, rogue bits of Play-Doh, and whatever the dog drags in. While you won't get the cleaning power of a proper vacuum cleaner, the convenience of a dustbuster makes up for it.
We think the BLACK+DECKER 21.6Wh Lithium-ion Dustbuster Cyclone is a solid choice for most families. Its brush attachment and extendable nozzle are built-in, so you won't lose them. We also like that it has an 'Intelligent Boost' setting for a little more oomph when you need it.
We also like the Kambrook Captiv 11v Handvac. At around $50, it's a great budget option that comes with a wall-mounted charging base. While it's louder than other models, Aussies rate this handheld vacuum because it's simple, straightforward, and reasonably-priced.
Features to consider
It's hard to know what to look for in a handheld vacuum. Here are some things we reckon are worth thinking about.
This was one of the biggest complaints across the reviews. Handheld vacuums are cordless, lightweight, and portable. Most use lightweight rechargeable batteries, which mean there's a limit to how much power they can supply. Even the priciest of handheld vacuums suffer from short battery lives, and reviews show most only last up to two years.
One of the most confusing parts of buying cordless products is the electrical jargon. Over our research, we found vacuums advertised in Volts, Watts, and Watt hours. Most handheld vacuums are measured in volts, which are multiplied with amps to show total Watts. If you're comparing the grunt of two vacuums, make sure you're comparing the same measurement.
Most handheld vacuums cost between $50 and $150. It's worth thinking about how much you're willing to spend given your vacuum is unlikely to last more than a few years.
Not all of the handheld vacuums we reviewed came with wall-mounted storage, which is a handy option given their awkward shape.
Every Monica knows that even cleaning products need to be cleaned. Some vacuums were much easier to empty than others, and many newer models had washable, reusable filters.
What you get if you spend more
If you reach for your handheld vacuum more than you reach for the kitchen cloth, it could be worth spending a little more. Here are some of the features we found with pricier models.
The most expensive handheld vacuum on our list has the most transparent return and warranty policies, as well as a 45-day Money Back Guarantee.
Higher-end designs tend to be more ergonomic, and it's usually much easier to clean the inside. If you don't like touching the gross bits inside your vacuum, it could be worth spending more for hands-free cleaning.
Bells and whistles
The more you spend on your handheld vacuum, the more likely you are to have extra attachment options. Most of the pricier models come with extra tools, and additional options for specialized cleaning.
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