Diaperless Babies?! What can we learn about VACUUMS from this child-rearing trend?

What do diaperless babies have to do with vacuum cleaners? Hopefully nothing, directly. But there is an increasingly popular potty-training method that has a peculiar parallel to trends in the vacuum world! “Elimination communication.”  Perhaps you’ve heard of it?  You may find this information enlightening or possibly disturbing. Either way, we hope it just gets you thinking.
Diaperless Baby & Bagless vacuum

From Wikipedia: “Elimination communication, or EC, is a practice in which….using timing, signals, cues, and intuition…caregivers try to recognize and respond to babies’ bodily needs and enable them to [eliminate waste] in an appropriate place (e.g. a toilet)… The term…was inspired by traditional practices of diaper-less baby care in less industrialized countries and hunter-gatherer cultures…Because EC lessens families’ reliance on diapers, this helps reduce the environmental impact of discarding disposable diapers and/or washing cloth diapers, and saves families hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in disposable diapers.”     **CLICK HERE for a humerous review of “Elimination Communication” from Stephen Colbert ** 

So now I’ll let you in on the analogy/inside joke that we’ve used for years: “Bagless vacuums are like diaperless babies.”  How can we make such a bold and repulsive comparison? Because we fix vacuums for a living!  (BTW – If you currently operate bagless, pleeeease do not be offended. We simply hope you consider our expert opinions carefully and utilize the constructive tips we offer.)

If you’ve subscribed for any length of time you are well aware of our company’s feelings on bagless vacuums…YUCK!” If you’re a newcomer, the main reason we have such a poor opinion of bagless machines is because of their high demand for cleaning/maintenance and the unsanitary condition that presents. The second greatest issue is that (versus bagged equivalents) we see an incredibly high rate of clogging, breakage and catastrophic failure that lead to their premature “death” and disposal. Most folks are misled into believing that bagless vacs are ” practically maintenance free“, “great for allergies” and/or “economical.” I’ve written countless articles in the past exposing the erroneous rational behind each of those claims, in great detail. (Click each respective link to see a corresponding article or video from our archives, or visit our Articles Archive to see more.)

Of course bagless vacuums have certain advantages. Most bagless owners quote a great sense of gratification from actively seeing how much dirt they retrieve while vacuuming. They also mention feeling relief from the burden of having to “run out and buy bags” and love how cheap most are to buy up front. Unfortunately, most people discover that these blessings turn into a curse in the long run. 

Diapers = Bags

Now back to our analogy.  It’s easy to see the likeness between disposable vacuum cleaner bags and disposable baby diapers. So the converse must be true, right? Let’s see what similarities we can find…

 

The more you look at it, babies (diapered and not) and vacuums (bagged and not) have a lot in common! And each style has its particular advantages and disadvantages. Which format is right for you depends on your priorities and preferences. 

Start by deciding what your end goal is, then work backward. Framed within the bigger picture, you’ll want to consider the finer details like costs; up-front and long-term expenses. Also think about the effects your choice may have on your lifestyle, both positive and negative. Again, the majority of this deliberation requires some gazing into the future!

If it’s your baby, your goals may be for her to reach potty independence sooner and to save on the cost of diapers. But you must be available and willing to take her to the restroom as soon as she gives the cue – and be prepared for the accident in case there are no facilities nearby. Could all that be a game-changer?

Similarly, a bagless vacuum from Wal-Mart may suit your budget right now and seem convenient. But do you have the facilities to empty the bin and wash the filters in a sanitary location? Do you have the desire, time and space to wash the filters and let them dry (or money to replace them if required?) Can you afford the long-term expense of replacing the entire vacuum almost every year? Would it bother your ecological conscience to know the severe negative impact you’ll make in the landfill?  Babes or bags, reach your goal by making sure that you have the equipment and wherewithal to take the necessary steps – ones that actually go in the right direction!

The bottom line?  Using the EC potty training method can unquestionably reduce the quantity of diapers in the city dump. If you were hand-washing cloth diapers to reduce the bulk of trash, you would still be using a considerable amount of water and detergent, something not entirely without environmental impact. There are plausible environmental and (possibly developmental) advantages to these child care methods over the typical “Pamper-ed” lifestyle. But the question is whether you, as a parent,would be willing and able to be so “hands-on?”The same question can be asked of the bagless vacuum owner… Bagless has its benefits, but be prepared for some extra, hands-on maintenance and a lot of hidden costs!

Trick or Treat? False Claims or Real Benefits…

….the frightening reality of vacuum marketing.

In honor of Halloween, I always like to address some of the spooky, freaky and downright scary aspects in the world of vacuuming!  What do I find to be the scariest? FALSE MARKETING CLAIMS!!

Disappointing, perhaps; But scary? You would think that spending as much time with vacuum cleaners as we do would make us numb to some of the more disgusting aspects of their existence. On the contrary: We’ve become hyper aware of how different machines work, how they often don’t work, and how their performance sometimes differs greatly than claimed or expected. What makes a false or misleading claim scary is the consequence the user may suffer from believing it!

scary-vacuumsFollowing are some CLAIMS attached to certain vacuum cleaners. See if you can guess which claims are a “TRICK” (as in totally bogus or just misleading) or a “TREAT” (that is, a feature that really has value.) THE ANSWERS MAY SURPRISE YOU! 

“So powerful it can pick up a Pick up a bowling ball!”  Answer: TRICK

This one has been around forever, and is just plain hysterical. Oreck uses a bowling to demonstrate the suction power of its little companion canister vacuum, the “Buster B Vac.” The use of the funnel-type device at the end of the Oreck’s hose is the key.  The funnel cups around the bowling ball providing a suction cup-like effect, truly requiring only the slightest amount of vacuum to provide the seal. This is NOT a great indicator of suction, let alone cleaning performance. In fact, this little Oreck has some of the worst suction on the market.

“No Loss of Suction”  Answer: TRICK

This is Dyson’s famous line. The company did suffer some slight legal trauma over this claim…they now have to include some fine print that supports the point.  But the mighty Dyson can and will lose suction eventually. The tag line is not exactly trickery, but too many people make the errant assumption that they don’t have to wash the vacuum’s filters or empty the dust collection bin regularly. If this required at-home maintenance is neglected, the poor Dyson suffocates and just won’t suck anymore. That equals a dirty house.

 

“Zero Emissions”   Answer: TREAT!

Most of the allergy-provoking particles in your home are sized between 0.1 and 10 microns: a fraction of the width of a human hair. The bodies of many vacuums leak badly, allowing fine dust and allergens to escape once sucked up.  On the contrary, vacuums like the Miele S5 canisters and S7 uprights rate as some of the best filtering vacuum cleaners on the market. Using an air particle scanner, a Miele will record a zero emissions rating at .3 microns setting. I’m not aware of any other “sealed-system” domestic upright or canister vacuum that achieves this degree of clean air being exhausted back out into your home. This means great relief for allergy sufferers! (And those who hate having to dust the house after vacuuming!)  The good thing is that this claim is pretty well regulated, so when you see it you should be able to believe it.
“No expensive bags to replace”  Answer: TRICK

Define expensive! Many bagless vacuums are advertised using this lie – I mean line. The majority of these machines utilize a pleated HEPA filter in the dust collection bin, which serves to separate the dust from the clean air inside the vacuum (which a bag would normally do.)  The trick is that these filters are not free! They need to be replaced every 6 months to one year, which can cost you the same annually (and sometimes up to twice as much) as disposable paper vacuum bags.  Lastly, the long term expense you really have to consider is the vacuum itself. Since most bagless vacuums manage dirt so poorly internally, their motors tend to short out much sooner than their bagged counterparts…replacing a whole vacuum frequently is what really gets expensive!

 

So what’s the moral of the story? 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 to make sure that it can live up to your expectations. Look at the KEY WORDS in the 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 (or at least not without paying the price of extra money or your time.)

 

By: Rachel Decker (Co-owner, Queen Vacuum)

If you have a specific/interesting question about vacuums, cleaning, maintenance, product reviews, etc., that you would like to be featured in our newsletter or blog… send an e-mail to: info@queenvacuum.com (Subject: “Newsletter Topic”)
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Is Your Vacuum an Animal? Learn how to TAME that wild, wayward creature!

If you are up to date on television and printed advertising, and/or a fan of the Home Shopping Network, you may believe that an “Animal” vacuum is the long-awaited solution to your challenging home cleaning routine! Perhaps you already own one and sing its praises every day. Perhaps you own one and feel like chucking it out the window for the amount of trouble it gives you.
For those of you in the market for a new machine and eyeing up those aforementioned “Animal” vacs – pay close attention! There is a lot of misconception and blatant misinformation out there regarding the best machines for pet-owning households. We will work on straightening some of that out right now! And if you already have a vacuum you’re generally pleased with, yet often struggle to keep it performing like you expect, you’ll enjoy the helpful tips laid out in this article too.

  

WHAT EXACTLY IS AN “ANIMAL” in the world of vacuums?
If it is a Dyson brand vacuum, that means it’s PURPLE. That’s right, color is the only real difference between any Dyson of the same model series. The main body, motor, filters, brush roller; all the same! What do change are the accessories packaged with it. A Dyson DC65 “Animal” will have an additional turbo tool and possibly a low-reach, bare floor tool (versus a standard DC65 model.)  There’s nothing at all wrong with that setup, per se. Most other brands follow this naming pattern. An “Animal,” “Pet” or “Cat & Dog” model vacuum will usually come with a special set of tools to remove pet hair from challenging surfaces like upholstery and stairs. The issue is that most consumers are under the false impression that the vacuum has more suction, a bigger motor, or better filtration; not necessarily true.
For example, a Miele C3 series Cat & Dog, Marin or HomeCare canister vacuum would ALL handle pet hair incredibly well. Why? In addition to a large capacity filterbag, these “siblings” are also power-teammodels. That means that in addition to raw suction power they are equipped with a robust electric power nozzleto deep clean carpets and rugs. But with the “Cat & Dog” you’ll also enjoy a BONUS handheld turbo brush to easily blast through embedded fur on above-floor surfaces like upholstery, auto interiors, pet beds and more! Lastly, instead of the standard HEPA media exhaust filter (used for allergen control) the Cat & Dog’s filter cartridge is chock-full of odor absorbing activated charcoal to combat stinky dog smells. All C3 series canisters are otherwise the same size, with the same motor and suction power. See the pattern?
Why does your vacuum behave like an errant puppy?
Your particular vacuum may not be an “Animal,” but it sure may act like one sometimes. Has yours ever chewed up a delicate carpet, eaten your shoelaces or puked stuff back out on the floor? Regardless of the brand or type of vacuum you have it is bound to misbehave at some point.However, more often than not, it’s not really the vacuum’s fault. As the owner, YOU are in charge of keeping your vacuum healthy and giving it what it needs at regular intervals. If you don’t take your dog outside in time he’s likely to have an accident inside. Similarly, if you don’t change your vacuum’s bag or filter in time, it will clog and spit debris out. Develop good habits of “grooming” your vacuum’s brushroller to remove excessive hair and string. Also, don’t run your vacuum where it doesn’t belong. Many vacuums are too powerful and aggressive to safely clean delicate area rugs or bare floors. You wouldn’t take your Rottweiler through a stroll through a nursery….not worth the risk, right? Also schedule to bring your vac in for regular, professional checkups (with yours truly) or at the first sign of “illness!
CONCLUSION
Sure, you may feel disappointed or even cheated that an “Animal” model isn’t any different than its relatives. Trust me; the special tools packaged with one can make all the difference in pet hair removal. But they’re only helpful if you use them. AND you still must maintain the vacuum as required in order to keep it working at peak performance, Animal or not!