The Vacuum Cleaners of Yesterday and Today

by Joanna Dykhuis, IQS Editor

When I was younger, I had mixed feelings about Saturday mornings. Despite the appeal of cartoons and pancakes, I also knew there would be a list of chores waiting for me. And on that list would be my least favorite task: vacuuming. I always put it off until the very end and then went about it with a half-hearted effort. We had a number of vacuum cleaners that we used for different parts of the house and for different reasons. Thankfully, all of our vacuums were residential vacuums which are relatively lightweight, quiet and efficient as compared to commercial vacuums that are used by professionals. I think an industrial vacuum cleaner would have been overkill because that kind of vacuum can suction up everything from sawdust to oil spills.

 

Photos courtesy of Latta Equipment and Vac-U-Max respectively.

The main vacuum I used was a novelty to my friends because all I had to do was plug a long hose into a port in the wall and I would have instant suction. It was a central vacuum system with suction ports throughout the house that deposited debris into one large container in the basement that we periodically emptied. Though this kind of vacuum is powerful and easy to use, it requires extra storage for the hose and attachments. Our hose was kept in the garage and therefore required a weekly check for spiders.

Photo courtesy of Latta Equipment.

Another kind of vacuum I used was an upright. This portable vacuum cleaner had a power cord that I would wrap around the table by accident but it was efficient and more practical for quick touch ups during the week. It also featured HEPA, or high efficiency particulate air, filtration. HEPA vacuum cleaners help eliminate dust particles from escaping the bag and recirculating back into the air. This is beneficial for allergy sufferers like my brothers.

A third vacuum that I used periodically—thankfully, not every Saturday—was an auto vacuum. When it was my turn to clean out the family car, I would reach for this small vacuum cleaner that used a special attachment to pick up every last crumb from the floor, seats and in between. If I noticed that I was losing suction then it was time to empty the bag. Alternatively, bagless vacuum cleaners use a small container to collect dirt and dust. Instead of replacing the bag, this enclosure is emptied and then placed back into the vacuum. This is a more environmentally friendly method though it is more hands-on because the filter requires regular cleaning.

Photos courtesy of Latta Equipment.

With all the new developments in vacuum technology, I hope that soon we will have self-cleaning floors that will allow kids all over the country to reclaim their Saturday mornings. Until that point, perhaps I will invest in the canister vacuum that hovers above the floors on a cushion of exhaust air or in a robot vacuum that is self-propelling and automatically cleans my floors for me. Though they may sound like science fiction to some, to me they are a dream come true.

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