My husband and daughter both have horrible year-round allergies. You’d think they’d feel better in the winter when there’s no pollen floating around, but actually they both sneeze even more. We don’t have pets, and I vacuum the carpets every week. My husband says the problem is my vacuum — one of those incredibly expensive, bagless ones sold by the guy with the great English accent. Is my husband right?
Dear Mrs. Sneezy,
As a fellow allergy sufferer, your husband and little girl have my complete sympathies. As a wife, who hates it when her husband’s right about anything domestic, you have my sympathies, too… because in this case, your husband is right.
Sure, those fancy-schmancy bagless vacuums are impressive, and not just due to their high price tag. They have powerful motors capable of sucking up a lot of filth other vacuums leave behind. Plus, let’s face it, there’s something rewarding about seeing a pile of dirt and debris grow in the removable canister as you’re cleaning. (Full disclosure: after going through 2 Hoovers, 1 Oreck and 1 Dyson in 5 years, I bought a Kirby Sentria Upright Vacuum (affiliate link), which vacuums and shampoos my carpets and has a 25-30 year warranty and turned my 20-year-old ivory carpets from grey to ivory again. I adore it.)
Canisters are more of a problem than not for allergy sufferers. For one thing, they need to be washed and air-dried regularly to keep bacteria and mold spores from breeding. For another, even when they empty from the bottom, they still release a cloud of dust particles into the air. I suppose you could stand outside to empty it, but you’d still get dust on your clothes that would re-enter the house.
Oh, and think about this: your super-expensive vacuum advertises that it doesn’t lose suction, right? Well, that’s only partially true. If you don’t clean your vacuum regularly, all sorts of gunk will build up on the filters and in the hoses that will eventually cause it to lose suction. Carpet fibers, threads and hair can also snarl around the beater brush and, while not causing a loss of suction per se, your vacuum won’t clean anywhere nearly as well. Finally, you need to carefully wipe off the rim of the canister and the gasket surrounding it every time you empty the thing to make sure there’s no debris preventing a tight seal.
Or you can simply use a vacuum with a bag which gets removed and tossed in the trash without spreading dust clouds all over you and your house. Of course, you’ll still need to follow my tips to maintain your vacuum (see above), but your house will go through a lot fewer tissues and allergy meds!