Two Centuries of Vacuum Cleaners

The vacuum cleaner is one of the most popular inventions for cleaning floors. They make the job of cleaning carpets much easier and more thorough than any other type of floor cleaning available. They are great for picking up dirt and dust as well as many other types of messes. Here is a short history of the vacuum cleaner and how they have evolved over the past century.

What is a Vacuum Cleaner?

A vacuum cleaner is a device using an air pump creating a partial vacuum that is used to suck up dirt and dust from floors, upholstery, and draperies. The dirt is collected in a removable bag or container to be thrown away and replaced or cleaned. They come in all shapes and sizes. The smallest are handheld battery powered devices. The largest are self-propelled trucks for vacuuming large spills and removing contaminated soil. Most are stand-up models that move on wheels for home use.

Manual Powered Vs. Powered Vacuum Cleaners

Manual powered vacuums were among some of the first types created. They use a fan driven by a hand crank to pick up dust and dirt. They were generally bulky and very hard to use. These types of vacuums had mixed success and were replaced by vacuum cleaners that were powered by different power sources. Electric and oil were both popular options while more recently either electric or battery powered models are most of what’s on the market.

Domestic Vacuum Cleaners

Since the early 1900‘s vacuum cleaners have been available on the domestic market that resembles what is available on the market today. They are portable, store easily, and run by a single person. They use a device similar to a bellow to suck any dust into a removable and flexible pipe that you can attach a variety of nozzles to for cleaning different surfaces. The first portable electric vacuum cleaner was made available in 1907.

Recent Vacuum Developments

After 1980 many more technological advances have been made when it comes to vacuums. These technologies include filter-less cyclonic dirt separation, curbs allergens and bacteria, vacuum systems build into the home, and hand-held rechargeable vacuums. New types of machines have been able to be created by using miniature computer technology and batteries that have been improved. These improvements helped to start the trend of robotic vacuum cleaners after 2004. It was cordless and cleaned the floor itself.

A hovering vacuum cleaner that is able to float on air has been made as well. It is very lightweight and easy to maneuver. Air Recycling Technology uses an air stream instead of a vacuum to collect dust and dirt. It is more energy efficient than the vacuum used in most other devices. It has not been used in any current production cleaner.

Type of Vacuum Cleaners

Many types of vacuum cleaners exist with different benefits. Uprights, canisters, drums, wet/dry, pneumatic, backpack, hand-held, robotic, cyclonic, central, constellation, and even vehicles are all used for different applications. All these types can feature exhaust filtration and attachments. They have different suction ratings, input power, and output power. Here is a bit about the history of the vacuum cleaner over the last 200 years.

The First Vacuum Cleaners

Technology development for the vacuum cleaner first started in 1868. This was a manually-powered machine that worked by working a crank in order to operate it. The biggest flaw with this device was that you had to both turn the crank and push the vacuum at the same time. Many of these devices were burned during the Chicago fire of 1871. It wasn’t until 1900 when an electric-powered vacuum appeared but many improvements were needed to make it work better.

Turn of the Century Vacuums

Just after the turn of the century in 1901, a vacuum was introduced that was the first to use vacuum tube technology. The first made were powered by using oil, but an electric-powered vacuum followed before long. This device was so large that a horse and carriage were needed to carry it. It was parked outside while the user cleaned the floors on the inside.

More Current Model Designs

In 1905 the first vacuum that is more like what we see today was created. It was also manually run but much easier to use than the previous models. It sucked dust into a removable pipe that you could clean out between uses. Other attachments were available to clean different areas of your home more easily.

Technological Developments of the Vacuum Cleaner

In 1908 a cleaner was created that used a rotating brush as well as an electric vacuum. This idea was sold to Hoover who improved on the idea over the next century. In 1952 they made a model that hovered as it cleaned the floor beneath it. Vacuums became more common in homes after World War II as homes in the western world began having more carpeting that needed cleaning. This is when many improvements started being made in the industry.

The Dyson Company’s Cyclone