When Black+Decker reached out to see if I might be interested in trying out their new 20V MAX Lithium Flex Vac, I wasn’t all that stoked about it. I’m not a big fan of handheld vacuums, and the kind of mess my household produces — highlighted by active kids and enough dog hair to assemble a new canine every week — is notorious for killing full-sized vacuum cleaners, let alone the little ones. But the high tech MAX Lithium Flex convinced me a cordless vacuum can make quick household cleanup a lot more convenient and proved especially useful on a three week trip to Cape Cod, where a vehicle continually subjected to sand and snack crumbs was in constant need of cleaning.
I’m big enough to admit that what first won me over on the 20V MAX Lithium Flex Vac was its look: it’s not your old school handheld vacuum and it has a rather futuristic appearance.
Aside from its visual appeal, it’s equipped with a 4-foot flexible hose that makes all the difference in utility. Hold the vacuum in one hand (it’s cordless and very light), and the hose means you can reach just about anything without having to crawl around, especially when the you add the attachments.
What made it especially useful in our house was the detachable floor head with an extended handle. Combined with surprisingly powerful suction for such a compact, battery-powered unit, this meant we could use the 20V MAX Lithium Flex Vac to vacuum the wooden floors in the house. Not just spot-cleaning, but actual tidying of an entire floor.
It had the power to suck up dog fur by the handful, as well as dirt and small pebbles. There’s no agitator head and it’s not nearly as powerful as the full-sized Dyson Animal
vacuums that have become our go-to, so it’s not a surprise it didn’t perform as well on carpet. It’ll pick up a fur ball, but it’s simply not meant for large-scale deep cleaning. But on hard floors, the 20V MAX Lithium Flex Vac is perfectly capable of handling the daily mess. It quickly became a favorite of my kids because it is so light and there are no cords to deal with — they find it much easier to manoeuvre than our regular upright vacuums. A pet hair brush is also included and it worked quite well on furniture.
In terms of power, the vacuum lasts about 20 minutes on a charge. Set it back on its base station and it’s back up to full strength in a few hours.
Emptying the dust collection canister was easier than with many vacuums I’ve used. Unlock it, twist it off, hold it over the garbage and it opens with a pushbutton. Pretty simple and no-one dumped contents on the floor or got their hands dirty emptying it. When I started to notice suction power fading after a few months of use, removing the filter (another simple twist and pull) and banging the dust out restored it to full strength. That filter is also washable.
The three weeks we spent in Provincetown is where I really came to love the 20V MAX Lithium Flex Vac. We towed our trailer down and I decided to take the vacuum — it’s compact and rechargeable, so it packs easily and there are no external batteries to worry about. It was perfect for keeping the trailer tidy, including vacuuming sand out of the boys’ bed every few days. And when I tackled the truck — sand everywhere from beach visits, crumbs from snacks, wrappers and everything else kids leave behind on trips — the vacuum was not only powerful enough to get the works, but the battery lasted long enough to do it in a single go.
If you’re camping, this little guy is also excellent for catching any flying or crawling bugs that make their way into your tent or trailer — no swatting or smearing required.
If you’re looking for a lightweight, space-saving cordless vacuum to handle quick household cleanups (particularly on hard flooring) with the versatility to tackle other jobs like cleaning your vehicle, the 20V MAX Lithium Flex Vac is a very impressive little machine.
Disclosure: Black+Decker provided a 20V MAX Lithium Flex Vac for review purposes.