There's an old saying - A person doesn't buy a drill because they want a drill. They buy the drill because they want a hole. The same is true for vacuum cleaners. A person only buys a vacuum cleaner because they want their home to be clean. They care about getting rid of dirt and airborne irritants - even if they're too small to be seen. The measure of a vacuum cleaner is the quality of "clean" it delivers.
Time to bring Old-fashioned Notions about Cleaning up to Date
Not that long ago, most women still worked at home as full-time homemakers. Cleaning was hard work. Today's fast-paced reality is very different. Most people are not willing to work that hard on housework. We have other priorities and demands on our time. Sure, we still want a clean home, but without such time-consuming drudgery.
Our Expectations for Air Quality are Higher than they Used to be
It's not just the dirt you see that needs to be eliminated. Old-fashioned vacuums sucked up the dirt, but stirred it up as well. Those airborne particles interfered with breathing or settled elsewhere. Also, the cloth or paper bags got saturated with dust, so equipment wouldn't function efficiently.
Widespread concerns about allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems have made people more sensitive to the purity of the air we breathe. Dust and mold threaten the health of family members. So getting the irritating particles out of the air is important.
Technology to the Rescue - The HEPA Standard
Pollen, pet dander, tobacco smoke, mold and dust are too small to look like dirt, but they're the major challenge to any vacuum cleaner. One that most fail. HEPA is an official standard established by OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration). HEPA certified means a filter removes 99.97% of particulates 0.3 microns or larger in size. That's about one-hundredth the size captured by most vacuum cleaners. (HEPA stands for "High Efficiency Particulate Air")
A conventional vacuum cleaner only removes particulates down to about 35 microns. Particles below 10 microns are invisible to the human eye. The most common airborne particle size is 2.4 microns. How big is a particulate 0.3 microns in size?
Consider these size comparisons:
- Human hair 60 - 80 microns
- Pollen 10 - 40 microns
- Bacteria 0.3 - 50 microns
- Mold 4+ microns
- Dust mite waste 10 - 24 microns
Even if asthma and allergies aren't major problems for you, who'd want to breathe that stuff?
A HEPA Filter is Not Enough
Many vacuum cleaners claim to be HEPA certified because they use HEPA filters. However, unless the whole vacuum is sealed, the collected particulates can easily be released back into the room.