The Surprising Impact Of Vacuum Cleaners On Indoor Air Quality

This post may contain affiliate links. This means we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you whenever you buy a product clicking on our link. This helps us fund our product reviews and other content.

Vacuum cleaners are commonly regarded as essential appliances for maintaining cleanliness within our homes. However, it might surprise you to learn that selecting the wrong vacuum cleaner can actually have a negative impact on the quality of the air in your home. In this article, we will delve into the effects that vacuum cleaners can have on indoor air quality and discuss ways to mitigate these effects.

Significance of Indoor Air Quality

impact of vacuum cleaners on indoor air quality

A significant portion of our lives is spent indoors. Surprisingly, indoor air tends to be more polluted than the air outside, primarily due to factors such as cooking fumes, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from cleaning products and furniture, dust, dust mites, and pet hair, among others. As a result, allergies have become more prevalent. To address these issues, people often turn to air purifiers to improve indoor air quality, and these devices do prove effective.

Likewise, vacuum cleaners are also commonly seen as tools to enhance air quality indoors. However, this isn’t always the case. Not every vacuum cleaner contributes positively to air quality improvement. In reality, unless you invest in a high-quality vacuum cleaner, the use of a vacuum cleaner could potentially worsen your indoor air quality. Before delving further into this topic, let’s first gain an understanding of how vacuum cleaners function.

How Vacuum Cleaners Work?

vacuuming upholstery

When a vacuum cleaner is turned on, its motor operates to generate a pressure difference between the inside of the vacuum and its surroundings. This difference in pressure causes the vacuum cleaner to draw in air, along with dust and other particles, from various surfaces. These particles are then collected in either a dust container or a bag.

In the case of vacuum cleaners with bags, the dirt and debris are collected within the bag. The air then flows through a washable filter before being released back into the room.

On the other hand, bagless vacuum cleaners operate slightly differently. Most of them employ cyclonic technology, wherein the air is spun around to separate the dust and debris. This separated debris is then directed towards the edges of the dust container. The air goes through a washable filter within the container and then passes through a HEPA filter at the air outlet. As a result, the air that is expelled back into the room is notably cleaner.

Impact of Vacuum Cleaners on Air Quality

impact of vacuum cleaners on indoor air quality

Research has demonstrated that vacuum cleaners can serve as sources of particulate matter emissions. These emissions arise not only from stirring settled dust back into the air but also from the vacuum cleaner’s motor. This study encompassed various types of vacuum cleaners: bagged, bagless with washable filters, wet, and HEPA robot vacuum cleaners.

The investigation unveiled a discernible rise in PM10 emissions linked to copper and elemental carbon, which pointed to motor-related emissions. Interestingly, bagged vacuum cleaners exhibited the highest PM10 emission levels, followed by wet vacuum cleaners and bagless vacuum cleaners with washable filters. Notably, HEPA vacuum cleaners disrupted this trend, displaying no significant increase in PM mass or concentration.

From these findings, it becomes evident that using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter is of paramount importance, especially for households with individuals susceptible to dust allergies.

Advantages of HEPA Filtration In Vacuum Cleaners

impact of vacuum cleaners on indoor air quality

As you can infer, it is only when you have a high grade HEPA filter that you can fully realize the benefits of owing a vacuum cleaner. Let us take a look at what they are-

  • A vacuum cleaner featuring a HEPA filter is proficient at extracting settled dust and allergens from various surfaces, effectively preventing their suspension into the air.
  • Individuals afflicted with respiratory conditions stand to gain notably from HEPA vacuum cleaners. These devices not only eliminate dust but also target allergens and dust mites, the primary culprits behind indoor air pollution. Often invisible to the naked eye, these dust mites thrive in mattresses, feeding on human skin and generating proteins that our bodies perceive as harmful agents. This triggers unnecessary immune responses leading to allergic reactions. Consequently, it is advised to employ vacuum cleaners for periodic mattress cleaning, mitigating the exacerbation of allergies.
  • HEPA-equipped vacuum cleaners also prove invaluable in eradicating accumulated mold spores from surfaces. These spores, if airborne, can precipitate allergic responses.
  • Studies have also shown that HEPA vacuuming has a significant effect in reducing the presence of house dust mites and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons within carpets.

Other Tips To Improve Air Quality While Vacuuming

impact of vacuum cleaners on indoor air quality

In addition to choosing a good vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter, you could adopt the following tips to improve air quality while vacuuming.

  • When vacuuming carpets, it’s advised to proceed slowly and gently. This approach ensures that any stirred-up dust particles are effectively captured by the vacuum cleaner rather than being released into the air.
  • Regularly maintaining the cleanliness of the dust container is essential to prevent it from becoming overly full, which can negatively impact the vacuum cleaner’s cleaning performance.
  • Consider opting for bagless vacuum cleaners that incorporate a sealed system for both motors and dust containers. This design choice prevents the emission of fumes or dust particles into the environment.
  • When vacuuming, if feasible, keep windows open to facilitate ample ventilation within the house. This practice helps prevent suspended dust particles from lingering in the room.
  • Routine cleaning of washable air filters is recommended, but it’s important to handle them gently to avoid damaging the filter fibers. Additionally, adhere to the replacement schedule for HEPA filters as outlined in the product manual.

Out of the HEPA bagless vacuum cleaners we tried, Philips Powerpro FC9352/01 comes with a grade 13 HEPA filter, while options like Eureka Forbes Supervac and AmazonBasics come with Grade 12 HEPA filters. We have also noticed slight leaks from AmazonBasics cyclinder, which isn’t conducive to maintaining air quality.

Considering these aspects, our recommendation is Philips Powerpro and Eureka Forbes Supervac.

Leave a Comment