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A vacuum cleaner is an appliance made up of an electric motor, fan, intake and exhaust port, as well as a porous bag or compartment in order to collect dirt and dust. While used primarily for cleaning, a vacuum can also be used to:
- Groom your pets
- Help you find a small item that you dropped the day before
- Fix indentations in your carpeted areas
- Freshen up the air
A vacuum cleaner will range from less than $100 to over $1000 depending on its attachments and capacity. Today, around 98% of American households have a vacuum cleaner compared to only 40% of homes that had a vacuum in 1938 because only a percentage of houses had electricity. This appliance has the largest sales volume of major appliances in the U.S. with models ranging from traditional, upright vacuums to robotic vacuum cleaners.
How much energy a vacuum cleaner will require depends on its application with commercial vacuums consuming an average of 1000 Watts to 4000 Watts but a vacuum cleaner with one motor, which is common in small homes, require 1000 Watts to 1500 Watts. A typical vacuum cleaner will consume 1.4 kWh of energy for every hour of use which costs you about $0.17 per hour. The capacity of a house vacuum cleaner can range from 2 liters to 10 liters with some models offering dual cleaning support (wet and dry.)
A vacuum cleaner can be used to clean up spilled liquid or clean up any dust in the living room. This appliance can also be used to clean other appliances because of its different attachments. You can gather up pet hair or ashes around your fireplace too. Other ways to use your vacuum cleaner include:
Clean Electronic Keyboards
Use the vacuum cleaner to deep clean your electronics’ keyboards. If you’ve already disinfected your computer or tablet keyboard, you can use your handheld vacuum to clean up the crumbs or dust that has accumulated in between the keys. If you have a larger vacuum, use the crevice attachment to suck up any leftover food.
Clean Up Appliances
Another way to use your vacuum is to clean up other appliances around your kitchen. When you are doing your refrigerator cleaning, use the vacuum to clean up any spilled food or liquid if it has dual cleaning support. You can also use the vacuum cleaner to remove dust that has built up around the refrigerator coils and the condenser to help your fridge run more efficiently and stay cold.
Use the vacuum cleaner to deodorize any smelly stuffed toys, clothes, or shoes. Place your item in a trash bag and add 2 cups to 3 cups of cat litter depending on the size of your item. Tie off the trash bag and leave your item in it for 6 hours to 8 hours or 2 days to 3 days. When your item is no longer smelly, use your vacuum to remove any leftover cat litter or dust.
Disperse Essential Oil
Also, you can use a vacuum to make your home smell like your favorite essential oil. Add a few drops or completely saturate a cotton ball with an essential oil like lavender or peppermint and place it into your vacuum cleaners’ dust cap or into its cleaning bag. As you are vacuuming around the house, the airflow of the appliance will disperse and release the scent of the essential oil. This way, you will clean and be able to freshen up the living room too.
Fix Dents in Carpets
A vacuum cleaner can be used to fix carpet indentations around the house. If you have heavy furniture pieces that you have planned to move around but are hesitant about because of the obvious indentations that they leave behind, your vacuum can help. After moving your furniture, place an ice cube inside the carpet indentation and let it melt. The cold water helps carpet fibers re-fluff. After the carpet has dried, run your vacuum over this area and remove the indentation.
Freshen Up Your Living Room
The vacuum can be used to remove odors and brighten up the different fabrics around your living room. Use your vacuum cleaner to remove any crumbs, dust, and dirt on and around your furniture, pillow, and carpets. Generously sprinkle your upholstery, pillows, and carpeted areas with baking soda. Use a damp sponge or your mop to work the baking soda into the fabric. Leave this to sit for 1 hour. Afterwards, use your vacuum cleaner to suck up the baking soda. The fabric will look much brighter and your living room will seem fresher.
Gather Pet Hair
A vacuum cleaner can be dedicated to cleaning up fine pet hair. You can easily gather pet hair that is stuck in your carpets, rugs, and corners of the kitchen with the vacuum cleaner. For smaller spaces, simply use the crevice attachment. This attachment is also great for capturing pet hair on your pet’s bed, your own bedspreads, and sofas. This way, when you are tossing these fabrics in the washing machine, it will be less likely to clog because of the excess hair or fur.
Get Rid of Allergens
Easily get rid of allergens inside your home with the vacuum cleaner. Using the dust brush attachment of your appliance, vacuum your window sills, window screens, door track and door screens to remove any dust or pollen that has accumulated over the week. You can also vacuum in between the screens and your windows as well as the drapes or curtains.
A vacuum cleaner and its attachments can be used to groom your pets. If your vacuum cleaner already comes with a pet hair attachment, simply run it over the fur of your pet if they are comfortable with it. If you do not have a model with this specific attachment, you can use the crevice or soft dusting attachment to catch any excess hair that your pet is shedding.
Look for Small Items
Use the vacuum to look for a small earring or clothing pin that you’ve dropped and just can’t seem to find. If you’ve lost something in the fibers of your carpet, pull a pantyhose or stocking over the vacuum and run it over the area where you lost what you are looking for. The vacuum will suck up the item but the pantyhose or stocking will keep it right outside the attachment.
Maintain Fireplaces and Fire Pits
An alternative way to use the vacuum is to clean fireplaces and fire pits. Instead of sweeping up ash and soot, use your vacuum cleaner because it will take less time and there are models that have separate tanks to collect leftover ash. Make sure that the ash and soot are cool before vacuuming it.
Your vacuum can prevent fires from happening. Use a small attachment to vacuum the countertops and in between different appliances. Make sure to unplug your toasters and toaster ovens before cleaning up crumbs with the vacuum to prevent fires and prevent insects from infesting your appliances. As for your convection oven, run a cleaning cycle before vacuuming the oven for any residue.
To prevent a fire from happening in your dryer, use the crevice tool. Unplug your dryer and remove the lint that can build up by removing the lint trap then using the vacuum to get rid of any lint that has been trapped in the vent. Do this every 3 months or 4 months for safety.
Frequent vacuuming can remove insects from ceiling corners and other crevices. Vacuuming frequently can kill 96% of adult and larvae fleas around your home as well as dust mites that feed on dead skin cells on mattresses. Use the crevice tool to capture mosquitoes and spiders in corners around your house. Afterwards, you can cover the vacuum hose with a cloth and use a rubber band to secure it to clean up dusty cobwebs.
A vacuum cleaner is also a great appliance to use to unclog sinks around the house. If your vacuum has a blower mode, use this to unclog kitchen sinks or the bathtub.
What are the common mistakes for usage of a vacuum cleaner?
There are a few mistakes that people make when they are learning how to use a vacuum cleaner. These common errors include:
- Emptying the bag rarely. If you have a bagged vacuum, this type of vacuum cleaner works best if it is half-full at most. Empty the vacuum cleaner bag when it reaches this point to get the most out of your appliance. Your vacuum’s efficiency can be reduced by 50% if the bags are full.
- Forgetting to use the right attachment. Each attachment has its purpose so make sure to use the upholstery tool when you need to but the crevice tool for corners around the house.
- Leaving the dust cap full. If the dust cap is full, your vacuum will be less effective. The dust can also restrict air from properly flowing into your vacuum which will cause it to overheat. Empty your vacuum cleaner’s dust cap before every use to avoid this from happening.
- Not adjusting your vacuum’s height. Making sure that you change the height of your vacuum cleaner when you are moving to a different surface will make cleaning easier for you. Some models are designed to do this automatically, otherwise, adjust accordingly.
- Not vacuuming often enough. Ideally, you should vacuum every day to get rid of allergens and insects that can be harmful to your health. Find a schedule that works for you even if it is once a week and stick to it.
- Using the wrong extension cord. Each model has a recommended extension cord that is outlined by the manufacturer so that you use the right wattage and amp rating. Read your instruction manual to avoid causing a fire with your vacuum cleaner.
- Vacuuming and then dusting your home. This is counterproductive. Dust your room before taking out your vacuum to make sure that dust and dirt that has accumulated over the past few days will settle on the floor. This way, you can vacuum up everything.
- Vacuuming hard objects. Small pebbles, loose change, screws, and glass can be found every once in a while and it can be tempting to use the vacuum to clean it up. However, this can damage your vacuum cleaner on the inside by being stuck or ripping the vacuum bag. Pick up hard objects before vacuuming to protect your appliance.
- Vacuuming in one direction. Vacuum in all directions to pick up all of the dirt and dust that has accumulated in carpet fibers.
- Vacuuming too fast. To effectively vacuum, you need to give your appliance time to pick up dust particles and debris from in between floorboards and carpet fibers. This means that you will need to move slowly and repeat vacuuming in all directions more than once to collect 85% of allergens.
- Waiting for dirt to show. Dirt and dust can pile up in between the fibers of a carpet which is why your allergies are acting up. Vacuum at least once a week if not every day even if you don’t think that your home is dirty.
- You don’t move furniture when you’re vacuuming. If you are not moving your furniture, you are not thoroughly cleaning your home. Make sure to move furniture around to clean underneath it and also so that there is not much strain on your floors for long periods of time.
Keep these mistakes in mind when you are using the vacuum cleaner for the use cases above.
What is the history of usage of vacuum cleaners?
Before discussing what a vacuum cleaner is, let us discuss the cleaning process and different solutions that lead to today’s vacuum. Archaeologists have found remnants of cleaning tools that date back to 2300 B.C. and it was only in 1979 that the broom was perfected.
A farmer from Massachusetts named Levi Dickenson had noticed that his wife struggled cleaning with the type of broom she had because it did not sweep well and its bristles would constantly fall out. To address these issues, Dickenson made a broom out of sorghum, a grain that grows like corn and is used to feed livestock. Sorghum was strong and did not fall apart which is why it became popular among Dickenson’s neighbors. In 1950, this was sold across New England and was called the broomcorn.
There were inventors all around England that patented their own versions of cleaners for carpets, streets, and floors but it was in 1858 that Hiram Herrick patented the American patent sweeper. This was a rolling broom and a dustpan that did not make it that big in the market. In 1960, an inventor from Iowa named Daniel Hess invented the machine that drew out dust and dirt from carpets using air which is considered the basis of today’s vacuum cleaners.
Ives McGaffey took this concept a step further in 1869 as he used a fan to move air and his version of the vacuum stood upright. The “Whirlwind” had a retail price of $25 which is equivalent to $450 today and did not sell because it was more difficult to use than a broom and dustpan.
In 1982, when gasoline emerged as a fuel source, new innovations were born. In 1989, John S. Thurman created the pneumatic carpet renovator that ran on gasoline to blast air in order to blow dust and clean carpets. This large device was brought from home to home and cost $4 (around $110 to $115 today) per visit.
Then, the first vacuum that sucked dirt and dust was invented by Hubert Cecil Booth in 1901 England. After placing a handkerchief on a restaurant chair and sucking air into it, Booth say how much dust was collected and produced a vacuum cleaner that used a combustion engine to pull air through a cloth filter. This was called the “Puffing Billy” and was pulled by a horse.
The first portable cleaning device that used a vacuum was designed by Walter Griffiths. In 1906, bellows were used to suck up dirt and dust with a flexible pipe. The following year, the “Domestic Cyclone” was invented by James B. Kirby which used water to separate dirt instead of a filter. The first vacuum that was portable and had a motor was invented by James Murray Spangler in 1907 and had a bag for dust, rotating brush, box, and electric fan. This was then patented and sold to William Henry Hoover and was redesigned with a steel box and attachments for the hose in 1908. A disposable filter bag was added in 1926 marking the first upright vacuum cleaner.
Do the use cases of a vacuum cleaner change based on type?
Yes, the use cases of a vacuum change based on the type of vacuum cleaner you purchase. Handheld vacuums are best for hard-to-reach places and are used to vacuum cars as well. They are versatile and can be used to vacuum tight spaces but are not great for general floor cleaning. A canister vacuum is powerful but has slender frames. This type of vacuum is best for carpeted and hardwood floors which make them one of the most expensive types.
An upright vacuum is the most popular because they have the easiest to understand functions and accessories. Some models can clean both carpeted areas and hardwood floors. The stick vacuum is the least powerful but is the best vacuum for narrow places, area rugs, light carpets, and hardwood floors. They are easy to store in a closet space or in the corner of your kitchen. Then there are autonomous or robot vacuum cleaners that require the least effort. These vacuums roam around your house and clean up any debris or dust that they come across. They can reach underneath furniture without having them move it and can save you time but they are expensive.
Which vacuum cleaner is best for cleaning pet hair?
The best vacuum cleaner for cleaning pet hair is an upright or canister vacuum with a pet hair attachment. An upright vacuum cleaner can get into tight spots and corners where pet hair can accumulate and a canister vacuum is powerful enough to get pet hair out of carpets, rugs, and on hardwood floors.
Does a vacuum cleaner have more use cases than a mop?
Yes, vacuum cleaner vs. mop, the vacuum has more use cases. A mop is a cleaning tool that is made up of a bundle of material attached to a stick to soak up liquid or dust. A wet and dry vacuum can do this as well. However, a vacuum cleaner can be used to groom pets, deodorize blankets, and prevent house fires which a mop cannot do.
What are other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a vacuum cleaner?
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a vacuum cleaner include:
- Broom and Dustpan: this combination has been used to clean carpets buy guiding debris and dust particles into a dustpan after collecting it with a broom.
- Lint Roller: A lint roller collects lint, fur, and hair using adhesive paper on a plastic or cardboard barrel.
- Mop: a mop is a bundle of thick and loose string attached to a stick to wipe and clean floors as well as other surfaces.
- Sweeper: A sweeper is a combination of a shovel and broom used to clean floors.
While these tools have similar case uses to a vacuum cleaner, you can read about 5 other uses of these 4 kitchen appliances here.