If you are looking for a highly portable handheld vacuum, then we think the Bissell AeroSlim is a fantastic option. This very compact device is quick and convenient to use, handling light messes, like dust and dirt, with ease. It's excellent for cleaning hard-to-reach areas as well. However, it doesn't have the most impressive battery life and bogs down a bit with more challenging cleaning tasks, like pet hair. Although this vacuum doesn't compare to premium vacuums, it has a lower price tag, but for its niche, it's handy.Editor's Note: We updated this gear review on January 11, 2022, with new sections on what we would buy and if there are any other handheld vacuums we would consider.
Bissell AeroSlim Review
Pros: Very compact, inexpensive
Cons: Struggles with tough messes and pet hair
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We see the AeroSlim as being an ideal handheld vacuum option to leave in something like a car or RV. It recharges via USB and is compact enough for easy storage, allowing you a handy way to take care of light messes in between heavier-duty cleanings.
Dust & Dirt
We began by assessing how well each vacuum in our lineup could tackle typical household messes, specifically dust and dirt. We statically charged a surface, then dusted it with flour for a side-by-side comparison of cleaning performance. We looked at how effectively each vacuum removed stuck-on dirt from a synthetic floor. We also awarded points based on how effective the brush attachment was at cleaning narrow ledges or corners. The Bissell AeroSlim performed admirably in this series of tests, earning an above-average score.
This vacuum has a narrow brush attachment with longer bristles. Although we had to take it slightly slower when dusting, it still effectively removed all of the flour we laid out in a faster than average time. These longer bristles also do a great job cleaning narrow ledges, like baseboards or window sills, and even reach into corners.
The bristles aren't the stiffest, so this vacuum struggled a bit more with caked-on dirt and mud, being a bit less effective when scrubbing. Eventually, it will loosen dirt and get it cleaned up, but you have to be a bit judicious in your motions. Overall though, we still think this vacuum performed above-average in this regard.
We upped the cleaning ante for our next set of tests, pushing the limits of these handheld vacuums. We spread flour and crushed oats on various carpeted surfaces and attempted to suck up larger objects (like Mini-Wheats cereal) to evaluate product performance. Finally, we also measured the airspeed using an anemometer to get some quantitative data to compare side-by-side. The AeroSlim dropped quite a bit in this metric, as its compact nature couldn't beat out some of the burlier models.
This vacuum doesn't have a motorized attachment, so it started at quite a disadvantage when removing flour from carpeted surfaces. The AeroSlim does have considerable suction power (impressing us quite a bit!). Still, no amount of manual scrubbing came close to matching the performance of the vacuums with a motorized head, such as the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser. It took a ton of cleaning passes to get the surfaces even close to clean with this model, and it would take considerable time to clean large areas. Cleaning larger areas, such as an entire couch, would be quite a daunting task with the AeroSlim.
The AeroSlim did a little bit better with crushed oats, though not by much. It cleans the best when using the crevice tool, but this tool only covers a very small area at a time. And without this tool, the vacuum cleans faster but leaves behind small fragments and bits of oat dust. However, we appreciate that it doesn't fling oats around, like some options with motorized heads.
The opening on this vacuum is also very small, much too small for the Mini-Wheats in our tests. Even though it seems to have a decent amount of suction, the anemometer reading we took disagreed with this slightly. We measured a mere 734 feet per minute (fpm) of airflow, with the average reading for these products on our meter being closer to 1300 fpm.
The performance of the AeroSlim rebounded considerably in our next metric, with this vacuum's compact size making it very easy to clean in confined areas. We based scores on how far each vacuum could clean under home furniture and standard kitchen appliances, plus how effectively each product could clean the track for a sliding window.
The attachment for this vacuum was just a bit wider than our window track, but we found it was easy enough to clean if we just angled it slightly. We also like how much of a reach this vacuum has when cleaning under appliances or furniture. The AeroSlim was effectively able to clean up to 5" under our simulated appliance gap (1.25") and 9.5" under our furniture gap (3").
Next, we rated and ranked the battery life of each handheld vacuum. Scores were based entirely on the runtime for each product on full power for a fully charged battery. Unfortunately, the AeroSlim didn't do the best in this test, earning it a lackluster score.
It lasted for 15 minutes and 23 seconds in our test, with a noticeable slowdown in airflow occurring after 13 minutes or so. In contrast, the average runtime for other products in our review was closer to 17 minutes and 30 seconds, with some products lasting longer than 25 minutes.
Next, we scored and ranked the competition for various convenience qualities that make them more user-friendly. We looked at the weight and noise of each vacuum, the dust bin emptying mechanism, and if there was an easy way to store and organize the different attachments.
The AeroSlim is easily one of the lightest of our entire group, measuring in at just more than a pound without any attachments. Even with the heaviest tool attachment, the AeroSlim maxes out at around a mere 1.3 pounds.
The vacuum's design doesn't have integrated storage for the two attachments, but we like that the charging cord is built-in. Unfortunately, the AeroSlim has a little collection bin, with a capacity of only 0.1 liters; but, it is pretty easy to empty. Untwist the housing and remove the filter to dump the contents into the trash.
We were a little surprised by how loud this vacuum is, given its size. According to our SPL meter, it was still quieter than average, but just barely, measuring in at 74 dBa.
Our last metric focused on how efficiently and effectively each vacuum could clean up pet hair, a vital component of a vacuum if you own a pet. We scattered donated pet hair on two different surfaces for this test (couch cushions and car mats). Compared to others, the AeroSlim did very poorly at both.
We found this vacuum is only helpful at collecting hair from the surface and fails to clean anything that has worked into the fibers. Even worse, the vacuum's exhaust can cause the pet hair to blow around, creating a bigger mess than you started with — though this didn't happen every time.
Should You Buy the Bissell AeroSlim?
The Bissell AeroSlim is far from an all-in-one cleaning solution, but it serves an important niche. It's a great option to leave in a vehicle or if you need a very portable and easy-to-charge product for light-duty dusting or other messes. It's not going to be the tool of choice for significant messes. Still, its convenience and price cause us to highly recommend it to anyone looking for a supplemental cleaning option.
What Other Handheld Vacuums Should You Consider?
If you can spend the extra money, the Black+Decker Flex Vac BDH2020FL offers a more balanced overall performance, allowing it to tackle different messes you might encounter around your home, including pet debris, an area of weakness for the Bissell AeroSlim.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise
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