Makita 18v BCL180W Handheld Vacuum – Our Suckiest Review Yet

makita bcl180w vacuum kitLet’s face it, construction, remodeling and home improvement is a dirty, dirty business. I can’t really seem to do much of anything in and around the house without making some sort of mess. Even if all I’m doing is hanging a picture, somehow there will be a pile of plaster dust and debris surrounding my work area when I’m done. These little messes sometimes don’t get quite as clean as they should (meaning I don’t clean them at all), because the thought of hauling out a vacuum cleaner sends a shiver down my spine. Not surprisingly, this usually does not score me points with my wife. On a totally random aside, I’ve found that points scored with spouses expire instantly and are almost never redeemable anyway. Perhaps after a few too many messes around the house, Makita recognized a need for something a little more powerful than a dustpan/brush combo and developed their 18v BCL180W Vacuum. It turns out, it’s not only great for homeowners, but it’s also great for contractors that take a little pride in their service (and like to score a few bonus points of their own with their clients).

makita vacuum filter before testing

The Makita BCL180W filter before testing

Makita sent us their BCL180W Vacuum Kit, and we promptly put it into the hands of one of our pro tradesman friends for a full review. Paul is co-owner of Sundown Blinds and he and his crew regularly use Makita 18v tools during their custom blinds installations. Using the BCL180W 18v vac meant they didn’t have to schlep along either a bulky corded vac, which Paul hates, or another cordless option with a different battery and charger system. The same battery that powers their drills can now power their cleanup, and vice-versa, all without bulking up their tool kit.

makita vacuum dirty filter

Suction so effective you'll need to keep small pets away. No kittens or puppies were harmed during the review of the Makita 18v Vac

Accustomed to plug-in vacs, the first time Paul held the vacuum up against his hand he wasn’t exactly blown away by the apparent suction. But it didn’t take long for Paul to be smitten. The first time they tested it on their office floor it picked up stubborn dirt that their regular vacuum had been missing for months. “It works so well that we spend more time cleaning the filter than anything else.” said Paul “And, the size and weight make it super easy to use. The fact that it is cordless makes all the difference.”

As a contractor, the last thing you want to do is go in for one job, and then screw up something else unrelated to the job you were hired for. Paul appreciated that the floor cleaning head has rollers and a squeegee that help it glide across carpet and hardwood floor easily. “All our other vacuums have floor adapters with just open “T” fittings.” said Paul. “These stick and scratch hardwood floors and don’t clean carpet easily.” The people that designed those bare t fittings for vacuums clearly did not have hardwood floors they cared about, nor did they run a business that cared much about client satisfaction. Cheaper vacuum fittings are like using a paint scraper to clean dirt off your floor. Happily, the Makita floor attachment makes for clean floors without unwanted scraping.

makita 18v vac trigger

We would have liked a trigger lock-on feature here

When pressed for negatives, Paul wished for a trigger “lock on” option and an eternal battery life. The latter was helped by using larger 18v batteries Paul already had from some of his other Makita tools. Other than that, Paul is thinking about quitting the blind installation business and starting a spot-vacuuming service, solely with the Makita vac. Actually, I totally made that up, but he does love the vac for his existing business. Aside from finding the Makita 18v Vacuum ridiculously convenient thanks to its cordless 18v flexibility, Paul also found some unexpected benefits:

how HomeFixated rolls with Makita

Paul (right) Brandishing the Makita 18v Vac pre-review

Our customers are surveyed about the quality of their installations and one of the questions is “did your installer clean the work area to your satisfaction?” for the last several months before getting the Makita 18v vacuum, our score has been between 82%-86%. The last 2 surveys [with the Makita vac] our scores have moved to 94% on one and the latest was 100%. So thanks to a strong and convenient cordless vacuum option which my crew is more likely to use effectively, our customers are already recognizing our cleaning efforts more. The Makita BCL180W vacuum kit has been a great addition to our installation tool kit.

makita 18v battery

We swapped this included battery with a higher capacity Makita 18v

The Makita BCL180W vacuum also scored impressively in this Popular Mechanics Handheld Vacuum Faceoff, where their battery life lasted impressively under PM lab test conditions.

The only thing I can hope for now is that my wife doesn’t read this review. If she does, the next thing you know I’ll need to start scoring in the 90th percentile for spousal cleanliness after DIY projects. That’s a lot of pressure, the kind of pressure that I don’t need. You can pick up the Makita BCL180W 18-Volt Compact Lithium-Ion Cordless Vacuum Kit for about $160 on Amazon. Just stay clear of any kittens or puppies, OK?


  1. J. rainwater says:

    My wife wanted this vac and it is my (our) 5th 18v Makita tool. We use it so much in our house (mainly kitchen and on Living Room wood floors) that I ended up moving my charger base from my garage space into the laundry room for my wife to have easier access for battery changes.

    It could only be improved with a trigger locking mechanism because it is so light that you can run it continuously until the battery discharges (15+ minutes) which can exhaust your trigger finger. I would also like a flex hose for it and a nozzle with soft bristles for vacuuming dust from blinds and such.

    Definitely a great product.

  2. Bryan McDonald says:

    I own on of this Handheld Vacuum .. and let me tell you i love it..

  3. Jane McCafferty says:

    Ha — that picture of the pet hair is great. I have not taken a look at this one yet, but I may have to now. Great write-up.

  4. Wow loved the article from popular mechanics, and you can use batteries of other Makita tools makes this a winner for a DIYer 😀

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