Will a $27 Vacuum Cleaner Suck?


Dirt Devil Cyclonic Review

Mr. Blandings called me from the apartment back in the city on Sunday and said that he was cleaning up for the week. He took out the garbage and scooped the cat’s litter box and generally got things in order. You know, typical Sunday afternoon stuff. “But then when I went to vacuum,” he said, “I discovered we don’t have one here anymore!”

Ah, yes, that’s right. I took our vacuum cleaner to the Dream House weeks ago. It was one of the first things to go to the house, actually. It’s a nice canister vacuum that we bought six or seven years ago when we moved into the apartment. I splurged a bit on an Electrolux vacuum that’s big and heavy but does an amazing job. I’ve dragged or carried that sucker around the apartment once or twice a week for the past seven years, sucking up dust balls and kitty tumblefurs, spilled coffee beans and shattered glass, and it has yet to fail me. Which is why I took it to the house! My trusty vacuum has made short work of cleaning out cobwebs and old hair and all the other dusty buildup in the Dream House.

Rather than lug the canister vac back and forth between the city apartment and the Dream House, we decided pick up a cheap upright vacuum for the apartment. We mostly have hardwood floors and a few rugs so we don’t really need something as big and powerful as my trusty Electrolux.

As I perused my local big box store I found myself facing a veritable Sophie’s Choice in the vacuum aisle. I could buy a Dyson upright vacuum cleaner that had been discounted from $599 to $249 or I could buy the cheap Dirt Devil that had been reduced from $39 to $27. I hesitated near the Dyson for awhile. I tried to justify the expense by reasoning that it’s a top quality vacuum, built to last and with good reviews, that rarely, if ever, goes on sale. But 250 bucks was a lot more than I went in thinking I wanted to spend for a simple way to clean a tiny apartment. I think I hugged the Dyson box before I walked away from it. I’m sorry, little fella, but you can’t come home with me.

So I took the Dirt Devil Quick-Lite Cyclonic to the city apartment and gave it whirl. Is it a Dyson? Oh, hell no. Not even close. But the Dirt Devil does have a strong suction and worked on both wood floors and rugs. Here are my notes after using it the first time:


  • Easy to assemble out of the box.
  • Picked up a lot of dirt.
  • There’s no bag and the debris container was easily emptied.
  • The hose and crevice tool are easy to access and use.



  • The cord located at the bottom is frustrating. Unless you pull the cord up the handle and hold it taut, the cord gets in the way.
  • Very loud. I worry that my poor downstairs neighbor is going to be driven crazy by it.
  • The nose of the cleaner is kind of fat so it doesn’t get into crevices very well.
  • I wish there was a way to turn off the beater brush when using the hose attachment.

For $27, I wasn’t expecting much. I wanted an easy, portable upright that would clean the hardwood and rugs in our small apartment. The Dirt Devil delivers but not without sacrificing comfort. And by comfort, I mean noise. Damn this thing is loud! I think that really is the biggest sacrifice at this point. Dyson vacuums are powerful AND fairly quiet. This Dirt Devil is like one of those tricked out muscle cars with the really loud exhaust systems. It wants to you to hear how fierce it is!

Still, for under 30 bucks, we’ll deal. Do I wish I had splurged on the Dyson? Yeah, kind of. But, hey, we just bought a house! We can’t go throwing money around on expensive vacuum cleaners!


— J. Blandings

Images: Mr. and Mr. Blandings

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