Consumer Reports puts hand, stick vacuum cleaners to the test


For big cleanup jobs, you need to haul out your regular vacuum. But for spilled cereal and other small cleanup jobs around the house, a hand or stick vac may be all you need. But you don't have to shell out hundreds of dollars because Consumer Reports found good cleaners for less.

You can give your vacuum cleaner and yourself a break. Consider a hand vac or stick vac to clean up everyday messes. A hand vac is a good choice for upholstery, hard-to-reach spots, and, of course, your car.

Stick vacs don't require bending and can clean beneath furniture where a hand vac may not fit.

To test, Consumer Reports uses a mixture of sand, rice, and cereal to challenge 21 hand and stick vacs.

In a second test, measured amounts of cat fur are pressed into the carpet to size up pet-hair removal. Some vacuums stood out from the rest, but not always in a good way.

One Dirt Devil stick vac scored lowest of all the small vacuums.

"This model has a small opening and no brush, so it takes more passes to clean up dirt or pet hair. And it didn't do a good job on carpets, bare floors or along edges," Consumer Reports' John McAloon said.

A far more impressive cleaner is this top-rated Hoover Flair. The $60 stick vac easily pivots around furniture, and the cord has an easy-release holder.

As for hand vacs, the $80 Shark Perfect Pet II did equally well with cleanup. This cordless vac's powered brush and large opening helped it devour dirt on carpets and bare floors. And it inhales pet hair.

Either of these small vacs can save you time and the hassle of hauling out your regular vacuum for quick cleanup jobs.

A value pick for pet-free homes is the A4 Bissell for $35. Consumer Reports also rated small vacuums for noise. While they may be smaller, some can be just as noisy as a regular vacuum.

Consumer Reports found the $400 "B-7" Dyson ran low on run time and trapped cheerios in the brush housing when vacuuming. The $200 "B-10" Electrolux was long on run time but short on the cleanup that counts.

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