Vacuums

Eureka Optima 431F Review

The Eureka Optima 431F may be tiny, but... but nothing. It's just tiny.

Credit:

By clicking one of our links you're supporting our labs and our independence, as we may earn a small share of revenue. Recommendations are separate from any business incentives.

Introduction

The Eureka Optima 431F is a well-designed, attractive, and compact vacuum that sells for $60. Unfortunately, it failed at every one of our performance tests. If you thought this tiny upright could do as good a job as a full-size unit, clear out some space in your closet: you’re going to need a bigger vacuum.

Design & Usability

Despite its flaws, the 431F feels well-built and well designed. It’s easy to carry and store, but hard to push across deep carpets.

The Optima 431F is a true Mini-Me version of a full-size upright vacuum. Nobody at Eureka reinvented the wheel here—they simply shrunk it down, complete with smaller buttons, narrower hose, little filter, and tiny dirt cup. Its circular handle is quite comfortable, and slides into the body for storage. Unfortunately, the small wheels and lack of a carpet height adjuster mean this vac easily gets bogged down on carpets.

The whole getup weighs 12.76 lbs., a full pound and three quarters more than the box claims.

A three-position rocker switch controls whether the vacuum is on or off, and whether the brushroll is powered. A separate switch swaps suction between the floor cleaner and an extension hose, the latter of which connects to either an upholstery brush or a crevice tool. No other tools come with the vacuum. A 20-foot cord doesn’t automatically retract, and must be rewound manually on two posts at the back. The whole getup weighs 12.76 lbs., a full pound and three quarters more than the box claims.

The dirt holder detaches from the cleaner with the touch of a button. To empty it, one must twist the top open and turn the dirt holder over. Make sure to do this over a trash can because dust will inevitably fall out—most of it concentrated in a small ridge on a plastic ring at the base of the filter, dropping only after you bang the filter with the ball of your hand a few times.

Features & Performance

Adequate performance cleaning wood floors, but just couldn’t handle pet hair or carpet

We'd recommend something more convenient—like a cordless broom.

The Eureka Optima 431F utterly failed all our carpet cleaning tests. Unless you’ve got tile and hardwood all over your home, with not a thread of rug in sight, this vac will inevitably disappoint. It might be a good choice for a quick kitchen cleanup, but it had trouble getting larger pieces of debris. If you're going to get something smaller than a full-size, we'd at least recommend something more convenient—like a cordless broom. Oh, and if you think you're saving heaps and heaps of energy, think something else. For such a small vacuum, the 431F sure uses a lot of electricity, and makes a lot of noise. In fact, it drew as much energy, and got as loud as a full-size cleaner!

Conclusion

Almost a toy, but a lot less fun

If your American Girl doll needs a new vacuum, this is it: A miniature, lifelike replica of an everyday upright.

It’s such a convincing copy that one could almost be forgiven for thinking it’s a real cleaning tool. Disappointingly, it costs $60 and barely moved as much dirt as a well-wielded carpet sweeper.

Science Introduction

Fibber McGee. Oscar the Grouch. Oscar Madison. This is a partial list of folks who would appreciate the 431F’s lack of cleaning prowess. Most people looking to clean their home should look elsewhere, as the poor Eureka ignored most of the dirt we put down on carpets — though it did do an adequate job on wood floors.

Dirt & Debris Cleaning

Stick to hardwood floors and small debris.

Each time we test a vacuum’s performance on carpet, we first put down 100g of test dirt. More than 94g of dirt remained when the Optima was through on our long carpet test. It’s almost as if we didn’t even vacuum. On short carpet it did a little better—picking up 12% of the dirt we put down—but not well enough for us to recommend it. Only on wood floors did the Eureka Optima 431F perform fairly well, picking up 82%.

It also did poorly on our pet hair test. Most of the hair we put down got blown around by the powered brushroll, the rest ending up stuck on the roller or clogged in the filter. In our debris pickup tests, the vacuum had real trouble with larger items, picking up none of the coins we put down. On carpet, it had trouble with large, dried pasta pieces. However, on both wood floors and carpet, it cleaned up nearly all the rice we left.

Noise & Energy

Unexpectedly loud and hungry for its size

We measured the high-pitched whine emanating from this cleaner at 77.83 decibels. That’s above average, and among the highest we’ve seen for a compact. As far as energy consumption is concerned, with the brushroll turned on, the 431F used a whopping 1345 watts. With its subpar carpet cleaning performance, one could argue that all of it was a waste of energy.