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How to Choose the Right Vacuum Cleaner

Choosing the right vacuum cleaner for your needs takes a little thought about you and what you’re cleaning. Generally speaking, there are two types of vacuum cleaners – uprights and cylinders.

Upright vacuum cleaners are large machines that you push in front of you. Carpets get clean because a brush bar beats out the dirt, which the machine then sucks up. This action also grooms the carpet. You can also turn off the brush bar and use an upright on bare floors.

In the past decade, huge improvements have been made in the brush bar and tool attachments. If you can handle one and have a large or busy house, an upright is always the top choice.

Uprights do have a few flaws, however:

  • Height: If you’re tall, you’ll stoop, which can make a bad back feel worse.

  • Power: May pull the threads from Berber carpets. Check with your carpet retailer about using a cylinder vacuum.

  • Size: Can’t get into small corners. For a pristine finish, you need to use the attachments.

  • Weight: They’re often too heavy to carry upstairs.

Never use an upright cleaner above you on the stairs. It could topple and cause injury. Keep it on the ground floor, then take just the hose and the stair attachment up to the top stair and work back down.

Cylinders are small, fairly compact cleaners on wheels that follow behind you as you use the attached hose. The cleaning power of a cylinder vacuum comes mostly from suction.

Cylinder vacuums are lightweight and compact, which makes them easy to use on the stairs and a candidate for a second vacuum to keep upstairs. Their small size makes them easy to store and their mobility and design mean they can get into tight corners and clean right up to the carpet edge.

Cylinders are arguably less effective than uprights, and they don’t groom the pile on carpets as well. But if cost is a concern, budget models sell for under £50.

Sometimes your vacuum pulls up a thread, particularly in shag and twist piles. Simply snip it back to the correct height.

A vacuum is probably the most important electrical cleaning tool. So if you want to go top-model on one appliance, this is it. Features worth paying extra for are:

  • High-level filters: These trap microscopic particles including pollen and dust mite droppings that aggravate asthma and allergies. The best filters are marked HEPA (high efficiency particulate air).

    The filter is only as good as the bag emptying system. There is no point sucking tiny allergens into your vacuum only to breathe them in as you empty the vacuum bag or canister.

    A bagless cleaner, for example, can give you a lungful of dust as you empty it out. If you’re asthmatic or have allergies, chose a vacuum with a sealed disposable bag system. With such a system, as you go to change the bag, it automatically seals so no dust can escape.

  • Bag-free cleaning: Though not for asthmatics (see the preceding bulleted item) a bag-less vacuum gives you full suction throughout your clean, saves time and hassle in emptying the dirt, and you don’t have the expense of buying bags.

  • Pet hair features: All decent vacuums get pet hair off the floor. A truly pet-owner-friendly vacuum offers a better way to get fur off stairs and sofas. Some models have a rotating brush that fits to the vacuum hose so you can beat then suction fur from seats, stairs, and car interiors.

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