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In 1982, the Eureka Mighty Mite debuted to accolades from adoring fans. Time named it one of the ten best product designs of the year, and customers snapped the little cleaners up as fast as the factory could make them.

Thirty years later, the Mighty Mite is a survivor. Though it has received some minor cosmetic updates and now sells for $89 ($60 on sale), it’s still the same straight suction, bagged canister design that debuted back when Happy Days was still on TV.

Its easy to see why not much has changed. When used as intended, the Mighty Mite is an excellent vacuum. As long as you don’t mind that it’s a little rough around the edges and keep it away from high pile carpet, it’ll deliver the same performance as similar units that cost five times as much.

Built tough, but doesn’t weigh a ton.

The bright Mighty Mite is made of hard, thick plastic, yet it only weighs just over nine pounds. While its hose and wand are of a thinner grade than units made in years past, it still feels extremely substantial. That said, it may have won design awards in the early ‘80s, but it’s not going to win any beauty contests today.

It may have won design awards in the early '80s, but it's not going to win any beauty contests today.

The brush head glides over wood floors and can be adjusted to roll over carpet. It’s not perfect, but it does the job. Unfortunately, on high carpet the whole setup slides around like a Ford Mustang wearing summer tires in an icy parking lot. By comparison, the Miele S2121 remains stable and feels like twice the vacuum of the Eureka; it’s also five times the price.

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Unfortunately, there’s no retractable cord on this machine. Instead, it must be wound up on two pegs beneath the canister. We bet that even the most conscientious cleaners will be tempted to bundle up the cord and toss it in the closet, unwound. Similarly, the plastic wand can only be extended by adding another piece—one that will surely get lost in the back of a closet after a few months of disuse.

The Mighty Mite’s bag setup is so simple, it almost works. Just sit the bag inside of the open canister, making sure that none of the corners of the bag are caught on the canister’s lip. Close the front of the machine, and you’re ready to go. When it’s time to change the bag, fold over a tab on the front of the bag and it will almost seal shut for disposal. It’s not as elegant as some of the self-sealing bags we’ve tested, but it does the trick better than a bagless machine—which will often leave a cloud of dust and dirt when they’re emptied.

If you’re planning on using the Mighty Mite as your only vacuum, you better only have hardwood and short carpets.

First, the bad news: A straight suction canister with no powered brushroll is just about useless on long carpet, unless you're talking about picking up debris. About 90 percent of the dirt we put down on our long carpet remained behind after cleaning, which is not the kind of performance we’d want to bring into our own homes.

However, we were truly impressed by what this little vacuum with the vintage design could do against 100 grams of varied, standardized dirt that we ground into a short carpet. Over three tests, the Mighty Mite sucked up over 94 percent of that dirt, leaving behind an almost pristine berber rug. It did even better on wood floors, picking up 98.4 percent of the dirt we put down. That’s as good as the $299 Miele S2121 Olympus we tested earlier this year. When it came to picking up debris, the Mighty Mite also did a good job, even on high carpet. It picked up nearly all the rice and noodles we dropped, but left behind some of the heavier coins.

The Mighty Mite wasn’t so mighty when it came to pet hair, though. Lots of it got stuck on the flat brush’s surface before the vacuum had a chance to work its magic. Eureka does make a version of this vacuum called the Pet Lover which includes a turbine brush and HEPA filter, and retails for around $20 more than the standard model. As of this writing, ee have not yet tested it.

Incredibly effective at getting dirt off floors and out of low-pile carpets.

It provided performance as good as vacuums that cost five times as much.

This straight-suction vacuum was designed for use on short carpets and hardwood floors, and that’s where it excels. On those tests, we found it provided performance as good as vacuums that cost five times as much. Short carpet, hardwood and debris pickup are all exceptional. There’s no powered brush, though, so forget about carpet, which needs a moving brushroll to agitate out the dirt.

As for noise, however, this little machine had quite the high-pitched whine to it. You'll know when it's turned on, as will nearby kids and pets.

This vacuum will strike fear in the hearts of dogs and small children.

77.4 decibels. That’s how loud it is if you’re standing on the side of a freeway. That's also how loud the Mighty Mite is inside your home. Even worse, the sound is a shrill, high-pitched whine, reminiscent of a dentist’s drill.

The Mighty Mite also continuously draws around 1160 watts. That’s high for a machine that doesn’t even have a brush to power.

Still a bargain 30 years later.

For thirty years, the Eureka Mighty Mite has been a household name for compact, straight suction canisters...assuming your household is fanatical about vacuum cleaners, that is. Found on sale for $60, the Mite certainly proved Mighty in our tests, outperforming vacuums that cost hundreds more. Just don’t try to use it on high carpet, and you’ll likely be impressed, too.

Meet the tester

Keith Barry

Keith Barry

Former Editor in Chief, Reviewed Home

@itskeithbarry

Keith was the Editor in Chief of Reviewed's appliance and automotive sites. His work has appeared in publications such as Wired, Car & Driver, and CityLab.

See all of Keith Barry's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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