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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

Black & Decker 18V Flexi Review

Review overview

Features 8
Battery Life 9
Design & Accessories 8.5
Performance 8
Value 8

Summary

8.3 Our Score If you like the style of the Flexi Hand Vac and understand what it’s designed for then you should buy one.

What Is the Black + Decker 18V Dustbuster Flexi Hand Vac?

People often like to stick with a name they know when purchasing new appliances, especially if it’s within their budget. It’s not just about a “brand” either, but rather choosing a company with a reputation and experience that allows you to place faith in their product without getting fobbed off. Black + Decker is one such company that many people purchase appliances from. It’s mostly known for selling DIY machinery, though considering the fact that they made the world’s first cordless drill, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that they now make cordless vacuum cleaners.

One of their products that have sold well is the 18V Lithium-Ion Flexi handheld hoover. It’s a cordless, bagless vacuum that has been designed to reach all the places your regular floor machine can’t. While they make a variety of rechargeable models, the Dustbuster Flexi Hand Vac is available in 10.8V, 14.4V and 18V versions. They are all essentially the same machine, though the 18V is the most expensive of the three, has more suction power and a longer run time.

We’ve bought one to demonstrate exactly how it works and to discuss the pros and cons of this 18V Dustbuster Flexi Hand Vac review.

Pros

  • Compact – The compact and lightweight design of the Dustbuster Flexi makes it easy to use around the home.
  • Versatile – Can be used for a wide range of cleaning applications whether that’s removing dust from your lamps, on top of your fridge or behind your radiators.
  • Easy to Empty – Empties from a side door without the need to remove filters or get your hands dirty.

Cons

  • Run Time – Only runs for 15 minutes, but this is usually enough for simple jobs which it was designed to do.
  • Charging Time – Takes up to 4 hours to charge fully.

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Black + Decker 18V Flexi Features

Cyclonic Action with Triple Filtration – The Dustbuster Flexi Hand Vac uses a cyclonic action, which coupled with a triple filtration system, means that it provides powerful suction efficiently.

Flexible Hose – The wrap-around hose allows the unit to be compact when not in use, but extends out to 1.5 meters which makes it highly practical for cleaning various areas of your home and vehicle.

Convenient Dusting – The “Dustbuster” isn’t just a clever name as it’s also designed to clean dust off table surfaces, lamps, televisions, laptops and even large ornaments with its soft brush. This saves you just moving dust around when using a traditional duster.


Battery Life

The Back + Decker Dustbuster Flexi uses an 18-volt lithium-ion battery which provides continuous power until the battery is depleted – rather than slowly becoming weaker the longer you clean. Consequently, the handheld is capable of producing 25 air watts with an airflow capacity of 1062 litres per minute. It only has one power setting and runs for around 15 minutes. It uses ECO smart technology which is meant to charge 4 times faster than other handheld models, and stop charging once the battery is full. However, it takes around 4 hours to charge when you first use it but is generally quicker to top up after that. It comes with a charging dock (with a spot for the included crevice tool) and has a blue LED light that flashes while it is charging, and stays on when it’s fully charged or in use.

Design & Accessories

The Dustbuster Flexi Hand Vac is a trendy hoover coloured in shades of grey with clear plastic and silver accenting. It does have a white cover on the filter/motor side which lets down the styling a bit, but overall with its blue LED ‘power on’ indicator light, it’s a nice looking modern machine. The quality of the hard plastic is sturdy, and there haven’t been any complaints about it breaking suddenly with normal use.

The handheld which resembles a kettlebell in design only weighs 1.47kg which means it isn’t heavy on the wrists when using it to clean around the house. The handle of the main unit is easy to hold, though would have been better had it been designed with rubber for improved ergonomics. At the end of the grey flexible hose is a hard plastic section which allows it to remain rigid while vacuuming. This is especially helpful when cleaning dust off the ceiling or other high areas.

The end of the hose has a large horizontal crevice-like aperture which is what you will use when picking up cereal, cat litter and other granules; and an integrated flick-up dusting brush. This section is removable with a simple clip so you can choose to connect the included crevice tool for reaching down the sides of car seats, between cushions, behind radiators and so on.

Emptying the dirt receptacle is easy, which you can do by releasing the door catch on the clear side of the handheld and holding it over a dustbin. You may need to shake it a little to get the dirt out but you don’t need to touch the dirt.

Before you do this, you may want to use the filter cleaning system which involves accessing and twisting the filter to remove built up fine dust. You can do this by pressing down the grey button on the white side of the machine and twisting to reveal the filter. You can also choose to remove the filter to wash or replace it if you choose. The white section actually incorporates the motor, battery and hose.

As mentioned, the 18V Dustbuster does come with a charging dock although it’ not designed to be wall mounted.

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Performance

It’s important to have the right expectations for the 18V Dustbuster before purchasing. Although it once came with a floor cleaning extension (which is still available online), it should only be used as a supplementary hoover to your main unit. It excels at cleaning quick messes. By this, we mean picking up food material from countertops (i.e. cereal, flour and breadcrumbs), ash from around the fireplace, cat litter, keyboard trapped debris and so on. However, one area that it’s particularly good for is picking up surface dust using the soft brush on and around picture frames, lamp shades, skirting boards and ceiling edges.

Being cordless means that many people like to use it for stair or vehicle cleaning. It does a good job in both applications, though don’t expect a valet clean if you need to pick up a lot of mud or ground in dirt.

Unfortunately, this particular model no longer comes with the pet hair attachment so doesn’t do as well removing hair from furniture and carpeting. However, it’s possible to purchase a spare accessory designed for the more expensive PD1800EL Flexi Vac model which should fit.

The suction is respectable for such a small machine, though it’s surprisingly noisy. The dirt capacity is on the low side at 0.5 litres, but because it’s only used for odd jobs it’s more than adequate. It is recommended to use the hose when cleaning because if you leave it in place the fan from the main unit blows around the dirt you are trying to pick up.

Price

The Black + Decker 18V Dustbuster Flexi sits at under £100 and is considered a mid-priced handheld. It’s generally held in high regard and is a quality cordless model for the price. Back + Decker also offer a standard two-year guarantee, though it’s possible to purchase additional coverage through Amazon. If the price is more than you want to spend for a supplementary hoover, you could consider the cheaper AEG AG71a RapidClean that we’ve reviewed here – which is also well received but isn’t cordless.

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Verdict

The 18V Dustbuster is appropriately named for its ability to help you clean up dust rather than moving it about like you would with a duster. The fact that it’s cordless and lightweight means that it’s practical to get out for small jobs when you don’t have the time or energy to use your main model. The runtime is a little on the low side, especially when it requires such a long charge, but it maintains its power rather than fading. It also actually works, unlike some cheaper cordless models that are nothing short of ideas that fail in practical application. If you like the style of the Flexi Hand Vac and understand what it’s designed for then you should buy one.

For more information visit Amazon right here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the crevice tool that comes with it?

The crevice tool is 230mm long. 

Can I use this to remove cobwebs?

Yes, this is great for cleaning cobwebs and dirt off of the ceiling and ceiling corners.

Is the dock wall mountable?

Unfortunately, the dock needs to be kept on a horizontal surface.

What are the product dimensions?

300mm x 270mm x 160mm

What is the power output of the machine?

1700 watts

Is this handheld hoover good at picking up pet hair?

It’s not the best unit for picking up pet hair, and especially if you don’t use the pet hair attachment which no longer comes with it. You can, however, contact Black + Decker for a spare or purchase one designed for the PD1800EL on Amazon.

Will

The author Will

Having gone through the rigmarole of choosing and purchasing a vacuum cleaner, Will knows best the absolutely horrendous journey of a vacuum cleaner consumer. He now focuses his time and attention on helping you find the perfect vacuum cleaner for your needs.