There are so many different vacuum cleaners on the market that it can be confusing to choose the right one. The first step is to determine whether an upright or canister is right for your lifestyle and home environment. This decision is based on the amount of carpeting and other flooring in the home, whether or not you have stairs, as well as any specialized cleaning situations. Also consider the type of fibers used in the carpet and/or rugs; the amount of traffic and the types of soiling in the home; performance, durability, ease of use, filtration, noise level, capacity, storage, features and cost.
The Different Types of Vacuum Cleaners
There are two major types of vacuum cleaners, uprights and canisters. The most obvious is that you push an upright and pull a canister. "Upright vacuum cleaners" excel at cleaning synthetic (nylon, olefin or polyester) carpeting and many also have the ability to turn off the revolving brush for cleaning smooth floors. Recent innovations like on-board attachments and integrated extension hoses have made uprights much more versatile and able to offer many of the features of canisters. A "canister vacuum cleaner" has a base unit that contains the vacuum motor, dust bag and filter system. There are three types of canister vacuum cleaners. All three are used with a hose, wands and attachments. The difference is in the attachments. Canisters may utilize a revolving brush like uprights in a cleaning tool known as a power head or power nozzle. Another choice is a canister with a turbo or turbine power nozzle, which is a power nozzle with a revolving brush that is powered by the airflow created by the canister’s suction motor. The third type of canister features a power nozzle where a separate electric motor drives a revolving brush roll.
Canisters are by far the most versatile vacuum cleaner design, offering outstanding performance on carpet and smooth floors as well as above the floor surfaces. Because the cleaning tools are used with a hose and wands, these vacuum cleaners are more maneuverable and easily able to get under most furniture and into tight spaces. And, because canisters are designed to be used with attachments, they generally have more thoughtfully designed, highly functional attachments that perform a wide variety of above the floor cleaning tasks easily and effectively.
If your home has stairs, a canister or power team is the recommended type of vacuum cleaner. An upright is not designed to clean stairs by itself. And, even with attachments, attempting to clean stairs with an upright is awkward and the results are generally poor because you cannot use an upright’s revolving brush on the stair treads, an area of high traffic.
If you do not have stairs, and if your home is primarily synthetic fiber (nylon, olefin or polyester) wall-to-wall carpeting, an upright with smooth floor cleaning ability and the necessary attachments to clean above the floor surfaces is a good choice.
Once you have identified the type of vacuum cleaner you can begin look at these other considerations, which include the type of fibers used in the carpet or rugs; the amount of traffic and the types of soiling in the home; performance, durability, ease of use, filtration, noise level, capacity, storage, features and cost in order to narrow down your choices even further.
Synthetic fibers are very durable and you can use the most aggressive household vacuum cleaner without fear of fiber damage. Natural fibers, however, must be treated more gently. The most common natural fiber used in wall-to-wall carpeting, area and Oriental rugs is wool, but this represents less than 1% of the wall-to-wall carpeting in the U.S. Where wool is very popular. Wool is a very durable fiber and has been used for thousands of years to create rugs around the world, but it must be vacuumed with care. Oriental rugs are most often wool but can also be made with silk.
The amount of traffic and the type of carpet soils also influence your choice of vacuum cleaner. Most carpet soils come in on the shoes of people and pets that enter the home. If you have a house full of kids and pets, you will have more carpet soils being brought into the home.
The general rule of thumb is to choose the most aggressive vacuum cleaner that your carpet and rug fibers can safely tolerate.
You will certainly want to evaluate the performance, or cleaning ability, of the vacuum cleaners you are considering. Very important considerations are the airflow (the most important of all) and sealed suction (listed on vacuum cleaner specifications as ?water lift?).
When you choose a vacuum cleaner with excellent airflow and water lift specifications, you are well on your way to a machine with outstanding cleaning ability. You will also want to select the appropriate attachments or cleaning tools that will easily remove the soils from the carpeting, smooth floors and above the floor surfaces in your home.
An important, but often overlooked, element of cleaning ability is the capability of the vacuum cleaner to retain the soils, and especially the fine particulates, that it picks up. If a vacuum cleaner does not offer high levels of filtration, these fine particles can simply go right through the vacuum cleaner and are returned to the room air, where they settle as dust. And, if anyone in your home suffers from allergies, asthma or any other health condition that is impacted by fine particles or allergens in the indoor air, a high filtration or HEPA filtration vacuum cleaner is strongly recommended.
The quality of your vacuum cleaner is also important and will determine whether your vacuum cleaner will be replaced in a year or two or will last for many years and even decades.
When evaluating durability, evaluate the quality of the construction. Look for solid components of good quality as opposed to flimsy or brittle appearing materials. Look for good fit and finish without rough edges. The seals should be heavy duty and components that open and close should do so with a nice solid feel. Another indication of quality and durability can also be partially determined by the length and specifics of the warranty.
No matter how great a vacuum cleaner might be in terms of specifications, it must also be easy to use. Think about what you don’t like about your current vacuum cleaner and look for a new one that eliminates those problems.
Consider whether you have any specific issues concerning weight or personal preferences concerning uprights versus canister vacuum cleaners. If there are specific reasons for buying a new vacuum cleaner, remember to be sure that your new one provides solutions to these cleaning challenges.
But, regardless of the specifics of your situation, the vacuum cleaner you choose should feel good in your hand and not be fatiguing to use. It should maneuver easily and be able to get under your furniture.
The capacity of a vacuum cleaner relates to the size of the dust bag. The bigger the dust bag, the less often it needs to be changed. If you have a large home and/or lots of traffic (think kids and pets) this means that you will have larger amounts of soil to remove. In this case, consider a full-sized vacuum cleaner. This way, you won’t have the inconvenience and additional cost of constantly changing the paper bag.
Some homes have plenty of storage space and some don’t have an inch to spare. If storage space is at a premium in your home, be sure to give some thought to where you will store your new vacuum cleaner. Will it fit in the space where you stored your last one? There are a wide variety of sizes of vacuum cleaners, both uprights and canisters, and you can find the right one that will fit in the storage space you have available.
Be sure that the vacuum cleaner you choose gives you everything to make the chore of vacuuming as easy as possible.