Our In-Depth Review
Even though the vacuum is made of mostly thin plastic and is lightweight, it feels fairly sturdy. Many parts are attached and secured by screws for added strength.
The Featherlite works great on carpet and has on-board attachments that connect at the hose or the extension wand to assist you in simple cleaning jobs.
Using the Featherlite on hard surface flooring was a disappointing experience.
We had to run the vacuum over our fine particles many times to get it to pick them up and it spit our medium particles across the room.
In fact, the vacuum performed so poorly with our medium particle test we had to clean up after testing with a broom.
The Dirt Devil Featherlite vacuum uses a paper bag as its filtration system, which also functions as the dirt collection.
There is also one washable filter located at the bottom of the bag chamber.
While some dirt does escape the bag opening when you remove the bag, it was considerably less than what we see while emptying the dirt cup on most bagless vacuums.
Additionally, since the bag acts as the main filter and is replaced on a regular basis, you don’t have to worry about cleaning out a bunch of filters and the process of changing the bag is much cleaner than dealing with dirt cups and filters on a bagless vacuum.
Performance: Using the Dirt Devil Featherlite MO85590 Vacuum
The Featherlite vacuum is a basic machine without many features. It did a fine job cleaning carpets, stairs and anything that you would use an attachment for. However, the vacuum did a poor job on hard surface flooring.
The vacuum’s height is self-adjusting which is nice for going between carpets of different heights, but did little to improve the performance on bare floors.
Performance on Carpets
The Dirt Devil Featherlite MO85590 was easy to navigate on carpets. Because the vacuum is so light, it glided across the floor with little effort. We tested the vacuum’s cleaning capabilities by sucking up various sized particles.
We used flour as our fine particle and threw it on the carpet. We then used the Featherlite to suck up the flour. The vacuum effortlessly cleaned all the visible flour with just one pass of the vacuum.
Next, we dispersed rice onto the carpet to test the vacuum on medium particles. Again, the vacuum cleaned all the rice up in one pass.
For large particles we used dry black-eyed peas. These really stretched the vacuum’s ability and it took three passes to pick up all the peas. However, for as large and solid as the peas were, we applaud the vacuum for getting them all with just a little extra effort.
Performance on Rugs
When we used the vacuum on lighter rugs, they did bunch slightly from the power of the suction. Because the suction power is not adjustable, we would advise not using this vacuum on light rugs. It did a fine job cleaning medium to heavy rugs.
Performance on Hard Floors
We really liked this feature because it allows you to continue from one flooring surface to another without having to pause or give it a second thought.
We began our test on bare floors by using flour as a fine particle. The vacuum had to be run across the flour ten to fifteen times to clean it all up.
It did such a poor job, the space that had to be cleaned again as we were testing as a result of the vacuum blowing flour around outside of the testing area.
Next, we put rice on the floor to test how the vacuum handles medium particles. The vacuum picked up less than half of the rice shooting the other half in all directions. We found rice as far as five feet away from where we were testing.
Using black-eyed peas, we tested its performance handling large particles. We were surprised to find that the vacuum seemed to do the best job picking up the beans. It didn’t get them all on the first pass, but it also didn’t throw them across the room.
The Featherlite claims to have the ability to clean bare floors. However, we had to get out our broom to clean up the mess this vacuum left behind.
When we used the vacuum on carpet, it was able to get dirt located right up to the edge. However, we needed to use the crevice tool to pick up the debris left behind on the hard surface flooring.
Many vacuums require additional assistance in cleaning tight edges since the base prevents the vacuum from getting close enough to the wall to get all debris. On the Featherlite, the crevice tool is easy to attach and did a great job of cleaning along the edges of our flooring.
We tested the suction strength of the vacuum by using a water lift gauge. Water lift is the measurement used to show the strength of suction that the motor produces.
Our gauge showed us that the vacuums strength was 60 inches of water lift. The average full-sized vacuum has 70 inches of water lift. Essentially, this really means that the suction strength on this vacuum is below average.
Attachments / Onboard Tools
The Featherlite comes with three on-board attachments. It has a crevice tool, a brush tool and an extension wand. All tools are stored in the tool caddy that is screwed into the back of the vacuum at the base of the handle.
One nice thing about the tool location is that they all fit firmly and nothing will fall out during cleaning. The crevice and brush tools attach to the hose and extension wand for diverse cleaning jobs.
The crevice tool measures 8 inches long and has a 1/2 inch opening at the top. Because it is not very long, tackling jobs like getting between car seats or other deep crevices would be difficult. It was very useful in cleaning edges.
The brush tool clips very firmly into the tool caddy and measures 3 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches tall. The bristles are a medium firmness so it is a little more versatile than a very stiff or very soft brush. The brush tool can be used for jobs like stairs and furnishings.
The wand slides into thick plastic rings on the back of the vacuum. Its measures 19 1/4 inches long. While it will provide you with some extra height when cleaning, this wand is shorter than wands on many vacuums and may be limiting in what you can reach while cleaning.
The filtration system on this vacuum consists of a paper bag and filter pad. To replace the MicroFresh bag is a little over $2 a piece. The MircoFresh bag claims that it will trap over 99% of dust and allergens.
You can also purchase regular U style bags for this vacuum costing under .85 cents apiece. However, be aware that they are more porous and will allow more dust and allergens to escape. We used the MicroFresh bag in our tests.
When we tested the vacuums emission using our airborne particle scanner, we got a reading averaging 1.25 per cubic foot. This isn’t bad, especially for a cheaper vacuum that doesn’t claim to have a HEPA filtration.
However, be aware that particles are being released back into the air when using this vacuum so it is not ideal for allergy sufferers.
Ease of Use
If your cleaning needs are simple and you are looking for a vacuum that does well on carpets, is easy to maneuver and won’t break the bank, this little red machine is a great one to check out. However, if you want a vacuum that truly handles all floor surfaces, desire more bells and whistles and want something that will last for two or more years, this is not the vacuum for you.
You will need to screw the tool caddy, bottom cord wrap, hand base and vacuum base into place.
All other pieces snap or slide into place easily. The assembly directions in the manual are very clear and easy to follow.
The Dirt Devil Featherlite is indeed feather like when in use. It was very easy to slide across carpets, but the base is heavy enough that it does not skip across the floor giving you a smooth experience.
The plastic wheels are small and thin which causes no issues on carpet flooring, but is something to be aware of on tile flooring where the grout can cause smaller, thin wheels to bump along.
Also, you will need to depress the handle release button a second time for the vacuum to lie back for cleaning under furnishings. Even with the vacuum fully reclined, it does not lay all the way to the floor and the base is taller so getting in spaces with low clearance will be a problem.
The vacuum handle grip is not adjustable and it the only carrying handle on the machine. If you are short in stature, the machine could be very inconvenient and difficult to transport.
At 44 inches tall, the handle grip could also be uncomfortable to use for extended periods of time for someone who is over 6 ft tall.
Ease of Use on Stairs
We would have preferred some sort of carrying handle to make this job easier, but as small and light as the vacuum was, it was manageable to hold with one hand while vacuuming with the other.
Cord management and Length
The cord is stored along the side of the vacuum wrapping around at the top and bottom of the body of the machine. The top cord wrap flips down for a quick cord release. At 25ft long, the cord is long enough to vacuum more than one room at a time without having to stop and switch plugs.
Just below the handle grip there is a cord guide. The power cord clips into this guide to help it stay out of your way while using the vacuum. Wrapping the cord around the cord wraps will require you to reach almost to the floor.
Hose Management and Length
The 60 inch hose is molded and does not stretch. The hose loops across the back of the vacuum and plugs into the side of the base of the vacuum. Because the hose is secured with clips, it does a decent job staying out of the way.
The hose plugs into the base of the vacuum and the base has a little door that snaps shut to cover the opening when the hose is not plugged in.
This is a nice feature to keep dirt from getting into or out of the base while using the hose elsewhere. To disconnect the hose from the base, you will need to reach or bend close to the floor.
The Featherlite was designed to easily change between vacuuming hard floors and carpets of various lengths. This machine boasts about its ability to automatically adjustment its height so you don’t have to yourself when moving between types of flooring.
It’s hard to tell how effective this feature actually is and if it contributed to the vacuum’s inability to clean hard surface flooring well, but we really liked the concept.
This vacuum seemed very loud to us. However, when we used our decibel reader to test the vacuum’s levels, we were surprised to find that it measured at an average of 99.6 dB, which is not nearly as loud as it sounded.
The higher pitch of the vacuum could contribute to how loud it sounds. We were not able to talk above the noise without yelling.
The filter pad is located at the bottom of the bag chamber and simply slides out when the front cover of the chamber panel is removed. This filter is reusable and can be cleaned by brushing or shaking the filter.
Changing the Paper Bag
Our only objection to this system is that some dirt is released into the air when you disconnect the bag, but otherwise, changing the bag is very easy and clean.
Other than that, the manufacturer recommends changing the belt every few months and removing hair from the brushroll. A Phillips screwdriver will be required to do both.
Value For Money
The Dirt Devil Featherlite upright vacuum cleaner won’t do it all, but it doesn’t claim to. We strongly disagree with the claim that it has the ability to clean hard surface flooring and would not use it to do so.
The vacuum was very simple and easy to use. It has low maintenance costs. While there are more expensive vacuums that will do a far superior job at cleaning carpets, at this price, we were pleased with the machine’s ability.
Costing between $45-$70, this basic vacuum cleaner will do a good job of cleaning your carpets and meeting very basic cleaning needs. The cost of maintenance is low and the bags are cheap to replace. This isn’t a vacuum that will last you long-term, but at this price point, it met our expectations.
Final Vacuum Verdict
The Dirt Devil Featherlite MO85590 is a nifty little vacuum that does a fine job on carpets, but performs horribly on bare floors. It is very basic and functional.
This vacuum is worth the price for someone wanting a very economical vacuum for carpets. The materials are on the cheaper side, but the vacuum seems fairly sturdy.
We recommend this vacuum for someone who is not ready to make an investment in a vacuum and needs something that will get them by for a few years. We also recommend that they have 100% carpet in their home or plan on using a broom for their hard surface flooring.
Also, this vacuum isn’t for someone wanting a vacuum that will do it all. It’s basic and practical, but without all the fancy features, there is less that will break and need to be serviced. Additionally, we do not advise this vacuum for someone who has difficulty bending down, carrying something slightly awkward or is shorter.