Anything that can make our lives easy, especially reducing the labor in everyday chores, is a welcome move. Cleaning floors and rugs, be it in the days of soot and oil lamps or today’s traffic and pollution, is always backbreaking work. Enter vacuum cleaners, that provided the magic of electric suction. When you look at all the electric and electronic home appliances, many experts say that the vacuum cleaner had an easy penetration into American homes.
Despite being expensive, back when they were new, many homeowners, especially ladies loved them as they could clean floors and rugs with minimum effort from your end. Nowadays, we get fully autonomous robotic vacuum cleaners, that could clean your entire house with a single tap on your smartphone. How times have changed.
If you are in the process of buying a new vacuum cleaner or researching different types of vacuums, this guide is just for you. Here, we will take a brief look at life before vacuum cleaners and how they changed the way we take care of our homes.
After that, we will see different types of vacuum cleaners both from the past and the present. We hope that this guide on types of vacuums will provide you with a better understanding of vacuum cleaners and also help you make a better buying decision.
Life Before Vacuum Cleaners
The majority of the dust in a typical household consists of dead human cells, soil, bacteria, insects, bugs, soot, lint, hair, etc. Today, we have the luxury of electric vacuum cleaners that could clean all this mess. But what about the times before vacuum cleaners?
We had different types of brooms that are usually made up of twigs. Then we had splinter brooms, corn brooms, etc. There were several versions of the “broom” but all they could do was sweep the dirt from one place to another so that we can collect it using a dustpan (or a similar item) and dispose of it elsewhere.
Brooms cannot remove dust. The sweeping action would also recirculate the tiny dust particles into the air and we had to breathe that air.
Regular brooms were useless on floor rugs and carpets. So, in the early days, we used to carry the carpet outside and beat it with a log (and later with special carpet beaters).
Carpet Sweepers made the job a little bit easy with brushes but still, we are displacing the dust and not removing it entirely. This continued until the invention of the vacuum cleaner.
What is a Vacuum Cleaner?
A Vacuum Cleaner is an electromechanical machine that helps us in removing dust, dirt, and debris from floors, carpets, walls, ceilings, furniture, etc. by creating a suction force.
The working of a typical electric vacuum cleaner is very simple. It has an intake port (large opening with a rolling brush or a hose) connected to a fan. When the electric motor of the fan starts to spin, the blades of the fan rotate and create a low-pressure area inside the machine.
As this pressure is lower than the atmospheric pressure, it causes the nearby objects, especially small dust particles, to get sucked into the system. A filter system traps all the dirt and dust and stores it in a bag or dust collection bin. After that, the machines release the “clean” air through an exhaust system.
The essential things such as the electric motor, fan and blades, intake and exhaust, filter and dust collector, etc. are common in all types of vacuums. How we arrange them or how we design the system around them is what makes the difference between all the different types of vacuum cleaners we are about to see.
Different Types of Vacuums
1. Upright Vacuum Cleaners
Nowadays, most vacuum cleaners come with a long hose that you can move around the room to clean the dust. But if you rewind the clock a couple of decades, especially in North America and Britain, Upright Vacuum Cleaner was the most popular option.
Even today, they are very common and popular and you can find a lot of manufacturers releasing good models in this category. Upright vacuums are one of the best types to clean floors and carpets.
Sadly, you cannot use them for anything above ground level. But if you are looking for a powerful option to remove dirt from floors, rugs, and carpets, then Upright Vacuum Cleaners are a very good choice.
2. Sweeper Vacuum Cleaners
A Sweeper Vacuum Cleaner is also known as a Stick Vacuum Cleaner. It is significantly less powerful than an Upright Vacuum Cleaner but this is due to its slender design and lightweight.
It has a long handle and a simple structure. You can use it on floors, carpets, or rugs. But as the suction power is low, you cannot use this vacuum for heavy-duty cleaning,
3. Canister Vacuum Cleaners
The middle ground between Upright Vacuum and Sweeper Vacuum is the Canister Vacuum. Similar to the Stick Vacuum Cleaner, it has a long and stiff handle. A flexible hose connects the handle to the main unit of the vacuum cleaner.
Speaking of the main unit in a Canister Vacuum Cleaner, it is a powerful unit similar to the Upright Vacuum cleaner and is usually a cylindrical or cuboidal structure that is either in a horizontal or vertical orientation.
The advantage of the separate vacuum head and the motor/dust collector unit is that you can use the Canister Vacuum Cleaner to clean floors, furniture, walls, or even ceiling.
4. Drum Vacuum Cleaners
A Drum Vacuum Cleaner is similar to a Canister Vacuum Cleaner, but it is bigger and more powerful. It is usually a vertical cylindrical drum with a separate vacuum head attached to the main unit with a flexible hose.
Due to their high power, we often see Drum Vacuum Cleaners in heavy-duty cleaning jobs such as industries, garages, workshops, and other similar places.
While regular Drum Vacuums are available as electrical options, you can also find larger industrial-grade vacuums that run on compressed air (to make use of the venturi effect).
5. Backpack Vacuum Cleaners
All the different types of vacuums we saw till now (and some models we are about to see) have one thing in common; the main unit always lies on the floor. You have to frequently reposition the unit to clean the entire room as you can reach as long as the hose and handles allow you.
A Backpack Vacuum Cleaner is exactly what it sounds like. You wear the main vacuum unit as a backpack and move around the house holding the handle. This way, you don’t have to worry about moving the main unit as it stays with you all the time.
Speaking of time, the Backpack Vacuum Cleaner saves you a lot of time as you can continuously vacuum a room without having to worry about moving it. If you have a sensitive back, then the Backpack Vacuum is very useful as you don’t have to bend and move the main unit all the time.
You can use it on floors, furniture, walls, and sometimes ceilings. But be very careful when climbing ladders wearing this backpack vacuum cleaner to clean high-reach things. Usually, Backpack Vacuum Cleaners are common in commercial applications rather than residential ones.
6. Bagged Vacuum Cleaners
In a Bagged Vacuum Cleaner, you get a bag to collect and store the dust that the vacuum cleaner collects. These types of vacuums are very common in the early days of vacuum cleaners.
Usually, Upright Vacuum Cleaners and Stick Vacuum Cleaners come as Bagged Vacuum Cleaners. These models can collect dirt, dust, and debris, which you can dispose of later.
The problem with this type is that after a certain time, the dirt-collecting bag becomes unhygienic to use and you have to replace the bag before using the vacuum cleaner.
7. Bagless Vacuum Cleaners
Most vacuums nowadays are essentially Bagless Vacuum Cleaners. Instead of a bag, these vacuum cleaners use a container of some sort to collect and hold the dirt and dust. After using the vacuum, you can easily dispose of the dust from the container and you can do this as many times as you want.
Some Bagless Vacuum Cleaners can release the dust after collecting it. This creates problems if you or your family members have any allergies.
8. Wet/Dry Vacuum Cleaners
If you notice all the vacuums we discussed till now, they are suitable only to clean dry dust. The suction, filters, and dust collection system are designed only for that purpose. But what if you have both dry and wet dust? Can you use any of the previously mentioned vacuums?
The answer is no. You need a special Wet/Dry Vacuum Cleaner for this purpose. It looks like a large version of a Canister Vacuum Cleaner but with the benefit of cleaning both dry and wet dust.
It has separate filters and collection compartments for wet and dry dust. As these are heavy-duty vacuums, you can find them in large commercial cleaning jobs.
9. Carpet Vacuum Cleaners
Regular Upright and Stick (Sweeper) Vacuum Cleaners do a decent job cleaning rugs and carpets. But if you want to deep clean them and extract dust that is hidden in the depths of the fibers, then you need a dedicated Carpet Vacuum Cleaner.
The advantage of Carpet Vacuum Cleaners is that they spray cleaning solutions and warm water on the surface of the carpet. After a couple of seconds of soaking, the vacuum removes even the deepest dirt and dust from carpets or furniture.
As these are specialty devices, they are usually very expensive and only shops and contractors that specialize in deep cleaning carpets own them.
10. Central Vacuum Cleaners
Another unique type of vacuum cleaner is a Central Vacuum Cleaner. Some modern homes are coming with these systems where you install a large vacuum and dust collection unit in the garage, basement, or utility area. Through internal piping, we have to make an accessible vacuum outlet inside the home.
You can connect hoses at the outlets and remove the dirt or some units have retractable hoses that you pull from the port and clean. Once you finish cleaning, the hose retracts back.
As the vacuuming unit and the dust collection unit are far away, you don’t have to worry about carrying it from room to room, the noise it creates, or the cleaning dust it collects.
If you are building a new house, workshop, or garage, then we recommend you consider installing a Central Vacuum Cleaner.
11. Cordless Vacuum Cleaners
We mentioned earlier the Stick Vacuum Cleaner. Now imagine the same style of a vacuum cleaner but it doesn’t have an electric cord. It is the Cordless Vacuum Cleaner.
A Cordless Vacuum Cleaner has a built-in battery that provides the necessary power to the motor. You can use it in multiple configurations; as a regular long-handle stick vacuum cleaner with a large vacuum head or as a small unit with a tiny hose to clean cars, furniture, or bookshelves.
Cordless Vacuum Cleaners are becoming very popular among new vacuum buyers. They offer excellent portability, lightweight design, and you can use them anywhere you like.
The main problem with Cordless Vacuum Cleaners is their runtime. You can use a fully-charged cordless vacuum cleaner for about 30 to 35 minutes max. After that, you have to recharge the battery.
12. Robotic Vacuum Cleaners
One of the fascinating appliances are Robotic Vacuum Cleaners. They are not something new and have been available for a long time. But they are getting a lot of traction in recent times.
The concept of a Robot Vacuum Cleaner is simple. It is an autonomous system that can function on its own. Most Robotic Vacuum Cleaners are disk-shaped floor-cleaning devices.
They have all kinds of sensors that detect obstacles/stairs in front of them. They first scan the entire room/house and create a virtual map. When you start the vacuum cleaner, it uses the map and then starts cleaning the floor. Speaking of cleaning, Robot Vacuum Cleaners are suitable only for cleaning floors and carpets.
A useful feature of these vacuums is when they detect they are running low on battery, they automatically go to the charging station and dock themselves to recharge the battery.
Cost is a primary limiting factor for many homeowners to invest in Robot Vacuum Cleaners. But with several manufacturers bringing in new models every day, the price is falling.
13. Handheld Vacuum Cleaners
If you want a vacuum cleaner to clean your car, then you can get a Handheld Vacuum Cleaner. These are usually low-power cordless devices that help in cleaning the floor and upholstery of a car.
Apart from cars, you can use Handheld Vacuum Cleaners to remove dirt from bookshelves, furniture, or any other low-dust places. Remember their suction power is very low and also the runtime is only 20 to 25 minutes.
14. Pet Vacuum Cleaners
Do you have pets in your home? Then you have to constantly clean your floors, carpets, and furniture from pet hair. This is very important to keep your home free from pet-related mess.
While you can use a regular vacuum cleaner (Upright Vacuum Cleaner, Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, or Stick Vacuum Cleaner), a dedicated Pet Vacuum Cleaner is a much better choice.
As pet hair is the common thing you clean, these vacuums have special design features that help in trapping the hair without clogging or overwhelming the filters.
Cleaning the dust collector is also very easy and some models come with a self-cleaning system.
Vacuum Cleaners have never been a luxury appliance. Even in the early days of vacuuming, middle-class and lower-middle-class families invested in decent vacuum cleaners as they help in maintaining the house free from dust and dirt.
Nowadays, the technology behind vacuums is quite unimaginable. You get a vacuum that is completely autonomous or uses a special cyclonic separation system that doesn’t need any filter.
In this guide, we saw what was life before vacuum cleaners and the basics of Vacuum Cleaners. After that, we saw different types of vacuums along with their typical use cases.
If you are in the market looking for a new vacuum cleaner, then the sheer number and types of vacuum cleaners can be overwhelming.
We hope that this guide could help you clear some doubts regarding vacuum cleaners and make a better buying decision. If you feel we missed something or want us to add anything, do let us know in the comments section below. It will not only help us but also other readers.