Indestructible vacuum cleaner needed
November 17, 2018 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Sing to me, o muses of MeFi, tales of a vacuum cleaner than can handle kid debris and multiple family members with long hair - and not crap out.

We've been through 2 in four years, and I am ready to put real money into something that will last. Ideally, I will will this vacuum cleaner to whichever of my children proves to be worthy of it. Recommendations based on long-term, heavy duty use will be greatly appreciated.
posted by ryanshepard to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Dyson hands down! They have a pet hair version that might be perfect, as it can deal with balls of hair.
posted by DTMFA at 7:27 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have an older Miele canister vacuum (apologies, no link to the specific model) which handles animal fur, mud, and wood bark bits without any problem. Easy to use, great design, and the bag keeps detritus away from interior moving parts; the bags are an added expense, but cheaper than a single repair to the vacuum itself. Miele canister vacuums.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:31 AM on November 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

Riccar vacuums rock. I believe they're only sold in vacuum stores, but they're built to last and suck-up everything. There was a Reddit AMA by a vacuum repair guy linked to from here once, and he hands-down recommended Riccars over anything else, especially in terms of durability.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:34 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't have a recommendation, just an anti-recommendation: Dysons are notorious for having parts that are difficult to repair. I had one, and a plastic component in the neck broke - it was still usable but wouldn't stand upright anymore, making it much more of a hassle to use. This was after a couple of years of light use. They no longer made the same model and I couldn't figure out how to get it repaired, so I got rid of it when I finally moved. My mom also has had a couple of Dysons she's gotten rid of. I'm not going to buy a Dyson again.

It sounds like you work your vacuums hard. There's probably no vacuum that will just last as long as that, so you probably want one that is known to be tough and easy to repair.

Getting advice from a vacuum repair guy is probably a good route.

I'm personally a fan of canister vacuums because they generally seem to have fewer fiddly breakable bits.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:42 AM on November 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

Just want to offer a couple of super cheap ideas. The Dyson and Miele vacuums do keep coming up in suggestions for a good reason. However, if you have low-pile carpet, you could also add on an old-fashioned low-tech carpet sweeper like the Fuller Carpet Sweeper. I got one of these a while back for quick clean-ups and it's so incredibly simple. Might be a good vacuum prep tool depending on the surface. If you have hard surfaces and want to go cheap but effective (but no HEPA filter or anything), I know at least a few people who use a shop vac in their homes.
posted by belau at 7:42 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Miele vacuums are great! I have one. My parents had one for twenty years and then bought another one almost exactly the same.

I anti-recommend dysons, every time I've used somebody else's Dyson it has sucked. Or rather, sucked very poorly. And irritating to empty. Would not use a Dyson if it was given to me for free, think they are hugely over-priced and over-rated with the single exception of their mini handheld cordless vacuum.
posted by stillnocturnal at 8:02 AM on November 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

What brands/models wore out for you?

My bagless Hoover has been fairly well abused (pet hair, person hair, food, etc. though not used with especially high frequency) and is going strong 9 years later with no issue. Super easy to empty and keep clean. Also it is inexpensive enough to replace every 5 years or so, unlike a Dyson, which I am pretty sure will not last the 30 years it would need to in order be good value in my book.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:04 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

We've got two Nilfisks, the current incarnation of which is the GM80C. One is 46 years old, the other about 30 (bought at a fleamarket, so no exact age or usage history), and they are just about indestructible. They're not the most powerful vacuums around compared to the average household ones you can buy today, but they work fine and are easy to clean (IMO).

A more recent addition in the suckage department is a Nilfisk shop vac, which also works as advertised.
posted by Stoneshop at 8:24 AM on November 17, 2018

Though I don't have specific model recommendations, I'd get a shopvac. My mom's had the same one for as long as I can remember (so almost forty years); after a while she got a smaller one for ease of moving around, but the old one is still going strong as far as I know. By now they must make ones built to be a bit more user-friendly; what you get in indestructability you lose in comfort and convenience, at least with the old canister ones. But listen, by god a shopvac can pick up hair, standing water, several hundred fucking bees, and whatever other insane items you'd like to be done with like five thousand Legos stepped on barefoot too many times. (No kidding about the bees, but then you've got to take your vacuum full of bees outside while it's nighttime -- when they're sluggish -- and use the blower setting to spit them out like an addled bee-blunderbuss -- or you can just rubberband a sock over the nozzle of the hose, which is what we'd do when too tired to bother with bee-expulsion after a long day ended with half a goddamn hive in your bedroom. Country life basically demands a shopvac.)
posted by tapir-whorf at 8:42 AM on November 17, 2018 [10 favorites]

Ok look. Here's what you want. A kirby. I know, they're door to door scammers or whatever. But kirby will fix your kirby for life. So if you buy one off Craigslist for like $65 it will last until the 4 horsemen ride again. I mean they're made of like world war 2 steel. Are they fancy lightweight dysons? No. But they'll suck up everything, you can buy bags and belts everywhere and everything else on them cam be fixed with a hammer. If you buy an older one im complete kit form you also might end up with a haircutter, leaf blower, wet dry vac, etc. But they make great vacuums. And they're made in 'murica. Canton ane Cleveland ohio.
posted by chasles at 9:07 AM on November 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Not a recommendation, but when I was doing research on vacuums to deal with my dog (and my) perpetual shedding, one of the big tips was that no matter what vacuum you get, you need to regularly and thoroughly clean it out.
posted by vespertinism at 9:24 AM on November 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

I have a Shark Navigator and ADORE it. It's super user-friendly and, best of all, you can very easily take the thing apart and put it back together. This makes it very easy to thoroughly clean and maintain.
posted by nerdfish at 9:32 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding Kirby. They are worth every penny. We have one that was purchased almost 20 years ago that works just as good as the day we bought it. We also inherited one which is 40+ years old and it works perfectly.
posted by Vek at 9:53 AM on November 17, 2018

Dyson are amazing. ours withstands two cats and a wife with long hair. had it for 12 years now? great service too.
posted by evilmonk at 10:06 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Our Dyson is over 13 years, and it's fine. I wouldn't buy another one based on my vacuum repair guy.
posted by Ftsqg at 10:10 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

What country are you in because if you're in the UK you want a henry. Go into any shop or warehouse near closing time and observe what the cleaners are using, it'll be a henry. They don't even cost that much, just be sure to buy the expensive bags, not the knock off bags.
posted by glasseyes at 10:38 AM on November 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

To generalise from that, what have you most often seen being used in industrial/semi industrial contexts, is there a machine you keep noticing? That one will be hardy.
posted by glasseyes at 10:42 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a Dyson and I liked it when I had smooth carpet, but now I'm in a rental with semi-shag and the Dyson doesn't work for shit, which made me glad that I kept my Hoover Tempo around.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:43 AM on November 17, 2018

I love my Miele cannister, especially the parquet twister for hardwood floors. It's got a HEPA filter. And it's so quiet! Links for the Reddit AMA mentioned upthread are here, lots of good information.
posted by plasticpalacealice at 10:44 AM on November 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nthing Miele - and the good thing about going with something higher end is that you can get it repaired, sometimes even at no cost if you buy from a local shop. Mine came with free service for 10 years or something. Try going to a local vacuum store and talking to them about the options - they are typically very passionate about vacuum cleaners and will have quite strong opinions.
posted by something something at 10:49 AM on November 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

+1 Miele here - I bought the smallest canister I could find that came with a powered brush carpet attachment. And the parquet twister for smooth floors. It was about $750 from a local vac shop so crazy expensive.

However, it is an industrial-level tool. The brush roller seems to not get clogged at all and has a very clear path through the hose. If the brushroll does get bound on rug fringe, it automatically shuts off so as not to burn out the motor, and automatically restarts when the obstruction is clear. As powerful as any vac I have used and 1/10th the noise and 1/3 the weight. It feels and sounds like a toy but a shocking amount of air is ejected from the exhaust port.

With the bags and a HEPA filter post-bag, there's no dust or smell in the air. Whenever I used to vacuum the house would smell like whatever I was cleaning up plus a sort of general warmed-up dust smell. After using the Miele the house smells like - nothing.
posted by sol at 2:36 PM on November 17, 2018

Guyagonalize gave me a Miele for my birthday. Indeed, a vacuum, the most romantic of gifts, and while I was pregnant, no less, but it was comical how delighted we have both been by it. You’d have thought I was possessed by the spirit of June Cleaver herself. It sucks in the best possible way, and springing for the parquet twister was definitely worth it.
posted by Diagonalize at 6:04 PM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding a Shop-Vac. Vacuum cleaners are just silly little posers in comparison to something that is really designed for clean up.
posted by MountainDaisy at 8:22 PM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Our older Miele canister vacuum is a pleasure to use, and quite powerful.

If I were shopping for a vacuum again, I'd look at the brands/models that are sold to a commercial audience at Jon-Don, like ProTeam or Sanitaire. I used a ProTeam vacuum once and it felt very solid and performed well.

Also, those commercial vacuums come in wider 15-inch widths, which could save time if you're cleaning a large space.
posted by reeddavid at 10:10 PM on November 17, 2018

Spouse was a vacuum repair guy. Not dyson. Not ANYTHING bagless. Get a canister vacuum like the Riccar or Mieles mentioned here. Electrolux canisters are another option. Our current 'lux is about fifty years old and is still going strong. You can sometimes find them on craigslist for super cheap.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:51 PM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

The 2 problems in the scenario you outline could be moisture or too large amounts of fine dust (like sand from kid's boots etc.). This is why a good medium-sized shop vac would be a good idea for you, as other also have said.
posted by Namlit at 5:40 AM on November 18, 2018

I have had two Shark Navigators over the past ten years or so and they are great vacuums for the price. By no means are they going to be the equal of a Kirby or something but the older one I have survived 3 cats and two long haired folks and still works, I gave it to my little sister because she needed one. My current one has survived about a year so far in a house with one long haired person and six cats (yes, six) and although I have to take it apart and clean it regularly, it's doing great.

Before I bought my shark I murdered three cheap vacuums in two years.
posted by possibilityleft at 7:41 AM on November 18, 2018

I would recommend you to buy a Shark or Canister vacuum cleaner. I've a blog site and I always publish vacuum cleaner related article (buying guides and instructional). So from my experience I can suggest you to buy a Shark or Canister vacuum. Bissel also a good brand to pick. Thanks and sorry for my broken English.
posted by gregorystreit at 3:10 AM on July 25

« Older Need N99 face masks for family in CA   |   In search of quality, reasonably-priced men's long... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments