Ah, the joys of cleaning the house. One of the most polarizing household chores is vacuuming – you either love it or hate it; there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. Speaking of the ground, can you even imagine trying to get those annoying particles out of your carpet without a vacuum cleaner? We can’t either. You may find yourself wondering, “who invented the vacuum cleaner?” If so, keep reading. We will cover this and everything you need to know about the history of vacuum cleaners.

Who Invented The Vacuum Cleaner?

So, who invented the vacuum cleaner? We believe we should celebrate the genius behind this cleaning miracle. On June 8, 1869, an inventor named Ives McGaffey patented the first sweeping machine. It wasn’t the motorized vacuum we’re used to, but it laid the foundation for other inventors to improve on his wood and canvas rug cleaner.

The very next year, in 1899, John Thurman invented a gas-powered machine designed to sweep rugs, and this is what most people consider the first motorized vacuum cleaner. He later took the show on the road and offered door-to-door service from his horse-drawn vacuum system. Basically, that was the beginning of vacuum cleaners making hard work more manageable.

A History Of Modern Vacuum Cleaners

Who Invented the Vacuum Cleaner? Person vacuuming a gray rug

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 We didn’t just go from a horse-drawn sweeper to the vacuums with all the bells and whistles that we have today. There were lots of amazing little steps along the way. Read on to discover the details.

Hoover

In 1907, a janitor, James Spangler, in a Canton, Ohio department store, realized all the dust he was kicking up by sweeping carpets was contributing to his hacking cough. He fashioned a fan motor on a soapbox and attached that to a broom handle. He used a cloth bag as a filter, and he was off to the races.

Actually, he was off to his cousin’s house. William Hoover was the husband of Spangler’s cousin and became the president and founder of the Hoover company. William Hoover financed the upgrades and changes to the original machine and produced the first commercial vacuum cleaner, which resembled a bagpipe attached to a stick.

Sales grew at a snail’s pace until Hoover announced 10-day, free in-home trial; it was a game-changer. Just 12 years after James Spangler decided to eliminate dust on the job, most households had a Hoover vacuum. So, who invented the vacuum cleaner? There’s your answer.

Kirby

James Kirby wanted to eliminate hard work where he didn’t believe it needed to exist. In 1914 Kirby decided to turn to a tool and die shop named The Scott and Fetzer Machine Company to help his Vacuette vacuum become more precise.

In 1925, the Vacuette Electric hit the home cleaning scene. It was one of the first machines to have removable attachments including a detachable floor nozzle and handle. The machine was —and still is—sold exclusively through direct sales. They are the notable vacuums sold through in-home demonstrations and bought on the spot.

Eureka

In 1909, a real estate auctioneer from Detroit, Michigan was buying various patents for emerging vacuum cleaners. What made Eureka notable was that there were six models available by 1913. They came in different sizes and with multiple attachments.

By 1919, Eureka’s headquarters were making 2,000 vacuum cleaners per day. The company took off because of its motivated sales force of 3,000 people. Wardell came up with some of the most creative sales tactics around. He would bet $2,000 to a salesman’s $10 that the salesman couldn’t beat their quota. That was an expensive way to get vacuum cleaners to market, but it worked.

Eureka also leased space in retail outlets. Instead of letting the department store’s employees sell their models, they would place their own salesmen in the rented spaces. Because Eureka’s sales force was so well trained in everything about the company, the vacuums flew off the shelves.

The 1950s

The 1950s was a significant decade for the vacuum industry. In 1950, the first upright convertible vacuum was introduced and became the standard for in-home vacuum cleaning. They were used and stowed away easily, making them more appealing than their canister counterparts.

In 1954, Hoover released the Constellation cleaner. It didn’t have wheels but used its exhaust to float across carpeting and floors. The company branded it as floating on a pocket of air, and it sold like wildfire because it was so different from anything else on the market.

The 1950s also saw television advertising really take off. Consumers could now find ads for vacuum cleaners on television, radio, newspaper, and magazines—not to mention the door-to-door salesmen. America was officially a vacuum cleaning country.

Oreck

David Oreck was the first to see the hotel and hospitality industry as a potential market in 1963. He created the Oreck Corporation with the sole purpose of selling to hotels, and it worked. He developed a lightweight, effective, and durable vacuum cleaner perfect for an industry that cleaned all of its rooms every single day.

Hotels needed something that would stand up to the abuse of being used regularly. Also, the housekeepers liked how lightweight the cleaners were and asked for them to become the standard. The industry listened and today over 50,000 hotels use Oreck vacuums exclusively.

Modern Vacuum Cleaners

Who invented the vacuum cleaner? woman using a vacuum

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So, now you’ve learned who invented the vacuum cleaner— but it only gets better from here. From 1970 onward, vacuum cleaners improved and became more inventive. You probably have one in your home right now.

The First Hand-Held

Black and Decker kicked off our ability to clean stairs and small spaces easily with their DustBuster in 1979. To this day, it is still their most successful product ever, selling over 100 million since then. Those vacuums paved the way for the Dirt Devil and any other detachable handhelds. If you were around in the 80s—like us— you should remember exactly how to clean the filter was on your DustBuster.

The Dyson

James Dyson is serious when you see him on television, talking about how his vacuum was born out of frustration. He was tired of bagged vacuums losing suction as the bag filled and having to deal with the mess associated with a full bag. He developed over 5,000 prototypes to come up with the bagless Dyson vacuum that uses his patented double cyclone technology.

It was important to Dyson that he be able to move a vacuum in every direction necessary to get his carpets clean. He achieved that by getting rid of the back wheels and using a large cylinder instead.

In 1997, Electrolux unveiled a self-roaming vacuum cleaner on a show called “Tomorrow’s World.” It used sensors to avoid objects and would move itself into its charging bay when it was running low on charge.

In 2002, iRobot— a company started by three employees of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab—revealed their spin on a robotic vacuum called the Roomba. In one year, they sold over one million units. iRobot intentionally allows its users to hack into the vacuum because the creators believe that only makes the product better.

Related Questions

person using vacuum in the wooden floor. Who invented the vacuum cleaner?

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Is There A Right Way To Vacuum?

Yes! The air in your home is filled with tiny particles floating around that you can’t see. These elements may contribute to breathing issues or make allergies feel worse. Carpets and rugs do some work for you by helping to trap a lot of it. However, simply walking will kick the particles up if you let them build for too long.

It’s recommended to vacuum at least twice per week, upstairs and down – and more if you have pets. Vacuuming this often will keep your carpets and rugs in good condition, especially in high-traffic areas. Here are some other vacuuming tips for your consideration:

  • Take your time – rushing won’t pick up the bad stuff.
    Move directions while you vacuum -80 percent of particles are picked up when you pull backwards.
    Empty the bag or canister at 65 percent capacity to avoid particles from spilling over.
    If possible, use a HEPA filter or bag.
    Use the crevice tool on the corners and edges of each room at least once a week.
    Dust before you vacuum – because when you dust, all those particles get on your carpet, so it’s best to do that first.

What Will The Future Of Vacuum Cleaners Look Like?

You can’t stop progress. The vacuum company Vax is exploring the viability of mass producing an all cardboard vacuum cleaner. British inventor Jake Taylor presented his cardboard vacuum as his final degree project at Vax headquarters, and the invention earned him a full-time job.

Vax is currently trying to determine the cost of production, availability of replacement parts, and how well it can clean in its current state. The future looks a lot like sustainability.

What Are Other Essential Home Cleaning Tools?

The vacuum is the number one tool for making at-home cleaning easier and more convenient, but you can improve your cleaning kit by adding a few more essentials:

  • Microfiber cleansing cloths
  • Swiffer sweeper and duster
  • Natural bristle scrub brush
  • Squeegee
  • Dish scrub brush
  • Tile cleaning pen

Conclusion: Who Invented The Vacuum Cleaner?

vacuum cleaner cleaning a a rug. Who invented the vacuum cleaner?

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Well, there you have it. You can stop searching online for, “who invented the vacuum cleaner,” because now you know! Share with friends and family your newfound expertise on the history of vacuums and who invented the vacuum cleaner.

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