How Do Vacuum Cleaners Work?

how do vacuum cleaners work

A vacuum cleaner is a useful tool that helps keep your surroundings spotless. But have you ever wondered how do the vacuum cleaners work its magic?

To explain in simple words, a vacuum cleaners work like how a strong breeze pulls in leaves. There is a special fan inside the cleaner that creates a strong suction, pulling in dusty air. The filters in the vacuum cleaner catch the dirt while clean air comes out, leaving your place neat.

In this blog, let us delve further about how do vacuum cleaners work.

What is a vacuum cleaner?

A vacuum cleaner, also called a vacuum, is a household appliance that has been designed to remove any kind of dirt or dust from surfaces. It works on the principle of creating a partial vacuum that generates suction, allowing the device to effectively suck in particles and collect them in a dustbin or bag for disposal.


Different types of vacuum cleaners

Vacuum cleaners come in various shapes and sizes, each tailored to specific cleaning needs.

  • Upright vacuum cleaners

Upright vacuum cleaners are great for generally cleaning your household. They can be used in different ways and have some cool features. You can use them to clean hard floors and carpets.

Also, these vacuum cleaners can stand upright and are easy to move around and operate. They come with a rotating brush that loosens up the dirt, allowing the vacuum to suck it up. Some upright vacuum cleaners even consist of a bag to collect the dirt. You can also adjust the height and settings of the vacuum cleaner to work well on different floors.

  • Canister vacuum cleaners

Canister vacuum cleaners usually have a main unit, a flexible hose and a cord that you can pull in after use, making them easy to move around. These cleaners are known for their adaptability, motor control and multi-functionality.

You can use canister vacuum cleaners to clean hard floors, furniture and more. These are one of the traditional vacuum cleaners out there, that are often preferred by people for their versatility and reliability.

  • Handheld vacuum cleaners

Handheld vacuum cleaners are not as powerful as larger vacuum cleaner models, but they are great for some quick cleaning, especially, in tight spaces or even cars.  They come in handy if you are a pet owner and are always cleaning after your pets.

Also, these vacuum cleaners are portable, do not have any cords and run on batteries that you can charge. And they are very easy to use.

  • Stick vacuum cleaners

Stick vacuum cleaners are what you can call a blend of an upright and a handheld vacuum cleaner. They are great for cleaning the floors in kitchens and bathrooms and stairs. They are also great for quick cleanups.

These vacuum cleaners run on batteries and are easy to handle. Also, they are convenient and take up minimal storage space. Unlike other kinds of vacuum cleaners that come with bags to hold dirt, stick vacuum cleaners consist of cups, where the dust is collected.

  • Robot vacuum cleaners

A robot vacuum cleaner is the result of the newest vacuum technology. They autonomously navigate through your home with the help of special sensors and controls that let them work. And the best part? there is not much human intervention, meaning you do not have to push it around.

You can control the vacuum from wherever you are using the controls. The sensors in the vacuum help it to avoid obstacles. These vacuum cleaners do not work everywhere but are great for cleaning laminate or hardwood floors and carpets.

  • Pet vacuum cleaners

A Pet vacuum cleaner does just what its name says – it cleans up pet hairs and makes your place free of allergies. The beater brush in the vacuum cleaner helps loosen the hairs from carpets and floors, so the vacuum can suck them up easily.

You can also use them to clean small pieces of furniture, like sofas, where pets often leave hair behind.

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Why is a vacuum cleaner important?

The purpose of a vacuum cleaner is to remove dirt from surfaces. Beyond that, it offers you an array of advantages.

  • Saves time and energy

One of the biggest advantages of using a vacuum cleaner is that it saves you a lot of time and effort. Manual cleaning takes you hours and tires you out, while vacuum cleaning takes you a few minutes. Also, you get to cover large areas and collect dirt in one go.

  • Efficiency

Vacuum cleaners are designed to efficiently remove dirt and particles from various surfaces. They have strong suction power that can pull out even the smallest particles from a surface, giving you a thorough clean, even in hard-to-reach areas.

  • Versatile cleaning

You have different types of vacuum cleaners for different surfaces or the kind of cleaning you want to do. They can handle a variety of surfaces, from hardwood floors to tiles and laminate. Some models even come with attachments for cleaning curtains, crevices and even your car’s interior.

  • Deep cleaning

Vacuum cleaners can reach deep into surfaces that are often unreachable while using brooms. This helps keep your surfaces clean at a deeper level.

How do a vacuum cleaners work?

A conventional vacuum cleaner comprises three components – a motor, a fan and a bag. These components work together to create suction at the cleaner head.

When you turn on the vacuum cleaner, the motor starts working, making the fan spin. The fan is like a big propeller, and it is in the part of the vacuum that touches the floor (or inside the main body in some vacuums). The fan helps pull in the air.

When you turn on the vacuum, the motor starts spinning. In upright vacuums, the motor is usually in the floorhead, while in cylinder vacuums, it is inside the main body. This motor makes the fan turn too, which is also in the floorhead. Sometimes, there is an extra fan to cool the motor, but it does not help with suction.

The fan’s purpose is to push air into the vacuum cleaner. The impeller spins really fast (up to 35,000 RPM), generating negative pressure inside the vacuum, which is lower compared to the air around it. Air from outside rushes in to fill this negative pressure space.

As long as the fan is running, the air keeps coming in, and it goes out through a different opening. This is what creates suction. The extra opening is important, so the fan’s air has a way to escape. The fan also makes sure the motor doesn’t get too hot.

The moving air pulls dirt into the vacuum, and all of it gets collected in a bag. The porous sides of the bag act as a filter, letting air pass through, but it traps the dirt. Some vacuums come with a powered brush bar that stirs up dirt around, making it easier for the vacuum to pick up.

A lot of vacuums also come with a special filter that removes tiny particles, so they are not released back into the air.


This is how vacuum cleaners generally work. Today, there are updated versions of vacuum cleaners with advanced features and more power being released with time. However, the fundamental principle of making use of the differences in pressure to generate airflow remains the same despite the model.

Bagless vacuum cleaners work in a similar way, using a fan to create a difference in pressure. However, instead of using a bag to filter the air, they have a cyclonic design.

Inside the vacuum, the air spins in a circular motion. This spinning action makes dust and dirt move to the side of the canister. When the dirt gets away from the spinning air, it falls into the canister, while the air keeps going through the vacuum.

The benefit of using a bagless vacuum cleaner is that you do not have to buy new bags. Also, the air does not have to go through all the collected dirt as it does with bag vacuums. This means the suction power stays strong even as the canister fills up.

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How to choose a vacuum cleaner?

There are a number of factors you must consider while choosing a vacuum cleaner, the first one being your cleaning requirements. Other factors include the following:

  • Type of vacuum cleaner

Choose the type of vacuum cleaner that suits your cleaning requirements and the surfaces you will be cleaning.  You can go for either bagged or bagless vacuum cleaners. In vacuum cleaners with bags, all the dust gets collected into a bag that you can later dispose of. However, you will have to replace the bags from time to time. In bagless vacuum cleaners, the dirt gets collected in the containers that you can clean.

Also, you can choose a vacuum cleaner model that does the type of cleaning you prefer, be it dry-dust cleaning or wet cleaning.

  • Size and capacity

If you have enough space for storage, you can choose canister vacuums that come in medium or large sizes. They have great suction power and can be used to clean almost all surfaces. Their capacity can vary between 2 litres and 10 litres.

Otherwise, you can go for handheld vacuums that are compact and portable. They are not as powerful as other vacuum models, but are good enough to remove light dust, especially in vehicles. They have smaller capacities due to their compact size.

  • Suction power

Vacuum cleaners operate using motors. So, you can choose a vacuum cleaner based on the motor and its performance that suits the kind of cleaning you intend to do. The capacity of the motor in vacuum cleaners meant for deep cleaning ranges between 1300 to 1800 watts. They tend to consume more energy compared to their counterparts.

  • Attachments

Every vacuum cleaner comes with attachments that serve different cleaning purposes. Canister vacuums usually come with crevice tools and upholstery brushes. Some models even have a multipurpose brush. Handheld vacuum cleaners come with different nozzles and extension pipes to reach out to even smaller spaces.

  • Reliability and life

Before you buy a vacuum cleaner, it is always best to do thorough research so that you would not be at loss. Read user reviews and compare the models based on specifications, and your cleaning and budget requirements. Ensure that the model you choose to buy is reliable and has a long life.

How to clean a vacuum cleaner after use?

Proper maintenance of your vacuum cleaner ensures its longevity and efficient performance.

It is always recommended to clean your vacuum outdoors or in a space with good ventilation. Also, wear a mask to protect yourself from the dust while cleaning.

Before you start cleaning the vacuum cleaner, switch it off and unplug the cord. Also, go through the instruction manual.

Many vacuum cleaner models have indicators to show that they are full. If you have a bagged vacuum cleaner, you can remove the bag to empty the content and replace it with a fresh one. In the case of bagless vacuum cleaners, you can just empty the canister.

Check the instruction manual to see if the canister is washable. If yes, wash it using soap and water, and let it air dry. Otherwise, wipe the canister thoroughly with a microfiber cloth or a paper towel.

Similarly, check if the filters of your vacuum cleaner are washable. If they are not, you should replace them with new ones. In case they are washable, lay the filters out flat to dry once you are done washing them. Put the filters back in the vacuum cleaner only when it is fully dry.

Attachments like rotating floor brushes usually have debris, tangled hair and strings stuck to them. In case you find it difficult to get them off, use a vacuum attachment to remove them through suction. You can also use a long rod or the handle of a broom to clear any blockages in the vacuum’s hose.

Next, use a damp cloth to clean the exterior of the vacuum, including handles and buttons. Also, clean the wheels regularly to get rid of debris buildup and to ensure that they move freely.

Reassemble the parts of the vacuum cleaner once the washed parts are all dry and then store it away until next use.

Where to buy a vacuum cleaner?

You can purchase a vacuum cleaner of your choice either from a physical store or online. You can find them in home appliance stores, electronics stores, department stores, and specialized vacuum cleaner retailers.

Online options include ecommerce websites like Amazon and Flipkart or brand websites where the vacuum cleaners are directly sold, often with exclusive deals and promotions.

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Popular vacuum cleaner brands

Several brands are well-known for producing reliable and effective vacuum cleaners. Look for customer reviews to find the one that suits you.  Some of the popular brands include:

  • Dyson
  • Shark
  • Miele
  • Samsung
  • Eureka
  • Tineco
  • Hoover
  • iRobot

How much does it cost to buy a vacuum cleaner?

The cost of a vacuum cleaner can vary significantly based on factors like brand, type, features and overall quality. In India, you can find a vacuum cleaner at a minimum cost of ₹2,700 to a maximum of ₹41,200.

Whether you are tackling daily messes or deep cleaning, a vacuum cleaner can be your trusted companion in keeping your space clean and healthy. So, go ahead and invest in them without any hesitation.


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