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  Vaccum Cleaner Advice

It is hard to be objective when buying a vacuum cleaner or, as they are commonly referred to, a Hoover as Hoover were the original dirt suckers. People commonly refer to vacuuming the carpets or floors as "hoovering" which is just brilliant for Hoover from a marketing perspective.

However the vacuum cleaner market changed in the late eighties and early nineties with the introduction of the cheap plastic vacuum cleaners that we see so many of today. Most of these were being made in low-cost labour countries and continue to be so today. The quality of the plastics was reduced, the motors and the switchgear in an effort to reduce the retail prices and, at one point, they went into total free fall. Today we still have many vacuum cleaners that retail for under £50 but, in general, they will be coming from China and they won't be very good.

The big change and, possibly the only thing that saved a lot of cleaner brands, was the arrival of two things, the carpet cleaners from Vax, primarily the highly successful old Vax 121 and the arrival of Dyson on the cleaner scene which, to be fair to Dyson, pretty much revitalised and revolutionised the vacuum cleaner market.

  How Long Will It Last

In all of this what seemed to be forgotten was the quality names that are out there and the short of it is that if you are going to buy a vacuum cleaner there's really two choices, either buy the best that you can or you may as well buy the cheapest pile of rubbish you can.

The reason that we'd say this is that there is little middle ground when it comes to vacs, it's either good, well built and will last or it's going to fall apart in a few years. It is not uncommon for some of the cheap machines to have spare parts, bags and filters unavailable after a mere eighteen months!

In short the cheap vacuum cleaners are, in our opinion, a false economy as you get poorer performance and you get a product that will be unlikely to see three years out before falling apart, burning out or becoming obsolete.

The two names that stand out here are Miele and Sebo, both German and both very good.

  Cylinder Or Upright Vacuum Cleaner

Quite simply we like cylinder vacuum cleaners and the reason is very simple, they don't break as often as they tend to be far more robust than upright cleaners.

They also tend to be far less prone to blockages and the suction is far superior as a general rule in practice in our experience. This means that the motors tend to last longer as well.

Lots of people look to an upright cleaner as being easier to use and move as it's all in the one "box" if you like, seeing a cylinder vac as being fussy with the hose and various tools that come with them, but in actual fact we find the cylinder vacuum cleaners more manoeuvrable and far more flexible than the uprights. Most cylinder cleaners these days are designed to sit on stairs for example, uprights have a nasty habit of having to be held or they will tip over.

It's also worth noting that in almost all commercial applications cylinder cleaners are used, you now don't have to wonder why that is, it's simply because they are more robust and perform better.

  Bagged Or Baggless Cleaner, Brush Roll Or Not?

There's been raging debates and some have even gone to court over this, mainly due to Dyson and there have been several little spats between various manufacturers and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over some of the claims being made about cleaners in general in this area. Normally this is one manufacturer claiming that another isn't telling the truth but we don't care what they fall out over.

Bagless cleaners rely on filtration of the air, that is to say that, just like a cleaner with a bag, you suck in the dirt from the carpet or floor and cleaner air than went is put out. The trick is on how you retain the dirt inside the vacuum cleaner and that comes down, pretty much, to suction power and filtration.

The mechanical action of a beater bar, or brush roll, only serves to "beat" the carpet loosening dirt and picking up small items and, whilst effective on carpet when a good one is used, it is almost worthless and can, in fact be detrimental, on hard floors such as laminate flooring. So, if you're house doesn't have carpets then you don't really want a vacuum cleaner with a brush roll on it as on hard floors all it will do is throw around the floor what you're trying to pick up only making the cleaning harder.

The short of it is this, most appliance engineers will hold the opinion that bagless cleaners are less efficient and more troublesome than bagged ones. Ask many what they have in their own home and you'll find all too often that it's a Sebo or a Miele, both the top quality brands in our opinion and both don't do bagless cleaners. Now you know why, they don't clean properly in our opinion either.

THIS ARTICLE which explains why we don't sell cheap cleaner bags and tells you a bit more about how they work.

  Robotic Vacuum Cleaners

The latest craze is for robotic vacuum cleaners like the Electrolux Trilobite or the much cheaper Roomba cleaner. Well, so far, the jury is out on reliability as they've not been around long enough to make a truly formed opinion.

On performance they're fine for light cleaning duties but, anything remotely hard, like pet hairs or general mess made by kids and you can pretty much forget it as they just can't cope with it. We've not had the chance to test the Electrolux one yet but the Roomba has been and it's okay, but not brilliant by any stretch.

There's also already been some low cost ones starting to creep onto the market, probably from China and we'd expect these to be nothing more than a gimmick or at least, more so than the others seen so far.

In other words, if you want the job done right, for now, don't bother with a robotic cleaner.

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