This vacuum sucks! (well, it should anyway)

I love my vacuum cleaners.  If I had to name the top invention of the 20th century, the electric vacuum cleaner would easily make my top 3 list. I run a vacuum daily around here.  It never ceases to amaze me how much dirt gets in a rug in a single day.  Ever.

Our house is 2 story, and hauling a vacuum up and down a flight of stairs is frankly a pain in the butt.  Plus, I have this vision of myself tripping over the cord while lugging it up the stairs, falling headfirst down the whole flight and getting skewered by the crevice tool.  I don’t really want ‘vacuum cleaner’ listed as my cause of death, so I have been on the hunt for another one.  Since I am still on my debt diet, if you will, it had to be cheap but reliable.

The other day, I was looking around at our local salvation army store and I saw a vacuum.  EIGHT DOLLARS.  I thought surely the thing was broken or something.  Oddly enough, it was a model I was very familiar with because I have the upgraded version of this very model.  I took off the dirt canister and it became immediately obvious why this vacuum had been discarded.  The filters had never, and I mean EVER been cleaned.  This is a major pet peeve of mine.  Maybe it’s because I took auto mechanics in high school.  Maybe it’s because my husband is a hydraulic repair specialist and the name of the game is filtration…I don’t know, but keeping clean filters is just something I’m weird about.

When filters aren’t clean, the vacuum loses suction.  Judging by these filters (and there are 3 total), I’d say this machine couldn’t have sucked up a feather if it tried its best. Another dangerous consequence is that the motor will overheat and it will eventually ruin the vacuum.

I rolled it up to the counter and asked if I could plug it in.  The lady said ‘sure’, so I plugged it in and turned on the switch.  A smoke bomb couldn’t have possibly made more fog than this vacuum did.  Choking on dust, I screamed, “Oh my God!” and switched it off.  The woman, with dusty tears in her eyes, clothes and counter, was probably really glad to see me fork out the eight bucks and leave.

Here are some pics I took:

Another pet peeve of mine is leaving on the stickers.  I had to immediately rip them off.  So here’s the vacuum.  Probably about a 90 dollar model.  Not top notch, but it was eight bucks, so who cares? Next:  Good grief, just look at this mess.  The dust had to be no less than a quarter of an inch thick. Yes, I am touching a stranger’s dust.  Yes, I found this gross and odd after I took these pictures.  I was happy, however to not find pet hair and cigarette smell in the vacuum.  Now how was air to EVER pass through this?

Now, here is the primary, or first, filter. Gag.  I admit that I did not even know the primary filter existed (shame on me for not reading my Owner’s Manual) on my machine.  One day, after about a year of owning it, I noticed that it wasn’t picking up dirt very well.  You can only imagine what it looked like when I re-read the manual to discover there was a primary filter.  Probably something like this:

Finally, here is the final HEPA filter.  GROSS.  This thing was white at one time.  The filters above are both actually black.  Anyway, I haven’t ever seen a HEPA filter so nasty. And air was supposed to pass through this!

So, how did I clean it?  First of all, obviously, it wasn’t plugged in and you MUST do this outside. Unless you want ‘stranger dust’ all up in your house.  Ew.  I removed all of the normally removable parts such as the dirt canister and all of the filters and their housing.

To clean filters, I got a washtub with some dishwashing soap and I DID use rubber gloves here.  I rinsed and rinsed until the water came out clear.  Once the filters were clean, I rolled them up in a clean towel and pressed out as much water as I could.  This can only be done with washable filters in good condition.  Some filters, such as HEPA filters, have to be tossed and replaced. Anyway, I put a drop or two of an essential oil on my filters so that when I vacuum, it fills the house with a nice smell.  Is it recommended? Probably not.  Who knows what EO’s will do to a filter anyway.  If they get really oily, they won’t work.  Maybe the oil will degrade the material somehow.  BUT, since I regularly wash my filters, I take the risk.  So, I am not telling you to do this at the risk of ruining your filters…but I love how it smells.  Anyway…

THEN, I took the vacuum itself and blew it out with a leaf blower.  Good grief, it looked like a dust storm.  Then I blew it out with an air chuck on the air compressor we have.  It was so gross, there are no words.  After an hour, I had it all back together again.  While the filters were not 100% dry (and they really should be), I went ahead and ran it.  It squealed like a banshee and I flipped off the switch. Jason told me to just leave it running to try and just ‘blow out’ the obstruction.  I could just see this eight dollar vacuum erupting into a fiery inferno spewing flames and catching my deck and house on fire.  But, I did what he said and sure enough the second time I turned it on the banshee squeal died and all was normal.

So there is the story of my bargain of the day and also how to keep your vacuum clean and happy.

2010 Christmas craft

Well, I always get a little crafty around Christmas…especially when it comes to repurposing things around the house.  I’m one of those people who hates to throw out things because, God forbid,  one day I will discover its alternate ‘purpose’.

Jason (my DLSH*): Can I throw away this broken toothbrush?

Me: Oh, nooooo!  I’m hanging onto to that.  I think I can use it for a craft or something.

Jason (rolling eyes): Amanda, it’s missing all of its bristles and the handle broke in half.

Me (avoiding eye contact): I know, I know, but one day it’ll come to me what to do with it.

And so, he will set it on a high shelf, sighing heavily.  19 months later, as he’s cleaning out the barn, he’ll slyly throw it in the trash, burying it deep.  Within 12 to 24 hours of it being tossed (and that is the honest-to-God truth), I will have a crafty vision involving the broken toothbrush…a perfect use sent straight from the God of Crafts, Hobbies, and Repurposing.  I go look for said toothbrush and can’t find it.

Me:  Hey, where’s that broken toothbrush that was on this shelf?

Jason: You’re freakin’ kidding me.  Are you serious?

Me: Yes!  I just discovered this PERFECT thing I can use it for. You didn’t throw it away, did you?

Jason (sighing so heavily he almost faints): (digs in trash can, hands it to me silently)

Me: I can’t believe you’d throw that away!  See? I TOLD you I’d find a use for it!

*Dear Long Suffering Husband

I literally can’t tell you how many times this has happened.  Like the patio umbrella cover.  The umbrella part died, but the cover remained.  We found the thing out in the woods about 2 years ago.  Last spring I found that my DH had thrown it in the trash, when suddenly it occured to me that it would make a GREAT cover over my mobile chicken brooder.  See?  Keeps out the wind and rain and it was totally free.

So anyway, going along that repurposing vein, I have some old Coke metal trays.  They’re from the 60s and they are UGLY.  I mean, who would have ever thought that a picture of a big buffet of food, a chafing dish, and a couple of poorly placed Cokes would ever have been attractive? So, I decided to cover up the hideous picture with some vintage Santa wrapping paper.  I covered it on both sides with clear matte Contact paper to make it wetproof and durable.  Then I thought; hey, it’s a metal tray, so why not make it a magnetic note center?


Phase One:  Cutting out a piece of the vintage wrapping paper.  If you could see the tag, it is addressed to my grandparents from my uncle and aunt.  Probably from the 1970s.  (Mom…cover your eyes.  Yes, I used the Gingher scissors to cut the paper.  Please don’t freak out)

Phase Two: After carefully cutting out the shape of the inside of the tray, I cover the top of the paper with Contact paper, and gently ease out the bubbles.

Phase Three: Now I have covered the back of the paper and now it’s time to trim off the excess Contact paper.  I left about 1/8″ around the edge so that it stayed sealed.

And here we are! I put on some magnetic bulldog clips to hold the paper in place, since I did not want the Santa paper to be permanently attached to the tray…and I was too lazy to grab the double sided tape!  I used it to display Christmas cards.  Very cute.  I thought about spray painting the tray, but I liked the decorative edge.  I spray paint EVERYTHING, so it’s strange that this escaped my Krylon fixation.

Sorry about the terrible quality of the pictures.  I forgot that I don’t have an editing program on this new computer yet.  :0(