The messes you can’t see are often the most odious. Those times when you come home and can’t detect the origin of that odd odor can send you into a cleaning frenzy. One of the most unexpected cleaning tools you can have in your arsenal is something you might associate more with raves and haunted houses, and that’s a UV flashlight black light. A UV flashlight black light can help you detect all sorts of messes you can’t see, allowing you to properly clean trouble areas. Just make sure you brace yourself for what you might find.
There are natural and manmade items that are fluorescent, also called phosphors — these glow under a black light because they absorb and reflect the ultraviolet light back at you. Antifreeze, some rocks and minerals, tonic water and even olive oil emit some light under a black light.
One fact you may not have known about black lights is that the distinctive blueish purple glow doesn’t actually come from the UV light. That’s an additional filter that’s added to the bulb of black lights. This helps block out unwanted visible light that can come from the bulb and overpower the luminescence (this filter also has the added benefit of making it look cool).
When living organisms emit light, that’s known as bioluminescence. You might associate bioluminescence with animals that live in water, such as jellyfish. But you might not have realized that scorpions glow under a black light, too — this can be helpful if you live somewhere where scorpion infestations might happen.
Of course, the wide number of things that glow under a black light means that the practical applications of a black light go far beyond cleaning and partying. Higher value banknotes are marked with luminescent strips, including US 20 dollar bills (new 100 dollar bills are not included). That means that a black light can be a handy thing to keep around to quickly authenticate bills. Modern IDs are printed with a luminescent image too, so having a UV flashlight is great if you’re a doorman at a bar.
Since some coolants have phosphors added (like the aforementioned antifreeze) you can use a black light to potentially detect leaks. And if that’s all terribly dull, just get one of these for your next party to show off your glowing gin and tonics.
These are the best UV flashlight black lights to get, including lightweight pen-sized tools and larger, full-sized flashlights.
1. Vansky Flashlight Black Light
If you’re looking for something bright and powerful, consider this flashlight from Vansky. It has a narrow metal grip with a knurled texture, making it easy to hold. But the head of the flashlight is large, casting a wider beam. This allows you to search an area more quickly and efficiently. It’s also vibrant, thanks to the 51 UV led bulbs it has. Plus, the flashlight is rated for IPX4 protection (meaning it can resist splashing water).
Pros: Large head with 52 bulbs, so it casts a wider and stronger glow. IPX4 water-resistance.
Cons: Requires three AA batteries, which are not included.
2. TaoTronics Black Light
If you’re looking for a compact option that you can easily take on the go, consider this black light flashlight from TaoTronics. It’s slim and just under four inches long and barely an inch wide. The small size, combined with the short wrist lanyard and knurled grip, makes it a great option for taking on the go. It has 12 LED UV bulbs, making it well suited to scanning smaller areas.
Pros: Good compact size, handy lanyard for carrying. Three AAA batteries included in the package.
Cons: 12 UV LED bulbs, which is fewer than some other options on this list.
3. LETION 2 in 1 UV Black Light with Highlight
This UV light from Letion is an impressive option thanks to the multiple functions it performs. Using the on/off button, you can toggle between a regular flashlight and a UV light. Plus, it even has a strobe function for the regular flashlight. An added bonus is that you can change the zoom of the beam by twisting the head. This allows you to focus a narrow bright beam on a specific location, or cast a wider glow over a larger area. It also has a handy lanyard for comfortable carrying on the go.
Pros: Flashlight and UV functions, plus low beam, strobe and zoom functions. Lanyard and pen clip for easy carrying.
Cons: Since only one button is used for four functions, changing modes can be tedious.
4. GearLight UV Black Light Flashlight
Pen-sized flashlights are a great option for anyone who already carries a lot of tools or just anyone who wants something lightweight to carry on the go. But of course, two flashlights are better than one, which is why this two-pack option from GearLight is great. The light is 5.25 inches long and 0.5 inches wide, and it has an easy-to-hold textured grip and a pen clip to secure it to your pocket or belt. It relies on two AAA batteries.
Pros: Two-pack. Pen-size UV lights with pen clip for easy portability. Sturdy aluminum build.
Cons: Batteries not included. Can go through batteries quickly.
5. BRIONAC UV Black Light Flashlight
This option from Brionac has the most bulbs of any of the options on this list. With a whopping 128 UV LEDs, this light is a great option for quickly searching wider areas. It has a large head to accommodate the large number of bulbs, but the narrow handle means that it’s still easy to handle with one hand. Plus, the adjustable lanyard makes it easy to carry. Because of the powerful beam, this unit requires six AA batteries.
Pros: Powerful option with 128 UV LEDs. Casts wide and strong beam. Water-resistant protection.
Cons: Requires six batteries, which are not included.