Suck it up!
February 8, 2017 7:33 AM   Subscribe

My beloved elderly Electrolux canister vacuum is in it's final death spiral and I need a replacement. If I could create the perfect vacuum it would look . . . like my Electrolux. Vacuum aficionados of MeFi, what would you suggest?

I love this vacuum. It's a model M if that means anything to vacuum experts. It's wonderful on hardwood, which is mostly what we have, with some short-nap area rugs. We had an upright for rugs, but never used it and finally gave it away. We've lived with and nursed along this old vacuum for more than 2 decades, and I bought it at an estate sale to replace an even earlier edition. We replaced the hose and wand, the electrical cord, repaired a broken wheel multiple times - they may be bakelite. In any case it was sheared off at the stem, and now has a decided limp and has to be lifted from place to place. Now, with some sort of electrical problem involving the prongs that the socket the cord fits into, I think I have to accept that the end is very near. There's no repairing it further, as the company has discontinued most parts. This point also discourages me from buying another of this vintage on Craigslist, though that is something I could consider if I could find one that's not too beat up.

What to do? What I want is something relatively light. Although the body of the Electrolux is steel it is not heavy. I don't want a bag-less under any circumstances. I want to never see the stuff it sucks up, and above all don't want the mess of emptying the hopper with all the dust it involves. It also should work well on both floors and rugs, but if I had to prioritize one over the other it would be hardwood.

A quiet machine would be a plus, but above all it needs to work well, be reasonably light to carry from floor to floor, use standard bags, and hopefully, be good quality and longer lived. Not too ugly would be an incredible plus.
posted by citygirl to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
If you want what's essentially a modern electrolux, look for an aerus lux, which is the modern descendant of the brand.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:48 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm a big Miele vacuum fan.
posted by GuyZero at 7:52 AM on February 8, 2017 [9 favorites]

My newest vacuum purchase changed my life in one of those tiny, incremental ways that adds up to lots of less stress overall. I have a Riccar and it's good and I recommend it. BUT it wasn't the brand that mattered most , it was buying it from the local small business. I find this is somehow more important with my vacuum than with any other object I own because I used to get frustrated when they'd break or wear down after buying it from a Lowe's or Amazon. When you do buy it from the shop, first of all you can discuss each model in detail with the shop owner before you buy, but what really matters is that bringing it in for quick fixes and tune ups and getting out weird horizontally stuck Xmas tree needles that have slightly lessened the suction or WHATEVER is so easy that it's like having the world's most expensive vacuum, and it just stays new. I won't mention my personal social values that go along with buying from local business these days in a corporate state (well I guess I just did, oops). I'll just say that developing a relationship with a shop owner who knows about vacuums and wants to help you out improves the quality and value of the vacuum cleaner a lot!
posted by flourpot at 7:52 AM on February 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

Seconding Miele. I love ours, and it ticks all your boxes. Great on hardwood, light, quiet, bagged, super-effective at cleaning, etc. It does require its own bags, but it's easy to find good deals on those, and they seem to last quite awhile. Pricey, but it's the happiest I've ever been with any appliance so far.
posted by Knicke at 7:54 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I recently had to buy a new vacuum. I was overwhelmed at how many are out there, and how expensive! I wasn't going to spend upwards of $400 - I didn't have it.

I ended up getting a Shark lift away for $135 from Amazon. It's great. Does bare floor and carpets. It's a tad ungainly, but I can deal with that. If this was being used in a large family setting, I doubt it would last a week, but I'm gentle on things. If it lasts me 18 months, I'll be happy. Bottom line, the thing sucks really hard.
posted by james33 at 8:01 AM on February 8, 2017

Has the plug started to go out? You can* cut it off and wire it to a new plug (a big 3-prong one from a store) and give it a new new lease on life. I know someone who did this about 2 decades ago.

*You can. If you are not fully confident in your ability to make safe electrical repairs, leaving no exposed conductors, you shouldn't.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:25 AM on February 8, 2017

I second flourpot, on going to a locally-owned vacuum shop. MrJane said that he would gladly take up vacumming if I bought him a backpack vacuum cleaner, like the kind cleaning crews use. I stopped in the local vacuum place and they knew just what I was talking about and ordered me a Royal model, which arrived within the week. They have been a great help for small repairs, as flourpot said, like when the hose managed to unthread itself from the connector coupling, or when Mrjane managed to lean the hose against the furnace body and melted the hose (though they did not come scrape the melted plastic off the furnace, ugh).

I find the backpack vac a little unwieldy, but then I am klutzy - perhaps a smaller model would work for me, but then I have Mrjane to do my vaccuming - which is mostly hardwoods and a few low-pile rugs. I also bought myself a cordless Dyson V6 for quick pickups and to vacuum the rugs with a beater bar, since Mrjane doesn't do such a great job on those.

The local shop may also have repaired trade-in models of more expensive machines for sale, along with the knowledge of what machines will work best for your parameters and which are most easily repaired.
posted by sarajane at 8:26 AM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Your dilemma is exactly what the guys at Vacuumland live for.
posted by dustkee at 8:30 AM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

My local vac repair shop recommended this Pullman machine, mostly on the grounds that they very rarely see them come in needing repairs. There's one in use at the school where I work, I've used it there and I like it. If that model is available where you live,I expect you'd like it too.
posted by flabdablet at 8:51 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

eBay carries Electrolux vacuums of all varieties, and there are some repair shops that you can mail your vacuum to to get refurbished.

We've bought two Electrolux vacuums off of eBay at/around $100 each and nothing modern compares at that price point for quiet and suction.
posted by bookdragoness at 10:49 AM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Along with an Electrolux cordless in the kitchen, we recently purchased a Shark Rocket and love it because it is very light and works well on hardwood and carpets without needing attachment changes. FWIW, my husband owns a veterinary clinic and the ultimate test for a vacuum is if it can pick up dog toenails from the Formica flooring. This one does while none of the Dysans we tried could do that. Plus, like you, we are both very much into older high quality appliances and will refurbish until it's just not possible.
posted by waving at 11:03 AM on February 8, 2017

Has the plug started to go out? You can* cut it off and wire it to a new plug (a big 3-prong one from a store) and give it a new new lease on life. I know someone who did this about 2 decades ago.

*You can. If you are not fully confident in your ability to make safe electrical repairs, leaving no exposed conductors, you shouldn't.

I came to say you should look for a local repair shop to fix this. My mom did this with a number of older appliances and it was very inexpensive, like maybe $20.

I don't want a bag-less under any circumstances.

I am another Shark owner/lover but the OP does not want a bagless vacuum.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:34 PM on February 8, 2017

Best answer: Speaking as a professional, independent residential/commercial cleaner for the past thirty years: name a vacuum brand, any vacuum brand, and I have tried it but only when clients have expressly indicated preference for their machine to be used. Otherwise, I absolutely swear by, and am rabidly loyal to any generational iteration of the original Electrolux brand. There is simply no comparison, or substitute, in my expert opinion/experience. Had I my druthers regarding the former, I would never have used my clients' personal vacuums twice.

If Electrolux is what you love, don't settle. flourpot is spot on regarding cultivating a close relationship with a local repair shop - mine is aces, and has numerous refurbished units for sale. Seconding bookdragones on using eBay, it is a goldmine for sourcing older models. My city still has a brick-and-mortar Aerus Electrolux store, though there used to be more locations. The model you love is out there somewhere!

Finally, many thanks to dustkee for the Vacuumland link, it is brilliant.
posted by Amor Bellator at 3:31 PM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

We have all hardwood and I would buy another mielle cannister in a heartbeat.

As a side note, for some reason I was just yesterday browsing this reddit AMA from a long time vacuum repair person. thread.
posted by czytm at 4:06 PM on February 8, 2017

Response by poster: I found Looks like they have rebuilt vintage Electrolux model Ls for $195, so I may have found my holy grail! Thank you for all the recommendations, but I just can't make the leap to a plastic vacuum. Guess I'm a bit analog where vacuums are concerned.
posted by citygirl at 8:58 PM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

For stuff like this I always go to Sweethome. Mostly I just buy their recommendation, but if you read in detail you can learrn a lot about a product category. You may find a recommendation there that fits what you like about your Electrolux. But if you really want a vintage rebuilt vacuum, well, go for it!
posted by Nelson at 8:56 AM on February 9, 2017

Response by poster: Follow-up information: I found a local authorized repair shop in Vorhees, New Jersey, a small business that seems to have found its niche and was stuffed with repaired older vacuum cleaners, and they repaired my Electrolux! I am thrilled! After a week in the shop it's back home and working well. They replaced the faulty original plug with a directly connected cord, so now it has a permanently attached cord like modern vacuums, and they replaced the broken wheel with a salvaged original wheel. It cost me $140.00 total, much less than a new vacuum. I could not be happier, and without the urging of MeFites who talked up local repair shops I would probably not have pursued repair. Thanks MeFites!
posted by citygirl at 8:37 PM on March 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

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