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There is a specific cohort of adults who remember the furtive thrill when, on MTV’s dating show Room Raiders, the contestant retrieved the black light flashlight to scan the room for “substances.” Now that we are all grown-ups, we know that black lights are used to identify a wide variety of materials, like blood splatter if you’re a detective on a cop show, or pet messes on the carpet if you’re an average human. They may have been a fun accessory for an after-school show, but these days, the best black light flashlights are a useful tool to have on-hand to keep your house clean and germ-free.
What Are Black Light Flashlights?
The best black light flashlights are useful for identifying a wide variety of things and are a good addition to your basic household toolkit.
If you have a pet who has occasional accidents, for example, a black light helps identify stains that have faded into the carpet that you don’t even know is there. The latest black light flashlights are useful for identifying counterfeit money, turning up pests, rodents or mites, and also detecting soiled bedding, furniture or rugs. Professional cleaners and home inspectors use black light flashlights to look for leaks and cracks in the wall that may be undetectable to the naked eye. And many people also use a black light flashlight in hotel rooms, to look for signs of bed bugs and to make sure the room is as clean as the front desk claims.
The major differences between one black light flashlight and another is mostly in the strength of the UV (ultraviolet) light the flashlight emits. There are also florescent and LED options, with LED bulbs tending to be more efficient and long-lasting. You can also choose between battery-operated and screw-in bulb flashlight options.
For home use, most basic UV flashlights will serve your purposes, and we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites based on functionality, brightness and ease of use.
1. KOBRA UV Black Light Flashlight
This KOBRA UV Flashlight tops the list when it comes to effective black light flashlights. There’s a good reason for that too, namely the strength of its UV light. Powered by 100 tiny LED bulbs and with 18 watts of power, the flashlight can pick out everything from dust mites to leaks.
According to the brand, the flashlight is effective even in ambient light and has a 25-foot beam distance in darkness. Additionally, it is suitable for commercial use, including in law enforcement or hotels.
As for the basics: it uses LED lights, it’s battery-operated, and has a comfortable heft and textured grip which we really like. Get up to 20 hours of use on six AA batteries, and a bulb life of more than 100,000 hours.
Pros: Powerful UV beams, useful for practically all purposes.
Cons: Uses up batteries quickly.
2. Escolite UV Flashlight Black Light
The Escolite flashlight includes many of the same features we like in the KOBRA model, though in a slightly smaller, more portable size. Measuring 7.6 inches long, the Escolite black light flashlight is battery-operated (runs on three AA batteries), with enhanced LED bulbs that are 30 percent brighter than regular lights. The durable construction means you don’t have to worry about the flashlight falling apart if you accidentally bump or drop it.
This black light flashlight is highly-effective for all household uses (even if you won’t like what you’re going to discover on your carpets). It can be used to suss out stains, detect pet messes and even track rodents and bugs. One caveat: don’t expect the same results if your carpets are dark.
Pros: Practical and portable.
Cons: Won’t work as well in ambient light or if your carpets are too dark. Only has 51 LED bulbs so not as bright as other models on this list.
3. TaoTronics Black Light
The TaoTronics black light is our pick for a small flashlight you can carry around at all times — though you may be surprised by what you find.
It can be used to identify the same messes and hidden substances other black lights do, but because it’s so small it’s also a favorite for bouncers or storeowners checking for fake IDs or counterfeit cash. The mini black light flashlight is also useful for taking with you on home inspections, when traveling in hotel rooms, and to keep in your car to identify things at night.
At just three inches long, it’s the most portable unit on our list. Runs on three AAA batteries.
Pros: Compact size, LED lifespan of up to 15 years.
Cons: Only 12 LED lights; if you’re looking for something brighter and more heavy duty, we’d recommend a more powerful model.
4. Vansky UV Flashlight Black Light
Another good small-scale pick, we like the Vansky black light flashlight for all-purpose inspection, especially if you’re outdoors. The rugged construction means it’ll hold up to most conditions without losing effectiveness.
If you’re looking for something small enough to stash in the car or a bag, or need a flashlight that’s a little more discreet to use, this is a solid option. It doubles as a great reading flashlight for camping as well.
The light has 51 LED bulbs that project a strong and consistent beam, even at night. Like our other picks, it is battery operated and runs on three AA batteries.
Pros: Durable and long-lasting.
Cons: The darker it is, the better it works.