Best vacuum for allergies?
August 19, 2018 12:18 PM   Subscribe

I want to buy a new vacuum that triggers my dust-mite allergy as little as possible. I'd like to hear from actual allergy sufferers about what vacuums have and haven't worked well.

I have a severe allergy to dust mites. I would like to vacuum my house without triggering it. I vacuumed today and realized I am DONE with my old vac which constantly kicks up dust into the air while I vacuum. I am sneezing and wheezing as I write this.

I live in a two-level duplex with hardwood floors on the first floor, and low-pile carpeting on the second floor. I have one cat, to which I am also allergic (to a lesser extent than dust mites).

I've looked at a billion reviews on amazon, but frankly I trust these less and less these days as it is obvious many are fake. I'd like to hear from people I know aren't financially motivated.

I've looked at the vacs certified as Asthma and Allergy Friendly. Nothing seems to really fit the bill. Here's what I think I want:

1. BAGGED vacuum. So many vacs these days are bagless, and I do not understand how this is supposed to be combined with HEPA to magically be "allergy friendly". If I have to empty an open pile of dust and hair into the trash from a bagless vacuum, I am going to get a snoot full of allergens. No thanks. This pretty much eliminates Sharks, which otherwise would seem to be good.

2. Price range. I'd really rather pay $500 or less. There was one Miele vac that seemed good, except it was over $1,000. I just can't bring myself to spend that much. But I suppose if there is a vac that is ultra wonderful in all other ways, and will last for a decade, I'd consider it.

3. I would like if it were not horrendously heavy and bulky and awkward to lug up and down stairs. I don't want to buy a separate vac for each floor. And I'm a tired and weak person most of the time.

4. I am used to uprights but I am not against a canister vac if it otherwise fits the bill.

5. I don't care at all about noise. Screamingly loud is just fine.

posted by nirblegee to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: On the hardwood floors, have you tried a swiffer instead? I use one with reusable microfiber cloths, twice a week. Much less dust kick up than either vacuum or sweeping, lighter to carry and easier to do. The cloths pick up the dust, but can be washed.

Won’t help with the carpets, though. I haven’t had a vacuum I like for long enough (because no carpets) that I can’t say much there. What I can say is that you should consider an allergy mask, if you can’t simply make someone else do the vacuuming. Even a high quality HEPA vaccuum will still kick up some dust, and it’s worth looking like a doofus wearing a mask while you vacuum. Also consider showering right after you do dusty tasks (housecleaning, vacuuming, going through old papers, etc).
posted by nat at 12:29 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I gave up and bought a face respirator to wear while vacuuming. Then I'd leave the house for a couple hours while running an air purifier. That did the trick until I was able to get rid of all the carpet.
posted by fshgrl at 1:15 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We have a Dyson that's great for this, although emptying it would be a challenge. That said. you should be able to wrap a plastic bag around the bottom, trigger the bottom "hatch" to open, give it a shake, close the bag and re-seat the bottom with minimal release of dust into the air.
posted by slkinsey at 2:15 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Consumer Reports ranks vacuums based on emissions.
posted by postel's law at 3:02 PM on August 19, 2018

Best answer: We paid $1k for a Miele. You can’t smell even a hint of dust odor while you are vacuuming, and it is still going strong and almost silent after 20 years.
posted by monotreme at 4:38 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sebo and Miele both have HEPA bagged vacuums in the $500 range if you don't go crazy with attachments. For a hard floor and low-pile carpet you probably don't need the expensive power head as badly. The Sebo Airbelt canisters diffuse exhaust air through an air-filled bumper around the canister body which may reduce your dust-kickup problem. It's probably my preference to replace my original Dyson ball when it dies.

That said, the Dyson does pretty well and dust in the house is significantly reduced by emptying the collection bin into an outside trash bin, which we have specifically for this. Beyond this it's a slippery slope to "wear a 3M N100 respirator when you vacuum" territory.
posted by a halcyon day at 6:42 PM on August 19, 2018

Best answer: I also have a severe dust mite allergy and my Dyson has caused no problems for me. I genuinely enjoy vacuuming now for the instant hit of better breathing immediately after.
posted by Ruki at 7:19 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ditto for all the folks saying Dyson. Any my allergies are to the point where I was almost diagnosed with Aspergillus/ABPA this year with all the relevant testing that goes with it (blood allergens, lung function ction, ct, pet, etc) and was finally told by a UF pulmonologist that it's simply the highest allergy reaction levels he's seen in his career.

We make it a point to have hard floors throughout, but Dyson's have always been the best option even when we didn't have that luxury. We recently gifted our (still working and serviceable) D8 animal to my grandparents and upgraded to their new rechargeable stick model, which is more than serviceable for our smaller home/hardwood/tile needs. The ease of use helps and far out weighs the PITA factor leading to less frequent use for higher powered/corded models.

We also have a (HEPA) Roomba that we try to keep in service as we can.

My take is that HEPA is HEPA. Maybe I'm wrong there but it works for me. Along with a strong hated of any carpet in existence because obvious reasons.

Full disclosure, I have never had Miele or other preimum brands to compare with.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:20 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, Dyson canister dump mechanisms have never left my snoot full of soot, to make a silly turn of phrase. Honestly their way of triggering the dump has always made sense and been perfectly serviceable to me. Sure, I wouldn't stick my head in the garbage can/bag afterwards but done with a modicum of care and forethought it has never been a problem. I've emptied them in kitchen bins (get lidded ones, Simple Human brand is great), outdoor bins (dump and run), and compost piles.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:33 PM on August 19, 2018

Best answer: We paid $1k for a Miele. You can’t smell even a hint of dust odor while you are vacuuming, and it is still going strong and almost silent after 20 years.

I have vicious allergies to dust mites and I use a canister Miele vaccuum. I think it cost >$1000 new but I bought it used for about $400 from a reseller. It takes bags, has two filters (one HEPA), is practically silent, all of the parts are replaceable/servicable (including the brush heads!) and it is basically the best vacuum I can possibly imagine. It is one of my most precious possessions and I've had it for almost 10 years.
posted by epanalepsis at 9:35 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for the advice and feedback!

If anybody who has suggested a brand name such as Dyson, Sebo, or Miele has a particular model number they have personally found works well for their allergies, I'd love to hear it.

The Miele I mentioned in the post as costing over $1k is the C3 Marin model. I am leaning towards going for the compact C1 Turbo Team ($399).

I do have a swiffer, but it only works for soft stuff like hair and dust, and not heavier stuff like stray cat litter. I also really don't like being exposed to the crud when I take the cloth off and put it into the trash. Doing that (or emptying a bagless dustbin) really does trigger an allergic reaction; some of the particles will inevitably come off into the air. It may be fine for many folks, but I am certain I want to stay away from bagless. If it weren't for that, I'd get the bagless rechargeable Dyson stick.

Re: wearing a mask, that would be a good short-term solution. But I want to actually get rid of the dust that is triggering the allergy. If I have a vacuum that is just poofing it out into the air, such that I need a mask, I haven't really cleaned the dust away and it'll be settling on every surface, including ones that I will use/prepare food on/sit on/put my hands on.
posted by nirblegee at 3:21 PM on August 20, 2018

My Miele is a S5281 Pisces. I think that model was retired in 2012 (replaced by the C3 Calima), but I really don't care, it is basically perfect and I can still get parts.
posted by epanalepsis at 8:46 AM on August 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just thought I would update this in case anyone comes across it in the future.

I did buy the Miele and I am extremely UNhappy with it. It has mutiple design flaws. The worst for me is that I have long hair, and I'm aways having to pick up the wand and fiddle with it to get the clogged hair out. Either attachment is terrible in this regard. In the bare floor attachment, the hole where dirt goes through is entirely too small and gets clogged with hair and cat fur and whatever else, and I have to flip it over every couple of minutes to pull a wad of stuff out of the tiny hole. The carpet roller isn't much better. I have to stop, flip, and dehair the roller many times per vacuuming session.

Having the dirt and debris waving around in my face utterly defeats the purpose of a HEPA vacuum. :( Using this vacuum triggers my allergies, it doesn't help them.

It has numerous other flaws, including an inconveniently accessed vac bag holder, faulty notification (inaccurate both ways) when full, and an awkward storage of additional tools.

This $400 vac is a worse product than the cheapie upright I used to have.
posted by nirblegee at 5:16 PM on July 12, 2019

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