Wednesday, October 25, 2006

cleaning tools - vacuums

If you have to clean, you'd better enjoy it as much as possible. And I've found that the best way to enjoy cleaning is to have tools and supplies that you absolutely love using.

On the flip side, be sure to avoid using anything that:

A) is broken
B) takes too long to find/get out of its storage area/prepare for use
C) makes you sick
D) injures you
E) doesn't work well

And no, none of the above is a good enough reason to skip cleaning altogether. Nice try.

In my fifteen years working as a professional cleaner, I ran across a lot of sad-sack cleaning cupboards. I brought my own supplies, but used my clients' vacuums and mops. If a client told me they hated cleaning, I could almost guarantee that they were using tools that didn't work well, and weren't well-cared-for.

One of the most frequent poor choices is having a vacuum that is too inexpensive, or not appropriate for the types of floors you have to clean.

Yes, I know how much vacuums cost. Last year I bought a lightly used washing machine for less money than I'd spend on my favorite, brand-new vacuum (a top-of-the-line Kenmore canister vac). But trust me, if you buy the best you can afford, it is money very well spent. I always recommend canister vacuums over uprights, because they are more versatile. Even with on-board tools, uprights tend to be too finicky to use for anything other than carpets.

If you have hard floors, or a mix of hard floors and carpeting, you will go crazy without a canister vacuum. And if you want to be able to vacuum into corners, or vacuum furniture and blinds, a canister is the best choice.

I'm going to name names (and I should point out that I live in Canada, so these reflect the choices available commercially in Canada). If you'd dead set on getting an upright, and you have practically no money, get the best Dirt Devil upright you can afford. They're lightweight, and the higher end ones are easy to manoeuvre, with swivel wheels. My favorite uprights are Panasonics, although the high-end ones are so weighed-down with tools, they're a pain to carry and push around.

Dirt Devil is also the way to go if you're getting a canister vac on a budget. They're not my favorite - the hose is too stiff, and seems to bang into everything when you're in tight spaces - but the tools are relatively easy to change, and switching from the hard floor brush to the power head is not too difficult.

I already mentioned my favorite canister vacuum, above (the Kenmore), although Panasonic makes one that is almost identical (in fact, I've been told they're made by the same manufacturer). I've also enjoyed using Filter Queens (expensive) and Miele canister vacuums (also expensive). Even more expensive is Tristar. None are worth the extra money, in my opinion - although the most expensive vacuum I ever used, a Rainbow brand vacuum, was delightful, if you overlooked how heavy it was (its filter tank was filled with water so it wouldn't spew dust back into the air).

I haven't mentioned central vacs, although they are truly the best. But they can be super-expensive to install if they weren't built into the house.

Once you get a vacuum that works well, you will want to vacuum all the time. I swear.

(As long as you don't hide the vacuum away in the back of a cupboard, in the basement, so that it takes fifteen minutes to pull out and carry upstairs to where you'll be using it. In that case, you'll still hate vacuuming...)

copyright 2006, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

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