Vacuums are a really underrated invention. Imagine that every time you need to clean the floors in your home, you still had to use brooms and dustpans. Whether you have hard floors or carpet, the old school way is all you have.
Can you imagine how inconvenient that would be? What such painstaking work would do to your back. Ouch! It hurts just thinking about it.
If you are reading this, you most likely grew up with a vacuum cleaner in your home. These things aren’t new inventions as you will later find out. Innovation has never stopped since the first vacuum cleaner hit the market.
With the way vacuum cleaners are featuring advanced technology, don’t be surprised if they can start doing dishes too. Robot vacuums are autonomous, so why not?
There are quite a number of vacuum cleaner types and we discussed them below. If you want more details about any of them, you can check out our guides on particular types.
It is no news that a lot of people use vacuum cleaners but do not have the slightest idea how they work. You are welcome already, we explained how the bagged, bagless, and cyclonic vacuum cleaners work.
As always, we wrapped things up with how you can choose the best vacuum cleaner for your needs. So, have fun as you inform yourself about vacuum cleaners.
The Vacuuming Experience
In this world of technological advancement, cleaning your floors with a conventional broom is way old school. If you still do, it is best you keep that information to yourself for you might come across as queer.
Vacuum cleaners have been in existence for a long time now but we are pretty sure that a lot of people don’t know its origins.
Due to that, we will take it upon ourselves to intimate you with a bit of its history. Perhaps that will fast forward those who still use the broom to the present.
A little history lesson
Even though you see vacuum cleaner models looking all futuristic and technologically advanced, it is not a recent invention. In fact, the first variant of a vacuum cleaner came up in the 19th century.
Daniel Hess invented the first vacuum cleaner in 1860. It uses bellows and a rotating brush to create suction which is used to lift dust off floors. This version was called the “carpet sweeper”.
Another version, dubbed the whirlwind, was designed in 1868 by Ives McGaffey. This one was bulky and was powered by a fan that is driven by a belt. At a later time, another model was created by Melville R. Bissell (you probably recognize the name from a modern-day brand) in 1876.
Later in 1898, another type of vacuum cleaner was invented but this one blew air instead of sucking it in.
The device blew dirt into a receptacle to clean floors. One advancement of this model was that the machine was powered by an electric motor.
In the early 20th century, 1901 to be precise, Hubert Cecil Booth and David Kenney, British and American respectively, created powered vacuum cleaners that used suction. It was sometime during this period the name “vacuum cleaner” was coined.
In 1907, James Murray Spangler created a portable vacuum cleaner that uses a motor. That invention will go on to be the grandfather of the vacuum cleaners we know today.
Murray could not afford to go into production so he sold his patent to William Henry Hoover.
Hoover did a redesign and put the vacuum cleaner in a steel entrapment. Later in 1926, Hoover created a model that used filter bags and the upright vacuum cleaner was born.
Okay, class is over. Let us move on to the juicy part.
How Vacuum Cleaners Works
All vacuum cleaners work generally the same way but there are slight differences depending on the design of the vacuum cleaner. We will run you through how these vacuums work based on their design.
Electricity is used to power the motor which turns the belt connected to it on one end.
This motion consequently turns the beaters and the brush at the head of the vacuum or the brush head in case of a canister vacuum.
The brush combs through carpets to raise debris and dust. Some vacuums have agitators in this area which causes a vigorous vibration.
This agitation is meant to dislodge embedded dirt and dust in high-pile carpets to achieve a deep clean.
There is a fan attached to the motor which sucks in air along with dust as well as the dislodged debris. In most cases, the more powerful the motor, the stronger the suction power will be.
The dirty air sucked in travels through the machine over the motor in an attempt to cool it. With innovation, some brands use a filter before the air gets to the motor.
The filter is meant to trap the dirt (at least a lot of it) so that clean air runs over the motor. This is done because clean air is more effective at cooling the motor. If the motor is cooled down well enough, it helps it last longer.
The air then makes its way into the dirtbag where it is trapped in. Some dirtbags are well designed such that 99.99% of the dirt that goes into the bag gets trapped in.
At the end of the process, cleaner air gets out through the exhaust. Some vacuum cleaner models have another filter at the exhaust to further treat the air before it emerges.
The emerging air is warmer than the air that gets sucked in. This is because the air has gone over the hot motor and carrying the heat along and essentially cooling it.
One major downside of the bagged vacuums is that as the bag fills, the airflow gets weaker which in turn weakens the suction power.
More and more vacuums brands are going bagless because of that downside with bagged vacuum cleaners. Don’t get carried away just yet though, it does not mean bagged vacuums are ineffective or fading out.
On the contrary, innovations are continuing on bagged vacuum cleaners. If you want to know more about that, check out our guide on Oreck vacuum cleaner. This brand has a fantastic approach to how its vacuum bags are designed.
Bagless vacuums use canisters, often transparent, to collect dust and debris instead of bags. Here’s how they work:
Air and debris are pulled in through the inlet much like the same process as the bagged vacuum. The dirt is then collected in the dust canister.
There is a filter, often HEPA filters, at the tail end of the canister. The dirty air is further sucked out of the canister through this filter. This leaves behind the dirt in the canister and the emerging air is clean.
The clean air runs over the motor to cool it before it passes through the grille at the back of the vacuum and out.
The motor in a bagless vacuum is quite powerful but this does not often reflect on the suction. This is because most of that power is used to pull air through the HEPA filter.
These filters are designed to trap particles as small as 0.3 microns, so they can get clogged a lot.
One downside of a bagless vacuum cleaner is emptying the dust canister. Most manufacturers design it to open at the bottom for convenience. But if you are not careful, the dust you worked hard to get rid of might flow back into the air.
The Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner
These design of vacuums are also bagless but they work in a slightly different mode. When air and debris are pulled into the canister, they are spun in a circular motion at high speeds. The purpose of this is to separate the dust from the air.
When the dust settles to the bottom along with the debris, there is sufficient airflow at the top. The rest of the vacuuming process is similar to that of the bagless as we explained earlier.
One advantage that this design has over the bagless vacuum is that it does not lose suction power as the airflow does not drop. One vacuum cleaner that epitomizes this design is the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball.
Types Of Vacuum Cleaner
A vacuum cleaner is not something you can spontaneously decide on and buy. It requires careful thought and research. There are many vacuum cleaner models out there and they are distinctly different.
Some are better at certain types of cleaning than others. Some are more versatile and a little more convenient to use. The diversity of vacuum cleaner models is so apparent that the phrase “the best vacuum cleaner” is not real.
This is because a vacuum cleaner that is best for one person might not be for another. As needs differ, so does the requirement of a vacuum cleaner. You will understand further as we delve into the types of vacuum cleaners available.
When you hear the word “vacuum cleaner” and upright vacuum is what probably comes to mind.
These vacuums are powerful and are especially good for deep cleaning carpets and rugs. This does not mean that you can’t use them on hard floors though.
With a lot of them, you can adjust the height of their brush heads. This makes them applicable to hard floors too and it would clean them well.
One thing that makes the upright so powerful is the fact that it is a single unit. The motor which is responsible for creating the suction is quite close to the brush head and the floor. This means that the airflow only needs to cover a short distance.
Upright vacuums can be heavy but you won’t feel the weight as you won’t be carrying it around. This is a type of vacuums that you push while it cleans the floor ahead of you.
These vacuum cleaners have wheels at their base on which most of the weight of the vacuum rest. Not only that, these wheels make mobility convenience as it ensures that the movement is more of a glide than a drag.
One of the issues you might encounter with an upright is that it is not versatile. All you can do with it is clean the floor. It is very unlikely that you would carry an upright in an attempt to clean drapes. You can’t even clean stairs with these vacuums.
Uprights with hose
So, they came up with an ingenious idea. They added a flexible hose to it. This hose connects to the motor and delivers dust and debris as we explained earlier.
The inclusion of the flexible hose suddenly added the versatility of the canister vacuum to the uprights.
Once you are done cleaning floors and you need to clean the stairs, for instance, you just unhook the hose and connect an attachment to it and do your thing.
With this new addition, you can reach into corners like you couldn’t before, clean upholstery, furniture, drapes, crevices, etc. With the right attachment, you can even clean the ceiling with an upright vacuum.
It is a great improvement to the upright vacuum to significantly improve its versatility. While that is a good thing, the upright vacuum cleaner still lacks in maneuverability.
Like they say, “where there is a will, there is a way”. All problems can be solved if there is sufficient innovation. This axiom was brought into reality when some vacuum brands decided to wear their creativity hat once again.
This gave rise to a set of vacuum cleaner models that we at Vacuum Cleaners Advisor have dubbed the transformer vacuums. Hold your horses, we are not about to tell you that vacuum cleaners can transform into robots or supercars. At least not yet!
However, these vacuums can transform from one vacuum type to another. The best part is that they can do that even faster than the real Transformers can go from cars to giant robots.
You are not in some virtual reality world, this is still the real deal. We are not about to keep you in the loop. Keep reading and you will find out how these ingenious vacuums do their thing.
Imagine an upright vacuum in its full glory but there is something special about this one. It has a button that you can push so you can easily detach the vacuum part from the brush head. This instantly converts the single unit vacuum to a double unit.
One great example of this transformer vacuum is the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional. Since this model perfectly epitomizes our point, we will use it as a specimen.
How the Shark transformer works
This ‘upright’ is designed such that the brush head is connected to the motor compartment with a flexible hose.
It is through this hose that the dust and debris you suck up move into the dust cup. The wand, on the other hand, is used to hold everything together into an upright.
The flexible hose still links the brush head with the dust cup which is now serving as a canister. This time, it also serves to give you a wider reach as it now acts as an extension to the wand that previously held everything together.
The Shark Navigator vacuum now becomes a canister vacuum with the brush head of an upright vacuum. In case you are wondering if you will be using that brush head to do all the cleaning you want, the answer is no.
You can easily take out the brush head and attach another vacuum tool to it. If you need to clean stairs, for instance, you can attach a smaller brush tool. For extra convenience and maneuverability, you can take out the entire wand.
That way, you just have the canister, the hose, and a brush tool at the end which is undeniably easier to manage.
That’s not all, if you want to clean the ceiling or you just need the extra reach, plug back the wand and there you go.
These innovative designs have put the uprights back in the limelight making them favorites again. Those of you who have allegiance to upright vacuum cleaner models can have something to rejoice about.
We have pretty much given everything away while describing the upright vacuums. Canister vacuums are 2-unit vacuums that work similar to uprights.
Asides the versatility and maneuverability that canister vacuum cleaner models have to offer, there are more to them.
Canister vacuum cleaners are known to be excellent for cleaning hard floors. That does not mean they would not do good on a rug or carpet.
Remember that feature about adjusting the height of the brush head?
That makes it possible for canister vacuums to clean well on multiple floor types.
You have already found out that you can do all sorts of cleaning with a canister vacuum. You also get a wider reach than an upright variant.
With these vacuums, you can go from one room to another carrying along with you without flinching. These things can be that lightweight.
They also have wheels that help them effortlessly glide along the floor, whether carpets of hard floors, behind you.
Most canister vacuums come bundled with attachments that let you do all sorts of cleaning. For instance, the crevice and dusting brush tool can make a canister vacuum ideal for cleaning your car interior.
Generally, canister vacuums are quieter than uprights. That does not mean that you won’t find upright vacuums that are quiet too. But with most canisters, you won’t be needing ear protection.
There is more to canister vacuums that we can talk about here. If you are interested in getting more details on them, you can read our guide on canister vacuum cleaners.
Cordless and Stick
Some vacuum users are downright sick of electric cords. Some just hate the fact that they are tethered to electric sockets. Having to deal with the vacuum and electric cords is a hassle to most others.
A cordless vacuum cleaner is a miniature vacuum about the length of an upright but not nearly in size. Since they are not using electricity from the sockets, you guessed right, they run on batteries.
Lithium-ion is the most common battery type they use which is known for being good at holding a charge.
How long these vacuums last depends on certain factors. One of them is the size of the battery in it. The other is the mode at which you are operating the vacuum.
Some of these cordless vacuums have a high-powered mode. This mode consumes battery power fast.
Some cordless vacuums such as the Dyson V10, Dyson’s flagship cordless model, can last for up to 40 minutes. Some models operating at the high-powered mode will last you just a blinking 5 minutes, though you would get a thorough clean.
Cordless vacuums are really not designed to be the main vacuum in your home because of the runtime. But you can use it as such if you are willing to incur the extra cost and be patient enough to do the extra work.
There are models that come with double batteries. That way, you can put one on charge while you use the other so you won’t have to wait.
The bagless ones
Cordless vacuum cleaners are bagless, so if you have a problem with filter bags and replacing them, you are welcome. They use dust cups attached to the motor area which is sometimes around the handle. These cups are easy to eject so you can quickly and conveniently empty them when full.
The downside of a bagless vacuum is majorly the emptying part. They mostly open at the bottom so you won’t come in contact with the dirt.
Even at that, you still have to be careful because the dust might rise back up and end up in your lungs. You don’t want your vacuum sending you to the doctor’s.
One vacuum brand that did great in dealing with this problem is Oreck. Its cordless vacuum cleaner features the pod technology which spares you of the aforementioned risk.
If you want to know more about that, head over to our guide on Oreck vacuum cleaner.
Let’s “Stick” this in
Stick vacuums are largely similar to cordless vacuums in appearance due to their size, That is where the little mix up came from. A major difference is in the design. Stick vacuums are more similar to uprights than the cordless ones.
First is they can be corded or cordless, sometimes even both. Secondly, their motors are closer to the brush head as against the cordless vacuums that have their motors with the handle.
Generally, if you call a cordless vacuum a “stick vacuum”, you won’t be entirely wrong because they look like sticks too. But it is important to know these differences so you can be confident you know what you are saying.
The transformers are back
We thought that the upright transformers might excite you so we decided to tell you about their cordless cousins.
Some brands designed their cordless and stick vacuums to easily transform into handhelds. That’s not all, it is not uncommon to find these vacuums claiming 3-in-1. Well, that is not a lie, those ones can transform into something else.
Remember we said cordless vacuums have their motors close to the handle, these ones to can transform into that.
Let’s explain how that works. The stick vacuum has the motor just on top of the brush head. You can detach that into a handheld leaving the brush head on. You can also detach the brush head and add another tool to it.
In that vein, the wand that holds every part together when it was a stick can be connected to the handheld before attaching a tool.
What it now becomes is a handheld vacuum that has a long wand before the cleaning tool. That is exactly what the cordless vacuum is.
This is the same process cordless vacuums follow to turn into a handheld vacuum. The wand is taken out and an attachment tool is added straight to the motorized handle.
Cordless and stick vacuums too have HEPA filters which means that they can trap in dust and help you clean the air in your home.
With these transformations, you can clean almost anything, anywhere. You can go from your car interior to the floors, stairs, drapes, upholstery etc.
Handheld vacuums can be corded or cordless which partly depends on whether they are transformer vacuums or are outright handhelds.
Handheld vacuum cleaners have substantially powerful motors especially the ones that transform from a stick or cordless vacuum cleaner. They are great for spot cleaning and to quickly clear up a small mess.
Some handheld vacuum cleaners can even be powered by connecting them to the lighter slot in your car.
With those, you can clean your car on the go, please we don’t mean while you are driving.
Those vacuums that transform from another type often have a longer battery life. Their battery will be sufficient to do any small cleaning you might need.
Handheld vacuums can come in handy for use throughout the home or while on the move. They might make a great extra for their larger cousins.
They are almost magical, those heaven-sent helpers. Just imagine how much time these things can help you save.
Truth be told, they will not clean as thoroughly as the bigger vacuum cleaners but these robots do a decent job. They will clean your floors whether it is carpeted or just bare.
They move around on their own with the help of sensors and cameras. Some even have Artificial Intelligence that helps them learn to navigate your home.
All these prevent them from bumping into obstacles such as you and falling off stairs or ledges.
These things are becoming advanced as some of them have Wi-Fi connectivity so you can communicate with them via your smartphone.
These robot vacuum cleaners are a great addition to your home if you want to cut down on the time you spend vacuuming. If you want to learn more about them, you can check out our guide on robot vacuum cleaners.
Wet and Dry
Wet and dry vacuum cleaners are the brutes of the vacuum cleaning world. They are the tough nuts that are designed to handle the real dirty jobs. This is not hype, that is just how they are built.
They have very powerful motors, stronger than those you will find on the earlier mentioned vacuum cleaners. This is why they can pick up almost any debris depending on the size of the vacuum.
These vacuums as their name implies can take on both the dry and wet dirt. This is one of the reasons they are finding their way into homes. Imagine a situation where a cup of water falls off and break, with a wet and dry vacuum you can clean both up at once.
These vacuum cleaners have plastic canisters in them that can hold both wet and dry dirt. Some are designed to separate the wet and dry dirt. The sensitive internal circuits are well protected such that the liquid you vacuum won’t get to them.
These vacuum cleaners will stand the test of time doing some serious heavy lifting all the while. Some of them have stainless steel outer shells while others are covered with hardened plastic.
They will take on fine particles like dust and sawdust or debris like stone debris and wooden chips. These vacuums are designed like canister vacuums but are often called bucket vacuums because the canisters are more like buckets.
When you buy a wet and dry vacuum, they often come with quite a number of attachments to use with them. This opens up the different types of cleaning you can achieve with them.
Asides the fact that these vacuums can clean wet mess too already makes them a good option.
Wet and dry vacuum cleaners features auto shut off which turns off the motor when the dirt cup is full.
This is a good feature as it prevents the vacuums from overflowing dirt which will cause an additional mess.
Another nice feature is that some of these vacuums have on-board storage for the accessories you might need to use.
Why this is nice is that you don’t have to stop vacuuming because you need to change attachments. What you need is right there on the vacuum itself for easy accessibility.
Some wet and dry vacuums have 2-in-1 functionality. No, these ones are not transformers. They can also be used as blowers. Blowers are standalone tools that are used for blowing air to disperse dirt, for example, for easy packing.
These types of vacuum save you a lot by serving that purpose too. Imagine seeing dirt but you can’t clean it because you can’t reach it. With these vacuums, you can blow it to the open and then vacuum it up.
If you like what you have heard about these vacuums and want to know more, kindly check out our guide on wet and dry vacuum cleaners.
There are no vacuums to push or pull behind you. The vacuum is on your back! All you have to contend with is the hose and brush head that you are using to clean.
They are lightweight so it will not be exhausting carrying it on your back even for an extended period of time.
They are ergonomically designed to be comfortable with padded shoulder strap and clasp locks to keep it snug on your back.
Since the backpack won’t be moving around, it won’t pose any inconvenience or disturbance. It is not noisy too so no hearing protection required.
These ones too are versatile as you can you can clean different surfaces and do all sorts of above the floor cleaning.
Central vacuum cleaners work more or less like any other vacuum cleaner and then some. The operation of these types is quite different from others.
There are no visible vacuums here, not even on your back. The vacuum is located remotely which could be in your garage or basement.
All you need to do for cleaning is to plug in the hose to the vacuum socket usually on the wall and start vacuuming.
There are lots of accessories you can use with this type of vacuum so there is hardly any type of vacuuming you cannot do.
Central vacuum cleaners do not require nearly as much maintenance as the smaller ones do. Their dust cans are huge so, it would take a while for them to fill up.
They have stronger motors which account for their powerful suction over distances. Their filters are also significantly bigger so that the airflow is not obstructed.
Installing a central vacuum cleaner is by no means rocket science. Some owners are said to have installed it on their own.
If you think you are that good with your hands and you can follow instructions, you can give it a try.
But if you can’t, in most cases, you will be paying for installation along with the system anyway, so you can let the experts do it.
If you want to know more about central vacuum cleaners and how you can choose one, go ahead and read our guide on central vacuum cleaners.
These are the vacuums that are used for cleaning hotels, hospitals, schools, and other public places.
They are created for such heavy use on a daily basis, in other words, they are durable. If you use your domestic vacuums like these ones, they will only last months.
They are mostly designed as upright vacuum cleaners, though there are canister vacuums that are commercial grade too.
The canister ones are best suitable for stairs and above the floor cleaning. Do you remember those uprights that have hoses we talked about earlier? There are types like that for commercial vacuums too.
Those ones are great for cleaning hotel rooms as you can go from carpeted floors to hard floors, and then jump to drapes and dust furniture.
If you run a janitorial company or you plan to, you might be interested in commercial vacuum cleaners. If you want to know more about them, don’t hesitate to read our guide on commercial vacuum cleaners.
Clearing Things Up
Just to round things off before we go on to the next section. There are certain design features that cut across different vacuum cleaner types.
We told you uprights and canisters are available in bagged and bagless variants. The central vacuums are also available in both too. In their case, they can go a notch higher by being a hybrid.
That’s right, some central vacuum cleaners can be both bagged and bagless at the same time. So, if you are considering a central vacuum cleaner, it mainly comes down to your preference which one you go for.
If you search online for vacuum cleaners, you will come across some that say “pet” or “animal”.
They are vacuum cleaners too, not living things. What makes them slightly different is that they have a motorized brush that is especially good at picking hairs.
If you have pets, you would already know that they shed fur sometimes. You would also have noticed that they really don’t care where they shed it. There will most likely be hair wherever they roam.
These pet hair vacuum cleaners are, their motorized brush tool, are designed to clean out the hair. These hair and pet dander can cause allergies or trigger asthmatic attacks which is why it is important to clean them up.
Talking about allergies, modern day vacuum cleaners features High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.
These filters are a benchmark for vacuum cleaners that help reduce allergies. They are a mechanical filter that forces air through its tiny holes.
HEPA filters are certified to trap 99.97% of airborne contaminants that are larger than 0.3 microns. To put things into perspective, the human hair is about 70 microns in diameter.
So, you can rest assured that these filters will trap dust, chemicals, smoke, pet dander, etc. Many vacuum cleaners have this type of filter which makes them ideal for allergy sufferers.
How To Choose The Best Vacuum Cleaner For You
You have seen the types of vacuum cleaners available and we are aware that there quite a number of them. This makes it a little daunting when you need to choose the one for you. Since you are reading this, we will help you narrow things down.
As always, there are certain things to consider when buying a vacuum cleaner and we will run through the important ones together.
Upright or Canister
Both are good but which is better for you depends on certain things. If your home has large and spacious, you might be better off with an upright vacuum.
But if it is small and has quite a number of furniture, a canister vacuum is good for its maneuverability.
If you have a lot of carpeted floors, then an upright it is for you as that is their specialty. On the other hand, if have hard floors all over your home then a canister vacuum is right for you.
Bagged or Bagless
If you have been with us from the start, then you are already familiar with these two. With a bagless vacuum cleaner, you can save mover over time as you won’t be bothering about buying replacement bags. However, this is not a safe option if you suffer from allergies.
Even though the dust cups open underneath to minimize your contact with the content, dust might still rise when you are emptying it. The capacity of the dust cups might also be limited.
On the other hand, a bagged vacuum will need replacement when it gets filled but depending on the bag, that will take a while. Taking out the bag is also safer as a lot of dirtbags are self-sealing and trap away the content once they are opened.
Corded or cordless
They are especially great if you have a small apartment and it can even be your main vacuum cleaner. They are easy to store as they come with their own docking station.
Corded vacuum can be used for different types of cleaning as they can easily convert into a handheld vacuum cleaner.
They can be expensive as well and the amount of dirt they can hold is quite limited. And there is also the battery life to consider.
Accessories For Vacuums
The attachment tools a vacuum cleaner can use determines what types of cleaning you can do with them. So, you have to pay serious attention to these when choosing your vacuum.
Some even have on-board storage for the attachments so you can have them within reach.
There is a wide range of vacuum accessories to choose from, you can just pick them out based on the type of cleaning you need to do.
Other things you need to consider when buying vacuum cleaners include weight, if it has a variable suction or not, filters, energy efficiency, etc.
Ergonomic design and aesthetics might be things that rock your boat so you might want to keep an eye out for those too.
It has been a long ride to this point and we must commend you for coming this far. We hope that you have learned enough to have a holist understanding of vacuum cleaners. It is our hope that the information we have provided will help you confidently choose a suitable vacuum cleaner for your needs.