How do vacuum cleaners work? A Brief Description

Vacuum cleaner is one of modern day essential appliance for cleaning your home. Latest technological advancements have made cleaning of carpets, floors, stairs etc quite easy and effective. In older ages, it was very difficult to clean thick carpets and floors manually. Efficiently designed and engineered vacuum cleaners make home cleaning effective and swift task. Vacuum cleaners history dates back to earlier 20th century. Initially these appliances used to be heavy and giant making it difficult to maneuver. These limitations resulted in innovations and advancements in the design of vacuum cleaners. Now, modern vacuum cleaners are portable, effective and equipped with modern features like robotic vacuums. In this article, we will try to understand basic working of vacuum cleaner.

How Do Vacuum Cleaner Work?

In this article, we are going to explain working mechanism of these vacuum cleaners. Well, vacuum cleaners work on very basic principle of physics; you have read in high school science i.e. Bernoulli’s Principle. It states that when speed of air increases, pressure drops and vice versa. Air will flow from high pressure towards lower pressure to attain equilibrium. It is the same principle involved, when drinking from a glass through straw. By sucking you create low pressure in your mouth, forcing fluid to move from glass into your mouth. Following the same principle, vacuum cleaners work in following sequence of operations to perform cleaning tasks.

working of vacuum cleaner

Components of a Vacuum Cleaner

In the previous section we overviewed general operating cycle of vacuum cleaner. In next part of this article let’s discuss components of a traditional vacuum cleaner and its functions.

  • Electric motor
  • Exhaust fan
  • Intake and exhaust ports
  • Filtration system
  • Dust collector
  • Attachments

Intake Port

Intake port is opening of vacuum cleaner, through which suction is created and debris is sucked into the vacuum cleaner. Size of intake port is crucial in making a particular vacuum having powerful suction. By decreasing size of inlet port, air is made to flow quicker causing pressure to drop further inside the vacuum cleaner. Reduced pressure creates stronger suction and ultimately efficient cleaning capabilities.  


Fan is a most vital part of any vacuum cleaner and it is the answer to question, How do a vacuum cleaner work? Fan circulates air inside vacuum and creates negative pressure creating suction, which is basic working principle of vacuum cleaner.

Electric Motor

In previous section importance and critical role of fan was discussed. Motor is also vital part of any vacuum cleaner as it makes fan to spin and create pressure gradient. Vacuum cleaners come equipped with varying wattage motors. High wattage motor spins the fan faster creating stronger suction.

vacuum cleaner motor
Typical Motor of a Vacuum Cleaner

Filtration System

You won’t like that air expelling out from exhaust contain allergens and bacteria. To filter out allergens and minute dust particles being injurious to human lungs, vacuum cleaner uses filtration system. Vacuum cleaners use two filters usually. One filter is located behind motor; it prevents dust and debris getting into internal mechanism of vacuum. Second filter is located before exhaust to prevent allergens leaking into fresh air. Often HEPA filters are used in combination with another filter. HEPA filters are very effective highly efficient particulate filters that trap smaller particles with high efficiency. A malfunctioning or substandard filtration system is detrimental to residents, particularly for asthma patients. So, it is recommended to study filtration system of a particular vacuum cleaner, before purchasing it.

Hepa filter of a vacuum cleaner
HEPA Filter of a Vacuum Cleaner

Dust Collector

Vacuum cleaners are classified into two types on the basis of dust collection. One is bagged vacuum cleaners, using bags for dust collection. User needs to buy and replace bags frequently, adding extra burden on pocket. Second type being bagless vacuum cleaners; don’t require bags and saves user from hassle of replacing bags frequently. Dust is collected in dust chambers and is disposed off later, once the chamber is full.


Vacuum cleaners come with several attachments to increase the number of its application areas.  Standard attachments include dusting brush, crevice and upholstery tool. Crevice tool enables vacuum cleaner to approach corners and narrow areas for effective cleaning. Dusting brush helps in dislodging stubborn particles enabling comprehensive cleaning.  These attachments are usually stored onboard to increase versatility.

Types of a Vacuum Cleaner

Mainly there are five different types of vacuum cleaners depending on size and shape. Each performs cleaning tasks quit well. You may choose any of these depending on your requirements and expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is working principle of vacuum cleaner?

Vacuum cleaners work on basic Bernoulli’s principle. It states that when speed of air increases pressure drops. Air will move from high pressure towards lower pressure to keep balance. In a vacuum cleaner negative pressure is created inside vacuum by fan, this negative pressure creates suction power at intake port, sucking air and dirt.

What are advantages of using vacuum cleaner?

Vacuum cleaner has become one of essential appliance for home to meet cleaning requirements. Vacuum cleaner is one of handiest appliance ever made. Few advantages of using this appliance at home are listed below;

  • It offers effective cleaning of various floors, carpets, rugs, cars etc.
  • It saves times and energy as compared to traditional broom cleaning.
  • Vacuum cleaner removes allergens and bacteria present in a room.
  • Vacuums are used to remove pet hair from floor and carpets.

How often should I vacuum clean my house?

Vacuuming on daily basis doesn’t pose any problems. Actually, it depends on usage and traffic for that particular area. High traffic areas frequent vacuuming than low traffic area. It is recommended to clean high traffic areas every other day. While, low traffic areas may be cleaned on weekly basis. Carpets and rugs have usually thick and delicate fibers. It is not recommended to vacuum clean thick and high pile carpets/rugs on daily basis. They may be vacuum cleaned on weekly basis to optimize cleaning and saving fibers.

How do I choose best vacuum cleaner?

There are so many vacuum cleaners available in market to confuse the user. Few important parameters are listed below for consideration before buying a vacuum cleaner.

  • Type of cleaning surface
  • Carpet type
  • Traffic
  • Durability and quality
  • Performance of vacuum
  • Type of filtration
  • Capacity
  • Additional attachments offered

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