For big cleanup jobs, you need to haul out your regular vacuum. But you can give your vacuum cleaner and yourself a break by considering a hand vac or stick vac to clean up everyday messes.
A hand vac is a good choice for upholstery, hard-to-reach spots, and of course, your car. Stick vacs don't require bending and can clean beneath furniture, where a hand-vac may not fit.
To test, Consumer Reports used a mixture of sand, rice, and cereal to challenge 21 hand and stick vacs. In a second test, measured amounts of cat fur were pressed into the carpet to size up pet-hair removal. Some vacuums stood out from the rest, but not always in a good way.
The Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik #SD20000 stick vac scored lowest of all the small vacuums. The model has a small opening and no brush, so it takes more passes to clean up dirt or pet hair. And it didn't do a good job on carpets or bare floors, or along edges.
A far more impressive cleaner is the top-rated Hoover Flair S2220. The $60 stick vac easily pivots around furniture, and the cord has an easy-release holder. As for hand vacs, the $80 Shark Perfect Pet II SV780 did equally well with cleanup. The cordless vac's powered brush and large opening helped it devour dirt on carpets and bare floors. And it inhales pet hair.
Either of those small vacs can save you time and the hassle of hauling out your regular vacuum for quick cleanup jobs.