Interesting Facts About Vacuum Cleaners

Lee Morgan

Vacuum cleaners aren't an enjoyable appliance to use. If they were, you wouldn’t have much use for them. You are likely familiar with this machine that removes the dirt, dust and soil from your carpets and other surfaces. But there are lots of interesting facts about vacuum cleaners you probably don’t know.

Vacuum cleaners have probably been around longer than you think.

Vacuums may not seem to be the most exciting objects, but, like many products, they offer a glimpse into our history and have a place of importance in the culture.

The First Vacuum

The world’s first vacuum cleaner was invented in 1866. A man named Ives W. McGaffney created this manual vacuum that worked by using a hand crank attached to bellows to suck the air from a tube. The atmospheric pressure pushed air on the surface up into the tube due to the difference in air pressure caused by the cranking. While the vacuum worked to pick up dirt and debris from the floor at the end of the hose, the debris was simply redistributed out of a vent on the device. This method of “cleaning” remained the standard in vacuuming until the vacuum filter was introduced by Hubert Cecil Booth in 1901, according to the Inventor Strategies website.

Two-Person Job

Imagine if vacuuming your house required the help of a partner. At one point there was a need for two people to complete the job. As vacuums became common throughout England, France and the U.S., the nonelectric devices improved, but many still required one person to man the vacuum hose and the other to work the hand crank or foot pedals to provide the suction.

In-Demand Products

Vacuum cleaners are among the most common household devices that people own. Even before they became known as an essential part of daily housekeeping, their popularity was evident. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute website, 27 percent of homes with electricity in 1938 had a vacuum cleaner. Within 10 years, the percentage grew to 40 percent. Estimates today show that 98 percent of all households own a vacuum cleaner, which makes the vacuum one of the most common appliances owned -- very good news for those who are in the vacuum business since modern folks apparently can’t get along without one. In fact, vacuum cleaners have the largest sales volume of any major appliance in the U.S., according to the Carpet and Rug Institute website.

Why They Call It a Hoover

If you have ever wondered why the English and some other people around the world refer to the vacuum cleaner simply as a “Hoover,” it is because of the man who first made the machine popular. In 1908 W.H. Hoover, father of the eventual U.S. President Herbert Hoover, acquired the Electric Suction Sweeper Company and named himself president. By 1922, the company was reorganized and changed its name to The Hoover Company. He grew the business into a leader in vacuum production, employing 8,200 people and producing 2,000 units per day. Hoover became the worldwide leader in vacuum cleaners, and many people began referring to vacuums as “Hoovers” for this reason.