Whether you enjoy the chore of vacuuming or not, there’s no doubt this invention has made it easier to keep a home clean. But have you ever wondered who invented the vacuum?
- The first vacuum was invented in 1902 by Hubert Cecil Booth. Booth was a bridge engineer. He watched in disgust as someone used a compressed air machine to clean a railway car at a station in London.
- The machine was similar to a leaf blower. It blew the dust around but didn’t suck it up. The dust resettled in the car, leaving it no cleaner than it had been previously.
- Booth thought a machine that could suck the dirt into a canister would be a better solution and the Vacuum Cleaner Company was born.
- The first machines were large. Because few homes had electricity, Booth delivered his machines on a cart equipped with a pump. A long hose stretched from the cart, which sat in the street, into the home or business – similar to a carpet cleaner’s machine today.
- The carts were noisy and often scared horses in the street. Several people filed lawsuits against Booth.
- Before King Edward II’s coronation, royal housekeepers discovered that the rugs under the thrones in Westminster Abbey were filthy. The Vacuum Cleaner Company came to the rescue and word spread about its benefits. Soon, more and more people were using the service.
- In 1905, Chapman and Skinner invented a hand-held vacuum cleaner in San Francisco. A year later, the Vacuum Cleaner Company introduced its version.
- Then in 1907, W.H. Hoover saw a hand-held device created by J. Murray Spangler, a department store janitor. The vacuum featured a pillow case attached to a broom handle. Hoover bought the rights to it and produced the first upright vacuum. His machines became so popular that the word “Hoover” was often used instead of the word “vacuum.”
- Filthy: very, very dirty
- Upright vacuum: one that stands up (most vacuums in America today are uprights)
Questions and Answers
Question: How did people clean floors before the vacuum was invented?
Answer: Most homes had hardwood flooring covered with rugs. The floors were cleaned by sweeping and mopping them. The rugs were taken outdoors and beaten with a wire rug beater.
Learn more about the invention of vacuums, brooms, and other cleaning devices.