The History of Vacuum Cleaners: From Invention to Innovation​

For many of us, picking up a vacuum is a chore undertaken at least a few times a week. In fact, the UK vacuum cleaner market is projected to be worth $1.42 billion by 2018. The market includes various products, from corded designs to remote-controlled products that can be controlled via a smartphone. With so many products on the market, it can be easy to forget that the humbler vacuum cleaner was once a brand-new invention.

In this article, we will explore the evolution of floor care machines in terms of vacuum cleaners. We will share some insights into the history of vacuum cleaners as we know them today, along with some tips you can also find in our online guides. From invention to innovation, the world of cleaning would certainly look different today if vacuum cleaners had not evolved in the way they have!

What Was the Timeline for the Invention of Vacuum Cleaners?

The vacuum started its journey to global cleaning domination in 1901 when engineer Hubert Cecil Booth designed it. With his background in mechanical engineering, Hubert was known for designing impressive structures and bridges still in place around London. However, it isn’t the suspension bridges he is known for today but the humble vacuum cleaner.

He was inspired to invent a tool for cleaning flooring after seeing an alternative product in action at London’s Empire Music Hall. This experience got Hubert’s cogs turning as he realised a better solution could be created. He would then go on to create the first-ever floor cleaning device that sucked dirt up through a filter instead of simply agitating it for removal in other ways. Although Hubert was the mastermind behind the original take on a vacuum cleaner, Walter Griffiths took the idea and developed it further. His creation, ‘Griffiths Improved Vacuum Apparatus for Removing Dust from Carpets’ then, inspired future generations of innovators to keep improving the design, constantly striving for more efficient and easy-to-use solutions.

Another innovator who had a big part to play in the form that vacuum cleaners take in the modern day was James Murray Spangler from the US. He created the first portable electric vacuum cleaner in 1908 to which he also secured a supporting patent for the design. Despite a promising start to the design process, James was unfortunately unable to secure the funding to take his product to the next level. It should be noted this design only held potential in the eyes of other inventors in terms of the internal mechanism which was different to previous designs. Other than that, it still did not serve as the revolution to the cleaning industry that many were hoping for.

Don’t let us fool you into thinking that the first design was a spot-on product. Our article is called Invention to Innovation because the initial idea went through various designs to get to the models we are familiar with today. The very first vacuum cleaner was operated via a horse-drawn machine, which saw long hoses fed into homes to remove fury. Over the next 100-plus years, the designs will become more compact and user-friendly in line with other electrical and mechanical advances.

The first vacuum cleaner that our modern household products can be likened to was created in the 1930s by the British Hoover Company. Despite the growing popularity, due to the higher price point, vacuum cleaners were still not a staple in households but instead a luxury for the middle to upper class. It wasn’t until the 1950s that most UK homes owned a vacuum cleaner, at which point the models were quite large in design and operated via a plug-in cord design. Since the 1950s, vacuum cleaners have continued to advance in their design and functionality. Models have also been developed to suit various cleaning needs with solutions suitable for hardwood floors and carpeted rooms.

How Did Vacuum Cleaners Change the World?

The innovative aspect of vacuum cleaners was largely due to a desire by inventors to keep making changes that would revolutionise the cleaning industry. A big part of this was understanding how the devices were being used and if they had the intended effect of offering solutions that made life easier. After all, the main intention was to create a solution that households worldwide could use. Some ways that vacuum cleaners succeeded in this and made a global impact are as follows:

Improved Process for Household Chores

Initially, only middle- and upper-class households could afford to purchase and run vacuum cleaners. The products proved to be a popular and effective way of reducing time and effort spent on household chores, which then gained interest from more people and companies. This then led to the development of other products that could be supplied at a lower price to ensure households across the UK could start to use these innovative solutions.

Faster and Better Cleaning Results

Another way that vacuum cleaners improved the cleaning sector was by reducing the time spent on the essential chore of looking after homes. The success within residential settings meant that commercial businesses could see how efficiency could be improved to reduce spending on cleaning.

Longer Lasting Flooring Solutions

Vacuum cleaners are also designed to help flooring to last for longer. This means that the revolution of the vacuum cleaner can also be related to the ability for flooring to remain in better condition. Offering homeowners a way to spend less on household maintenance, vacuum cleaners were made popular as their ROI was quickly realised by people around the country.

What Does the Future of Vacuum Cleaners Look Like

Innovation can be traced back to the earliest days of vacuum cleaner development in terms of the design itself. However, as with other sectors, technological innovation has overtaken the vacuum industry, resulting in many modern solutions available in today’s market.

The first trend that continues to impact the vacuum cleaner market is the growing demand for more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient vacuum cleaners. This is highly important with a global awareness of sustainability issues and the need to use less fuel. Furthermore, with peoples’ budgets decreasing due to the cost of living crisis, the masses prefer efficient technologies.

Another trend is the rise of smart vacuum cleaners that can be controlled via an app or voice commands. People love an app, and with the power to control entire homes at the click of a button, it will come as no surprise that digital vacuum cleaners are growing in popularity. These devices are designed to make cleaning more convenient and efficient, allowing you to schedule cleanings, adjust settings, and receive alerts when the vacuum needs attention. Intended to suit the modern consumer, they are becoming more widespread with different price points showcasing that the solution is becoming more accessible.

Finally, modern vacuum cleaners are now designed for different lifestyles to last longer than older solutions. For example, we may see more models designed to tackle pet hair or allergens or use advanced sensors to thoroughly detect and clean dirt and debris. By adapting to what modern consumers are interested in, vacuum cleaners remain a household essential in which people will be willing to invest.

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We hope you enjoyed that detailed look at the history of the humble household vacuum cleaner. As cleaning experts, we are passionate about educating people about the virtues of using top equipment. However, when you select our services, you don’t need to worry about purchasing a vacuum cleaner, as we will do the work for you!

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