Journey of the Humble Carpet Beater to a Modern High Powered Vacuum Cleaner

A Brief History of Vacuum Cleaners

In 1860 David Hess became the first man to patent an indoor cleaning machine for floors. It had became fashionable for housewives throughout the nation to cover their floors with carpets and rugs in an effort to keep their wooden floors relatively free from dust and dirt. This fashion had been brought about by the hordes of immigrants from Europe who’d carried out similar practices in their homelands.

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Beating a carpet to clean it was hard work in the 1860’s.

A drawback of this was these rugs and carpets became very dirty and therefore had to be taken outside the home and somehow cleaned. To do this, they hung the rugs or carpet in the air, in an open area, and then beat them hard with a large heavy metal rod or wooden stick until they became clean and free from dust and dirt. This was a hard, cumbersome, time-consuming task.

With necessity being the mother of invention, it wasn’t long before somebody invented a small, tennis-racket looking paddle device called a carpet beater to make the job of carpet cleaning quicker and easier than before. Mr. Hess had long thought there must be an easier way to clean carpets without all the hard work and time it presently took.

He experimented and gradually created a product that combined a rotating brush mechanism with a form of bellows system that sucked into a container the dust and dirt gathered by the rotating brush. And so was born the world’s first carpet sweeper. His much-needed invention incorporated a couple of water containers to catch the fine dirt and dust particles. After so much effort, and strange as it might seem, there’s no tangible proof that David Hess’s machine was ever produced.

Following Mr. Hess’s invention, there was a time of a whole host of strange, weird and wacky inventions that tried to achieve the same goal of an easy way to clean rugs and carpets in-situ. Several years later, just prior to 1880, a Mr M Bissell (now there’s a familiar name in this field) brought to market a carpet sweeper that picked up the dirt and deposited it in a container fitted at the rear of the rotating brush.

Some 10 years later, John Thurman was accepted as being the inventor of the first motorized vacuum carpet cleaner; the machine was powered by gasoline! Just two years after that, in 1901, Hubert Booth of London built the first electricity-powered vacuum cleaner.

The machine was so large that it had to be parked outside the house it was cleaning. The attached 100 foot hose was then dragged into the house for the cleaning to be carried out. This vacuum cleaner became much sought after and housewives across London queued up to hire it and held parties in their homes to celebrate the event (and perhaps show off a little as well).

In 1908, a Mr J Spangler of Ohio is credited with inventing the first portable, vacuum cleaner, which is the forerunner to the modern high-tech machines of today. He patented the machine then sold the patent to a family member, a certain William Hoover. So there we have it, but for a quirk of fate (or lack of vision) the most famous name in vacuum cleaner circles would have been a Spangler instead of a Hoover.

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La Chiricana, a town in the San Miguel region of El Salvador.

For those of you who might be interested in knowing what ‘lachiricana means’, I can tell you it’s not so much ‘what’ as ‘where’. You see, ‘La Chiticana’, in the region of San Miguel, is a town in El Salvador about 80 miles (129 km) east of San Salvador, the country’s capital city. The website started out life as a ‘what’s on and where in the town’ type of blog magazine.

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