A compact vacuum cleaner is a small vacuum used for cleaning in smaller spaces; usually, one will not use this type of vacuum to clean an entire house, because it would take too long. Cleaning a small apartment or even just cleaning upholstery and window coverings, however, is often made much easier with a compact vacuum cleaner. Some of them plug into an outlet, while others are actually cordless and operate on their own.
The most common type of compact vacuum cleaner is a small hand held vacuum, which comes in corded and cordless varieties. This may or may not have a rotating brushroll; a rotating brushroll makes the vacuum better at picking up dirt from carpeting, but it can also make the vacuum too harsh for upholstery or delicate window fabrics. This type of vacuum is a great choice for cleaning stairs, or for picking up small messes, such as spills of dirt or pet food. Remember not to use this type of vacuum for cleaning any wet messes unless it is specifically intended to do so.
Another type of compact vacuum cleaner is a cordless, automatic vacuum cleaner. These vacuums may be taken off the base and placed on the floor, where they will then automatically rotate and spin around the room, vacuuming as they go. These are small, flat, circular vacuums that tend to be fairly expensive, but they are convenient because they can generally vacuum an entire floor of a home while one is gone for work for the day.
The term "compact vacuum cleaner" may also refer to a small upright vacuum cleaner. These are designed like traditional vacuums, but may be slightly less powered. They are much lighter, generally have shorter cords, and are typically intended for apartments or small home living. These may be sometimes referred to as light vacuums, instead of compact vacuums, however.
Finally, some compact vacuum cleaners are specifically designed with pets in mind. These are often wet/dry vacuums, which may be used to shampoo and deep clean a carpet as well as vacuum small messes. Wet/dry vacuums for use in a workshop or garage are designed to be much hardier than other vacuums, often featuring filters to allow them to vacuum up sawdust or other types of debris without damaging the vacuum. Again, these are designed to be small and portable, making them easy to transport around the garage as needed; these vacuums are generally far too noisy and powerful to be used indoors.