Do you think vacuuming is boring? While cleaning up your home might not be the most exciting of tasks, there’s a surprising amount of intriguing history, technology and science to the average vacuum cleaner.
From the origins of the first vacuum cleaner to the incredible popularity of vacuums today, read on to discover six facts about vacuum cleaners that are sure to impress your friends.
The first vacuum cleaner was invented in 1866
Vacuums have been around for almost 150 years. The first vacuums were developed in Chicago in the 1960s. Completely non-electric, the early vacuums – which became known as ‘Whirlwind’ machines – used a crank to power the vacuum engine.
Although many of the Whirlwind vacuums were produced, most were destroyed in the great Chicago fire in 1871. Today, only two Whirlwind vacuums are still around, although numerous other early non-electric vacuums can be found in museums.
There’s a reason they’re known as hoovers
Did you know that the hoover nickname is actually an early brand name for vacuum cleaners? W.H. Hoover, the father of future American President Herbert Hoover, was an early business innovator responsible for popularising the vacuum cleaner.
In 1908, he purchased the Electric Suction Sweeper Company and appointed himself the president. Over the next 15 years, he grew the company to employ thousands of people and renamed it The Hoover Company, an early leader in vacuum technology.
Almost all US and UK homes own vacuums
In 1948, just 40 per cent of American families owned vacuum cleaners. Today, about 98 per cent of US and UK homes have a vacuum cleaner on hand for cleaning up dirt, dust and other annoyances.
Interestingly, vacuum cleaners are the top-selling home appliance in the USA, with a greater number of vacuums sold than refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and other popular home appliances.
Early vacuums needed two people to operate
Think using your vacuum cleaner is difficult? Today’s vacuum cleaners are easy to use; aside from occasionally changing the bag, all you’ve got to do is plug it in and get to work.
Early vacuums used a crank system that required two people to operate. The first person cranked the machine or operated it using foot pedals, while the other was responsible for managing the hose and sucking up dirt and dust.
The first vacuums simply redistributed dust
Instead of sucking up dust and dirt into a bag, the earliest vacuums simply moved dust and dirt from one location to another. Early vacuums had a built-in vent that pumped out the contents from the back of the mechanical vacuum.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that vacuum cleaners held the dust they sucked up for the operator to discard. In 1901, Hubert Cecil Booth invented the vacuum filter and made cleaning and decluttering significantly easier for homeowners.
Vacuuming removes 95% of dry soil from carpets
Far from being an inefficient way to clean, vacuum cleaners are some of the world’s most efficient cleaning devices. Frequent vacuuming removes as much as 95% of all dry soil, dust and allergens from hard flooring and carpet.
This is because vacuums can extract dirt, dust and allergens that are embedded in a carpet – something regular brooms and brushes can’t do. By all measures, vacuums are the most efficient floor cleaning appliances in technological history.