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.