Vacuum cleaners 101: Can you create your own?

Key tips to remember

  • Creating your own vacuum cleaner is a great rainy-day activity, especially if you have kids.
  • Vacuum cleaners work best when they’re maintained and their components kept free from debris.
  • Professional vacuum service is a great option when your vacuum cleaner isn’t working effectively.
DIY, Maintenance and Repairs

The humble vacuum cleaner: How did we ever get along without it? Honestly, most people probably got by just fine with a good broom and a dust pan, but now that we have the technology for the vacuum cleaners of today, who would want to go back?

National Create Your Own Vacuum Day is an often-overlooked holiday that is typically celebrated in the scientific community. Since vacuums apply to both the laboratory and the home, however, we’re going to kick up our heels in honor of vacuums of all types today!

Keep reading to learn about the history of the vacuum cleaner, find out whether it’s possible to build a DIY vacuum, and get our top tips for vacuum-cleaner maintenance.

History of the household vacuum cleaner

The first vacuum cleaner to even somewhat resemble the household appliance we all know and love came about at the turn of the 20th century, but vacuum cleaners in other forms first entered the American marketplace in the middle of the 19th century.

These early predecessors — called “carpet sweepers” — were entirely manual, so there was no power cord. All the work to both make the machine do its job and move around the floor had to be done by a person. Modern vacuum cleaners require some level of manual labor too, but nothing compared to the bellows systems and hand-cranked brush rollers of these antique carpet sweepers.

Electric or fuel-powered carpet sweepers and vacuum cleaners arrived on the market about 40 years later, but these machines were enormous and far from portable. Some even required horse-drawn carriages to carry the combustion engine required to power the machine.

Portable vacuum cleaners that were realistic home appliances for the general public didn’t make it onto the scene until the very beginning of the 20th century. What is now known as the Kirby vacuum brand was one of the first residential vacuum cleaners to enter the American market (and is still sold door-to-door, though it has plenty more competitors nowadays).

Vacuum-cleaner technology has only improved over the decades. Consumers can now choose from a variety of configurations, such as upright, canister, handheld and central. Deciding between bagged, bagless and cyclonic options make the vacuum-buying process even more complex. And who could forget the robot vacuum?

Robot vacuums became available to consumers as we entered the 21st century. And while these little robots seemed like the answer to a lot of housework-related prayers, the reality is (just like any other household appliances) they have their pros and cons. Robotic vacuums are essentially sophisticated carpet sweepers. They don’t hold as much dirt and dust as a standard vacuum, and they typically can’t create the suction levels of an upright or canister vacuum.

Nonetheless, robot vacuums are very cool, and the rate at which technology develops means that robot vacuum models keep getting better and better. And compared to where we started with massive carpet sweepers in the 19th century, they really do represent the pinnacle of vacuum-cleaner technology!

Can you create your own vacuum?

The short answer is yes, you can! Will you want to? Maybe! Is a homemade vacuum cleaner a realistic way to vacuum the floors in your home? Probably not.

But if you’re looking for a fun physics experiment to do with your kids (or by yourself), check out this DIY vacuum-cleaner tutorial from Instructables.com. All you need are some items you likely already have at home: a soda bottle, a metal bottle or can, first-aid bandage wrap, glue, and a length of flexible plastic piping or tubing. Visit your local hobby shop and pick up a small DC motor, and you’ll be good to go.

Let us know how your experiment turns out!

Maintaining your vacuum cleaner

Like any other home appliance, your vacuum cleaner needs regular maintenance to perform its best on a consistent basis. Vacuum-cleaner maintenance isn’t difficult or time-consuming, and it’s well worth it to keep your vacuum in great shape. Follow these simple tips to ensure many years of great service from your vacuum cleaner:

1. Keep it clean.

Although it may sound a little counterintuitive at first, keeping your vacuum cleaner clean is essential to the appliance’s good performance. Give the hoses, roller, and brushes or beater bar a once-over every time you vacuum.

Hair, fur and a host of other debris can get tangled in the moving components of a vacuum and cause it to work less efficiently. Once enough dirt and debris build up, you’ll notice a serious loss of suction. Ensuring that your vacuum is clean before every use will help you keep your house cleaner, and your vacuum cleaner in good shape for far longer.

2. Change the bag.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? But how often do you actually think about the status of your vacuum bag when you aren’t actively vacuuming? Probably rarely, if ever. If you’re like most people, the thought of changing out the vacuum bag only crosses your mind after you’ve started vacuuming and noticed a loss of suction.

Let’s all make a promise to ourselves to check the vacuum bag before we start vacuuming from now on. Depending on your vacuum, as well as your household and how many human and furry family members are in it, your vacuum bag might need replacement anywhere from quarterly to annually (or somewhere in between).

3. Have it professionally serviced periodically.

Vacuum cleaners are widely available, very common household appliances, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily inexpensive. That being said, you can find a great vacuum cleaner at virtually any price point — you just might sacrifice a few cool (but probably unnecessary) features here and there.

If you are able to spend a little more on your vacuum cleaner, take care of that investment by having it professionally serviced from time to time. Vacuum cleaners have a lot of moving parts, and the nature of the work a vacuum performs means that there’s significant stress and force placed on its motor, belts and fans.

Unless you’re a small-engine mechanic, it’s easy to get in over your head quickly once you start digging around in a vacuum cleaner’s interior, so let the pros handle this job. Belts and fans do eventually wear out or need tightening, and it’s well worth the service fee to know that the work is done correctly.

A vacuum cleaner is a modern-day essential when it comes to keeping your house tidy. And while creating your own — especially in honor of Create Your Own Vacuum Day — can be a fun rainy-day project, it probably isn’t something you’d want to rely on to clean up the house before guests arrive.

At Cinch Home Services, we’re experts at everything home, and we want to help you stay on top of all your home-related tasks. And that includes keeping your vacuum cleaner in tiptop shape! We’d love to stay in touch. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for helpful tips and valuable info about home warranties and protection plans.


The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.