A vacuum for ants
March 1, 2021 4:04 PM   Subscribe

I need to clean out some dirty formicariums. Keyboard vacuums look like they might either be too cheap or not have a tiny enough attachment to really get in there, "tiny vacuums" are correspondingly useless as a search term. What tiny little suction device can I get that will be strong enough to help me clear up the cruft? Also would enjoy finding tiny stiff little scrub brushes as well for this effort, surely people need those in some hobbies...
posted by foxfirefey to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
For the scrub brush, you can probably use the ones made for cleaning reusable straws, and you'll also find them in (automotive) detailing kits.

For vacuuming, you can make a paper extension for the crevice tool on your vacuum cleaner or hand vac. Try using a paper towel core first and see if that'll do it, if it's too thick try a heavier paper or thin cardboard like shirtboard.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:25 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]

I have altered a shop vac to fit in some tiny crevices using flexible tubing, a funnel, and a bunch of duct tape. If nothing comes up here, you should be able to kludge something together. A turkey baster might have the right diameter on either end to work better than a regular kitchen/shop funnel.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:25 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]

For tiny little scrub brushes, check out an aquarium hobbyist store. They should have tools for cleaning lots of finicky things. I have a set of flexible bottle brushes in a wide range of sizes from one such store that I got to clean tiny bud vases.
posted by Mizu at 4:28 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]

How tiny do you need?

If you search for "vacuum tweezers" you'll find the ones us electronics nerds use for placing sub-millimetre components on circuit boards.
posted by automatronic at 4:29 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]

Teeny tiny nylon brushes from American Science and Surplus
posted by smangosbubbles at 6:53 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]

Sewing supplies often have vacuum attachments for cleaning in the crevices of a sewing machine.

Though this thing from Home Depot should be the same. Goes down to finger size basically.

Any smaller, you'll need to make your own with duct tape and straws.
posted by kschang at 9:57 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]

Another place to find tiny scrub brushes is interdental brush picks.
posted by CathyG at 10:15 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]

When you say mini vacuum, is that a computer keyboard vacuum? I don't have one to recommend, just offering a search term.
posted by CathyG at 10:17 PM on March 1

You could go down the route of medical suction, which can have very small tubes and is used to get cruft out of ears - this is a UK link, but the user reviews suggest that it is effective for both sticky saliva and removing fleas and maggots from hedgehogs! Don't know how powerful the suction is though.
posted by Vortisaur at 1:02 AM on March 2

@Vortisaur -- Probably Zollner tubes connected to a pump? Like those show by Audiology Associates? Probably this one.

Come of think of it, they probably aren't much stronger than the computer keyboard vacuums.

There are those "pore cleaners" which are basically tiny vacuum for your face, if you need to go weaker. :)
posted by kschang at 7:12 AM on March 2

You can get micro sized accessory kits that attach to your normal vacuum cleaner hose (example).
posted by gennessee at 9:30 AM on March 8

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