Enjoy a GREENER, Cleaner Home in 3 Easy Steps! (and give the planet a break too!)

Green Cleaning

The red and gold colors of fall are creeping in – but GREEN is always in season! Doing our part to help the planet starts at home. But guess what? Being environmentally responsible also has great benefits for your home and family!

Here are 3 easy (yet commonly overlooked) things you can do to make cleaning more fun, effective, and environmentally friendly:

1. Use an efficient vacuum cleaner
A good, efficient vacuum like the Miele U1 upright (pictured above) C1 Compact or C3 Complete Canister-style vacuum can pick up more dirt in less time, with great ease and agility. Most importantly, it will trap that dust so that is doesn’t spew back into your breathing air and settle on surfaces like your walls and furniture (yuck!) The production of electricity can be a big strain on our environment. With Miele- very little time, effort, and electrical energy is wasted running the vacuum unnecessarily!

2. Use a quality vacuum cleaner
Did you know that quality vacuum brands like Miele are designed to last up to 20 years?! Instead of buying multiple cheap, “throw away” vacuums – be responsible by investing in one good machine! Not only will your cleaning chores be done faster and better – but think how much energy, natural resources, money and space in the landfill will be SAVED!!

3. Use natural, plant-based household cleaning products
This is an easy one…The next time you run out of Windex® glass cleaner, or your favorite conventional, toxic all-purpose cleaner – REPLACE IT with a more responsible choice! Our favorite is Caldrea® brand aromatherapeutic household cleaners. Caldrea® offers earth-friendly, plant-based, biodegradable, cruelty-free products that smell absolutely heavenly and REALLY WORK!! We’ve personally replaced all of our products at home including window spray, dish soap, even our laundry detergent with Caldrea®! It’s made cleaning a lot more fun. And to reduce our technician’s repeated exposure to harsh chemicals, we even use Caldrea® to clean the vacuums we service! Come into Queen Vacuum to try it for yourself! FREE SAMPLES AVAILABLE!

By: Rachel Decker

Good vacuums are not hard to find – you just need to know where to look! Learn more about better choices of vacuums on our website, www.queenvacuum.com/sales. Call or stop in our shop any time for more explanation, information, or a demonstration.

It’s “Vac” to School Time!

The A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s of vacuuming…

Vac to SchoolAhh…The kiddos are finally going back to school and hitting the books! Personally, I’m glad to no longer be legally obligated to attend an educational institution. However, I still love to learn! My favorite stuff to learn about is that which helps me accomplish something fun, or makes my life easier/better

  

So we put our heads together and compiled a short list outlining some of the most important, overlooked and misunderstood concepts in vacuuming. So while we’re in the “school” spirit, I implore you to take a minute to study the tips we outline below. No, we’re not going to try to turn you into total vacuum-geeks like us. But if you find vacuuming to be a giant pain in the neck (literally or figuratively) that’s your first clue that something’s wrong! Following our guidelines just might relieve you of a lifetime of needlessly confusing and frustrating vacuum headaches!

 

THE A-B-C’s AND 1-2-3’s  OF VACUUM OWNERSHIP:

 

A – It’s all about AIR FLOW!  The first vacuum cleaner began as a fan and a pillowcase on wheels: Something to move air in a specific direction, and something to separate the collected dirt from clean air. Vacs are much more advanced these days, but the principle is the same: If anything impedes the air flowing IN or OUT of your vacuum, it will not “work.” So the next time your vacuum doesn’t suck, check  to see (1) if something is clogging any of the pipes leading in to the vacuum or (2) if your bag is full, or the pores of the bag or other filter material are clogged (as clean air will not be able to pass through.) In other words, if air can’t get out of the vacuum, new air can’t get in!

B – BREAKAGE Happens. Remember that your vacuum is a mechanical device; a machine with moving parts. So don’t get discouraged when its performance mysteriously declines, or if an accident happens. Much like your car, your vacuum is comprised of parts that can get out of alignment, or wear out over time and need replacing. The good news is that much breakage is preventable! User error is a common cause, so take time to learn how to use your vacuum correctly.  Also, always provide your vacuum with the basic maintenance it requires at the appropriate intervals (like bags, belts, filters and regular cleanings). Lastly, consider getting the vacuum fixed when it doesn’t work right, before throwing it out. Most often the problem is not as catastrophic or expensive as you fear. (And hey, at least here estimates are FREE!)

C – CHOOSE Wisely. As I’ve discussed in previous articles, your vacuum is a toolChoose your brand and model of vacuum wisely, as the wrong type will not perform as desired on the surfaces you are cleaning, or meet other expectations you may have. Choose the right attachments for specific tasks (like using a soft dusting brush for vacuuming baseboard molding, instead of a stiff crevice tool.) Also, selecting the correct bags and filters for your model is imperative: Improper fit means leakage of dirt into your vacuum’s motor and your house! When in doubt, seek professional advice.

1 – You should vacuum your floors at least ONCE per week: Above-floor surfaces, ONCE per month.  Some households require greater frequency than this, especially if there are pets. But do your carpets a favor by thoroughly vacuuming the hair and dust weekly before it imbeds too deeply in the carpet fibers. This also will bring the nap of the carpet back to a raised position, helping prevent that ugly matted look in high-traffic areas. You’ll also reduce the need to “wash” the carpets with water-extraction machines. This concept also applies to your couches, drapes and mattresses! You can avoid the formation of dust-bunnies (who are born of neglect) by vacuuming your hard floors more frequently.  Eliminating the rough, sandy particles by vacuuming (instead of “Swiffer-ing”) prevents scratching and dullness in the finish of your wood floors.

2 – Every TWO years, get your vacuum serviced.  You know to change your car’s oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles, and that your brakes only last so long. Your vacuum has moving parts too. Every couple of years get your vacuum a “tune-up” which includes cleaning and lubricating the brushroller and bearings, checking the electrical system, unclogging and washing, etc. (Because you can’t keep your house clean with a dirty, smelly, busted-up vacuum!)

3 – Every THREE months check your belt and filters. Over time, fine dust clogs the pores of the material that comprises your vacuum’s filtration system. If your machine uses bags, most of the vac-choking dust gets removed with the bag (once per month on average.) But if your vacuum is bagless, it is IMPERATIVE to keep its filters very clean, very regularly. Otherwise, the vacuum will suffocate causing a sharp decline in performance and overall lifespan!  Lastly, most regular upright vacuum cleaners use a stretchy, rubber drive belt than can last up to a year. However, if you have ever had an “accident” in which something got caught/stuck in the brushroller, the belt has been subjected to excessive friction that may have caused it to break or stretch too much. Without proper tension, the brush can’t spin aggressively enough to pick up debris well on your carpets. Get a new belt on there, STAT!

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Our job is to make your life easier…but communication is the key. When you have a solid understanding of your cleaning needs and equipment and can convey the right information to us – we can provide you with the correct solutions.  In other words, the more you understand about your vacuum, the better we can help you! And when you have the right tools for the job and the know-how to follow through…the frustration stops and the savings of time and money starts! “Knowledge is power,” baby!

** CLASS DISMISSED! **

Bed Bugs…BUSTED!

Send the kiddies safely off to school, and SLEEP more soundly… 

Bed Bugs Attack

 

“Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!”  GET REAL! Who can sleep after even mentioning BED BUGS? If you have just sent your kids packin’ to college, you may not be sleeping very well as it is. And worrying about their living conditions states away certainly doesn’t help. COLLEGE KIDS PRACTICALLY LIVE OFF OF THEIR BEDS, in close quarters with a high level of social interaction, and are not known for their cleanliness. So you can imagine how easily bug problems can be missed and spread. But don’t freak out…Knowledge is power!

Let’s review some common-sense tips on how to detect, and potentially avoid bed bugs with just your wits and the tools you already have! (If you already know a lot, skip to the summary.) 

(Excerpted from CDC Website, about Bed Bugs)

 What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small, flat, nocturnal insects that feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, and range from 1 to 7 millimeters in length. They can live several months without a blood meal. Infestations of these insects usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep or spend a significant period of time. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms.

They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, and under any clutter or objects around a bed.  They tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep. Bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they can transport stow-away bed bugs as they travel potentially infesting new areas, including their homes, as they relocate.

How to Identify a Bed Bug Infestation:

One of the most noticed signs are bite marks that appear on the face, neck, arms, hands, and any other body parts. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea – a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from feeling the bite. These bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These other signs may include:

  • the exoskeletons of bed bugs after molting
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets
  • a sweet musty odor
  • rusty-colored blood spots from their blood-filled fecal material that is often excreted on the mattress or nearby furniture

A comprehensive Integrated Pest Management program  to control bed bugs may include methods such as:

  • using monitoring devices
  • removing clutter where bed bugs can hide
  • applying heat treatment
  • vacuuming
  • sealing cracks and crevices to remove hiding places
  • using non-chemical pesticides (such as diatomaceous earth) and
  • judicious use of effective chemical pesticides
  • bed bug infestations will not go away without intervention, and intervention is most effective when populations are low

The Huffington Post printed a great article specifically on the issue of bed bugs in college dorms.  Here are some highlights… (FULL Article)

Ways students can protect themselves:

  • When going on vacation, place luggage on luggage racks rather than a bed. And if you have to use a bed, vacuum your suitcases upon return from a vacation.
  • If you’re purchasing used furniture for your apartment, make sure you thoroughly investigate it before you bring it into your home. The last thing you want to do is PAY for bugs!
  • If a bed is provided in your room, thoroughly inspect it for signs before you move in, and periodically check your mattress and surrounding areas for signs of bugs. (see below)

WHAT TO DO if you discover (or suspect) a bed bug infestation:

  • DON’T PANIC! While bed bugs are not thought to transmit disease, infestations decrease the quality of life by causing discomfort, sleeplessness and embarrassment. Please don’t start rumors until an infestation is confirmed. Also, skin allergies or other bug bites can be mistaken bed bug bites….
  • Yet be on the safe side – watch where you place your clothes, shoes, bags, etc. and limit sharing of belongings.
  • If at school, tell your R.A. you suspect a problem, so that they may arrange for proper, professional diagnosis and extermination if needed. Do not try to exterminate on your own.
  • Seek medical attention if your bites are causing you distress.
  • SEEK PROFESSIONAL DIAGNOSIS & EXTERMINATION SERVICES.
vacuum mattressSummarySo, use your smarts (as well as a flashlight and good vacuum) to check out your sleeping quarters regularly!   Change your bed sheets often and look at the mattress for signs of bugs. And one of the best things you can do to keep your MATTRESS fresh and free of allergens, dust mites, and to nip bugs in the bud – is to VACUUM it!

Utilize a powerful, sealed-HEPA vacuum cleaner with disposable HEPA bags to do this job correctly. Your goal is to pull out fine, creepy particles like dead skin cells, dust mite eggs and excrement, as well as bed bugs, their eggs and fecal matter. The vacuum must be of the highest quality so as not to expel those particles back out into the air! Dispose of your bag immediately to eliminate the contamination. Miele vacuum cleaners are the best choice for this task, and they even produce the SBD10 Mattress cleaning attachment (pictured above) to reach the awkward crevices where dust and bugs accumulate.

Now that you’re in the know don’t neglect your mattress and don’t send your kids off to school without an education about bed bugs and a good vacuum to keep their dorm clean! But DO get a good night’s sleep!

The Dirt on DUST…

What’s in that stuff, and you do you really want to touch it?

bagless vacuum survival kit
DO YOU HAVE YOUR “BAGLESS VACUUM SURVIVAL KIT?”

Summertime, the beach, vacations…Just can’t get enough of them, can you? Well, you have to come HOME eventually, and I’m sure your dustbunnies are eagerly awaiting your return! You may even add to their family as you bring back piles of sand, fur from overheated/shedding pets, weird bugs, not to mention your own “sheddings” as your exotic sunburn peels away. Eeeeewww! 

Dustbunnies are curious creatures. Made up of all kinds of questionable substances they seem to have a mind of their own, and they multiply – well, like rabbits! The only good thing about them is that they are clearly visible, which makes them easier to hunt. Dust on its own can be much more difficult to tackle – and that’s no good because it’s creepy stuff! Not only does dust migrate into hard-to-reach places, it is easily made airborne again so you have to be sneaky!

“Oh, who cares about capturing every speck of dust? And what’s the big deal if you touch it?” you ask. If you doubt dust’s creepiness, read this
Time Magazine online article entitled What’s In Household Dust?
In a nutshell, dust is made of: 

–       shed bits of human skin

–       animal fur and dander

–       decomposing insects and their fecal matter

–       food debris

–       lint and organic fibers from clothes, bedding and other fabrics

–       tracked-in and/or airborne soil particles

–       pollen

–       meteorite particles & volcanic ash

–       soot

–       particulate matter from smoking and cooking

–       scant amounts of lead, arsenic, DDT, etc.
(from sources like volcanoes and industrial processes)

Although household dust will not harm most people, it doesn’t take much of these allergenic particles to make some people miserable. Therefore it makes sense to eliminate as much dust as you can (without driving yourself crazy.)

 

Top Tips to Minimize Dust:

  1. Take off your shoes in the house!
  2. Eat only at the table and clean the floor promptly when done
  3. Don’t smoke in the house
  4. Clean regularly and vacuum everything possible

The most effective tool in your arsenal for this task is your vacuum cleaner! A properly equipped model will remove dust from hard surfaces; floor and above. It will also pull up the deeply embedded dust from carpets, upholstered furniture, curtains and mattresses: These “soft” surfaces are where some of the most allergenic materials “live.” Using dusting attachments and the correct carpet nozzle is imperative! Furthermore only a “true-sealed HEPA” vacuum has the ability to pick up these particles without releasing them back out as exhaust, or leaking out of body seams. Bagged machines are the most hygienic choice as they minimize your exposure to the captured dust.

Bagless vacuums may pick up a lot of dust, but most leak, or spew, out an unsightly amount as well. Furthermore, they require an incredible amount of maintenance to keeping running optimally, having to becleaned out, by hand, monthly. This is a messy task that can make an allergic person very sick. If you own a bagless machine – we recommend assembling a simple BAGLESS VACUUM SURVIVAL KIT: mask, gloves, apron, drop cloth and bagged vacuum. (see top image)

 

Steps to maintain your BAGLESS vacuum at home:

  1. Line floor with newspaper or drop-cloth
  2. Plug in a spare bagged vacuum
  3. Put on: dust mask or respirator, elbow-length gloves and apron or smock
  4. Unplug bagless vacuum and position on drop cloth
  5. Carefully remove dust bin then empty into large, empty garbage bag
  6. Take bagged vacuum and vacuum out the bagless’ main housing, ducts, cyclone chambers, filters and exterior. Wipe down with cloth dampened with mild detergent spray.
  7. Replace primary and exhaust filters if older than 1 year OR wash washable filters then let dry for 24 hours
  8. Once dry, re-install all filters and reassemble unit.

 *OR*  Give up and bring it in to Queen Vacuum for cleaning/service!

If your machine is bagged, simply remove and replace your bag monthly. Replace your filters annually.

Ewww-AhhhSo if dust is getting on your nerves and/or in your nose – don’t freak out! It may kill your electronics, but is not likely to kill you. It yucky and sneezy, but can easily be tackled if you equip yourself with the right tools! So kick off your shoes, use a good bagged vacuum (often), then take a deep breath (of cleaner air!)   

Top Tops for Summer Trips

How a Vacuum and other clever products can save your sanity!

Summer is going sooooo fast! But many of you may still have some fantastic plans for what’s left. Maybe you’re packing up the family truckster and venturing cross-country to camp. Perhaps you prefer sunbathing pool-side at the beach club or are the “stay-cation” type. Whatever the case, the last thing you want is for messy mishaps or post-trip cleanup to suck the fun out of your precious family time!

How often had you said that “you need a vacation from your vacation?” Catching up on missed work is one thing…But spending spending too much time shaking sand (out of everything you own) or searching for “that funny smell” in the car is just infuriating. Spend more time sipping pina coladas or gawking at the Grand Canyon by following a few simple rules and keeping a few clever products on hand!

RULES for a SUCK-CESSFUL VACATION:

1) Plan ahead to deal with messes, then tackle them right away

2) Use multi-tasking products

3) If you smell something, say something

MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS & HOW TO USE THEM:
* Available at Queen Vacuum

*1) Small Vacuum Cleaners

– If you have the luxury of electrical hookup, keep a smaller-sized (plug-in) vacuum with extension hose vacuum in your cabana, cabin or RV. Use it to tackle excessive sand, creepy bugs and to suck out the air in space-saving bags (see below)

– Use a battery powered handheld wet/dry vac (even better with a car-charging adaptor) to gather dirt and food crumbs in these same places, plus the car! These little leftovers can really leave a post-vaca vehicle smelling funky fast – so tidy up periodically through your trip.

 

*2) Moso Natural charcoal sachets
– Odors are not meant to be just covered up. Since they are often indicative of an unhealthy situation, the source and/or gaseous byproduct ought to be removed. Made only of odor-absorbing charcoal, Moso sachets are perfect to keep inside duffel bags of camping gear or cabins to get rid of dampness, musty odors and unhealthy mildew. Adding no additional scent or chemicals they work wonders in a hot, stuffy car (especially if a dog is riding along.) Just place them out in the sun for a couple of hours to refresh. 

 

3) “Space Bags”, multiple sizes
– Using these vacuum-sealing plastic bags consolidate bulky items like sleeping bags, eve, coats and other clothes. They’ll seal out dust, water and bugs as well in the months/year between their next use.

 

4) Old Washcloth and Towel
– Keep a couple of these in the car. Paper towels are good too, but the wring-able fabric helps more on a big spill. They’re also great for brushing off sandy feet and beach chairs before loading in.

 5) Natural face/body wipes– Make sure they’re gentle enough for your face. But don’t worry they’ll work great on the rest of you – or even sticky spills on inanimate objects too!

*6) Organic alcohol + essential oil spray (preferrably lavender)
– I know, thinks sounds a little odd. But I keep a little spray bottle in my purse, beach bag, desk, car – everywhere! Why? Although this product is typically labeled as natural “deodorant” the two lonesome (yet amazing)

ingredients allow this spray to morph into hand sanitizer, antiseptic, bug repellant, air/fabric deodorizer, and cleaner for dozens of surfaces!

7) Used plastic grocery bags
– If your’re packing snacks for the car ride (or on the beach with carry-out garbage) pack some of these to corral apple cores, wrappers, recycling and the like. They’ll also keep wet bathing suits, muddy sneakers or “accidents” quarantined.

Maybe one day we’ll be able to take the cross-country road trip of our dreams or a really exotic vacation. Until then, we’ll be living vicariously through you! We can’t wait to hear your feedback about how YOU used these tips to make your trips more suck-cessful (and any other cool tricks you’ve discovered!) 

Going CSI on your Vacuum Warranty…

To Warranty or NOT to Warranty? Using our “CSI” skills to decipher your vacuum’s eligibility…

To be perfectly honest, warranty is not a fun topic to discuss. It is a wildly misunderstood part of our industry and often makes for cranky customers…Imagine you buy a $500 vacuum and within 3 months it is up in smoke and inoperable! So let’s clear up the confusion.  What is warranty, how does it work and how can you get the most out of it? (Keep in mind – this applies to lots of products, not just vacuums!) 

When a manufacturer produces product, it makes a promise to the consumer that the product will work, as intended, for a given period of time. They are usually a “limited warranty” meaning that there are reasonable exclusions. It is NOT a “100% Guarantee” and it is timely! It’s very logical, really. And luckily your entire warranty contract (as well as maintenance requirements) are all included in your owner’s manual. Yes – you must read your manual! You run the risk of poor performance, permanent damage and voiding warranty if you don’t follow the “rules.”What is WARRANTY?

 

What IS covered? 

“Defects in materials and workmanshipThat’s it. The company protects you from defects in their manufacturing.Things like burnt-out switches, bad computer control boards or batteries that won’t charge are typically covered. Occasionally, a plastic clip, cuff, bracket or internal valve cracks. But clogs, broken belts, filters, damage by animals or falls, sucking up water are a few examples of excluded issues/items.  A true defect is usually easy to spot. It’s something that a consumer in no way could cause to happen!

Although your car may encounter potholes, it’s not meant to drive into them. Your auto dealer cannot cover damage from hitting a pothole under warranty. If the fuel pump relay went, sure. Similarly, cracking your vacuum’s housing on the coffee table or sucking up wet Cheerios or socks is not coverable.

So really, how do you tell a defect from accident/abuse?

        …This is where we get all “CSI” on your vacuum!!

Simply put, the forensic evidence speaks for itself. Remember, we fix things for a living and we see it all. Little details speak volumes especially when compared to the bigger picture. Ever look carefully at a broken piece of plastic or metal? Excessive bending and wear make distinctive stress marks near the break. A defect in the tempering of the metal will result in a break that looks totally different. Similarly, we can tell exactly what caused a vacuum’s belt to break just by looking at it: Brushroller bearings seizing, something got stuck in brushroller, vs crooked installation.

 

How did WE get in the middle of this?

Manufacturers make things, but most of them can’t fix a sandwich. They need authorized third parties repair facilities like us (nearby their customers) to perform the repair work when something goes wrong. We maintain warranty contracts with nearly every major vacuum manufacturer (Hoover, Dyson, Dirt Devil, Bissell, Miele, etc.) So if you call Dyson because your DC50 upright won’t stand up, they’ll send you to us!

 

We are the manufacturer’s eyes and ears, but we follow their rules of warranty eligibility. We are bound by a strict contract! They send us customers in need of help. If the vacuum’s age is still within the period of time offered in the warranty (usually at least 1 year) we must then perform a lengthy, multi-point inspection and submit our findings in a paper or digital claim. We must order/buy genuine repair parts in advance, repair the vacuum in good faith, and submit for reimbursement (at a rate lower than I care to discuss.) It’s quite a process. For the customer it is all done for free, but it (understandably) takes a bit longer than a regular service repair.

Don’t shoot the messenger! 

We sometimes encounter problems that the manufacturer does not cover nor pay us for. The customer must pay if these are to be remedied by our staff. But we always call with an estimate and thorough explanation before anything is done or charged! Folks can still get pretty miffed about this, but trust is the “glue” in this whole process. We are here to be a fair, expert, impartial party between the both of you! Read your owner’s manual and understand the warranty. Take good, careful care of your machine and that will make it easy for us to decipher any genuine defects that may arise over time. That makes processing warranty a snap, saving us all time, money and frustration!

>> CLICK HERE for a detailed yet concise printable form explaining warranty!  WARRANTY HANDOUT (printable PDF)

Vacuums Suck and Cars Don’t!

(PART TWO of a short series using cars to understand vacuums)

We hope you enjoyed last week’s article “If cars were built like vacuums – we’d probably be dead.” If you missed it or didn’t finish reading it CLICK HERE to catch up!

So far, we learned that cars have significantly improved in critical areas like comfort, safety and fuel efficiency over the years. However, the mass majority of popular vacuum cleaners have suffered a serious decline in quality and performance to consumer demand for low prices and weight!

Now that you’re warmed up to my train of thought – using something familiar like cars to better understand your vacuumlet’s explore another commonly misunderstood factor: PERFORMANCE QUALITY. Following are 3 key factors to consider….
Every machine is designed to do a certain job, or set of jobs. To share the same classification, machines must obviously share specific performance criteria: Calculators have to calculate; Toasters must toast; Cars need to move, steer and stop; Vacuums cleaners have to suck and hold dirt in side. If a machine doesn’t perform the expected tasks, we either consider it broken, or we just have to find a new name for it!

Yet within those categories of machine, we often see numerous variants, brands and types. Sure, shapes and colors may vary, but most often a machine will be separated from others of its kind because of a claim to perform somewhat differently. It’s important to look carefully at these differences in claims, as it may drastically affect the machine’s ability to perform the tasks we expect.

The first part of what makes up a machine’s quality of performance depends on how well it is tailored to the task at hand. Do you have the right “tool” for the job? You can’t roast a small chicken in a regular, sliced-bread toaster. I don’t expect you’d buy a Toyota Prius to go off-roading in the mountains. And I would hope you’d know better than to buy an upright vacuum with a non-stopping brushroller if you have only hardwood floors.

The second factor falls in the realm of finer details. Two widgets may claim to do the exact same task, but have very different prices. Why? Quality is usually the one of the main reasons, yet this can be cocktail of several factors. “Better” quality usually indicates a products ease of use during the performance of its given task. Also, the better product can usually be expected to last longer or break less, providing a greater value for your dollar over time. Perhaps this product also does the particular task “better” than the other: Computes faster; Toasts more evenly; Is safer in a crash; Allows less dust escapes into the air, etc. Esthetics often plays a role too. Ultimately you need to decide how much those subtle factors affect the completion of your task, whether you feel they are worth the price, or which is just a better fit for your personal preferences. So if the next vacuum you buy is only $50, that’s fine – It may be just right for your situation. What I hope is that you will NOT BE FOOLED by the commercials and colorful packaging into believing that it will last very long or is “great for allergy sufferers!”

This brings me to the third aspect of discussion: How to maintain your equipment’s level of performance. Everything has an “Achilles Heel.” You wouldn’t dream of buying a car, whether a Hyundai or a Hummer, and never change the oil or brakes…You’d either blow up the motor or get killed in an accident! Similarly, you can’t buy a vacuum and not replace the bag or filter for 6 months without risking blowing up its motor, or you at least suffering a serious allergy attack! Just remember the KEY WORD: MAINTENANCE. All machines, especially those with moving parts, need it now and then! Otherwise, your car, vacuum, etc., cannot be expected to perform as well as it is intended to. You’ll need to understand what it takes to keep it going, and whether or not you’re willing and able to keep up with it!

At Queen Vacuum, we play “matchmaker” all day! It’s our job to listen and match each customer up with the right vacuum for their specific needs. Sometimes it’s a $69 Dirt Devil, sometimes it’s a $699 Miele. When you know a lot about a given type of product it’s easy to spot the differences between seemingly similar items. You can discern the main criteria: WHAT it does, HOW WELL it does it, and HOW LONG will it last. Most importantly, you can translate those differences into the potential benefits or detriments in your experience with that product. When you don’t know much about something you’re looking to buy, please do your research. But if you just can’t wrap your mind around the differences in the products you want – have an expert explain it. Or try the old trick of relating it to something you already understand well like food, electronics or (our favorite) cars!

If Cars were built like most Vacuums these days… we’d probably be dead

(PART ONE of a short series using cars to understand vacuums)

We use “car analogies” a lot in our vacuum store. Perhaps it’s because we know so much about them. John was a high-end automotive technician for 15 years before taking over the vacuum shop. I am a graphic designer by trade, but was raised with a father who was into hot rods (I was in diapers sitting in the engine compartment of Dad’s ’72 Camaro.) Most people “get” cars too. But the average person doesn’t really “get” vacuums.

Understandably, most folks don’t really care about vacuums so they’ve not been paying close attention. Yet as consumers, we’ve “asked” for changes in our vacuum products that, albeit unintentionally, yielded some pretty nasty side effects. The consequence of this is that the majority of vacuum cleaners have been allowed to devolve into a substandard variety over the years, right under our noses….

MOST VACUUMS ARE BUILT SO POORLY THESE DAYS THAT IF THE AUTO COMPANIES HAD STOOPED TO THE SAME MANUFACTURING STANDARDS AS EXIST FOR MOST VACUUMS – WE’D PROBABLY GET KILLED IN MINOR ACCIDENTS, OR CHOKE TO DEATH ON VEHICHLES’ EMISSIONS. While cars have generally and steadily improved over the years, vacuums made some forward progress and then began to show a sickening decline.

Now, I know that “improve” is a subjective word. But for the purpose of this article, I am referring to increases in performance of a machine’s essential functions. Auto manufacturers (in some cases under the guidance of Federal regulation) have dramatically improved the automobile’s ability to: Protect occupants in a crash; Operate cabin controls; Steer and stop easily; Sputter and stall less; Pollute the air less. Thus, even the most basic models of car are typically equipped with features only luxury cars offered back in the day: Crumple zones, seatbelts and airbags; Power steering, windows and locks; Fuel injection; Anti-lock brakes; Catalytic converters, et al.

For a vacuum, I consider “improvement” a performance increase in its main functions: Debris extraction across various surfaces, dust capture (filtration), ease of use and maintenance, and working without breakage over time. Yet it seems that the vacuum industry’s attempt to improve some features caused some serious, fundamental problems in other areas…

HERE’S AN EXAMPLE:
– When cars got faster and more powerful, safety upgrades had to be made to compensate. Brakes had to be bulked up to help the stop from those higher speeds. Bodies and frames had to be re-engineered to withstand higher-speed crashes. True improvements!

-When vacuums got more powerful, in most cases the rubber drive belts were not upgraded to withstand the added speed and friction. With four times the electrical amperage and motor speed transferred to that small strip of rubber, that’s why your vacuum’s belt lasts only about a quarter of the time it used to. Also, more power equals motor, bigger motor means more weight. To compensate for the added weight, some vacuums’ bodies were made thinner and lighter. These new poor-quality, ill-fitting plastic bodies contribute to severe dust leakage that spews dust back into the air (gross!), as well as the vacuum’s internal motor compartment. That results in a dusty house, and a motor that shorts out prematurely. Many vacuums gained the potential to pick up more dust and dirt, and then lost the ability to contain it properly. What started as an upgrade, resulted in a downgrade! That is NOT a true improvement. It’s like having a “better” bucket that holds more water, but has a leaky hole in the bottom of it.

The good news is that there are a few phenomenal vacuums made today! Sebo and Miele are two brands, both made in Germany, that offer much higher standards than the mass-marketed brands. We sought them out specifically to carry in our store. You could say they are the vacuum equivalent or Mercedes-Benz and BMW cars. They both found ways to improve suction, versatility, ease-of-use and lifespan without sacrificing filtration or other critical functions. Like a Mercedes commercial I just saw on TV….they “don’t do just one thing well, they do everything well.” No, you can’t expect to find a Miele at Costco or Wal-Mart. And yes, it will cost more up-front than a Eureka, and may be a few pounds heavier. But the benefits dramatically outweigh those minor “negatives.” With rare exception, you really do get what you pay for.

 

So in conclusion…I am NOT saying that you will die if you buy a lousy vacuum. What I AM trying to do is make you MORE AWARE of the (poor) quality of the majority of vacuum products on the market, and how this affects your life. We’re talking about dirt; microscopic particles. They’re small, “out of sight out of mind,” not the top priority in your life…until the vacuum breaks, something starts to smell, or someone gets sick. We are all targets of clever marketing. Other industries like food, automotive and pharmaceutical, are highly regulated regarding production standards and the claims they make to consumers. Vacuums…ehhh…not so much. Just be aware that the majority of the vacuum cleaners on the mass market do not perform as well as you may think, or as advertised. Gauge your expectations accordingly, or consult an expert on how to pick a vacuum that’s truly right for you, and get more for your money!

Epic VAC Battles of History!

 Can you see past the fierce advertising and find what’s really best?

“Who will win? You decide!”

I don’t watch much TV, but boy do I love YouTube! BTW – hopefully you’ve checked out our QueenVac YouTube channel! It’s a little rough in its infancy, but we’re always improving and our gears are always turning with new ideas. Even though I try to keep my YouTube consumption reigned in I can’t resist parodies and generally well-made videos. They’re so creative, inspiring, and of course, entertaining. All too often I pause to jot notes as my mind distorts the video into some vacuum-related concept! I’ve developed a similar annoying habit with songs and commercials. In any case, one of my favorite channels, ERB, combines history and music into hysterically funny parodies called “Epic Rap Battles of History.” 

 

ERB videos include match-ups like Bill Gates vs Steve Jobs; Wright Brothers vs Mario Brothers; Myth Busters Vs Ghost Busters; Darth Vader vs Hitler. See the pattern?  How could I stop my mind from imagining blockbuster battles like Hoover Windtunnel vs Eureka Whirlwind; James Dyson vs David Oreck; Dyson Animal vs Miele Cat & Dog? Oh goodness, the endless possibilities! But considering that videos (even as rudimentary as mine) take days to make, you’ll have to settle for this article and a few photoshopped graphics to envision these rivalries…for now!

James Dyson
James Dyson

The major vacuum

Oreck Advertisement

manufacturers do a pretty fierce job of “battling it out” in the real world. The money some brands spend on advertising probably tops the GDP of a small nation. Others prefer to invest far more in product development and quality manufacturing than on ads. Regardless, it’s easy for a consumer to get lost in the hype; mis-led into buying products that are a poor fit for their needs, or don’t do not perform like they seem on TV.

 

So how do you navigate this “battleground” of vacuum advertising to get the product that’s right for you and will be worth your investment?
Here are a few simple tips:

1)   Look at the key words in the advertising claim. Are the terms clearly definable and provable? Do they even seem like an accurate method for measuring the vacuum’s cleaning performance? If it seems too good to be true, it just might be.

2)    Investigate instances of repair. Check with experts like us; a business that sells and repairs vacuums. We are authorized for so many brands that we see how they hold up in real life and what types of issues they come in for under warranty. Online reviews can be helpful too, but look for ones that were written several months (or even years after it was bought.) Many vacs work just fine out of the box and for a month or so. But often they break, fail or require more maintenance than you’re willing to perform.

3)    Is it the correct format for your household? The demonstration of that snazzy bagless upright vacuum on QVC might have shown it making mincemeat of glitter and cereal crumbs on berber carpeting. But will that machine well suit your bare floors or shag area rugs? And although it looks so easy to empty that “convenient dirt bin,” can your allergic children tolerate the dust cloud left behind in the kitchen when you empty it at home?

So what are our lessons today? Let the manufacturers battle all they want. In fact, sit back and enjoy the show! Just don’t believe everything you see on TV or a vacuum’s packaging (at least not without doing a little research first!) If you rely on an advertised feature working exactly as claimed, please consult an expert (like us) to make sure that it can live up to your expectations. And someday soon you may even have the pleasure of watching our own “Epic VAC Battle” production on youTube!  We feel information should be administered honestly and fairly, yet with a healthy dose of humor! So we’re always excited to produce videos and articles that are not just educational, but quirky and fun. Please keep your suggestions coming for questions and topics and “contestants” you’d like us to feature. Now, go enjoy the shows!View our videos on YouTube

Epic RAP Battles
Since I’ve blatantly plagiarized their name, you should at least check out ERB’s YouTube channel! Warning – It’s addictive!

Beauty and the BEACH…How to prevent SAND from ruining your beautiful floors!

Sandy Feet

This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer – woo hoo!! So pick a sweet spot in the sand, slather on some sunblock and grab your umbrella drink. You’re about to learn some awesome tips for making your life a lot easier when you get home!
Sure you’re relaxing now…but you know your patience will come a little undone as you schlep home in heavy traffic trailing half the beach with you in your bags, towels and bikini bottoms!  IT will be in the car, the garage, in the bottom of the washing machine, all over the hard floors and deep in the carpet. That’s right… SAAAAAAAND!  

Ugh, now it’s time to make dinner. The kids are starving. You hastily shove everyone’s gritty gear in their respective places while the kids get washed and the BBQ heats up. As the Mr. flips some burgers you resolve to ditch the dusting of Sea Bright beach that’s invaded your bare dining room floor. You reach for your trusty Swiffer and get sweeping. 1-2-3 quick swipes…looking good…4-5… scccrrraaaappe…. kkkkkkk… AAAGGHH! What’s happening?!

That, my friend, was the telltale sound of a saturated Swiffer. In other words, the cleaning cloth filled up with all that grit to the point where it’s now acting like sandpaper – NOT
good for your floors! Furthermore, much of the sand will slip down into the cracks and crevices of the boards and the grout lines of tile.
A Swiffer or a sanding stick? Oh, who can tell?

Brooms and Swiffers have their place in the world, but it is NOT in-place of your vacuum cleaner. Simply put there is no better, safer, more effective way to remove fine dust, hair, crumbs and grit/dirt particles from your bare floors than vacuuming! Just make sure it’s the right kind of vacuum. Some are designed to clean only carpets and rugs or have attachments that most be switched around to work correctly.

Sand may indeed be beautiful and feel great between your toes, but have you ever asked your FLOORS how they feel? To your poor carpets and wood floors, sand is the enemy! We just learned how it can wreak havoc and dull wooden surfaces if not removed carefully. But did you also know that sand is destructive to your carpets and rugs?

Keep a spare little vacuum in your cabana, beach house or RV!

Sand is dense and quickly works its way into the deep recesses of carpeting. Ever notice how sometimes it goes through the back side of an area rug and starts digging into the flooring below? Sand is also microscopically sharp! The embedded particles slowly cut into the base of the rug’s delicate fibers as we walk over the top. This breaks the fibers apart destroying the rug form the bottom up! The most effective way to remove this dangerous grit is by slowly and thorough vacuuming with a high-quality machine. However, the vacuum must be equipped with a spinning brushroller/ “agitator”/ “beater bar” to move the carpet strands apart and deliver suction deep down where the sand is hiding. Straight suction (like you’d use on bare floors) just will not cut it on carpets.

CONCLUSION
Sand is beautiful, but belongs at the beach! So be armed with a great vacuum that can eradicate sand (and other offending particles) from your house in order maintain the original beauty of your floors, rugs and furnishings. There is beauty in cleanliness… it’s next to Godliness, some say! So, for heaven’s sake, can we take time to stop and smell the rose-scented countertop spray? Take not for granted the glisten of exquisitely polished granite, stainless steel and freshly-scrubbed grout. Consider how much heck you’re putting your poor floors through and stop treating your living room rugs like a doormat! Keeping your home clean and healthy is work, no doubt. But we all know that the right tools get each job done more quickly, easily and thoroughly!  And that’s what WE’RE here for!!  Enjoy your summer and we’ll be seeing you soon….