This Tiny $12 Vacuum Made My After-Dinner Cleanup *Way* More Bearable

published Jul 19, 2021
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Credit: Lana Kenney

While I don’t claim to have most things about life figured out, one thing has become fairly clear to me after 28 years of it: Romantic relationships work better if one person cooks and the other does kitchen cleanup. Of course, this is a generalization and not at all the case for everyone, but it’s a rule that has served me well for the past seven-plus years of my relationship and one that I never, ever plan on changing. As the person who does all of the cooking, there is nothing I would like to do less than dishes, and I’m fairly certain my husband feels the same way about food prep.

I do try to make his life a little easier by tidying up my cooking area (clearing off the countertops, putting away ingredients) when I can, especially since I’m the type of person who somehow uses five pots and pans for a two-person meal. Still, there’s one post-cooking cleanup task that I completely and totally loathe and avoid at all costs: clearing the crumbs from the countertop. 

Using one hand (or, if you’re smart, a paper towel or rag) to scoop crumbs, cooked food, spices, and other scraps off the counter into the other hand, then using that hand to toss the collected garbage into the sink or trash? Inevitably, stuff sticks to your hand. It falls on the floor. It gets caught in the grooves of the countertops. It’s the worst, and I hate it.

Despite my disdain for the task, I had never even considered an easy, everyday alternative until a friend of mine mentioned her countertop mini vacuum.

Yes, read that again: A countertop mini vacuum.

I did a double take when I first heard of the contraption, too. Of course, I Googled it immediately. Turns out, there are tons of tiny crumb vacuums on Amazon and beyond, all with various functionalities and reviews. Many of these contraptions are marketed for use on keyboards — for getting crumbs out of tiny crevices — but it was the post-dinner cleanup option that interested me most. A cordless, quick, and easy way to get rid of crumbs? For $11.99? Say no more. 

When my vacuum arrived, I was struck by how tiny and cute it is — but also how flimsy it feels. It’s battery-operated (batteries not included) and fairly easy to figure out how to use. It does exactly what you’d imagine a vacuum that fits in the palm of your hand would do, cleaning up most countertop crumbs and messes that you glide it across.

Credit: Lana Kenney

It’s worth noting that there are a few areas where the vacuum seems to struggle. In particular, it takes a long time to pick up “bigger” spices (dried oregano, for example), and sometimes fails to grab bigger pieces of food. Overall, though, it does the job just fine and eliminates my most difficult, annoying part of cleaning the countertops. Remembering to empty it regularly is probably the most “inconvenient” aspect of the vacuum.

And as someone who spills large quantities of sugar, salt, and other spices regularly, it’s been a complete game changer. I keep it on the countertop next to the knives (but it’s small enough to conceal easily in any drawer or cabinet) and turn it on after I’ve put away all my ingredients for the evening. Beyond the practicality of it, there’s something oddly satisfying about watching tiny messes disappear underneath the vacuum — all without getting my hands dirty at all. I’ve used it on my laptop, too, after giving its bristles a good cleaning.

Do I think that this tiny vacuum will last forever? Absolutely not. Do I think it’s entirely possible I will drop it the wrong way or break it by trying to vacuum up a crumb that’s too big? Yes. Still, it’s been worth it for me based on the stress and time it’s saved me already.