A hundred years ago, vacuum cleaners were for British royalty or the super-rich, and had to be carted in by a team on horse-and-carriage.
Now thanks to advances in modern technology, even better vacuum cleaners are available which are much smaller, easier to use, and affordable in price. For whatever reason, if you are looking for a vacuum cleaner, here is a great way to structure your search in terms of vital questions to ask before putting down your cash.
1. Stick, Upright, or Canister?
Canister vacuum cleaners have an upright intake like traditional upright vacuums, but simply have a hose connecting the upright piece to a larger machine that does the work. This allows for more maneuverability, but is less heavy-duty. Canister vacuums are traditionally used to clean flat, smoother surfaces, but they are making a comeback in terms of strength and durability for thicker carpets.
The classic choice for heavy-duty vacuuming has been the upright model. Less versatile, but the most powerful, these are the go-to for bigger jobs.
Stick vacuum cleaners are newer, and super-slender. The most lightweight of all the options, many of the stick cleaners out there are starting to approach uprights in terms of airflow power.
2. Bagged or Bagless Vacuum Cleaners?
Bagless vacuums are the common preference, and thus cost a bit more than vacuum cleaners with bags. With bags means you’ll have to change out the bag when it gets full, which will happen at a faster frequency when you first get your vacuum. Since you have to buy new vacuum bags that match your make and model of vacuum, this is definitely an extra wrinkle of complexity.
The more convenient, slightly pricier option is to go bagless, which results in the dust being collected in a receptacle sometimes called a “cup.” This is non-disposable, and should detach easily to empty into the garbage.
Change the bag or cup as often as you please- just remember that when this gets clogged, your vacuum will make a higher-pitch noise indicative of stress.
Related reading: What is the Difference Between a Bagless or a Bagged Vacuum Cleaner
4. Will I need Attachments for My Vacuum?
Attachments and accessories aren’t just cute extras when it comes to vacuum cleaners.
These attachments increase the amount of your living area that can be cleaned by the vacuum. Here are some common uses for vacuums that require an attachment.
- Wall / Floor Brush: to clean bare floors like tile or hardwood, and to clean walls without scuffing
- Crevice Tool: to pick up dust from the hardest-to-reach places like drawers, inside or behind bigger appliances, and any other hard to reach spot
- Dusting Brush: for delicate, dust-prone spots like blinds, shades, lampshades,
- Upholstery Attachment: to clean mattresses, couches, sofas, loveseats, seats in cars or trucks
Of course, different brands of vacuum cleaner will have differently-named attachments, but most will ultimately fit into these above categories.
In getting a vacuum, you’ll want to get the most possible use out of it, since there’s little out there more frustrating than having a vacuum but still having dusty spots because your vacuum is too obtuse to clean everything.
5. Am I Vacuuming for Sensitive Lungs?
If so, your question is- “Is the vacuum cleaner a sealed system?” If not, dust and allergens will escape the vacuum cleaner before it makes it into the bag or filter. This is the frustrating scenario where you’re just spreading dirt around the house, and thus is very important to intentionally avoid.
For one reason or another, it seems like there are always more and more people out there struggling with breathing issues like allergies and asthma. If you are, or live with, one of these folks, you’re going to want to read this section closely, and if no, keep in mind, allergies can develop later in life so it’s always good to have high standards for cleanliness.
For people with allergies or asthma, high efficiency particulate arrestance filters (or HEPA filters) are what you need. These super-strong air filters are certified to remove 99.97% of particles that are 3 micrometers in size, or roughly one thirtieth the width of a human hair.
6. How Frequently should I Vacuum?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have freshly vacuumed carpets every morning when you wake up?
Aside from hiring someone else to do this for you, there’s really no hard and fast rule about vacuuming frequency – it won’t really wear out your vacuum any differently, because vacuums have no problem picking up less dirt more often rather than more dirt less often.
This answer definitely depends on floor type, as well as traffic frequency of the area being vacuumed. High traffic areas with heavy carpet could use a quick vacuum daily, perhaps less than 20 seconds after people leave the house or get home.
Do AMPS Matter in Vacuuming Frequency?
Most vacuum cleaners will tell you the amount of amps, volts, and horsepower a vacuum cleaner has. More important though, is the airflow power through the vacuum.
Any contraption can hog a lot of power; it takes the well-designed, efficient machines to do a lot with the power you give them. In short, a high-horsepower vacuum cleaner will not necessarily cut down on your vacuuming time.
Twice a week is a great vacuuming frequency for the rest of the carpets, because busy people who need a clean place to live also have other chores.
While not the everyday care a dedicated worker can provide, twice a week allows busy people to complete other household tasks on different days of the week.
7. My Vacuum Cleaner Won’t Work. What do I do?
Not to worry. Vacuum cleaners do need plenty of maintenance, care, and attention to stay working long-term.
If your vacuum cleaner stops working and you don’t know why, there are three good things to try before taking it into a repair shop and spending money to fix it.
First start by powering down the vacuum altogether and giving it a moment to cool down. If your vacuum plugs in, unplug it and plug it back in. If it’s battery powered, remove the battery and make sure there is no issue on the contact points.
If your vacuum cleaner still doesn’t work, you’ll want to check the bag or dust cup. Surprisingly, new carpet actually fills vacuum cleaners fastest, because the new carpets have lots of thick, loose fibers that the vacuums pick up.
It’s so vital to make sure that there’s proper air flow going out of the filtration system in the vacuum.
Thirdly, if it’s still not working properly, you’ll want to check out the belt and brush that makes contact with the floor. It should all look normal and healthy, and if you have a lot of lint or hair wrapped up in this area, the vacuum can get bogged down unnecessarily.
Related reading: Best Vacuum for Stairs
At this point, you’ve eliminated the electrical power, the exhaust, and the intake. Anything between the intake and exhaust you’re going to need a professional to open up the vacuum and diagnose what’s going wrong.