Vacuum cleaner for cat owner with wool carpets?
January 19, 2009 7:56 PM   Subscribe

I've read the prior discussions, and I've seen Consumer Reports - but the wool carpet issue hasn't been addressed. I'm looking for a good vacuum cleaner for my wool carpets (and my sofa and such). I have cats. I don't have stairs. I'd like a vacuum cleaner that will last. And I'd like something not too heavy, something easy to move around. If it has a bag, it has to be easy to change it.

I've always used an upright vacuum, but I'm open to other options if they would work better.

I've seen snippets on the web indicating the Dyson vacuums aren't good on wool carpets; I called Dyson and they said to turn the brush bar off and all would be fine. (They also said to check with the carpet manufacturer, but I believe the company that made mine has gone out of business.) I don't know if wool carpets are an issue with any other vacuums.

Any suggestions?
posted by jeri to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can only speak from personal experience, naturally, but I've used Dysons on wool carpets plenty of times before (I have a thing for vacuuming and lawn mowing, don't ask me why) and they work great and are well worth the investment.

I have a compact Dyson at home - I forget the exact model, it's around six years old - with HEPA filter and it sucks up cat hair, from any surface, like some kind of magical cat hair sucking-up device. Bagless, naturally, and I haven't had a single problem with it in over a half decade of faithful service. By god I'm gonna vacuum when I get home!
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:14 PM on January 19, 2009

The trick to understanding vacuum cleaners is that they're all about suction. That's the only way they get stuff off carpets: by literally vacuuming it up. Any other feature is about manipulating the vacuuming envionment (for example, the brush bar on a Dyson is, in theory, used to "peel" open carpet fibers and get to the dust and stuff deeper in the material), but all you really truly need is pure sucking power. To this end, bagless cleaners are the best bet because their motors are always operating at peak efficiency, whereas bagged cleaners get weaker the fuller they get. So somebody saying "Dysons don't work on wool carpets" seems to me like a falsehood, because Dysons work exactly the same as any other vacuum, except, y'know, better.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:18 PM on January 19, 2009

Best Vacuums for Wool.
posted by terranova at 8:48 PM on January 19, 2009

I think the deal with Dysons and certain carpets is that the beater bars and excellent suction can damage some types of carpet. I have a Dyson and I lovelovelove it but when I vacuum my parents' home with it, I wind up with quite a bit of carpet fiber in the canister.

(My home carpet-which is the cheap stuff-is totally undamaged by the Dyson.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:51 PM on January 19, 2009

Thanks, Turgid Dahlia. I guess I should have said there was concern about the Dysons damaging the wool carpet - and now that you've explained what the brush bar does, that makes some sense. But from what you're saying, the Dyson should work fine without the brush bar.
posted by jeri at 8:53 PM on January 19, 2009

Ah, I get you. Well a lot of the models can be throttled to produce less suckage, and not all of them have the bar thing, so basically what I'd do is just go into a Dyson store (I'm not shilling for Dyson, btw - I'm sure there are other bagless cleaners just as good, if not better, but I've never bothered finding out what they were) and chat to one of the people there.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:56 PM on January 19, 2009

Terranova, I saw that site - but it seems to be picking up all vacuum cleaner reviews that include the word wool, including one that mentioned wooly mammoths! There's some interesting stuff there, but it didn't fully answer my questions.
posted by jeri at 9:01 PM on January 19, 2009

Miele makes the best. We've had ours for years and it works great on our wool rugs and our hardwood.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:06 PM on January 19, 2009

My mother always wanted a Kirby vacuum and finally got one about 7ish years ago. Absolutely loved it. She loved it so much, she insisted on buying me one for a housewarming gift about 5 years ago. I love my Kirby too and understand her obsession now. Very pricey (US $500+) if I recall but so worth it - they last forever.
I admit, it is a heavy machine but that's b/c it's so powerful. It compensates with a motor to pull/push it as you vacuum, so it feels like next to nothing when you use it. I had a 3 story home at one point and had placed 2 so-so vacuums on the carpeted floors, but after I got the Kirby, I donated the others and never minded carrying the Kirby up/down the stairs b/c it did a much better job than the other vacuums I had. Strange to be so passionate about a vacuum, but you get excited when you find something that works so well.
To get the warranty, you'll need to purchase through a home demonstration, but sign-up for the demonstration and see what you think first hand. You'll be impressed.
posted by MuckWeh at 9:57 PM on January 19, 2009

If it has a bag, it has to be easy to change it.

Bags are never easy to change. If you don't like changing them, go for bagless.

I have the Sears Kenmore that Consumer Reports rates highly and it works great, but it is heavy and has a hard to change bag.

Kirbys have a cult following for some reason, but they are expensive and even heavier.

The thing about vacuums and rugs is that it isn't all about the vacuum. There is dust and dirt buried in the carpet that the most perfect vacuum force will never get out. That's why rug vacuums have beater brushes. They 'beat' the dirt and dust loose so the vacuum can suck it up.

So don't get the Dyson if you're going to turn the beater brush off--it won't clean. (But didn't they redesign their beater brush? I seem to remember reading this somewhere--check with them).
posted by eye of newt at 12:39 AM on January 20, 2009

I have a Kenmore canister vacuum and like it pretty well (which, given that I despise vacuuming, is saying something!). Lightweight, it's straightforward to change the bag, seems to do a decent enough job.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:20 AM on January 20, 2009

Spend the money and get a Miele canister vacuum. Mine (a model no longer produced) has seven levels of suction, ranging from delicate enough to vacuum lace curtains to super high power that can get stuff up from the base of wool berber carpet. The bags are easy to change, it keeps up with the cat hair, and after I left my first one with my ex, a new Miele was the first splurge purchase I made.
posted by catlet at 7:53 AM on January 20, 2009

I love the Simplicity. And, full disclosure; I have no pets.

Oh, and eye of newt, I have to disagree - the bag (and filter) on the Simplicity is very easy to replace.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:26 AM on January 20, 2009

I talked to one of my coworkers about the issue. We work for a floorcovering wholesaler and he is the wool carpet specialist. The very first thing he said is Dyson is absolutely not recommended for any wool carpet whatsoever. The most common reasoning from carpet manufacturers is the overly aggressive beater bar. As for which vacuum cleaners are recommended, he hadn't heard of any from the companies we deal with. His suggestion was to look for a model with a beater bar that could be either shut off or slowed down.
posted by nickthetourist at 6:34 PM on January 20, 2009

You can totally turn off the beater bar with the Dyson, btw.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:08 AM on January 21, 2009

Thanks to all of you! I can't mark a best answer - all the input has been helpful.
posted by jeri at 7:21 PM on March 10, 2009

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