A brief history of the vacuum cleaner - EPE International - The UK’s Leading Distributor of Consumer Brands | Brands You Know, Distributor You Trust
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A brief history of the vacuum cleaner

The history of vacuum cleaners in the UK dates back to the early 1900s. Hubert Cecil Booth started the first vacuum cleaner company in the UK, known as the British Vacuum Cleaner Company. It wasn’t long however before William Henry Hoover, who had already experienced success with his vacuum cleaners in America, made headway in the vacuum cleaners market in the UK and overtook Booth.

Hoover’s vacuum cleaners in the UK became such a success that ‘to hoover’ quickly became synonymous with vacuuming. Some of the earliest domestic vacuum cleaners in the UK incorporated simple reusable fabric bag designs whereby the vacuum cleaner simply collected dust in the bag. Once the bag was full, you could empty and reattach it to the vacuum cleaner. Unlike modern day vacuum cleaners in the UK, these vacuum cleaners didn’t have advanced filtration, motorised brush bars or attachments to make vacuuming more effective.

For decades after their introduction, vacuum cleaners in the UK were a luxury item that only the upper class could afford. After World War II however they became common among the middle class. This was especially true for vacuum cleaners in the UK because the popularity of carpets means sweeping is not an easy or effective means of carpet cleaning.

Although vacuum cleaners in the UK remained a luxury item for decades, throughout the 1930s and 1940s they were advancing at an incredible rate and by 1952 Hoover launched the Constellation, a pioneering canister vacuum cleaner that floats like a hovercraft. Hoover designed it so you could place the vacuum cleaner in the centre of the room and then work around it. After nearly 20 years of selling these vacuum cleaners in the UK, Hoover discontinued the Constellation in 1975.

Advances to upright and cylinder vacuum cleaners in the UK continued, enabling vacuum cleaners to become more efficient and effective. By the 1980s, there was a vast range of bagged vacuum cleaners available in the UK and many of these have become collectors’ items.

The 1990s saw the introduction of the first bagless domestic vacuum cleaners in the UK. Despite many industry fears that consumers would not be prepared to pay the hefty price tag, bagless vacuum cleaners became a phenomenal success in the UK.

These days bagless upright vacuum cleaners are the most popular choice in the UK. Upright vacuum cleaners are more popular in the UK than cylinder vacuum cleaners because the powerful rotating brush bars help to effectively lift hair from carpets. That said, demand for cylinder vacuum cleaners in the UK is rising considerably as design innovations mean they can equal the performance of upright vacuum cleaners.  The same can be said of cordless vacuum cleaners as advancements in battery technology has meant that the performance of cordless vacuums can now rival that of the corded cleaners.

As for the future, vacuum cleaners in the UK are expected to become even more energy efficient.  EU regulations that restricted the energy consumption of vacuum cleaners came into force in 2014 with further restrictions still to come into force. The move has sparked the launch of several pioneering vacuum cleaners in the UK, all of which feature low energy consumption but advanced designs and superior performance to ensure customers get better results from lower energy consumption.


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