A look at the 1980s’ successful orange Vax vacuum cleaner

Vax advert still
A still from the 1990 Vax television advert.

It is hard to imagine an era without wet and dry vacuum cleaners for domestic use. Carpet cleaning at one point meant a separate device or a bottle of carpet cleaner. This meant a vacuum cleaner for dust and a carpet shampooer for cleaning your Axminster. In 1977, Alan Brazier had a cunning plan when he formed Vax UK Ltd.

Continue reading “Iconic Vacuum Cleaners: The Vax 111 Orange Tub”

Numatic’s iconic Henry vacuum cleaner now has a cordless counterpart

Henry Vacuum Cleaner image by David Simmonds (Creative Commons License: Attribution-Some Rights Reserved).
Now available in cordless forms: Numatic’s Henry vacuum cleaner. Image by David Simmonds (Creative Commons License: Some Rights Reserved – Share Alike).

Numatic’s Henry and Hetty cleaners are already an icon in most homes and offices.  Now, alongside rivals Dyson and Bosch, Numatic have introduced a cordless vacuum cleaner.  Yes, Henry has gone cordless.  We kid you not.

Continue reading “Numatic’s Henry Goes Cordless”

How a collection of 300 vacuum cleaners are proving to be a headache for Steve

Modern Day Cylinder Vacuum
A modern day cylinder vacuum cleaner. Image by Cheshmeh Studio (via Shutterstock).

Many moons ago, we looked at the Vacuum Cleaner Museum in Heanor, Derbyshire. The visitor attraction is undoubtedly the place to go to if you love your vacuum cleaners. Claiming to have the third largest collection of vacuum cleaners in the United Kingdom is Steve Cook. The 38-year-old from Swindon has 300 items in his collection.

He has been interested in vacuum cleaners since he was a child. One day, his father, a school caretaker at the time, brought home a Hoover Constellation vacuum cleaner. Steve had a bash at trying to repair the dome-shaped cleaner. Though his attempt at electrical repairs was unsuccessful, it became the first of many additions to his collection.

The rarest model in his collection of 300 vacuum cleaners is the Hoover Powerdrive. Released in the mid-1970s, few models were manufactured. A halfway house between a Hoover Junior and a Hoover Turbopower vacuum cleaner, it cost the equivalent of £600 in today’s money. Steve has spent over £10,000 on vacuum cleaners in the last thirty years. One of his finds include a Moulinex Major – purchased for the princely sum of £2.00 at a carboot sale in Peterborough.

Courtesy of The London Economist blog, here’s what Steve Cook has to say about his collection in video form.

We wonder how he manages his to keep his floor clean, or find enough space for them. His 300 vacuum cleaners are almost taking over his one bedroom flat.  So much so that he has stored some of his collection in a lock-up garage.

Clean Hire, 03 March 2017.

Tefal takes on the vacuum cleaner market alongside Dyson with a new bagless cleaner

Non Stick Frying Pan
A Non-Stick Frying Pan: one of Tefal’s best known product lines. Image by Family Business (via Shutterstock).

Tefal: what is the first thing you think of when you hear the name Tefal? The first thing that springs to mind is cheese toasties. Teasmades and kettles. Anything to do with cheese and bacon or both, or chips. The brand name is a portmanteau of the first three letters of Teflon and the first two letters of the Aluminium. But vacuum cleaners???

We have learned from the Which? Magazine website how Tefal’s creation will give James Dyson and Co. a run for their money. As with Britain’s market leading manufacturer of cyclonic vacuum cleaners, Tefal’s models are bagless. It is claimed their models have powerful suction capabilities, capturing 99.98% of dust.

Their most powerful cleaner, the Tefal Air Force Extreme TY8865HO has a 6200 rpm motor with a delta shaped brush head, headlights, and a lithium battery. It is a lightweight rechargeable cordless cleaner with a powerful motor, a bit like a Jack Russell Terrier at full tilt. After charging, the vacuum cleaner is operational for five minutes shy of an hour. The recommended selling price for the 25 volt cordless vacuum cleaner is £270.

Should every home have one?

There has been favourable reviews for Tefal’s entry into the high powered world of vacuum cleaner manufacturing and design. We like the sleek slimline looks and think the Air Force Extreme range are a useful sidearm for your home. Get one for the stairs: there’s no need to worry about the hose or tripping over the flex.

The Tefal Air Force Extreme range of vacuum cleaners are readily available from most electrical shops and online retailers. Please note that some models come under the Rowenta name.


Clean Hire, 15 February 2017.

A look at the Scott Fetzer company’s iconic Kirby vacuum cleaner

Kirby G5 upright vacuum cleaner image by Thrapston2.
Virtually unchanged since 1934: the basic design of the Kirby vacuum cleaner, even with gradual improvements over the last 82 years. Image by Thrapston2 (Creative Commons License: Attribution-Share Alike).

In relation to architecture, John Ruskin gave us these sage words: “When we build, let us think that we build forever.”  This phrase can be applicable to luxury goods.  With cars, the Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Lexus marques.  For cameras, the Leitz Company’s Leica cameras set the gold standard.  With vacuum cleaners, some might say the same about the Kirby vacuum cleaner.

Kirby vacuum cleaners are seen at the higher end of the price spectrum.  Even in the secondhand market, prices command three figure sums.  Why are Kirby vacuum cleaners so expensive?  Quality is one thing, with owners having the same models for a decade or more.  The hood is built like a tank; its weight is of great criticism to some users.  Its conservative design, characterised by its metal brush has endeared hardcore Kirby fanatics who have kept their cleaners for 20 years.

Where Kirby differs from Hoover, Numatic and Electrolux is in the sale of their premium priced vacuum cleaners.  Since 1920, Kirby vacuum cleaners have been sold by door-to-door salespeople.  He or she would give you a demonstration of the vacuum cleaner as part of their sales pitch.  Then, the customer decides whether or not to make a purchase.  A demonstration can be scheduled via the Kirby website.

Therefore, the only way you can purchase a Kirby cleaner is via scheduling a demonstration.  This ensures its exclusivity and the proper promotion of its product by well trained salespeople.  Though you can never buy a new one from Currys or Argos, some independent retailers offer reconditioned models.

A Brief History of Kirby

The first Kirby vacuum cleaner was developed by Jim Kirby in 1906.  It was known as the Domestic Cyclone.  In 1914, George H. Scott starts his own business which becomes The Kirby Company.  The following year saw the arrival of Carl S. Fetzer, which led to Messrs Scott and Fetzer forming a partnership.

Its most seminal moment came in 1920 when door-to-door sales demonstrations were introduced.  The first vacuum cleaner to bear the Kirby name is the Model C from 1934.  It is also the first one to have a rounded light hood.  Though the basic design has remained unchanged, gradual improvements were made to subsequent models.  1979’s Kirby Tradition was the first of their vacuum cleaners to support disposable vacuum bags.  The Generation 3 added speed controls and, while remaining faithful to the original design, lighter construction.

The latest model is the Avalir, launched in 2015.  It is noted for its ability to clean hard floors, thanks to its Multi Surface Shampoo System.  Today, its parent company, Scott Fetzer Companies, is part of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s conglomerate.