Buying Vacuum Cleaners - A few tips
A few things to consider when choosing a new vacuum cleaner
Vacuum cleaners used to be all pretty much of a muchness but in recent years some very wise minds have put their efforts into making them ever more complex and advanced. Before you assume that you've got to buy the fanciest top of the range cleaner that's got a bigger IQ than you yourself, it's wise to stop and ask yourself a few questions before you part with your money.
Question One – what do you love and what do you hate about your current vacuum cleaner and any you've had in the past?
We used to have a Vax and I hated it. The electrical cable emerged from the base of the handle which meant that I had to perpetually walk around with one arm in the air like a ballerina trying to keep the cable out of the way when 'reversing'. Conversely, I have a titchy little cylinder vacuum that is easy to lift and carry around the house which makes it very easy to use. Why not make a note of what you know you want and know you DON'T want from your new cleaner and keep it with you when you're shopping so that if you find yourself getting carried away with a flirtatious new cleaner you can remind yourself of what you REALLY want.
If you hate handling vacuum cleaner bags, consider a bag-less cleaner but keep in mind you still have to empty it! To date, nobody has come up with a cleaner that can just make all the fluff disappear into thin air!
Weigh your current vacuum cleaner and measure its height so you can compare other options and know instantly if they are lighter or heavier, taller or shorter. Check how much cable it comes with and whether that's enough so you don't buy one that's too short.
Talk to your friends and family and ask if you can 'have a go' with their vacuum cleaners. It might open your eyes to different types and stop you from just buying the same as before.
Question Two – How do you plan to use your vacuum cleaner?
Does your home have carpets throughout or all hard flooring or maybe a combination of the two? Make sure that the vacuum you buy can cope with what you need to use it on and that if you have a combination of flooring types, it's easy to make any changes to the settings quickly and simply.
Do you want to use the cleaner on your sofa or curtains? If so, make sure that there are the right kind of attachments included with your cleaner or easily available to buy. I personally struggle with the effect of three cats going up and down the stairs and rubbing their tummies on them as they go so I need to look for a vacuum cleaner with a really good stair brush.
Talking of stairs, do you live on one level or more? If you have a single storey flat or a bungalow, you probably don't need to worry about the weight of your vacuum cleaner so long as it's not too heavy to push and pull. If you have stairs you might want to look for something lighter that you can easily carry up them. Cylinder vacuum cleaners are often lighter and easier to carry than uprights but can be more time consuming to use.
Do you have a strong preference for upright or cylinder cleaners? With an upright you may find that you can't get to all the corners you need to reach but they can be excellent on large floor spaces. Cylinder vacuums may be more manoeuvrable but can be hard work on big floors. If you are particularly tall or particularly short, this may also make one or other type better for you.
How much space do you have to store your cleaner? Your new cleaner might be a work of art but you're unlikely to want it sitting around in the open. If you're short on space, a small cylinder cleaner may be easier to find a home for than a large upright. If you have to keep your cleaner in one particular place, make sure you know of any restrictions that might impose on the height of the one you buy.
I might sound like a strange question but how tough are your needs? How much floor do you have to vacuum? If your home is small you probably don't need a really big cleaner. Do you have pets that shed lots of fluff or really messy family members who create a fall out zone around them wherever they sit? If you've got big cleaning needs, it's probably good to choose a really powerful vacuum cleaner and if you have pets, look out for ones with HEPA filters and high power to suck that fluff off the carpets.
Some people are attracted to wet and dry cleaners – ones that can suck up leaks and spillages and sometimes ones that can shampoo your carpets. I've had one of these in the past but never warmed to it. Like many two-in-one products, they can fail to be particularly good at either task so unless you regularly need both a wet and a dry cleaning product, it's possibly better to avoid combi cleaners.
Question Three – what can you afford to spend?
Set your budget and try to stick to it. It's easy to get carried away by a pretty vacuum that can do all sorts of things you never thought about before. But ask yourself if never having thought about them means that you didn't really need them. Remember that whilst it's nice if your cleaner looks stylish, it's not something you'll be showing all your friends. Style is great but should always support good function.
If you like to look for a bargain and you don't have a particular brand or model in mind, check out the deals on shopping.com and try to keep your mind open about what might work for you. If you know exactly what you want, check for deals and be open to switching to 'last year's model' if that means a big reduction in price – it's unlikely to be much different (compare the specs) but might save you a lot of money.
If you are looking to buy a bagged vacuum, check out the price and availability of replacement bags. Similarly whether bagged or cylinder, check out the price of the most likely replacement parts like drive belts.
If you know what you want but you can't really afford it, why not check sites like eBay for great deals. My beautiful Sebo vacuum cleaner was a bargain at less than a third of the normal price and has stopped our cleaner from dumping us because she hated our old vacuum and it was giving her back ache. It's light, it works on all surfaces and it almost seems to power itself forward with just the lightest touch.
Finally – just keep in mind that it is 'only a vacuum cleaner'. Depending on how much time you spend cleaning your floors, it's possibly not the most important purchase you're going to make. So keep in mind the following:
Upright or cylinder
Bagged or bagless
Power – do you need a really high powers one (for pets) or will something else do?
Get the right weight and height so it's comfortable to use
Shop around for a bargain.
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