Monday, March 9, 2015

Why I (Finally) Bought a Canister Vacuum

Our new-to-us Canister Vac - with the thrift price still on - ready to work!
When I was a kid, Mom had two vacuums - a canister vacuum and an upright vacuum. She was a
very wise and sensible woman, which meant that chores like vacuuming generally belonged to us kids.

As a kid, I took a liking to the upright vacuum - it was an all-in-one contraption. It had a fancy headlight which made it even more kid-friendly. I didn't have to "drag that thing around the house" (which was how I perceived using the canister vacuum. It was an opinion that stayed with me for decades.)

Fast forward to a couple of months ago, when I decided to rethink my long-held opinion. I have a severe back problem, and carrying a "light" (only 15 pounds!) upright vacuum around the house, and propelling it across the room was quickly proving to be a formula for infirmity. I could pretty much guarantee that if I vacuumed one day, I'd be in pain with limited movement the next. The upright vacuum was awfully big to keep on our ground floor, but at the same time, was heavy to carry up and down stairs. It was going to be needing new bags soon, and none of the local stores carried them.

I decided I was in the market for a new vacuum.

Our little "stick" vacuum was a dream - light - easy to use - but didn't have the suction power of a full sized machine. It was good for touch ups, but not for deep cleaning.(It's an apparently discontinued Eureka Multi Vac 166A)

I looked for a full power upright with a similar weight and design to the stick vacuum, and started reading reviews. The reviews were beyond bad. I really don't need a vacuum that is going to catch on fire when I use it (and LOTS of purchasers were reporting this little glitch). I also don't need one that will need an expensive new belt every couple of months - another common problem.

Then, I looked at the more expensive "light" uprights. Most of them were the same weight as the one I already had! I might be able to get one that weighed only 10 pounds - if I was willing to pay several hundred dollars for it, and gamble on whether it would still hurt my back! (those who know me well know  how laughably unlikely that is!). Manufacturers warned that these were carpet-only vacuums that might malfunction on hardwood floors.

Or, I could get one of the fancy robot vacuums. There seemed to be two categories of those in the reviews: the $400. model that didn't work, and the $600. model that might work. For that amount of money, I could HIRE someone to vacuum my floors!

Then I started thinking: virtually every professional cleaning person I have ever seen at work had a canister vacuum! Why would they use such an ungainly apparatus? Had I missed something?

I started reading reviews, and found lots of promising information about the newer canister vacuums. They have little wheels now, so the canister follows you around the house like a puppy - and the part you lift and propel is exceptionally light! At the touch of a button, many models retract their own cords - unlike most upright vacs. They easily go under furniture. They go from hardwood to carpet with absolutely no effort. Many models are comparatively inexpensive, and quite light - and, most importantly - they're strong and effective!

So, I started mulling over whether I should buy a new canister vacuum to replace my upright. The deal clincher came when I was at my favorite thrift store, and spotted  one like this  on sale for $8.99!   I plugged it in, only to discover that it ran, but had no suction. Bummer. Then, I opened the bin - and discovered that apparently the previous owner hadn't known that there were TWO compartments to empty. I emptied it properly - and voila! -it suddenly worked great! (Now that I have it, I consider it well worth the retail price : ) However, I cannot endorse this brand without reservation, as it is VERY difficult to get replacement filters & other customer service from the manufacturer.)

After I got it home, I discovered that it had several advantages that made it even better than I had expected. I can empty the bin easily every time I use it - rather than waiting for a bag to fill up - there is no bag. I never did like the idea of storing my old dirt in the vacuum (not to mention the possibility of old dust getting blown into the air when the thing was turned on). Emptying it every time means that I can see how incredibly effective it is - this thing picks up a LOT of dirt. Perhaps best of all, it doesn't have a moving brush with a belt - this means that when my daughter's Rapunzel-length hair is picked up (and it picks up hair very well) , it doesn't get wrapped around a brush and break a belt or burn out a motor.

And, as I hoped, my back likes it a lot!  : )

If you're in the market for a new vacuum - I'd encourage you to check out a canister vac!

This is being shared on:
Motivation Monday
Clever Chicks
Create with Joy
Modest Monday
The Art of Homemaking Mondays
Making Your Home Sing Monday
Anti-Procrastination Tuesday 
Penny Pinching Party
From the Farm


  1. When I moved to Denmark from the US, I was shocked to see that upright vacuums pretty much didn't exist here. I drove to Germany where selection is worlds better than in Denmark, and came home with a Dyson canister.

    I wasn't psyched about it at first, but I've come to love my canister for the reasons you mention, and because it's better suited to tiny European living spaces than those big uprights. I'm convert!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by to visit - all the way from Denmark! : )

      Most of the places I have lived abroad have had hard flooring of some type - which totally got rid of the whole vacuum question (tho I DO vacuum my hard floors here in the U.S. - since I have the vacuum handy).

  2. Thanks for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! :) We have an 8 pound Oreck which I like because of my back but it doesn't go under furniture like you mentioned. That is a great perk. Plus, I do have long hair and I have to constantly clip it out from the roller. Your pros are pretty appealing, maybe my next one...


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