The Dust Dilema

How do you go about being environmentally when it comes to vacuum cleaners?

Dog hoover

Courtesy of y-a-n

It was bound to happen sooner or later, the vacuum cleaner we’d had for over seven years started to emit sparks the other day.  After seven long years of using it once, twice – sometimes even three times a week, over carpets, tile, decorating dust and renovation mess it was beginning to struggle.

Just last week the recoil for the chord went and before that the plastic attachment hooks broke.  After a final push along the carpet it decided enough was enough and the sparks started to fly – it was time to call it a day.

There must be something about me that vacuums just don’t like because I seem to be forever buying them.  Don’t get me wrong they last a few years but in my lifetime I’ve only ever known my mum have two vacuums, and she likes being clean as much as me.

My choices seem to come down to ones that are either so heavy you need a fork lift truck to get them up the stairs or so noisy that wearing industrial ear protectors is a must.

In the end they have to go because I treat them with the sheer distaste they deserve.  Surely hoovering should not be this much of a chore?

The boss said that this time, after so many poorly bought machines we should really buy a Dyson.  I’ve resisted this for so long because they are just so expensive and while ever other makes bring out “almost the same” technology then I saw no reason to buy.

Of course if I chose the next vacuum, with my track record it might not be such a good idea.  So we opted for the Dyson.  Now I feel along with an empty bank account I’ve raised myself up from mediocre clean social class to top of the social class without having my own cleaner.  Which must surely bring some benefits (apart from not having to hear any sales speak from the shop)?  No?  What you mean it still just only cleans a carpet?  Oh well…

All this vacuum buying got me thinking.  Why do we need to vacuum and are there any worthy alternatives in this day an age?

We (the Western collective), do seem awfully obsessed by cleaning.  Which is ironic when you’re more likely to breath cleaner air stood on the edge of a motor way in rush hour than you are in your spotless living room.  This is because we’ve sealed in our houses so perfectly to maintain optimum temperatures that the build up of potential pollutants from every manufactured thing you’ve ever brought into your house, including all those wonderful cleaning liquids, brings along intoxicants such as lead or pesticides which has absolutely no-where to go, and in this times of austerity we probably spend a good deal of our time inside…well you can see where that one is going.

So there are two types of dirt, that you can see and that you can’t and usually it’s the ones you can’t that cause more trouble for allergy suffers than most, and what is better than cleaning the dirt you can’t see?  A vacuum.

If we had, in our house, less carpet and more natural materials such as wood or slate the need for a vacuum would be reduced dramatically but alas we haven’t.  I’m a big carpet fan.  I come from a carpet emporium (apparently), where the thick (wool) shag piles rein king and nothing, absolutely nothing beats the smell of carpet shops.  I could (I did say could and not can),  spend hours sniffing away at all those rolls….

However cleaning them is another matter and when you have pets then hoovering is really the only way to go.  Or is it?

I thought carpets (not rugs) were a relatively new thing in the order of history but turns out they have been manufactured since the late 1700’s.  The old fashioned carpet rug like material goes even further back to 3BC.

So it stands to reason that throughout history people have liked a bit of woven comfort in their homes, how the heck did they used to clean it?  A brush?  Less pets?

Or perhaps they just put up with a bit more dirt.

Do you know of any environmentally alternatives to vacuuming?


Cover photo courtesy of garycycles7


6 responses to “The Dust Dilema

  1. My dad did the plumbing for an elderly bachelor’s retirement home – he requested a floor drain be installed in each room and to my knowledge, didn’t bother to cover his concrete floors with anything – which gave him the pure freedom of using a garden hose to sweep/mop his entire house on “Cleaning Day” –

    This image remains, to this day, the picture of my Dream Kitchen – 😀

    • That sounds like a great idea, although depending on where this guy lived I would imagine it could get a bit cold in winter, if it was in every room. A kitchen and bathroom sound ideal though. Very quick and easy to clean.

  2. I think those who were better off and therefore had more carpets to clean also had servants. This may be environmentally friendly in a way but not politically very sound….

    • Ah! I knew I was missing something 😉
      No you’re right – fabrics of any sort were considered quite a luxury so yes would imagine they’d also have the staff to look after them too. Maybe rugs would be much better than wall to wall carpets.
      I’d love to know what my house would have looked like and how it was furnished back in the 1930’s and 40’s.

  3. I have the image of the maids taking the carpets outside to hang up, then whacking them with carpet-beaters… is that true? (I’m loving the response on a drain in every room — that’s always been my dream. I’d have brick walls and hose them down too. )

    • The drain sounds a great idea, but would have to have some serious rat covers over it!
      I think there would have been lots of carpet beating in the early days. At least rugs are moveable…the more I think about rugs the more they sound more sensible than carpets…

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