How Does A Vacuum Cleaner Work?

How does a vacuum cleaner work?

Vacuum cleaners helped getaway with traditional means of cleaning in the early 1900’s. During this time, electronic inventions were on their rise, and vacuum cleaner turned out to be a significant one. It significantly eased the job of cleaners and housewives. With vacuum cleaners, it takes less time and effort to clean the area with a lot of better results. As science and technology progressed, we see various kinds of vacuum cleaners.

If you are interested in knowing how a vacuum cleaner works, this guide offers the general working principle of vacuum cleaners, major parts of a vacuum cleaner as well as the detailed working of two different kinds of vacuum cleaners: Vacuum cleaners with bags and bagless vacuum cleaners.

Check: Best Bagless Canister Vacuum Cleaner

General Working Principle

A vacuum cleaner operates on the principle of creating negative air pressure and sucking the dirt and debris towards it. This is done by driving a fan in a fixed direction of rotation using an electric motor. It reduces air pressure and creates a lower pressure environment. As the vacuum cleaner gets in touch with the surface, the reduced airflow catches the dirt.

Parts of a Vacuum Cleaner

A vacuum cleaner comes with the following significant parts:

1. Electric motor

To make the vacuum cleaner work, an electric motor acts like its brain. As you turn on the electric supply, the electric motor starts rotating and sends a signal for a vacuum. Usually, a motor comes with 500 to 1000 W of power. However, it varies from the motor to the motor. The modern motors are more powerful and supply power up to 2000 W.

2. Fan

The fan helps implement the working principle of vacuum cleaners. The motor compels the fan to rotate in a particular direction and suck the air. That’s what creates a low-pressure environment.

3. Intake Port

Through the intake port, a vacuum cleaner sucks the dirt and debris in. It also sucks in dirty air. This air then travels to the back of the vacuum. The dirt and debris in the air get trapped inside. This way, cleaner air escapes from the back.

4. Set of Brushes

Many vacuum cleaners come with a set of brushes attached to the rollers on the front. As you move vacuum cleaner on the surface, these brushes make sure all the dirt is trapped.

5. Rubber belts

To make brushes and rollers work, rubber belts are an important part of the vacuum cleaner. These belts get the power from the electric motor and ensure the proper functioning of brushes.

6. Bag or Dirt collection bin with filter

While traditional vacuum cleaners come with a dirtbag attached inside, modern vacuum cleaners include dirt collection bin and a filter.

The bag is supposed to collect all the dirt and debris by trapping the air. While the dirt and debris remain inside, the air escapes.

On the other hand, dirt collection bins with filters are more effective. The filter ensures that only the dirt and debris are sucked and not the heavy objects like stones. Also, these dirt collection bins are placed ahead of the fans. This keeps the fan safe from hard objects.

The vacuum cleaners with a bag usually become inefficient after a short while. This is due to the damage done to the fan as hard objects are sucked in. Therefore, modern vacuum cleaners come with an innovative way to catch dirt.

Working of Vacuum Cleaners with Bag

The very first electric vacuum cleaners were invented in 1901. These were simply the sucking machines with three major parts:

  1. Brush and section head
  2. Motor
  3. Bag

As you turn a vacuum cleaner on, the motor starts working and sucks in the air and dirt into the bag. These old-style, conventional vacuum cleaners use electricity as energy. As the electric motor turns the belts, the suction head starts operating, and brushes capture all the dirt. This is then blown into the dirtbag at the end of the cleaner. The bag in conventional vacuum cleaners is either a single bag or a bag with another disposable paper bag inside. This helps dump the waste accumulated in the vacuum cleaner.

However, these old-style vacuum cleaners proved to be inefficient with time. As you use the vacuum cleaner, the dirtbag gets dirty. If it cannot be removed, it isn’t very easy to clean it afterward. This way, the dirtbag is unable to collect the dirt and debris and let the air escape. As the air collects in, the bag might burst. If it does, the collected dirt gets into other parts of the vacuum cleaner and halts the cleaning mechanism, referring the machine to be ineffective.

Working of Bagless Vacuum Cleaners

Modern bagless vacuum cleaners came as a replacement for conventional style vacuum cleaners in the late 1900s. These removed the dirtbags and included the bagless style of collecting the dirt. The bag was replaced with plastic bins that are easy to empty and clean.

The bagless vacuum cleaners have an inlet at the front to which the cleaning head is attached. As you turn on the machine, the motor starts creating suction air. The air gets directed towards dirt collecting bin through a filter at the back. The air then escapes through the outlet grill. Usually, the filter is a HEPA filter known to be the best for allergens.

Bagless vacuum cleaners are more efficient due to the following significant reasons:

  • The fan cannot be easily damaged.
  • The dirt collecting bin can be removed and cleaned.
  • The filter can be replaced with a new one.
  • The outlet grill can be removed and washed.


Understanding the working of vacuum cleaners is quite easy. As it does not function on a rigid principle, all you need to comprehend is how a low air pressure environment is created. Vacuum cleaners come with a few but significant parts that work relatively. Moreover, there is not much of a difference between the functioning of the conventional vacuum cleaner and a modern one. Knowing how each part works helps understand the entire working really well.

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