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Vacuum Buying Guide -- Late 2017


If you found this article on the internet you are likely shopping for a vacuum. Maybe you’re done buying the disposable machines! Regardless, I’m here to help. First order of business, get a vacuum that takes vacuum bags, remember, bagless = disposable. Whenever I talk to friends in the buying process I always ask the same questions:

  • What are your floors like? What percentage of them are hard surfaces?

  • If you do have carpet, is any of it plush like frieze or shag?

  • Does anybody in your home have allergies, asthma, or any other respiratory conditions?

  • Do you have pets? If so, tell me all about them!

  • Stairwells? How many floors? And, are they carpeted or bare?

  • Do you need a hose and attachments on the machine? Any attachments in particular?

  • Any other preferences I should know about? Canisters or Uprights?

Feel free to copy and paste these in an email to me and I will make my best suggestions to you but just for fun lets run through each question.

What are your floors like? What percentage of them are hard surfaces?

Most vacuums these days have the ability to clean both carpeted and hard surfaces. Carpet is easy, we need a spinning brushroll to agitate and lift carpet fibers. Hard surfaces are cleaned one of three ways, none of which involve a broom. Most uprights have the option to run straight suction by turning the brushroll off. Other machines with brushrolls have sealing strips or squeegees behind the brushroll. This prevents the spinning brushroll from scattering debris behind the machine while vacuuming hard floors. The final method, and possibly the best and easiest way are with floor attachments. These are generally used on canisters. They are delicate brushes that glide on bare floors and offer sweeping benefits in flexibility and reach.

If you do have carpet, is any of it plush like frieze or shag?

As I mentioned earlier, carpet needs agitation for optimal cleaning. There are, however, various methods of agitation and the method is necessitated by the type of carpet or rug. Most common carpets don’t have high or plush piles to them so normal setups with belt-driven brushrolls are sufficient. Thicker carpets and rugs like frieze and shag require a vacuum with height adjustments. This allows you to raise or lower the point of contact of the brushroll. A common misconception is, “If I put the vacuum on the lowest setting and have the strength to push it, it will do a better job.” This just isn’t true. First of all, that takes an enormous amount of effort. Also, if the vacuum is too low it will create a seal to the floor. Seals decrease airflow and greatly reduce carpet cleaning. Some vacuums, mainly stick vacuums and some canisters have air-driven brushrolls. This means the suction is spinning a turbine, which is spinning the brushroll. This isn’t as powerful as a motor driven brushroll but in some settings it is all that is needed. Say, if you had all bare floors and a couple short-pile rugs.

Does anybody in your home have allergies, asthma, or any other respiratory conditions?

Anybody who has had problems with allergies or asthma know how important air quality is. If there is anywhere in the world where we should be able to control air quality it’s in our own home. One of the best things you can do to drastically improve circumstances for allergy sufferers and asthmatics is to vacuum, vacuum frequently and use a machine that offers HEPA filtration. My previous article does a good job dispelling tricky marketing and explaining what true HEPA filtration really means. Be careful what you buy and do your homework.

Do you have pets? If so, tell me all about them!

One of the main reasons people do their research before buying a vacuum is because they have pets and need a good machine to clean up after them. Vacuum companies know this and many of them have “pet” models. More times than not this means absolutely nothing except for the addition of a special attachment or two. The handheld brushroll for upholstery and carpeted stair is the most commonly added attachment. Some vacuums offer different filtration systems for their “pet” vacuums. These filters are packed full with carbon which absorbs pet odors. Companies make special “pet” vacuums purely for marketing, so make sure you know exactly what is different about it before paying the increase in price.

Stairwells? How many floors? And, are they carpeted or bare?

Nobody likes vacuuming stairs, it’s difficult and awkward. Different set ups and certain attachments can take some of the headache out of this task. If considering an upright, look for one with a long enough hose to make it all the way up the stairs without having to lift the machine. If the hose comes up short try to find an extension hose. This is one area where canisters have an edge, they are generally lighter weight and can be carried and set down every few steps. With longer hoses, canisters make this task less awkward. One attachment that works wonderfully on carpeted stairs are ‘turbo-brushes’. These are handheld attachments that are made specifically to get into tighter spots but still have the benefit of a brushroll to agitate the carpet.

Do you need a hose and attachments on the machine? Any attachments in particular?

Most machines come with attachments that ride along with the vacuum but some do not. Most lightweight machines are a breeze to use and carry up and down the stairs but they do not have a hose for any above ground cleaning. Sometimes this compromise is worth it. People will often times buy these as secondary machines for a different area of the house. Most machines come with a crevice tool, a dusting brush, and an upholstery tool. Depending on what you need to use the vacuum for, you can probably find an attachment to make the job easier: Micro-kits for computers, cell phones, and cars or flexible crevice tools for dryer vents and under appliances. They even make dog brush attachments, good luck with that!

Any other preferences I should know about? Canisters or Uprights?

Although the choice to go with a canister or an upright has a lot to do with preference, knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each will help you make an informed decision on which to purchase. Uprights are very convenient in that you pull it out of the closet, plug it in, and push it around. Canisters have more versatility but might require a change of nozzle and a technique that is easily mastered after a few uses. A canister with a power nozzle containing a motorized brushroll will offer the same cleaning power as an upright but with the added length and clearance for vacuuming under furniture. Generally speaking, canisters with floor tools are better for bare surfaces. Using an upright with the brushroll turned off can be a heavy task, a canister stands in contrast to this.

Vacuums are not one-size-fits-all and if there is anything we can do to help you figure out which vacuums to consider, please, do not hesitate to reach out to us.

#Vacuumbuyingguide #vacuums #whichvacuum