The vacuum cleaner is one of the most unappreciated innovations in history. In recent decades we've seen bagless and cordless designs take the world by storm. But nowadays, suction is not the only feature to look out for. Modern vacuum cleaners often have more gadgets than a Swiss army knife.
Robotic Vacuum Cleaners
These little computerised, disc-shaped vacuum cleaners will automatically drive under obstacles so you won't have to strain your back shifting large furniture whenever you need to clean. They contain complex algorithms that can detect which parts of your floor need cleaning, and can be programmed to leave their docking stations at certain times of the day. While they fair poorly in corners and along skirting boards, they can keep high traffic areas in check before the dust and debris sinks into carpet fibres or scratches hardwood.
The first bagless vacuum cleaners hit the market in the early 90s, but they still required the use of a filter. With cyclonic technology, the filter can be removed altogether. The whirlwind of air separates large and small dust particles and deposits the waste into a holding tray that can be emptied straight into the bin. This prevents microscopic allergen build-up, which can contaminate the air during filter changes.
Quiet Vacuum Cleaners
The average household vacuum cleaner operates at 78 decibels, but there are now models on the market which can operate between 61 and 65 decibels – lower than normal conversations. While low-noise models are nothing new, they used to hinder suction performance. However, improvements in nozzle, hose and motor frame design have allowed newer vacuum cleaners to lower noise and optimise performance at the same time.
Steam Vacuum Hybrids
Steam cleaners use hot water to heat and remove stains from carpet without the need for detergent. Most modern devices are also coupled with conventional dry vacuum cleaner features and can suck up dust and debris at the same time. They work by spraying hot steam into the carpet fibres, deep enough to disinfect, but short enough to be sucked back up before settling as a liquid.
Before ball vacuum cleaners, steering was a common problem. Most vacuum cleaner manufacturers have now replaced wheels with balls and a universal joint, making it possible to move around sharp angles. Most ball vacuum cleaners house the motor inside the universal joint, which also lowers the centre of gravity and provides greater stability.