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Vacuum Buying Guide

by Christina Wright

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Red canister vacuum on beige carpet

Choices in vacuums are almost as varied as the things you need to clean. With so many options to choose from, you might feel a little intimidated. Don't worry; the wide variety of vacuums means there is bound to be one that's perfect for you and your family. This vacuum buying guide will guide you through the major types of vacuums and things you'll need to consider before purchasing one.

Buying a Vacuum:

  1. Things to consider: When considering the purchase of a vacuum cleaner, be aware of your long-term needs. Do you have many rooms to clean? Do you suffer from allergies? Have small children? Hate noise? Own dogs or cats? All of these will affect what kind of discount vacuum cleaner will be best for you. Make sure the vacuum cord is long enough to allow you to effectively clean one area of your home without changing outlets. A seemingly small issue like that can become a major irritation when you are cleaning. Most vacuum cleaners are also supplied with various specialized attachments, tools, brushes and extension wands which allow them to reach otherwise inaccessible places or to be used for cleaning a variety of surfaces; consider which of these will be useful to you. Attachment brushes can have stiff or soft bristles, so keep in mind the delicateness of your carpet when choosing brushes.

  2. Upright vacuums: Upright vacuum cleaners have the pump mounted directly above the suction intake, with the bag mounted on the handle. There are two types of upright vacuums. On a single-motor upright vacuum, the beater brush is driven by the vacuum motor via the belt, while on a dual-motor upright, the vacuum and the beater brush are driven by separate motors. The dual-motor upright is very common in commercial uprights. Upright vacuums are the classic home vacuum cleaner, tend to be lighter than canister vacuums and don't make a lot of noise.

  3. Canister vacuums: Canister vacuums, or cylinder vacuums, have the motor and bag in a separate canister unit (usually mounted on wheels) that is connected to the vacuum head by a flexible hose. Most canister vacuums have "power heads," which contain the same sort of mechanical brushes as in upright vacuums, although they are driven by a separate electric motor. Some people prefer canister vacuums because of the lighter, more maneuverable power head. Canister vacuums are great for vacuuming cars and drapes.

  4. Wet/Dry vacuums: Wet-or-dry vacuums are a specialized form of the canister vacuum and can be used to clean dry surfaces or to vacuum up liquid spills. Some are also equipped with a switch or exhaust port for reversing the airflow, a useful function for everything from clearing a clogged hose to blowing dust into a corner for easy collection. These are often called shop vacs.

  5. Steam cleaners and hand-held steamers: Steam cleaners make it easy to clean and disinfect the home, car and garden with ease. Pressure steam cleaners use moisture and heat to loosen dirt and stains the vacuum can't suction. These carpet cleaners often have a steam canister you can pull around with a hose and cleaning head. Hand-held steam cleaners are good for those small, hard-to-reach spots in cars or other compact spaces.

  6. HEPA vacuums: The high-efficiency particulate air filters in HEPA vacuums trap germs and other contaminants which then die in the dry environment of the filter fibers. HEPA vacuums can remove 99.97 percent of airborne particles. A HEPA vacuum filter traps fine particles, such as pollen and dust mites, that trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. HEPA vacuum filters are also helpful in preventing the spread of airborne bacterial and viral organisms, and they're great at vacuuming pet hair. HEPA vacuums are more expensive than other kinds of vacuums, but if air quality is important in your home, a HEPA vacuum is worth the extra expense.

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