I bought this handheld vacuum about three years ago and I still use it now. Initially it was purchased as it was on offer and my full size vacuum was on the fritz. I thought it would do well enough for rugs and upholstery while the old machine could be used on the wooden floors that required less suction power.
What Is It?
Dirt Devil is a well known brand and manufactures compact and handheld vacuum cleaners for those difficult to reach places around the house and car. They have a reputation for powerful, light weight machines that have a good build quality.
This vacuum cleaner is compact and can be used as a handheld or placed on a surface and rolled on the built-in wheels. It comes with a detachable shoulder strap for easier use.
Can you describe a vacuum cleaner as cute? I honestly think this one is! It's compact but not as small as many handheld only models as it can also be placed on surfaces like a larger cleaner and wheeled along.
The main body is opaque silver with translucent red plastic used for the various compartments and details. The extendible hose and shoulder strap are black and overall this colour scheme looks very smart.
The quality both looks and feels good. The plastic is thick and heavy duty and doesn't leave you worrying that clasps and fixtures will snap off. The general finish is sleek and professional.
Weight: 2.9 kg
Power cord: 8m
Cleaning radius: 10m
Motorised brush bar to lift dirt and pet hair
Detachable shoulder strap
Easy to empty dust compartment
One-year manufacturer's warranty
Replacement parts such as filters are readily available online (but last forever).
I bought this on offer for £45 about three years ago. It currently retails for approximately £70 - £80 but can be found for less online and instore.
Seeing as my old vacuum was doing a fair job on the wooden floors but struggling with the rugs I decided to get a handheld vacuum for the smaller jobs and upholstery. This one was on offer and considerably cheaper than replacing a full size machine, plus I was impressed by the length of the cable and the detachable hose enabling me to get into nooks and crannies.
Upon getting it home I pulled all of the cushions and seat pads off the sofa and went to work. There was no set-up required other than attaching the dust collecting compartment and plugging it in. Initially I placed the machine on the sofa base and just pushed it back and forth much like a full size vacuum. It effectively picked up any pet hairs and the odd toast crumb, not to mention devouring a loose cleaning label. To get into all the crevices I detached the hose and checked the brush attachment was locked into place and it got all of the fluff out very well. The brush is permanently affixed to the hose but can be moved up and down on the end of it if you want it out of the way. It clicks into place so that it doesn't move around when in use.
To clean the cushions I just plonked it on the sofa next to me and used the hose on them, nice to sit down whilst you hoover!
Next came the rugs. I should point out that the living room rug is an absolute MONSTER! I only have to walk past it in a jumper and it absorbs every loose fibre and bit of fluff that isn't even visible to the naked eye. The little Dirt Devil did it's best and I ended up with a result comparable to the larger vacuum. Whilst not completely fluff free I think it's the rug that's the problem, not the cleaner. I cleaned the rest of the rugs with perfectly good results, the only problem is that I was on my hands and knees to do this which really starts to get uncomfortable after a while. That's my fault, I didn't think that part through properly at all. I now throw rugs over an old clothes airer and sit down with the hoover on my lap and use the hose to clean them.
Lastly I got down to doing the stairs. I had to empty the dust compartment before I started them which was easy. Just pop the clasp on the back and shake over the bin, done! I was pleasantly surprised at how much fluff and dirt managed to fit in there considering how small it looks.
For the stairs I decided to try out the shoulder strap and this is the only place I feel this vacuum lets me down. The strap is a little long and it hung down to my hip which feels awkward plus it's very thin. Yes, this is a light weight vacuum at under three kilos but when it's suspended from one shoulder by a thin strap it quickly gets heavy and feels like it's cutting in.
I persevered and got the stairs cleaned quickly and pretty easily but my shoulder was sore for a few days. It has to lose a star in the ratings for this as it's a pretty obvious design flaw.
However, there is a way to solve this problem! I bought some seat belt covers from the £1 store and placed one over the strap and the comfort problem was solved. To take care of the length issue I just tied a few knots in the strap and it now sits happily at my waist where I can get to the hose and controls and it doesn't bang against my hip.
I would recommend this vacuum to anyone who wants a handheld cleaner with a few extras. It's powerful and has a good capacity, meaning you don't have to constantly empty it. If you're planning to use it for the bulk of the hoovering however you may want to consider a full size hoover.
The quality is excellent in every aspect except the shoulder strap but that is easily solved.
A good friend of mine that I haven't seen for a number of years but who regularly keeps in contact with me over Skype and online messaging systems announced shortly that she is emigrating to another country following a divorce. I wondered at the time why she told me since she hadn't told any of her other friends - but known that both her and I have helped other friends move out in the past, it was a no-brainer! But as I began to help her package up her home and turf out a lot of old stuff, she handed me a box that she knew she wouldn't be able to take with her as thanks for helping out as payment since she was short of cash and for the fact that in Canada, the voltage and electricity is different to the UK system. Now, I'm used to people handing me their old vacuums, but never a new one and although I resisted, she insisted! Before I had bought the Gtech SW02 sweeper for my mother, I kept in mind what the Dirt Devil could be used for before considering I have a few carpeted stairs - but more to the point due to its compact shape, this could be a good replacement vac for using outside in the car instead of having to carry a bigger machine out with me each time I want to clean - and it handily has a nifty design feature that makes it apt for car cleaning against my Black and Decker VH900GB mains corded hand vacuum.
==Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec==
* Model: Dirt Devil DHC003 mains power hand vacuum cleaner.
* 0.5 litre dust cup/bin with washable HEPA filters.
* 1000-watt motor.
* Comes with an optional shoulder strap.
* 8-metre power cord length.
* Extendable fitted ribbed stretch hose.
* Large permanent roller brush with large suction plate.
* Size 20cm by 31cm by 20cm.
* Price in 2012 £34-95 from Tesco.com, £53-49 from Amazon.co.uk, £39-98 from Dirt Devil UK.
* 2 year guarantee upon registering with brand.
The Price, The Product & The Promise
Rewind back a few years on Dooyoo and you may well find an old review I did in 2010 on my Black and Decker hand held vacuum - a machine replaced the dusty bagged 23 year old hand held Dirt Devil vacuum; so even if I didn't need this Dirt Devil Hand Vac - it's a fitting tribute to reminisce on what has gone on before and for the cost price of £34-95 it's a relatively cheap price to pay when a mini turbo brush from a reputable manufacturer usually costs the same for the tool alone! The only disadvantage to the Black and Decker is that it lacks a brush roll tool and the myriad of small diameter tools mean getting a spare part is difficult as it is even smaller than those you would buy for a conventional vacuum cleaner.
So, if you have pets or carpeted stairs in your home, the worst thing about keeping the home clean is getting the hairs, dirt and any pet hair off carpets, curtains and anywhere else where dust collects. Instead of dragging out your main vacuum, Dirt Devil it seems have always had the more manageable answer, but due to their company differences in the U.S and the U.K, their UK bound products have not come from the U.S but rather from the design hand of ALBA PLC, the company responsible for budget televisions and base price electronics. Regardless of what you may think, ALBA own the Dirt Devil name in the U.K but it doesn't mean any of their products are made in the UK and the DHC003 Handy vac from Dirt Devil is no exception, entirely made in China. All this information is important to the buyer, because unlike some more popular brands getting spares for this machine must be ordered online from Dirt Devil UK, who can send out spare drive belts or spare new filters that this machine takes for the aftercare maintenance.
Design, Features & Quality
Despite the country of origin, I was really surprised by the good build quality and design of this hand vacuum; especially for the price of £35 and what you get with the design of the machine. Knowing the similar design from the American model I owned many moons ago, the similar action and performance has brought back good memories, not just because this version is now bagless and has washable filters, but for the fact that there is a much more powerful motor under the hood, clearly displayed by the "1000 watts," shown on the front bezel label adorning the front of the vacuum. Lots of features comprise of a permanent brush roller with a large suction channel, a comfortable handle with optional shoulder points, a long pull out 1.6 metre suction hose, washable HEPA filtration and a super long 8 metre length cord - more length than even Miele's flagship cylinder vacuums have!
Quality wise, it's a mixed bag here. On the one hand the vacuum is decked out with silver paint and red accents to highlight its Devil origins, not just I fear from the U.S company as a tribute. However, the silver paint scratches easily although the machine is robust and seems well made for the price. That's not to infer that the Dirt Devil can't handle the fair knocks in general use but the exterior body is able to collect scrapes and scratches easily if you have carpeted stairs that have painted right angle corners. Therefore it is easy to mark the body in general use - but doesn't impede general performance.
One of the aspects that I quite like about the Dirt Devil DHC003 is that it is so easy to use! "Which Consumer UK" go to great pains to point out that this machine is very heavy, but frankly I don't think it is that heavy that hand fatigue can occur after five minutes use - maybe possibly after 5 hours use - but no one in their right mind would ever use a hand vacuum for such a long period! For its general 2.9kg weight, I don't even think "Which Consumer UK" went as far to actually using the vacuum! What Which UK fail to point out for example is that there's an actual roller "guiding" wheel right behind the brush roll - so whenever I clean carpeted stairs I can go over the machine very easily, almost like "ironing" but vacuuming with a light hand over the handle rather than ploughing through carpets. Powerful, fast and easy to use, both horizontally and vertically, the Dirt Devil's manageable size makes cleaning stairs easy and quick. Pet hair, ground in dirt and threads are no problem for the powerful brush roll on this machine and the dust channel is large enough to remove any clogs with easy and without scissors or screwdrivers! Not only suitable for stairs, this is a great vacuum to use in the car due to its general shape and easier accessing to backs of car seats as well as the material at the front of rear seats that most people forget to clean - and if your car is anything like mine where its that matted black protective covering that attracts fuzz, hair and threads, suction only cleaning tools can only go so far!
Although slightly heavier than my now-same-priced Black and Decker VH900GB which has a much longer body size, they both share a similar dust capacity of 0.5 litres making it suitable for short term clean up jobs. But, whereas the Black and Decker comes with a multitude of tools hidden in a net bag that you have to take with you all the time if you want to change an attachment, all I need for cleaning stairs and general suction dust polishing is on board the Dirt Devil automatically! The long 8 metre power cord is a total help when cleaning lengthy stair cases too and just getting around the car.
There are other tricks to using the Dirt Devil DHC003. The 1.6 metre suction hose hides a versatile secret - the moment you pull out the hose, the brush roll stops moving as a safety measure and at the end of the hose you'll find a pull down round long bristle upholstery brush already built into the hose ready for use. Unlike hoses that Dirt Devil have fitted to their older "red" versions of the "Handy" vac, the hose on this model also has a ribbed, softer and flexible clear nature that doesn't pull back with the force of the suction from the vacuum, making it an able "above the floor line" hand held vacuum as well as being able to see what goes through it, if you happen to vacuum up something that is delicate. Once it has been used, it naturally recesses back down and has a hook on the main body of the vacuum, easy to store away and locked back into the back of the brush roll.
Lastly, the power cord can be wound around the body of the machine, around the back where the bin is locked in, easy to store away at the end of clean up.
Emptying, Filtration & Maintenance
At the back of the Dirt Devil you'll find a dark red dust bin that holds all the dirt collected. There's a handy button release on the bin's rear base that allows me to empty all the dust conveniently into an open bin and a further release button on the actual machine at the rear, which will unlock the whole bin assembly for accessing the HEPA filter or emptying the bin with just the whole canister instead of the machine - I like the versatility offered here and the HEPA filter means no pet hair smells come back into the place I'm cleaning either.
The filter maintenance is very easy to do, simply by twist-unlocking the top of the bin that reveals a yellow and black filter assembly. There are two filters here which can be unscrewed and either brushed clean, tapped or completely washed but also having to wait 24 hours until each part is bone dry. One other filter inside the machine can be brushed clean to avoid the motor from cutting out - a fact that some other owners on Amazon have failed to do. Then it's just a matter of dropping the filters back in, twist to lock, top lid on and the bin can be reinserted.
Replacing a drive belt is very easy but also down to the fact that the DHC003 comes with two well worded user manuals including a breakdown of how to replace the belt if it does break - a handy catch at the side of the brush roll unlocks the whole partition and you won't ever need to fish out screwdrivers when it comes to replacing - a handy and helpful design addition.
Downsides & Final Thoughts
Just like my Black and Decker VH900GB, the main problem that the Dirt Devil DHC003 seems to have is that the handle gets hot very quickly. This is because the main motor is directly underneath the handle and Dirt Devil really couldn't have put the handle anywhere else in my experience - without affecting its main "push and grab" design. It isn't disconcerting but it does remind me that this vacuum can only be used for short cleaning jobs as opposed to longer cleaning sessions. Getting around this by using the adjustable black nylon shoulder strap and suction hose out the back is an alternative, but when you go to clean again with the brush roll activated and the machine left on during whatever cleaning you are doing, the handle will be hot to the touch despite motor grids fitted at either side of the floor head to allow the machine's air to cool.
Largely, there isn't very much else that the Dirt Devil DHC003 can't do - in so far as its main design allows and if you ignore a clogged filter, the machine will cut out after it is switched on. It is very much like the hand held vacuum that Hometek sold in the UK many years ago under the name of the "Hunter," and one model that seems to have had quite a good reputation not just online here at Dooyoo by owners. As such if you expect that this machine will replace a larger vacuum cleaner, think again - it only serves as a helping hand around the home - or could be a makeshift able vacuum to take in a caravan. It is a pity thought that whilst Dirt Devil UK go to lengths to providing video demos of this product, it seems to lack a crevice tool that would give more cleaning versatility to the product and both Tesco and Dirt Devil do not include a crevice tool that could be inserted into the hose opening - I have however used my own cleaning tools and so far find that a 3.2cm/32mm nozzle will fit easily - from brands like Vax, Hoover and Electrolux.
At the end of the day the Dirt Devil DHC003 is a good all round hand vacuum cleaner, able to offer continuous suction and good performance despite a hot handle and only able to cope with the long hose, long power cable and pull out upholstery brush. Easy to maintain, clean out and have good reach ability, the Dirt Devil DHC003 is a handy little hand held vacuum to have around! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2012
** This review has been written for the "Relay-ables," Dooyoo Relay team. **
(Product code & photo from Tesco 215-1345, http://www.tesco.com/direct/dirt-devil-handheld-dhc003/215-1345.prd)
Short name: Dirt Devil DHC003