Handheld Vacuum Maintenance

How to maintain your handheld vac to extend its life

Take care of your handheld vacuum for years of performance

There’s nothing like the cleaning power of a vacuum cleaner that can go anywhere your hand can reach. Handheld vacuums are the highly evolved versions of the original lumbering Hoovers first pushed or dragged around the house by tired housewives. These lightweight, handheld vacuums can clean in small spaces, cracks and crevices and even inside your car. They clean blinds, curtains and fan blades above your head, and dust bunnies under beds and furniture. They are also handy for quick clean-ups when you don’t want to drag out your full-sized vacuum just to pick up some sandwich crumbs.Chances are, if you frequently use your handheld vacuum, you can immediately tell if it’s not performing at its best, just as you could tell if your own hand was no longer fully cooperating with your brain’s instructions. So what do you do to keep your handheld vacuum fully obeying your every command? Some simple maintenance steps should keep your Dustbuster, Dyson V7, Dirt Devil Scorpion, or Shark Rocket performing with the instant results you’ve come to rely on.

Cleaning Your Handheld Vacuum

Yes, cleaning tools also require cleaning.

First, make sure the switch on your hand vac is turned off. Most handheld vacuums come with a dust cone, cup or bin. Press the release button to remove the dust cup by pulling down and out. Tap the cup against the inside of a trash can to dislodge dust and debris. Wash with soap and warm water and allow to dry. Remove filters and wash gently with soap and water. Rinse thoroughly with clear water to remove any soap residue. Be sure to allow filters to dry completely, or use a blow dryer to thoroughly dry filters before replacing.

Rechargeable Battery Care

A surprising number of people admit to throwing out their hand vacs and purchasing new ones once the batteries stop holding a charge. After all, your handheld vacuum is only as good as its battery. Rechargeable batteries aren’t intended to last the entire life of the product that they power. They are meant to be replaced once they no longer hold a charge. Be sure to purchase the correct battery for your device. Most handheld vacuums use one of three battery types: Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) batteries, Nickel Metal Hydride(NiMH) batteries, and the newer Lithium Ion batteries. Rechargeable batteries are available online and in hardware stores and places where hand vacs are sold.

You can extend the life of your handheld vacuum battery by NOT keeping it fully charged or docked into its charger all the time. It’s important to allow your hand vac to fully discharge and then fully recharge on a regular basis. Otherwise your device will no longer hold a full charge. This is called the “memory effect.” According to manufacturers, only lithium ion batteries can remain stored on the charger without harm from the memory effect.

Storage and Maintenance

Store your handheld vacuum in a cool dry place. Moisture may damage your filters. Some hand vacs, such as Black and Decker’s Dustbuster 8-volt cordless come with a wall mount for easy one-step charging and storage.

Take your handheld vacuum to a repair shop for maintenance as needed. If you’ve cleaned filters, recharged or replaced batteries and your hand vac is still not performing as well as it should, it may require a replacement part. While many people toss it out and buy a brand new one, most vacuum repair shops are inexpensive and fast, and your device will be returned to you as good as new at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new one.

Make sure you read the owner’s manual included with your handheld vacuum. While many people choose to ignore the manual, you will find routine maintenance and cleaning instructions specific to your hand vac and key information such as battery type, filter types and whether filters are washable or need replacing. Also important is determining whether or not your particular model can be stored on its charger. Most manuals also include warranty information.

While no one finds an owner’s manual fascinating reading material, you can get the most for your money with your handheld vacuum cleaner if you follow proper cleaning and maintenance instructions.

Resources—  Groom and Style, Lowes.com, Consumer Reports