If you’re looking for a handheld vacuum cleaner, and you’re trying to strike the perfect balancing point between not wasting your money on cheap tat while not wanting to spend silly money on what is, after all, simply a handheld hoover, the Shark CH950UKT Handvac Pet Vacuum Cleaner may be exactly what you were looking for, for reasons that will become clear by the time you’ve finished reading this short article.

So we’re reviewing the Shark CH950UKT Handvac Pet Vacuum Cleaner here, so it’s probably worth pointing out that we’re not advocating keeping vacuum cleaners as pets.

Having said that, I do refer to our robo vacuum cleaner as “spud”, then again my wife and I have a thing for naming inanimate objects and wildlife. We have a woodpigeon who visits our feeder who we call Ozzy, not because it has round tinted shades and coos “Sharon”, that would be very odd, but because it somehow just reminds us of him in the way it moves its head.

We also have a pair of Rooks in the garden called Gordon and Gertrude, although I have no idea why we call them that! Anyway, the pet part simply refers to the fact that the CH950UKT has a mini motorised brush which is what is usually referred to as “pet tools” for their ability to dig into fibres to retrieve pet hair.

It’s very easy to get caught out these days with very cheap electrical products at prices that would appear to be far too good to be true, and unfortunately, if it seems to be too good to be true, it usually is.

Some of the very cheap handheld vacuum cleaners are lacking in suction power, the build quality can be hit and miss as can their reliability, and it’s unlikely you’ll get a decent manufacturer’s guarantee as you tend to with the well-known brands.

You could go to the other extreme and spend a lot of money on a handheld vacuum to be certain you’re going to get something that does the job, for example, the Gtech handheld has brilliant suction power, it ticks all of the boxes you could have for a handheld,  but it’s going to cost you about 3 times as much as the Shark CH950UKT handheld vacuum cleaner.

There are very low cost seemingly great value for money full-sized vacuum cleaners too, where the marketing blurb needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt, which is why we usually recommend going for known brands, but there do seem to be quite an abundance of this kind of very low cost non-branded (or at least unknown brands) handheld vacuums, usually made in China and available on Amazon.

Talking of full-sized hoovers, it is worth keeping in mind that many standard vacuum cleaners these days double up as a handheld by just unclipping the top to convert it, although this can often be a pain as they don’t sit on the work surface and you end up having to dig into the cupboard when you keep the main hoover, detach the handheld part from the main body and then go back into the kitchen just to hoover up some sugar or ground coffee, etc.

If you don’t want that hassle or your hoover doesn’t convert into a handheld then its worth spending a few pounds more for a handheld that sits nicely on the work surface and has a level of suction power that would do justice to some of the cheaper full-size hoovers.

What makes a good handheld vacuum cleaner?

There are a number of key things to look out for when deciding what handheld hoover is best suited for your needs:

Battery Life

This isn’t usually quite as important for handheld vacuum cleaners as it is for standard vacuum cleaners, because most people tend to use handheld vacuums for small spillages and for quicker vacuuming tasks such as hoovering the sandy car after a trip to the beach, but it’s a consideration nevertheless, especially with a handheld vacuum cleaner like this one which has a pet tool which would make it a good lightweight option for hoovering stairs.

With low-quality cheaper options it’s quite common for the suction power to start dropping off after about half of the advertised battery life. There are cordless vacuum cleaners  with a quoted battery life of 20-30 minutes, which is more like 10-20 minutes in truth, but with only 5-10 minutes at a suction power that is actually worth using, and that’s if the suction power is worth using at all.

With the Shark CH950UKT Handvac, Shark is very clear that you’ll get up to 10 minutes of cleaning from one charge, but you’ll get solid cleaning power for this time, due to the No-fade Lithium-ion battery that they’ve put with this model. 10 minutes is plenty of cleaning time for most of the tasks you’d be using a handheld for. Even if you’re planning on using this cordless vacuum with the motorised pet tool, 10 minutes would usually be plenty of time to vacuum the stairs, unless you live at the top of the Eiffel tower maybe?

Suction Power

Suction power, or lack thereof, is one of the main gripes you’ll find about cheaper handheld vacuum cleaners if you trawl through the reviews. Suction power is just as important for a handheld as it is for a full-sized hoover, the only difference between handheld and standard-sized vacuum cleaners in terms of the way we use them, is that we usually use them for smaller cleaning tasks. So we don’t need the cleaning power to last as long, but while we’re using them we still need them to have ample grunt to get the job done.

The suction power of the Shark Handvac is impressive, and this is a recurring theme throughout the thousands of Amazon reviews, people are generally very impressed with the suction power. The high-efficiency motor delivers plenty of power especially in combination with the powered pet tool.

Cleaning Performance

Suction power isn’t everything of course, the main consideration is overall cleaning performance, and even if you can find a cheap handheld vacuum which appears to have decent suction, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be able to deliver impressive cleaning performance.

It really depends on what you’re cleaning, for example, if you’re simply hoovering up a pile of ground coffee, sugar, or maybe if you’re a really healthy eater (like me, obviously) maybe chia seeds & pumpkin seeds that you spilled while making your morning power smoothie, then suction power alone will usually get the job done.

If you’re looking for more versatility from a handheld, though, for example being able to do a great job of getting the sofa looking brand new or expunging dog hair from the back seats, the combination of the suction power and the motorised brush delivers really good, versatile handheld hoovering.

The only slight downside to the Shark CH950UKT, if I’m being picky, is that it doesn’t include one of Shark’s best features where pets are concerned, which is the Anti Hair Wrap feature. If you have shorter haired pets this probably won’t be an issue, but if you have long-haired pets or family members, you may have to carry out the often abhorred task of cutting away hair wrapped around the roller.

I think it’s a shame they don’t include this but Shark doesn’t currently include this feature in any of their handhelds, and the lowest-cost cordless stick from Shark which does double as a handheld and allows you to use the motorised tool in handheld mode are the IZ201 & IZ251.

Accessories

I would usually expect to get a crevice tool and a brush nozzle with a handheld hoover. The crevice tool is for getting into narrow hard to access areas, such as down the side of the sofa (so you don’t have to dig down there with your fingers, yuck, although you might find a pound coin, yay) and the brush nozzle is a dusting accessory for the more delicate areas like curtains or lampshades.

You get both of these with the Shark CH950UKT handvac, but as I’ve mentioned a few times now, you also get the mini motorised pet tool which has its own brush that spins independently, digging into carpet fibres and delivering amplified cleaning power when combined with the more than adequate suction power that this handheld hoover provides.

It’s really quite rare to get a motorised brush on such a low cost cordless handheld, and this is one of the main reasons I’m so impressed with the Shark handvac.

Ease Of Use

While using any handheld vacuum cleaner is going to be pretty easy, just a case of turning it on, cleaning, and then turning it off again, there are some ways in which the cheapest handheld vacuums can be a pain to use, and it’s not so much about being complex to use, but more about being awkward and finicky.

Removing the cover to empty, and then managing to get all of the dirt & dust out of the hoover for example can be a real pain with some of these handhelds, changing the attachments in some cases can be slightly fiddly. With some of them you have to be careful how you hold them so that the dirt you’ve just vacuumed doesn’t just fall back out of the hoover onto the floor, and there are various little quirks that can make the cheapest handheld vacuum cleaners generally just a bit bothersome to use.

The Shark handvac is made to be really easy to use, and to deliver a decent all-around user experience. This is one of the benefits of investing in a known brand, they’re not just going to slap something together and chuck it on the market because they know that if they put a particular product on the market at a certain price, it’ll sell.

If they did this, they’d weaken their brand due to people having a poor experience with their products and vowing never to buy another Shark.

Instead of having to wrestle the front cover off as is often the case, emptying the bagless waste bin is a case of holding it over a bin and pressing the button on the side. The accessories really simply slide on and off, and to charge it you simply plug it in as you would when charging your phone.

Cost / Value for money

Cost and value for money are linked, but they’re not one and the same, and this is the easiest mistake to make when buying something like this where there are so many very low-cost options that can make the mid-range product look comparatively expensive.

The problem is that while the cost of a product is obvious, the value of the product isn’t, when it comes to electrical products, as all you have to go off is the retailer’s blurb, the writers of which are often better at creating alternative realities than J.K. Rowling & George R. R. Martin put together!

Let’s imagine there were two apples on a shelf, same weight, same freshness, same type, same price. You’d obviously pick the cheapest one, as they both obviously have the same value, so spending more money on either of them would mean you’d get less value for money.

But if the two apples were clearly very different, one was wrinkly and bruised, probably one to be cut up for the blackbirds and even they may turn their beaks up at it, and one was lovely and fresh, the value of both apples is very clear. The value of a handheld hoover isn’t necessarily all that obvious, so a bit more research is required – and of course that’s what you’re doing here reading this review of the Shark CH950UKT.

Given the fact that the Shark Handvac is only £10-£20 more than the majority of the “run of the mill” cheap handheld vacuum cleaners, and the benefits that come with going for a trusted brand who have spent decades and achieving this and aren’t going to risk that to make a fast buck, I think the value for money here is very, very good.

It’s a well-built and lightweight handheld with decent suction power, a mini-powered brush roller, it has a No-fade Lithium-ion battery to prevent the power from sloping off the longer you use it for, it’s fast and easy to empty and to change the tools, and over all I think it delivers great value for money at this price.

Here is a good video of the Shark CH950UKT pet handheld hoover being taken through its paces:

Verdict

If you’re looking for a small, lightweight cordless vacuum cleaner but you don’t want to fall down the age-old trap of buying wrong and having to buy twice, this is an excellent value for money cordless vacuum from one of the best vacuum cleaner brands.

There are many cheap cordless vacuum cleaners that are the equivalent of a few pints cheaper than the Shark Handvac, but these can often represent the worst value for money when their overall cleaning power and how long they’re likely to last for are taken into account.

On the flipside, there are many much more expensive “all singing, all dancing” top of the range handheld vacuum cleaners that can be false economy when you calculate how many of their pricey features you actually need. The sweet spot is the area between these two extremes, where you’re investing enough to ensure you’re going to get the cleaning performance you require from a handheld without wasting money on bells and whistles that you just don’t need. Shark have hit that sweet spot, bang on, with the CH950UKT.

Well made, easy to use, great suction combined with the motorised brush roller from a trusted brand at a great price for a quality product.