Skip to comments.The Freeper's Guide to Vacuum Cleaners
Posted on 08/12/2013 10:43:30 AM PDT by golux
Vacuum Cleaners: The Freeper's Guide
Here, in a nutshell, are the critical basics on vacuum cleaners. These facts will be of use if you are buying a new or new-to-you one.
Thanks to the babel of modern advertising and increasingly shoddy manufacturing standards, FACTS are harder to find, and little known. Here they are.
No brand names are mentioned in this piece.
There are two general kinds of vacuum cleaners: canister vacs and upright vacs. I will not talk about in-home central vacs. The question of what kind of vac to choose is purely yours, but many who vacuum thicker carpets choose the heft of uprights. Also, these vacs, because of their heft (by this I mean weight over the target area) are often thought to have more effective roller brushes.
Canisters are at their best when they follow you around like a puppy dog. They also have the potentiality for having stronger motors (since they roll around behind you,) and being easier to handle. If you like vacuuming the labyrinth under your dining room table with speed and agility, as I do, a high-suction canister vac with a nimble attachment is your best choice.
Roller brushes have only one important job, no matter what the salesmen tell you: it is to agitate the fibers of a carpet so that particles may more easily be sucked up. A good roller brush is powered independently, not by suction.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO CONSIDER in buying a vacuum cleaner is SUCTION. Not "no suction loss," not "cyclone suction," not "anticyclone suction," not "magic water suction," none of that matters... What matters is SUCTION. Suction is power, and you can feel it. If you are doing parquet floors, if you are doing shag carpets, the number one thing is suction. The better your vac sucks, the more time it saves you (or your housekeeper) and the cleaner your home will be.
How do you measure suction? Never mind the TV ads or the salesman with the handful of dirt or rice. Feel it with your hands. When it's turned up (yes, you really do want variable speed) does the vac feel like it really "sticks" to your floor or carpet? It should.
No amount of clear lucite, gadgety words, fancy descriptive labels, space-shippy looking doo-dads or inspiring advertising can make up for SUCTION. And just because a company claims to have good suction does not mean it's products do. The vacuum business is full of lies and shedazzle.
One of the reasons I am writing this for my FRiends is because I have never, in my life, seen so much advertising and so much genuine product loyalty surrounding absolutely terrible products. (I run a small, successful advertising agency and we have been specialists in the vacuum trade, local and national, for over 15 years. I am also personally a fan of fine vacuum cleaners and love to use and study them.) Much of what you will find on the shelves today - and many of these units sell for hundreds of dollars! - is absolute junk wrapped in pretty ribbons and award-winning advertising. It's sad to see.
(Why won't you find high-quality vacuum cleaners, used, at your local thrift store? Because your local "sew n vac" guy got there first or got the call when it came in. He "serviced" it, (opened it up, sprayed and wiped it off, replaced the power cord maybe,) and put it on his shelves for sale.
What is also important is a SEALED SYSTEM. If your motor is more powerful than the housings that keep dust, dirt, and dander from pushing back out into the surrounding air, your vacuum cleaner is effectively just an "aeresolizer," worsening the air quality in your home. Look for o-rings, feel for drafts, FEEL the unit. Is it simple? Does it close with a pleasing "thwup?"
When turned on, is it quiet and strong? Quiet strength is a good preliminary indicator of both a sealed system and a good quality motor.
HEPA and "S-class" HEPA filtration means nothing if the system is not completely sealed. The higher grade (or smaller micron gauge) the filtration, the more difficult it is for the air to pass through the post filter, and the more likely it is that unfiltered air is escaping into your home. If you have kids or families with allergies, this is a very, very bad thing.
Do you get what you pay for? Yes, on the whole. At the same time, good ads and a heavy price tag are no guarantee of quality.
I urge you to be suspicious of gushing reviews: many vacuum owners rave for years about their first half decent vacuum, until they use a truly great one. Don't trust your friends.
Many companies - a few in particular - who made absolutely marvelous vacuum cleaners ten or twenty years ago have unfortunately succumbed to the natural temptations of business and have quite drastically cheapened and worsened their products. A vacuum dealer who admits this and can discuss these trends openly is someone you can trust... More than others.
Finally, on the subject of vacuum dealers, I do encourage you to visit them, to speak with them, and to do your purchasing with them. You may save ten or twenty dollars buying your unit from a big retailer (if they do happen to carry a unit you want) but you will miss out on all of the advantages in education, service, "freebies," and general mutual loyalty that come with buying from an expert in the field.
That is enough for now. I hope these words may prove helpful now or in the future to you and yours. Happy vacuuming! Freepmail me if I may be of particular assistance.
We still have our Electrolux purchased in 1993-still going strong.
Another thing to consider is where the vacuum cleaner was made. Today, most of them are made in China. I use one that was made in the good old USA, but when I was in the market for a vacuum cleaner, I considered getting one that was made in Germany.
Thanks for the tutorial. I’m looking for one and you’ve provided tips. Will PM you for more specifics as FR doesn’t allow commercial endorsements.
I have a 1954 Lewyt that still runs, but there are no accessories.
I find it strange the vacuum is spelled “uum” instead of “ume”.
I use this monster and the suction is scarey.
It will pickup anything not nailed to the floor or walls
We have 2 Dysons. Love ‘em.
Have you ever read ‘Our Man in Havana’ by Graham Greene? I think you’d like it.
We have a rebuilt Electrolux canister, more than 20 years old and given to us as a wedding present.
We also have an upright Hoover, purchased used from a vacuum cleaner repair guy more than 15 years ago.
They get the job done, although the Hoover requires frequent partial disassembly to disentangle hair, dental floss and thread that gets wrapped around its carpet beater brush mechanism.
The Miele S5281 Callisto canister vacuum cleaner is highly rated. It is expensive, but quiet, and with a HEPA filter to protect against recirculation of small particle dust.
What about Bill Clinton...afterall, he has a nose like a Hoover.
Just had to replace a Bissel. Bought it a decade ago at Walmart for forty bucks, and would likely still be using it if one of my kids had not swept up something that locked up the beater bar tighter than San Quentin.
Tangles of hair are a big problem for our vacuums. Does anyone make a vacuum cleaner brush that goes through a hair snipper as part of the process? :-)
The word is derived from the Latin word, vacuus, meaning empty using the fourth declension, genitive ending -uum.
My Hoover Celebrity Canister purchased in 72 to establish credit @ Sears still Sucks.
Accessories are getting hard to come by but its a good vac.
Yeah, and his wife's head is a vacuum chamber.
I love being single.
You just made my hair hurt.
I just purchased a Dyson Animal DC 50. It is light weight, easily maneuvered, and really cleans well, even the dog hair. I also like the way it transists from capet to hard wood and tile flooring without any adjusment.
I bought a complete Kirby system (even has a carpet shampooer) a year ago. It cleans better than anything I’ve ever used, but so darn heavy, cumbersome, and complicated that I just quit using it. It cost three times what my Dyson did. I’m looking for someone younger and stronger to sell it to.
Yep, we have two Oreck uprights - made in the USA. Sadly, the company was recently bought out of bankruptcy by Hoover's parent corporation (which I believe is part of a Chinese conglomerate). So for a while, Hoover will continue to make use of Oreck's assembly line in Tennessee. After that, I'm sure the brand will have a lot in common with the stuff at the Harbor Freight store.
How much are you prepared to pay for a machine that does the snipping automatically?
It’s amazing how much useless stuff I remember from high school.
News babe from Phoenix didn’t hurt.
We have a whole house vacuum system and absolutely love it. The hose reaches outside so I can do my cars with it too.
My Y2K Eletrolux $500.00 is still going strong and sucking away!!!!!!
We retired two electrolux uprights after many years and a few belts,, now running two Panasonic,,
Nature abhors this thread.
I use a shop vac, a fraction of the price of the usual product and just as powerful. The hard part is finding someone to run it because I sure don’t want to!
All I know is, if it’s bagless, you couldn’t give it to me for free.
We had a classic Hoover that lasted over 20 years. My wife tried several brands of hi-tech bagless vacuums but found them ineffective and a hassle to maintain. I found a nice clone of the classic Hoover, a brand called Sanitaire. It is lightweight and yet could suck up a shetland pony. We like it.
Ah, there’s the rub! The first model to come out would probably be very expensive. But I’d pay about $500, I think.
I have a kirby from 30 years ago and it is still damn good
big and heavy, but works and works and works.
Now, does anyone here have any P.O.S. ones to warn us about?
Nature is dirty.
Rainbows vacuums are great.
A great vacuum made 100 percent in the USA is made by Riccar. They have a canister and an upright. I bought the upright because the vacuum store owner raved about their customer service, and I got tired of buying Chinese made vacuums that lasted 6 months and died. It’s been great so far.
I’m using the electrolux vacuum cleaner my grandmother bought sometime in the 1970’s. It’s been fixed a couple times and had a new hose or two but it’s still perfectly good.
I sprang for a $1,500 Kirby over ten years ago, and I’m glad I did. Before that, we bought a new vacuum cleaner every year.
The Kirby is built like a tank, and from what I’ve heard, is the preferred tool of its kind among five star hotels and restaurants around the world.
I also have an el cheapo $50 dirt devil from Target I use in my kitchen for crumbs.
I saw a TV ad for a mini-van that has a built in vacuum cleaner....
Also, depending on the model selected, it is a good idea to explore the costs for replacing filters, recommened frequency, whether the filters are washable/reusable, etc.
My dream is to rip up every inch of carpet in my home so that I don’t need a GREAT vacuum cleaner, but alas that’s a pipe dream at the moment. So thank you for the great info. I’m sick of buying cheap crappy vacuums that tear up after a few months of use. Wish we had bought a great one earlier in life when we could have afforded it. Oh well, such is life.
I am guessing the latest line of bagless vacuums from Dirt Devil must really suck (and not in a good way).
The local Salvation Army thrift store never has fewer then five displayed out front-and-center.
Bottom line, none has the suction of ShopVac. Sometimes there just is no substitute. Nothing better for cars.
As for regular vacs, never will I buy the overrated nonsense that is “bagless”. It’s all smoke and mirrors - generally more on the smoke.
My sister(RIP) bought some really nice German machine and loved it. Still don’t know what it is, but it was very expensive. I will not buy expensive until we get rid of our cleaning woman, who is too stupid and constantly wrecks everything she touches. She breaks the vacuum then jerry-rigs it together a bit. You should see our Hoover now, which has survived some 3 years of her abuse. I’m shocked the thing still works.
The Kirby is awesome. It’s just because of some older age physical limitations that I can’t use it any longer. We have a sunken living room aand I simply cannot lift it to get it down there........and forget about the game room, my Dad’s apartment and storage rooms in the walk-out basement.
I have a housekeeper come in a couple times a month to use the Kirby, but for day to day clean up, I love the Dyson.
I bought a cheap upright Westinghouse for my apartment years ago away from hometown. That thing was unbelievable; I called it Jaws recalling the “Mr. Mom” movie. I think we did something to it that broke it (probably the cleaning lady previously mentioned) when I brought it back home with me. That was just at the time Westinghouse shut down forever, so there was no replacement. Boy I miss that thing.
Well, this is a bagless one. But since I just use it in my kitchen it’s not got a lot of demands on its abilities.
I worked in a commercial floor cleaning equipment repair shop a couple of years...still do repair on the side. My personal home vac is an electrolux canister I picked up at a thrift store for 10 bones. Here’s my take:
There are throwaway vacs that cost around 100 bones that last an average of two years before they fry and get tossed.
Then there are good quality vacs that last an average of 5 years or so before needing repaired. These are well proven designs from reputable companies that have been around, and will be around making parts for years. These vacs run from 200 to 500 dollars...but because they are fixable...one saves money in the long run.
First vac I would recommend is an electrolux sanitaire. Good old workhorse that’s been around for years. $200 to $300 buys one. Not fancy, no attachments, but it will suck the padding off the floor.
Second is a Windsor upright. German made. Can be taken apart with no tools. Very durable, and will suck the padding off the floor. 500 bucks and excellent factory service.
Neither of the above have a hose or attachments. They are floor machines. I recommend buying a floor machine and then a small shop vac for cleaning requiring hose and attachments.
Any vacuum will last much longer if taken outside and blown out with compressed air from time to time, along with cleaning anythng that can get wet with a damp rag.