How a Handheld Vacuum Changed the Way I Think About Cleaning

My (now incredibly clean) apartment. Not pictured: vacuum cleaner, because even if it is adorable and tiny, no one wants to see a vacuum cleaner.

It took me a long time to get here but I finally moved into the tiny apartment of my dreams, and I've been enjoying outfitting it with all the perfect things. But my favorite thing that I've bought for my home is not my beautiful new velvet sofa or my gorgeous antique Moroccan rug. It is a vacuum cleaner. It might be reaching a bit to say that a handheld vacuum cleaner has changed my life, but it has definitely changed the way I clean — and I'm not going back.

My new best friend is a Dust Buster. You probably already know what a Dust Buster is, but just in case: a Dust Buster is like a vacuum, but it fits in your hand. It becomes a part of your hand, but it makes your hand better. With the Dust Buster you become a cleaning superhero, a bionic wonder who can pick up anything and magically contain it without even touching it.

Sure, a vacuum cleaner could do these things. But a vacuum cleaner is distant, removed, and also it weighs about a billion pounds. And there are many places a vacuum cleaner cannot go. A Dust Buster can go anywhere your hand can go.

Now cleaning is not some laborious process that begins with dragging out the vacuum or the broom or the mop or the dustcloth or anything. I use my tiny vacuum cleaner, embarrassingly, for everything. Dust on the windowsill? Gone. Crud on the bathroom floor? Gone! That Cheerio I just dropped on the floor? Gone. If I could wash the dishes with it I would.

Long ago I had a vacuum cleaner that brought me similar joy. I was about four years old, and my sister and I would clean our rooms by scooping up our toys with our toy vacuum cleaner and then depositing them in the cabinets in our play kitchen by removing the sink and dumping the contents of the bag. It was a gloriously simple, if not particularly elegant, solution to tidying up, and what's more is that it was fun.

I think to me that's the real appeal of the handheld vacuum — sucking up all those Cheerios somehow doesn't feel like work. It feels like a delightful game of Get All the Crud Off the Floor. It's possible that, in my old age, I have suddenly turned into a person who likes cleaning. Or maybe it's just that I have a tiny apartment, so I bought a tiny vacuum that looks like a toy, and by doing so somehow managed to bypass the part of my brain that distinguishes between things that are chores and things that are fun.

Did you hear that? That is huge. I have somehow managed to trick myself into thinking that cleaning is fun. And just like that, my apartment is way cleaner (ok, moderately cleaner), because getting out that little sucker is the work of a moment, and I actually like doing it. Somehow my tiny vacuum has made cleaning, once again, into a joyful and impulsive thing.

(Image credits: Nancy Mitchell)