Thursday, October 25, 2007

Best Vacuum Cleaner Guide

The response to my “Best Lightweight Vacuum Series” has been incredible. As a result, your Sensei has decided to write a “Best Vacuum” series covering several categories from the best upright and canister vacuums to the best top of the line vacuums.

Best Vacuum Article Series
Best Lightweight Vacuum Cleaners
Best Upright Vacuum Cleaners
Best Stick Vacuum Cleaners
Best Allergenic Vacuum Cleaners
Best Cute Vacuum Cleaners
Best Car Vacuum Cleaners

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How to Remove Pet Hair From a Vacuum Cleaner

Customer: So it was just dog hair? Really? Nothing else, just dog hair?
Me: Yup.
Customer: So, what do I owe ya?
Me: Wel, that was 5 minutes of work and I have a $10 minimum, so 10 bucks please.
Customer: Phew, I thought I was going to have to buy a new vacuum!

If you’re one of these people and want to avoid a $10 service fee and annoying trip to the vacuum repair shop, here’s exactly how I diagnose the problem.

1: Diagnosis
Okay, I know most people are probably sitting there thuming there nose at this post because “it’s so stupid, who needs to know this?” Well, I’m assuming at least 500 people because I get about 10 instances of this problem a week.

The classic sign of a pet hair clog is a sudden drop in noise. No, it’s not that your vacuum has inexplicably turned into a vacuum, the agitator brush has stopped spinning. The agitator brush hits against the carpet several times a second and generates a lot of noise.

2: Fixing
First, unplug your vacuum cleaner; unless you happen to be Superman or Static Shock from the WB’s Static Shock. Safety first!

Next, flip over your vacuum cleaner and inspect the head. Chances are, there’s going to be a lot of pet hair and possibly string from that YoYo your kid bought a week ago wrapped around the head. That’s what’s preventing your agitator brush from spinning and agitating.

Now, pick up a sharp pair of scissors and cut up the hair. Now, roll the agitator brush a quarter and cut along the hair again. Repeat one more time and the hair should be loose enough to allow the agitator brush to spin.

3: Flip and Pick
Final step is flipping over your vacuum cleaner, plugging it in, and turning it on. If it spins and works, congratulations, if it doesn’t, take it to a vacuum cleaner shop or try to diagnose the problem with another one of my vacuum cleaner repair tips.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ives W. McGaffey - A History of Vacuum Cleaners

Well, even though I’m not living the Orange County Dream, (House with a foundation that meets sand and an ocean in my backyard I can surf fish in.) I’m still extremely grateful for the lifestyle I live. I hated working for other people, being in at a certain time, doing things “their” way. It just wasn’t for me. Vacuum cleaners have enabled me leave for lunch when I want, take vacations at my leisure, and spend quality time with my family at work over the summer. (Though my sons have a different name for time spent at the shop, slave labor.)

I feel it’s time I pay homage to the people that developed my industry by writing a “History of Vacuum Cleaners”. I’ll cover who invented the first vacuum cleaner, how vacuum cleaners became an essential cleaning tool for most homes, and even poke fun at some of the nobler than useful vacuum cleaner designs. So, without further delay, here is my History of Vacuum Cleaners as told by the Vacuum Sensei.

Origins of the Modern Vacuum Cleaner
There were several precursors to the vacuum cleaner as we know it today. One of those monstrosities was a large, heavy, cart-like machine that was difficult to push and hard to maneuver. In 1868 a man by the name of Ives W. McGaffey started selling a vacuum cleaner more like the common household vacuum cleaner we know today. Even though his machine took off, it was still fairly heavy and extremely inconvenient for people to use.

Selling the First Vacuum Cleaner
After McGaffey patented his vacuum cleaner design on the 5th of June, 1969, McGaffey partnered with a company called The American Carpet Cleaning Co. The vacuum cleaners were sold to existing American Carpet Cleaning customers for a heft price tag of $25. That was an astounding $500 when adjusted for inflation! Clearly, the McGaffey’s vacuum cleaner was taking homes by storm. Only two of McGaffey’s original vacuum cleaners are known to still exist; they’re both held in a historical museum maintained by the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner company.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dyson DC15 Animal Review

The DC15 Animal is a great vacuum, but has a lackluster list of features.Konichiwa!

I know the Best Car Vacuum Guide isn’t complete; I’ll be taking care of that today as well as bringing my readers a proper review of the Dyson DC15 Animal Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner. We’re almost through the entire line of Dyson Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaners and I hope to have them finished by Sunday evening. Hope you all found this blog useful in some way and happy vacuuming! Now, on to my review!

Vacuum Review: Dyson DC15 Animal Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner Vacuum Rating: 4 stars out of 5 for failing to distinguish itself too much from a vacuum cleaner $50 cheaper.

I wish I could tell you there was some monumental difference between the DC15 and the DC14 but I can’t. I wish I could tell you that there was an extra cleaning tool, accessory, or difference in cleaning power, but I can’t. To tell you the truth, there’s just one single difference between the Dyson DC14 and the Dyson DC15; a motorized agitator brush.

I’ll give this to Dyson, the motorized agitator brush is will remove dirt that’s a little more ingrained than the less expensive Dyson Vacuum Cleaners. But the difference is small. Remember, I’ve already raved about how powerful the Dyson is and I stand by it. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to spend an extra $50 bucks just so I can pocket some extra affiliate revenue. If it made a huge difference I would definitely say that but it doesn’t. If you want that littly, tiny, extra bit of cleaning power and $50 bucks is worth it to you, then by all means, buy the Dyson DC15.

I know this review seems a little short, but if I made my Dyson DC15 review any longer I would just be regurgitating information I’ve already talked about. If you want to know about the basic features of every Dyson Cyclonic you can check out my main Guide to Dyson Vacuums here. Thanks for reading!

The Vacuum Sensei

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Vacuum Cleaner Ninja

I was surfing around the net for information to complete my upcoming Roomba Robot Vacuum reviews and found this Roomba Ninja robot and just had to share it with ya'll.

Isn't this the coolest vacuum cleaner you've ever seen? Compliments of the people at Roomba Hacks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Best Car Vacuum Cleaners Guide


Yes, it’s midnight. Your Sensei is a night owl as much as work permits him to be. I thought I would write a guide to “The Best Car Vacuum Cleaners” while I’m up this late. It’s another topic a lot of people email me about. I’m sorry if I’m not answering individual emails, it’s just so busy between getting the kids to school and back. Anyway, without further rambling here is my guide to the Best Vacuums for Cars.

What I’m Looking For
To make it to my “Best Car Vacuum” list a vacuum cleaner has to meet very specific standards. This is what I look for in a car vacuum cleaner:
1: Compact Design – The point of a car vacuum is to avoid using your large, bulky canister vacuum so you can get under and behind the seats and not feel the constraints of a vacuum hose.

2: Light Weight – Hand held vacuums like the Dyson Root have not made it to my list of car vacuums because they’re heavy. If it’s too heavy you won’t have the dexterity to maneuver between crevices.

3: All the Normal Stuff: Of course, all these units are checked for price and value and weighed against their cleaning power.

Enough said, let’s take a look at the lucky vacuums that made the cut on my “Best Car Vacuum Cleaners” guide.

Pick #1: Eureka 71A Hand Held Vacuum Cleaner
Price: $45
The Eureka made it to the top of my list with an innovative design. The 71A includes a powerful mini-agitator brush for cleaning large swaths of seats and flooring, but when you need to get between and under seats this hand held vacuum cleaner is built with an onboard hose that allows users to easily clean crevices. It’s not the cheapest sucker on the list, but it’s definitely the best car vacuum on the market!

Pick #2: Black and Decker CHV1400
Price: $35
It retails under $35 and includes crevice tool and brush for cleaning car upholstery. I’m satisfied with the cleaning power and it’s extremely lightweight. It’s also equipped with rechargeable batteries; excellent for people who hate replacing AA’s every couple months.

Pick# 3: Black and Decker CHV7250 7.2 Wet Dry Vacuum
Price: $19.99
This one is for the Scrouge McDucks of the world. If you want a car vacuum that’s good for quick pick ups before dates or company, this is definitely the one to get! My favorite part about this car vacuum is that it’s capable of picking up liquids as well as solids! Great for picking up those 42 oz. soda spills!

That does it for my car vacuum picks. I hope you found it helpful. As always, if you have questions, comments, or personal reccomendations you can always email me at

The Vacuum Sensei

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dyson DC14 Animal Cyclonic Review

The days are getting colder and I’m too old to take advantage of those last few cold hours of sunlight during the fall to surf. Hrmmm, that’s the price of getting old I suppose. Oh well, at least it’s football season! At the very least, you, the reader of this vacuum blog will benefit as I’ll probably have much more time to devote to blogging until the Southland warms up a bit in March and April. Without further haste, I bring you a review of the Dyson Animal DC14 Animal Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner.

Vacuum Review:Dyson DC14 Animal Cyclonic Vacuum
Vacuum Rating: 4 stars out of 5 for delivering identical performance of the DC14 all floors and being significantly more expensive.

I know this is going to sound strange but the DC14 All Floors is identical to the DC14 Animal. Well, nearly identical. I’m sure you’re wondering how Dyson can justify a price spike of more than $100 for the Animal. Well, I’ll explain the differences and you can decide if you want to pay a hundred bucks for the extra features.

First, it’s purple. It might not be a big deal to a lot of people, but if you’re a huge purple fan a hundred bucks might be worth it. Aside from the cosmetic the DC14 differentiates itself with a powerful hand tool, a low profile cleaning head for cleaning under furniture like tables and chairs, and a carpet cleanser solution kit.

Difference #1: The Hand Tool
Both Dyson models are equipped with hand tools but the Animal comes with a powered hand tool that allows you to get deep into the fibers of your upholstery. Does it work better than the standard tool set? Definitely, is it worth the approximately $40 price tag? I tend to think not. Personally, it’s not a big deal to me, but it might be to you. If it’s something you think you’ll use, by all means, by the Dyson Animal, if not, you can always go with the All Floors model and have identical carpet cleaning performance for a $120 less.

Difference #2: Low Profile Cleaning Head
This one might be worth it if you hate playing musical chairs when you clean your home. I do, but once again I can’t justify the price tag Dyson has given to this helpful yet expensive tool. Once again, use your own judgment but I wouldn’t pay the asking price.

Difference #3: Carpet Cleaning Kit
Dyson also includes a carpet cleaning agent it calls Zorb. Not worth it to me, I could easily pick up a bottle of Resolve. (I’ll talk about removing carpet stains in a future article.)

The DC14 Animal is still a great unit and would buy one if I had plenty of spare cash, but I don’t. If I were in the market for a high end vacuum cleaner but wanted to keep costs down to a minimum I would definitely lean towards the Dyson All Floors model rather than the Dyson Animal model. But that’s just my opinion. I’m sure there’s going to be several of you writing me emails raving about Zorb or the hand tool and feel you got your money’s worth, but I personally wouldn’t. I’m not telling you not to buy the Dyson DC14 Animal, just know that there are cheaper alternatives without sacrificing any performance whatsoever.

Dyson DC14 Cyclonic Upright Review

Well, another day another review here from the shop. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been focusing a lot on Dyson lately. I’ll be going through all the Dyson uprights till I’ve reviewed them all. They should all be properly reviewed by this weekend and then it’s on to another exciting vacuum cleaner brand. I haven’t decided what brand that will be, but we’ll find out soon enough. I’m going to ramble all day if I don’t cut to the chase so here we go; today I bring you a review of the Dyson DC14 All Floors Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner.

Vacuum Cleaner: Dyson DC14 Cyclonic Upright
Vacuum Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The DC14 Cyclonic Vacuum is the next step up in Dyson’s ladder. I’m sure a lot of you are asking how Dyson justifies charging $30 more for the DC14 when it looks identical to the DC07. Well, there’s a good reason for the 7.5% price increase I’ll cover those differences and you can decide for yourself if the extra features are worth the extra dough.

Difference #1: Smaller Debris Bin
The DC14 is equipped with a slightly smaller debris bin than the DC07. I know you’re probably wondering “why should I pay more for less? The truth is something had to be sacrificed to fit the extra features offered by the Dyson DC14 Cyclonic. It’s a worthwhile comprise and I doubt most people will notice the small change. (I didn’t until I checked the specifications.)

Difference #2: Debris Channel
I know this is going to make me sound like a techno-nerd or possibly a vacuu-nerd but Dyson has developed a cutting edge design for the DC14. Their exclusive “Debris Channel” technology prevents debris from being pushed and spread around your carpet and instead, traps dust and dirt under the vacuum for suction.

Difference #3: Suction Hose Built in Handle
If you’re a fan of efficiency like I am, this feature is going to appeal to you. (My dream car is a ’91 Honda Civic DX that gets 100 MPG somehow.) The suction hose is built into the handle of the DC07 Cyclonic Upright. The result is a neater, cleaner looking vacuum cleaner, I can’t say it’s necessarily more convenient or better than the DC07 suction hose, but it’s definitely cooler. (Makes me feel like I’m pulling out a lightsaber every time I’m ready to vanquish dust bunnies.)

That’s about it for this review. I hope to have another one up today time permitting. (It’s slow for now, but that can change at any minute.) Remember, this review just covered the unique features of the Dyson DC14 Upright Vacuum Cleaner, if you want to see ALL the features of this vacuum visit my Dyson Vacuum Guide for detailed information on the Dyson Cyclonic Upright line.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dyson DC07 Cyclonic Review

Vacuum Review: Dyson DC07 Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner
Vacuum Rating: The DC07 has earned 5 stars out of 5 for being great for dust allergies, the least expensive in the Dyson Vacuum lineup, and delivering exceptional cleaning power.

Your Sensei is finally back after a much too long hiatus. The first few weeks of school are always busy for me as my kids deal with new teachers and tougher subjects. Things seem to have settled down at home and should leave me with enough time to resume writing my vacuum reviews and advice. So, before I make my readers wait any longer here is my review of the Dyson DC07 Upright Vacuum Cleaner.

Coming in at just under $400 this is the cheapest full upright in Dyson’s vacuum cleaner line. Still, the DC07 Vacuum Cleaner is feature packed, delivers excellent value, and employs Dyson’s extremely powerful cyclonic suction technology. In case you didn’t notice the DC07 is nearly identical in design to the DC07 Animal. In fact the only difference between the two is color and hose attachments. (Dyson Animals come with a slimmed down cleaning head for cleaning under furniture, a power brush for cleaning upholstery, and a carpet cleanser for cleaning stains.)

Unlike some of the more expensive Dyson Vacuums, the yellow DC07 lacks a large debris bin for collecting dust. Expect to empty fairly frequently for the first couple weeks of vacuuming, especially if you’ve been using a lower quality vacuum; lesser vacuums leave behind a lot of dirt the DC07 is going to pick up. But after your first few vacuuming sessions this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

I feel comfortable giving the Dyson DC07 Cyclonic Vacuum my best rating because it’s backed by Dyson’s 5 year warranty, but more importantly Dyson’s near perfect track record. This is the most economical high end vacuum cleaner you’re going to find on the market today. It offers identical cleaning power to most of the other Dyson Uprights and costs about a hundred bucks less than the next cheapest one.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Still Around

Don't worry, your Sensei is still around. Between football pratice, homecoming, and girls softball games it's been a hectic week. Things will settle down soon and I'll be back to reviewing vacuum cleaners. See you then!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Dyson Guide

This week has been hectic. I broke a vacuum cleaner, sprained a toe, and finally ate a falafel! There was a street fair nearby and I must say there were very tasty. Anyway, let’s get down to business. Today I want to talk about Dyson. I really like the brand. Everything they offer is well designed and has consistently performed extremely well. Every Dyson Upright Vacuum Cleaner comes with a standard set of features and I’ll cover them in this Guide to Dyson Vacuum Cleaners.

Stair Cleaning
Every Dyson upright vacuum cleaner is equipped with a 17 foot suction hose to clean stairways without having to lug a heavy vacuum cleaner up and down.

Hygienic Quick Empty
One of the main complaints about bagless vacuums is dust. Opening up a debris bin and flipping it over to empty creates lots of dust and can aggravate asthma and allergy sufferers. Dyson has developed a unique bottom open debris canister that eliminates this problem! Simply remove the debris bin, place over garbage can and pull the quick release trigger that opens your debris bin from the bottom, keep dust in the trash and out of your air.

Brush Control
Dyson vacuum cleaners are equipped with an on/off brush control switch the shuts off the rotating brush head. It might not seem like such a big deal but you’ll be able to reduce wear and tear on sensitive or vintage carpets. It’s also great if you have hard wood floors or tile, you won’t be throwing dirt and dust all over your kitchen!

Lifetime Filter
Dyson claims to have a lifetime filter, but I don’t believe that. In your Sensei’s opinion, nothing lasts forever. That said, it’s still one of the best vacuum filters on the market, and should last for many years.

HEPA Filter
Every Dyson upright vacuum cleaner is built with a HEPA filter. I’ve covered the benefits of HEPA filters before so I don’t feel I need to remind you that they’re great for people with dust allergies and remove particles greater than .3 microns from your air.

Asthma Approved
One of the standard features that really make Dyson vacuums stand out is an endorsement on their lineup from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In case you’re wondering what this means, here is a list of tests and standard the AAFA requires for a seal of approval:

1. Evaluation of airborne allergen levels during vacuuming
2. Evaluation of the integrity of the air filtration system
3. Assessment of the performance of the vacuum cleaner immediately prior to activation of bag replacement / receptacle emptying signal and filter change signal
4. Assessment of exposure to allergens during bag change or receptacle emptying

For more information on the AAFA and the ASP-VC-01: 07 Asthma friendly rating you can read the AAFA’s PFA describing this rating Here and visit the official AAFA site.

Airflow tools
With the exception of the Dyson Slim DC18 every Dyson upright vacuum cleaner comes with Airflow tools. If you’ve ever tried to clean curtains with conventional vacuum hand tools, you know how your curtains get stuck, dirty, and wrinkled. The Dyson has designed their hand or “Airflow” tools with openings on the side to allow air to continue flowing, preventing clogs.

Root Cyclone Technology
All Dyson vacuum cleaners except for the DC17 Animal are equipped with Dyson’s time tested Root Cyclone Technology. I really don’t think my readers care how it works, and if you do, visit Dyson’s Official Site and learn all about the mechanics. There’s also a really good Wikipedia article, just do a search for Dyson. What I really think you care about is performance. Do Dyson vacuum cleaners really work? Yes, they do. Dyson is by far my favorite upright vacuum cleaner brand! Yes, they are expensive, but Dyson has a long track record of delivering quality, high end home vacuum cleaners that pick up an insane amount of dirt. If you’ve never used one on your carpet, there’s a good chance you’re going to be amazed with the amount of dust and debris pulled from your carpets!

5 Year Warranty
Finally, every single Dyson upright vacuum cleaner comes with a 5 year warranty. You won’t find anything close to a 5 year warranty for less than a few hundred bucks.

That’s it for my Guide to Dyson Upright Vacuum Cleaners. I’ll have detailed reviews of every Dyson Vacuum Cleaner and a price analysis up as soon as possible. Thanks for visiting.

The Vacuum Sensei

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Reader Email - Difference Between Dyson DC14's

Hello Readers!

I want to start today by answering a reader email.

“Dear Sensei,

I read your review of the Dyson Animal and am thinking about buying one. Could you tell me the difference between the Dyson DC14 and the Dyson DC14 Animal? If there isn’t a huge difference I would really like to save some extra money and go with the yellow DC14.

Thanks and KIT,

Thanks for the email Susan, I promise to have a Guide to Dyson Vacuum Cleaners and cover the ones out on the market right now. Look for it soon!

If you have a vacuum question you want me to try and answer, you can reach me at I’m happy to read and respond!

The Vacuum Sensei

Dyson Stowaway DC21 Canister Review

Vacuum Review: Dyson Stowaway DC21 Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Vacuum Rating: 4 stars out of 5 for a space saving design and powerful suction but lacking a decent power cord length.

I hate Mondays. Mondays is the day after Sunday, my only day off, and every other week, just a day before payday. That means my fat business checking account becomes an anemic checking account. Urrrghhhh! It’s time to begrudgingly get down to business and bring my loyal readers another vacuum cleaner review. I haven’t done one of these in several days due to the high volume of requests for a guide to the best vacuums for X type of flooring, carpet or budget. Now that I’ve answered many of those questions the emails seem to have died down a bit, though I’m still getting emails for “The Best Expensive Vacuum”, don’t worry monopoly monocle wearing elite, I’ll have a “Best Vacuum Guide” for you too. As for now, I bring you a review of the Dyson DC21 Stowaway Canister Vacuum Cleaner.

Dyson consistently stands out for allergy relief. Their unique suction and 3 step filtering system greatly reduces dust allergens in your home. HEPA filtration comes standard with every Dyson Vacuum cleaner and the DC21 is no exception; if you suffer from allergies, any Dyson Vacuum cleaner would be an excellent option to consider.

As far as portability and convenience goes, I really like the large wheels for transport. A lot of canister vacuums are hard to lug around, and it’s not secret I prefer upright vacuums to canister vacuums, but the Dyson DC21 Canister Vacuum definitely scored points for large wheels that make it significantly easier to move around your house. The cleaning head included with this canister vacuum is fairly thin, making it a little bit easier to reach under furniture.

One other thing I feel I should note before I mention what I don’t like about this vacuum cleaner is the off / on motorized cleaning head feature. If you have hard flooring and don’t’ want to bother with broom and dustpan, you can shut off the motor bar or brush bar to clean up your kitchen, bathroom, hard wood flooring, etc. Vacuums lacking this feature shoot out debris and your Sensei knows first hand that it hurts! I was actually cut by a small rock when I accidentally rolled my vacuum onto my kitchen floor!

One last note for the good side, this vacuum cleaner is pretty quiet. I’m not going to say you can vacuum and hear everything on your favorite TV show at the same time, but it is less noisy than most other vacuum cleaners on the market. If noise is somewhat of a priority, look into buying any Dyson model.

Okay, now for the bad. I felt like the 16.4 foot power cord was extremely short. One of the main things Dyson was going for with the DC21 Stowaway Canister Vacuum was a compact design. It is, by all accounts, a very efficiently designed vacuum and able to fit in relatively small places, but I feel Dyson could have sacrificed a little bit of size for a slightly longer power cord.

Aside from the extremely short cord length, be aware that there have been some complaints about “stiff hand tools”. They can be rough on delicate or vintage upholstery but shouldn’t be any problem for your run of the mill furniture. A headlight on the vacuum head would have been nice, it really lets make sure you’re not leaving anything behind, especially when you’re cleaning darker corners.

All in all, this vacuum cleaner is just about what I have come to expect from Dyson. I do feel they have sacrificed a couple potentially useful features to keep the size of this canister vacuum down; it’s not a bad thing if one of your concerns is storage size.