Canadian Woodworking

HomeInOn – easy dust management for healthy homes

Author: Carl Duguay
Photos: Lead Photo by Bissell
Published: December January 2020

Carpeting can be expensive to install or replace. Keeping the carpets clean will prolong your investment and make for a healthier home.

According to the Canadian Lung Association, asthma, allergies and emphysema affect some 3 million Canadians – that’s almost one in every ten people. And household dust is one of the major culprits. Dust contains all sorts of particulate matter – dander, hair, pollen, mold spores, dirt and dust mites – that can be easily drawn into our airways.

Carpets, in particular, are notorious for sucking up household dust – over time they can turn into a dust and dirt reservoir. If you have cats or dogs, then vacuuming is the best way to deal with pet hair and dander. You’ll not only reduce the amount of allergens in the air, but improve the overall indoor air quality. That’s why regular vacuuming, and occasional cleaning, is so important. It’s the easiest and most effective way to control dust in your home, and to keep those carpets looking fresh and new.

There are four general types of vacuums on the market: upright, canister, stick, and robot. They can be corded or battery powered, bagged or bagless.

Cordless vacuums have an obvious advantage – no cord to trip over and no need to continually plug it into a different electrical receptacle as you move from room to room. However, they generally deliver less suction than corded models, so don’t clean as deeply (something to consider if you have thick pile carpets) and the battery can run out of power fairly quickly – an inconvenience if you have a lot of carpeting to clean, unless you have an extra battery on hand.

Vacuums that use disposable bags are a better choice if anyone in your home has allergies or asthma – once the bag is full simply toss it into the garbage. If the bag is reusable you’ll have to empty it into a trash bin. Make sure you empty these bags outdoors, and wear a dust mask – otherwise you’ll introduce fine particulate material back into the home and your lungs.

Many of the newer vacuums feature cyclonic suction. A conventional vacuum usually has a rotating brush that loosens debris while a fan creates suction to lift the debris from the carpet and deposit it into a canister or bag. As the waste container fills, suction typically decreases.  A cyclonic vacuum channels that dirt-laden air into one or more cone shaped cylinders that create a vortex, spinning the debris towards the side of the cylinders, where it drops into a waste bin without reducing any suction power. Cyclonic vacuums are also usually equipped with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters that remove dust particles down to as small as .3 micron in size.

 An industry standard, the upright vacuum cleaner is an affordable vacuum option, they're generally comfortable to use and they often have a wider cleaning path than other vacuums. (Photo by Bissell)

 Generally more powerful than an upright vacuum, and work especially well on wood floors. (Photo by Hoover)

 Very agile, stick vacuums are easily maneuvered. They are often quieter than many other types of vacuum. (Photo by Dyson)

 The vacuum for the person who doesn't like to vacuum, robot vacuums are efficient, work well on many different surfaces and you can set boundaries on where it can go. (Photo by iRobot)

Deep Cleaning
Using a combination of pressure and heat, deep cleaners force steam into the carpet to soften then remove grease, grime, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other unwanted substances. (Photo by Hoover)

Dual Purpose
 Giving you the option of using these types of vacuums in an upright position, or quickly reaching for the portable spot cleaner, is a huge benefit to many users. (Photo by Bissell)

Integrated Dust Management

Upright vacuums are an excellent choice for the average homeowner, particularly if you have a lot of floor space to cover and a mixture of carpeting and hard floor surfaces. For cleaning stairs, draperies, your car, and hard-to-reach places, canister vacuums are hard to beat.

When purchasing either an upright or canister vacuum look for an integrated dust management system – one that is powerful, efficient and versatile. The best vacuum will provide strong agitation to dislodge dust from carpet fibres, powerful suction to draw away the dust, and efficient filtering to trap the smallest, most harmful dust particles.

Features That Matter Most

Height adjustable rotating brushes provide efficient vacuuming on different styles of carpeting. Choose a model that lets you turn the rotating brushes off when cleaning hard floor surfaces. Also look for soft bumpers that protect walls and furniture from inevitable bumps.

Multi-cyclonic vacuums are much less prone to clog up and loose suction as the waste container fills. Make sure the vacuum has an easy-to-empty, spill-free container.

Rather than having to choose between different types of vacuums, look for a combination unit, like the Bissell Lift-Off, that provides the convenience of 2 machines in 1 – a full sized upright vacuum for large rooms, with a detachable canister for cleaning sofas, stairs, draperies and cars.

A dual filter system that incorporates a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter will be more effective at screening fine dust without circulating dirty air throughout your home.

If you have pets, then look for a pet hair specific brush with a rotating head that attracts and picks up pet hair from carpeted and upholstered surfaces.

Other features to consider are long power cords so you’ll spend more time cleaning and less time re-plugging (or long run-time batteries, like the Dyson V10 line, that provide up to 60 minutes of run-time); easily reachable controls; and light weight.

Weekly or bi-weekly vacuuming will help keep your home healthy and dust free. To restore the appearance of your carpets, remove deep built-in grime and spills you’ll need to deep clean them periodically.

Deep Cleaning Carpets

While regular vacuuming is important to control the build-up of household dust, it won’t remove spots, pet stains, lingering odours, and the fine particulate matter that gets ground into carpet fibres. For this you’ll need to deep-clean the carpets – it will not only restore the fresh appearance of your carpets, but also prolongs life. For this you’ll need a carpet cleaner (aka ‘steamer’ or ‘shampooer’).

You don’t have to hire someone to clean your carpets. Today’s consumer models do an excellent job cleaning all types of carpets, are easy to use, and reasonably priced. In fact, a single commercial cleaning service will cost more than most consumer deep-cleaning machines. It’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to keep your carpets refreshed year round.

Upright deep cleaners are best for entire rooms, while portable spot cleaners are ideal for those occasional mishaps and hard-to-reach areas like stairs, upholstery and car interiors.
Deep cleaners, like the Hoover Turbo Scrub, work by forcing warm water mixed with a cleaning solution deep into the carpet to soften dirt and grime. Rotating brushes agitate the carpet fibres, helping to loosen the embedded dirt, while powerful suction pulls out the dirt and liquid, depositing it into a holding tank.

If you have a small area to clean, renting a cleaner from your local hardware or grocery store is an economical option. For very large areas of carpeting that get a lot of traffic you’ll be better off purchasing a standalone cleaner.

It's All About the Machine

A built-in hot water heater is more efficient than using a hot tap water – it keeps the water and cleaning solution at the right temperature to soften caked on grime and dirt.

Multiple rows of brushes provide superior fibre agitation.
Dual purpose machines, like the ProHeat 2X Revolution CleanShot, provide 2 options in 1 – an upright deep cleaner for entire room cleaning, and a portable spot cleaner for touch up jobs and places where an upright cleaner is impractical, such as sofas, stairs, and cars.

Longer power cords reduce the time spent unplugging and re-plugging the machine.

A wide selection of cleaning solutions specifically designed for the deep cleaner will enable you to deal with any cleaning task. Bissell, for example, offers six cleaning solutions, including an advanced formula designed for allergy sufferers, and a solution specifically for deep cleaning pet stains and eliminating odors. Plus, three solutions with Scotchguard Protection.

Other features to look for are accessory tools for faster removal of pet stains, and tools for use in hard to reach places, on stairs, and on car upholstery. Also, look for light machine weight to make cleaning less onerous, and tanks and rollers that are easy to clean after using.

There comes a time when every carpet needs some extra care to restore its clean appearance. You’ll be surprised at how quick and easy you can achieve professional results with a deep cleaner.


Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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