Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No Vacuum, No Problem!

9 Month Update

As many of you may know, my vacuum died about 9 months ago. I decided to go without one for one year to try to understand just how my great-great-grandmothers managed to keep their houses clean.

Although it has only been 9 months, I almost feel like I have never had a vacuum! I don't even miss it! All I can say is, it really is possible to have wall to wall carpet and not have a vacuum. I never would have believed it if I didn't experience it myself.

Still, winter cleaning is different than summer cleaning. Since winter arrived, I haven't been outside much to beat the rugs. It has been way too cold! I can't stand cold weather, so I make do by gently shaking the rugs on the floor. (The rugs on the wall to wall carpet are also gently shaken on the hardwood floor.) It does make just a bit more dust in the room I use to do this, but not enough to be a problem. What I have noticed is the rugs are not quite as clean as they were in the summer when I was beating them. They seem to gather dirt faster than they did in the summer. While I do notice it, it isn't a big enough issue to get me to go outside and beat them in the cold! I will continue this 'indoor cleaning' practice until the weather warms up!

This year, we have the additional problem of lots of heavy winter rain. All the rain brings mud into the house, so the rugs have mud on them as well as normal dirt. When mud is ground in, even vacuuming won't remove it, so I don't think my lack of a vacuum is contributing to this problem. My solution has been to wash the rugs more often than was needed during the summer. This is quite a bit of effort, (I am not thrilled with this chore) but it gets the rugs clean. I wait until I truly can't stand the rug any longer and then wash it. In the warmer weather, I was washing the rugs about every 3 months. Now, I am washing them monthly. The rugs at the entryways are washed more frequently than that.

To make this solution work, it is critical that you have washable rugs! Many of mine are from the big box stores. (The rest I made myself.) I like the fact that you can get rugs inexpensively at the big box stores! They have lots of colors and styles to match any decor.  If washing the rugs wears them out, I can easily replace them. (So far, so good on that point - my rugs are holding up well for now!)

I truly believe the key to not having a vacuum is a good broom. Don't skimp here! Purchase a really good one, the best you can afford. You will be glad that you did later! It will get a daily workout. Another 'must have' item is my carpet sweeper. I know I have said this in previous posts, but this journey/experiment would not be possible without my Hoky PR3000.

It will even lift the nap of the wall to wall carpeting! The strokes it leaves look just like a vacuum did it! My carpets look great! 

While I am managing well by washing the rugs more often to keep the mud out of the house, I will admit, all this rain has created one problem that needs special attention. Even though I wipe Molly's feet off when she comes inside, I have mud on the carpet in my master bedroom  (This is the only room with carpet that she enters frequently.)  I can tell because I have white carpet and now a large spot at the foot of the bed has a slightly red hue. I can even feel it when I walk on the carpet. I have two solutions to this problem and I think I will incorporate both. First, I am going to have to shampoo the carpet. I am not sure if I will rent a carpet cleaner or just use a mop with some Resolve cleaner. Once I do that, I will place an area rug over the 'problem' area to avoid this in the future. 

I expect I will have to rearrange all the rugs in the house to find a suitable match for the ones needed in the master bedroom. I want to avoid the purchase of any new rugs for this purpose, if at all possible. 

I will let you know how it all turns out at the next update! In the meantime, the experiment will continue!

I can not say enough good things about this carpet sweeper. Even if you have a vacuum, I believe this sweeper should be on the 'must have' list! It will save you from having to bring out the big vacuum for everyday clean up!


  1. I just found a link to your blog. I don't know why you don't have a vacuum sweeper any more, but with the carpets made today you really need one. I was a carpet cleaner for 27 years and I would say I have a bit of experience in this area. New carpets are not made as durable of the wool carpets your grandparents had. dirt needs to be removed to keep the carpets from being ground down. a vacuum sweeper with a beater bar removes dirt well. A simple sweeper will not do nearly as good of a job.

    As dirt particles get into the fibers they will grind against the fibers like grains of sand and abrade the carpet to the point that no cleaning will clean it. It's like a wood table top that is glossy, if you were to dump dirt on part of it and then grind that dirt into that part of the finish every time you walked by the table it will scratch the table tops finish. after a few months when you finally clean the table you will see a dull spot on the table and no cleaning will restore the finish. carpet is the same way, once you scratch it up it will turn gray or darker (depending on the carpet and color). At this point your carpet is damaged beyond cleaning. No amount of cleaning will fix it. You either have to live with a carpet that will forever look dirty, remove it and buy new carpet or remove it and go back to wood floors.

    As an easy to understand example of what dirt does to carper fibers go outside and get a hand full of dire and wiggle your fingers back and forth. you will feel your fingers grinning dirt between them. This is what happens to carpet, only the carpet is also being pressed into the dirt by hundreds of pounds of force.

    Conclusion: you need to use a modern sweeper with a beater bar on modern synthetic carpets.

    1. I see your point, I really do! But you probably didn't read my other No Vacuum updates yet to get the entire story.

      I do recognize that walking on carpet will grind dirt into it causing excessive wear. That is why I recommend adding throw rugs wherever you walk. Throw rugs are easy to take outside to shake or beat the dirt out of them. The throw rugs protect the carpet so you don't cause excessive wear. My carpets are white - they are not stained and look great. They are also 13 years old. My carpets look like they are new in most of the rooms in my house. (The ones in my office and Master Bedroom are showing a bit of wear. I attribute that to the fact they are 13 years old! Renting a carpet cleaner took the 'redness' out of the MB carpet - a problem mentioned in the post above - and it looks great now.)

      I am very happy without a vacuum! I am sure I will purchase one eventually, but I think it is good to know that if you are diligent about keeping the throw rugs clean, vacuuming is not needed nearly as often as everyone thinks.

      Ideally, I would like to remove all the carpet and replace with hardwood floors. Floors are MUCH easier to keep clean! The problem is other people in my house like the carpeting. Oh well, unless you live alone, family life requires compromises!

      Thank you for your comment!


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