TYPES OF FLOORCARE
Floorcare has evolved from the humble bagged vacuum cleaners. While these are still a popular choice, there’s now a huge variety of other cleaners available. We will explain the different types, covering everything from carpet washers and steam mops, to sweepers and polishers.
The world of vacuum cleaners has transformed with modern technology. There are many different types available, suiting every floor surface imaginable. It’s worth carefully considering them, as they each have their own purposes, advantages, and disadvantages.
UPRIGHT VS. CYLINDER
An upright vacuum cleaner is the traditional type which you push by the handle, while the cylinder is a smaller unit which can be pulled along.
Although uprights tend to be heavier and more difficult to manoeuvre, they’re generally better at cleaning large floor spaces, especially carpets. This is because they have high suction power and revolving, belt-driven brushes to loosen ingrained dirt. They are ideal for larger homes, especially if you have pets – they’re great at getting rid of unwanted hair. Plus, they have some of the largest capacities among cleaners, and their long handles can help prevent back pain.
Cylinder designs benefit from being lighter, more compact and easier to move around. This will help you clean difficult spots like the stairs and furniture, and they’re also ideal for use on hard floors. However, they need larger motors, which can take up a lot of the storage space inside, making them less energy efficient. While uprights always have rotating brush bars, many cylinder vacuums do not, making these models inefficient at picking up hair without an attachment.
BAGGED VS. BAGLESS
Traditionally, vacuum cleaners have always collected dust and dirt in sealed bags.
Modern bagless designs are less fiddly to empty, and save you spending money on replacement bags – this is also better for the environment. They collect the dirt in a container, which can be opened and tipped away with minimal fuss. They also avoid the problem of the suction becoming less powerful as the bag fills.
Bagged designs are better for allergy sufferers, however, as they lock dust and spores away more effectively, keeping them sealed in while you’re emptying. The British Allergy Foundation awards some bagged models with a Seal of Approval. This means they significantly reduce key allergens like dust mites and pollen. Bagged cleaners usually have a larger capacity too, so you don’t have to empty them as often.
Bagged designs are better for allergy sufferers, as they lock dust and spores away more effectively.
You may notice that the cable length varies between different vacuum cleaners, but have you ever considered going cordless?
Cordless models use rechargeable batteries, giving you freedom to move between rooms without changing plug sockets. They’re lightweight, easy to manoeuvre, and great for use in many different parts of the home. Some have docking stations for charging, and some can even be secured to your wall for mess-free storage. They’re always bagless, and many have the same, powerful performance as their corded counterparts.
You can find models which switch between stick and handheld versions, giving you the ultimate variety of places to clean. They often come with lots of attachments too.
While they have obvious advantages, cordless vacuum cleaners do have drawbacks. They can be expensive, and most have a battery life of 30 to 40 minutes – which may not be enough to clean your whole home – while others run for an hour or more. They also tend to have lower capacities.
Cordless models use rechargeable batteries, giving you freedom to move between rooms without changing plug sockets.
Handheld vacuums are much like cordless cleaners, because they’re battery powered. They differ due to their smaller size, and their purpose – they are designed to be used as a supplement to your main vacuum.
While they’re not as powerful as other types, their portable design makes them useful for picking up dust and crumbs from the stairs, cleaning the car, and regularly getting rid of pet hair. Typically, they run for anything from five to 30 minutes.
Handhelds differ due to their smaller size, and their purpose – they are designed to be used as a supplement to your main vacuum.
The most futuristic vacuum cleaner on the list, robotic models will clean your floors while you get on with other things. Expect to pay for this convenience, as they are the most expensive type.
These are best for light cleaning and smaller homes, and are one of the easiest types to store, thanks to their compact size. They generally run for up to two hours before they need to be recharged – and many recharge themselves.
Navigation sensors let them make their way around, whether that’s through infrared signals, lasers or cameras. Many robots create a floor plan to follow by scanning your home, giving you a better clean.
Plus, you don’t need to worry about robot vacuum cleaners getting stuck on different surfaces, as modern tank tracks let them stay on course without your help. You can even find models with voice control, making your life that much easier.
The most futuristic vacuum cleaner on the list, robotic models will clean your floors while you get on with other things.
WET AND DRY VACUUMS
Wet and dry vacuums give your floors a thorough clean and make housework a breeze, as you can get rid of liquids and solids with a single appliance. Some models even have a washing function, to give your carpets and rugs an extra deep clean.
These vacuums have two compartments, so wet and dry waste is stored separately. It’s a good idea to empty the liquid compartment after each use to avoid stagnant water. It may also be worth investing in additional attachments to clean different household surfaces effectively.
These multi-functional models are more common in the workplace, where the wet function will likely get more use. Wet and dry vacuums can be used for anything from cleaning spillages to dry vacuuming, to unblocking drains.
However, they are also great for use at home. They usually have a large dust capacity and a detachable hose to help make your cleaning go further. And, you can also find handheld versions for quick clean-ups.
Wet and dry vacuums can be used for anything from cleaning spillages to dry vacuuming, to unblocking drains.
Steam cleaners use high temperatures to rapidly heat water and clean a range of surfaces – including carpets, hard surfaces, upholstery, oven doors, and even taps – wiping away dirt and killing germs effectively.
Surfaces are often left nearly dry after use, so you don’t need to avoid the room for hours as you would if you’d mopped instead. And, this hygienic method is achieved just by using water. There are no hazardous cleaning chemicals involved, making these machines a great choice for families with pets or young children.
You can also find steam cleaners which double as vacuums with water-based filters.
There are no hazardous cleaning chemicals involved, making steam cleaners a great choice for families with pets or young children.
MOPS, CYLINDERS AND HANDHELDS
Steam cleaners come in several different designs which are similar to upright, handheld and cylinder vacuums. Mops are ideal for hard floors, and some have variable steam control to clean laminate and wood. Handheld cleaners are best for hard-to-reach spots, but many models have small tanks. Cylinder models are the most expensive, versatile and powerful designs, and are a good all-rounder for tough stains. They usually have the largest water tanks and can also clean around both kitchens and bathrooms.
2 IN 1 MODELS
A 2 in 1 steam cleaner detaches from the stick, to convert from an upright to a handheld. This gives you the flexibility to use one unit for a multitude of tasks, from cleaning the floors to washing the windows.
A 2 in 1 steam cleaner detaches from the stick, to convert from an upright to a handheld.
DIFFERENT WATER CAPACITIES
The larger the capacity, the more water the cleaner will hold (and the more steam it’ll produce) before it needs a top-up. At the cheaper end of the scale, there are water tanks holding less than 0.5 litres, while some can take as much as two litres. A large water tank will increase the unit’s weight, meaning upright models are harder to manoeuvre, while smaller tanks may encourage quicker heating up.
STEAM TIME AND HEATING TIME
Steam time refers to how long you can use the cleaner before it runs out of water. Most offer around 10 to 20 minutes of use, but this can be as high as 40 minutes for the more expensive models.
If you see a heating time listed, that’s how long you’ll need to wait before the steam is produced and the cleaner is ready to use. This can be anything from a few seconds to 10 minutes or more. Steam mops provide steam on demand, but cylinder models use a pressurised steam chamber, so they can take several minutes to warm up.
A large water tank will increase the unit’s weight, meaning upright models are harder to manoeuvre.
Carpet washers use a water tank and detergent solution to give soft floorings a deep clean. Your carpets can be up to 10 times cleaner than if you’d simply vacuumed, with deeply ingrained grime and allergens removed. You’ll usually need to pass slowly over each part of the carpet multiple times. This can leave them wet for a few hours afterwards, so carpet washers are used less regularly than other floorcare appliances.
They are great at reducing the appearance of stains and embedded dirt, and prolonging the life of your carpet. Some have special stain functions, like boost sprays, to lift stubborn marks. Carpet cleaners have two water capacities – one for clean and one for dirty water – as it is separated during use. The clean capacity is often largest, and it’s worth looking at higher sizes if you want to save time on refilling, or clean several rooms.
Some models have an additional heating function to improve the breaking down of grime in your carpets, and help dry them. You can also find tools and features like detachable floor heads and motor-powered brushes, for cleaning hard-to-reach areas and difficult stains.
Carpet washers use a water tank and detergent solution to give soft floorings a deep clean.
Carpet sweepers – or floor sweepers – can be manual or battery powered, and they have a rotating bar which brushes dust and dirt inside.
They’re more effective than sweeping, but don’t offer the suction of vacuuming. This makes them useful for quick, in-between cleans involving daily dirt and dry spills, since they’re lightweight and don’t need to be plugged in for use. Carpet sweepers are also great for tidying under furniture and in areas where larger vacuums can’t reach. Some can also convert to handheld sweepers to be even more helpful around the home.
Floor polishers are designed to keep wooden and other hard surfaces buffed to perfection.
They’re more commonly used in commercial premises, but some domestic models are available. They use brushes to polish surfaces for a shiny, spotless finish, and to make them more resistant to abrasions, dirt and humidity.
Some models vacuum and scrub too – or, they can be used with different attachments to add these functions. Polishers are often best suited to specific surfaces, so check that they match the flooring in your home before buying one.
Polishers use brushes to buff surfaces for a shiny, spotless finish, and to make them more resistant to abrasions, dirt and humidity.