The 10 Best Vacuum Cleaners
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in May of 2015. When we say the items on this list suck, we mean it in the best — and most literal — way possible. Our selection of vacuum cleaners includes models that are powerful and feature-packed, coming with accessories and motors designed to ensure your housekeeping chores are completed quickly and easily, even if you have several messy pets (or worse, teenagers) in your home. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best vacuum cleaner on Amazon.
Swept Away: An On-Again, Off-Again Vacuum's Tale
Imagine the dirt from your carpets being sucked into a massive hose via the window and out to a massive receptacle parked in front of your home.
The Ewbank company in the UK also sold sweepers for decades.
Imagine, for a moment, trying to shake or beat the dust out of a rug. Unless the rug was a dinky throw, you'd have to have two or three people just to carry it out of the house! And let's face it, beating mostly allows dust to rise from the carpet...and then sink quietly back in. Inefficient at best, this was how most rugs were cleaned for centuries.
Throughout the mid-1800s, inventors both in Britain and the U.S. worked feverishly to find a better way. There was H.H. Herrick who came up with a contraption that worked, but it was to complicated, and never caught on. China shop owner Melville Bissell invented a carpet sweeper in which rotary brushes...well, sort of brushed the dirt out of a rug. The Ewbank company in the UK also sold sweepers for decades.
It wasn't until Englishman, Cecil Booth introduced suction to the process that the vacuum cleaner truly came to be. His original invention was the size of a street sweeper. Imagine the dirt from your carpets being sucked into a massive hose via the window and out to a massive receptacle parked in front of your home. Only the richest folks could afford this kind of treatment. But the endorsement of the Royal Family ensured Booth's popularity.
Inventors are a persistent lot. Back in America, James Spangler came up with the first electric vacuum. It was both portable and lightweight. And combined a rotary brush action with suction to seal the deal. Not much of a showman, Spangler sold his invention to a relative, William Hoover. Hoover settled on the idea of selling the machines door-to-door...and the rest is vacuuming history.
Somehow, Hoover couldn't let got of the whole rug beating thing. In 1926, his company added a rod that beat the carpet, to the brush and suction functions. The Eureka and Electrolux firms also made successful cleaners.
Most of today's cleaners retain the same essentials as those early vacuums. Cyclone and sonic technologies are notable among recent innovations.
Vacuum Cleaner Designs and Styles
Upright vacuums can literally stand on their own. They also perform well when it comes to cleaning. They're very popular for large rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting.
Available features include motorized heads, lighted front panels, enhanced edge cleaning, height adjustment and suction control. Look for bagless versions for even more convenience.
With so many detachable parts, they're sometimes easier to store so are a good buy.
Canisters were once considered best for floors and short-nap rugs. Folks used to keep a canister and an upright on hand to cover all the bases. But today's tech means canisters are multi-functional. Lightweight and easy to maneuver, they also take care of drapes, furniture, and even cars with ease. With so many detachable parts, they're sometimes easier to store so are a good buy.
Cordless vacuums are the ultimate in convenience, portability and ease of storage. Put them to work on hard-to-reach places like vents, blinds, windowsills. And they're far more efficient than a broomstick at tackling cobwebs. Of course, cordless usually translates to battery-powered. Some won't mind keeping the battery charged, others will.
Stick vacuums make up in ease of use for what they lack in power. They're a good choice for a small apartment or for a somewhat frail user, as they are fairly light in weight. That said, some actually do come with attachments for greater versatility.
Convertible models can be switched from upright to canister, or from stick to handheld by lifting away a component, for example. They're also terrific for small living spaces.
So there you have it. Vacuum styles are borrowing from one another, almost cross-breeding, as it were. It all adds up to more power, flexibility and ease for the homeowner.
Cyclones, Wind Tunnels, and HEPA...Oh, My!
What would Dorothy think? What used to be a mere household appliance now includes attributes of a natural disaster! Are we trying to clean the house? Or create a disaster? Here is brief info on how current vacuum tech can lead to a cleaner home.
Not to be left behind, Hoover created what it calls WindTunnel technology.
Cyclone technology was developed by Brit James Dyson. (You may have seen his TV ads.) Without getting too techie, cyclone allows for powerful suction that may be directed through a single, or multiple, channels. The upshot? The vacuum cleaner bag is not needed. Cyclonic machines have only a removable bin that can be emptied whenever it is full. Dyson engineers -- like most techies -- weren't satisfied with that. They've since developed a tech so refined, you don't even need to change the vacuum filter for at least 10 years.
Not to be left behind, Hoover created what it calls WindTunnel technology. And nabbed a U.S. patent for it. Says the company, “Three independent channels of suction work together to capture and transport debris." The multiple channels mean you can get out even the "deepest dirt from your carpets." Hoover's engineers are also restless. They've now come up with a HEPA filter system that "cleans itself automatically every six seconds."
What are the differences between cyclone and WindTunnel technologies? Well, we're probably not qualified to explain. But isn't it good to know so many talented engineers want to make your home cleaner?
Where would we be without so much healthy competition?
Speaking of HEPA, the filtration system is not the newest technology, but it can make all the difference for allergy sufferers. HEPA filters can trap much smaller particles than ordinary filters. Which is why the claim is that they remove 99.5% of allergens from the air. Some vacuums that include a HEPA filer also include an ordinary filter. Both types are replaceable. Some are even rinseable.
Dual-Motor machines include separate motors for the vacuum itself and for the rotating brush. Some models allow you to choose between single - and dual - motor operation. On floors, you might want to leave the brush motor off, for example.
Now that we've written up these developments, rest assured the industry will invent new technologies...probably as soon as tomorrow. All in the interest of keeping your flooring cleaner and your indoor air safer.
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