Thursday, December 20, 2007

About Vacuum Cleaners

Why vacuum?
1. Aesthetics
2. Preserve your carpet
3. Health

1. Aesthetics is easy: your carpet looks better if it is not covered with dust, soil and hair.

2. Preserve your carpet: dirt degrades carpet and shortens its lifespan. But, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), overly-aggressive vacuum brushes can also damage carpet.

3. Health is a lot harder. The health benefit of vacuuming is supposedly less dust = healthier lungs. In the last 10-20 years, the focus of health concerns has shifted to the sub-micron particle size.

One would think that a vacuum with a HEPA filter would be the best, but according to Consumer Reports, "many with conventional filters perform just as well."

Judging from the results of This search on pubmed, academics can't find much evidence that vacuuming carpets reduces levels of allergens, and report that vacuuming can even worsen airborne allergen levels!

The main problem is that the bag and filter can only catch the dust that reaches them. Every vacuum cleaner leaks dust into the room air. Some are better than others; the range measured many orders of magnitude in one Quest labs study.

1. To keep your carpets looking good with minimum damage to the carpet and your lungs, choose a vacuum with the CRI Seal of Approval for one that passes minimum standards for Soil removal, Dust containment, and Carpet texture retention.

2. For allergen control, vacuuming is worthless at best. According to this 2006 abstract, a good thing might be to spray your carpets with a 15% solution of alum in water.

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