History of the Vacuum Cleaner

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  October 4, 2020
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How did people houseclean in the Medieval times?

The modern-day vacuum cleaner is something that many people take for granted. It is hard to imagine a time before we had this modern day marvel.

Since it’s gone through many changes over the years, though it is almost impossible to pinpoint exactly when the vacuum cleaner was invented.

History-of-Vacuum-CleanersMany iterations have existed over the years, so finding a clear and defined starting point is an exercise in futility.

To help you get a better idea of how this brilliant product came to be, though, we’ve taken a closer look at the basic history of the vacuum cleaner – or as much of the history as we can verify!

It is possible to take a closer look at some of the early editions that eventually became what we know today as the vacuum cleaner. So, how did we go on to create such a useful and powerful piece of hardware?

  • It all started in 1868 in Chicago. W. McGaffney invented a machine called the Whirlwind. It was the 1st machine that was designed to clean houses. Instead of having a motor, it was powered by turning a hand crank, which made it rather cumbersome to operate.


  • In the year 1901, the 1st power-driven vacuum cleaner was successfully invented. Hubert Booth produced a machine run by an oil engine, which was later switched to an electric motor. The only downside was its size. It was so large that it had to be pulled around town using horses. While it was too large to clean the average house, Booth’s invention was used quite a bit in warehouses and factories.


  • In 1908 on the modern day giants appeared on the scene. W.H Hoover took over the patent of his cousin-in-law’s vacuum that was developed in 1907 using a fan and a pillowcase. Hoover continued to market the pillowcase machine until today becoming one of the most well-known manufacturers of vacuum cleaners in the world. Through all the changes it’s important to not forget the humble beginning of the modern day vacuum cleaner.


As you can see, then, the design for the vacuum cleaner was in action away back in the mid-1800s. For that reason, there has been a wholesale shift in the way that we view and take on hardware of this kind in general. It’s been around for so long that we just know it was invented somehow.

Today, there are many different designs and so much technology that is involved and this is one of the reasons why vacuum cleaners have become fresh marvels.

There are even models that use robotics to clean your carpets and models that float above your carpet and clean. We take many things for granted these days, since they have been around for as long as we have been alive. But, it is always interesting to learn a bit about the origins of some of the things we use every day. And if you own a carpet, a vacuum cleaner is one of those things!

Men have always tried to make themselves and life better by using tools. From Stone Age weapons to the modern-day fusion bombs, technology has come a long way. These technological advancements have not only made their mark in weaponry or the medical department, they have also crept into the household market.

The vacuum cleaner, though, has to be one of the most powerful innovations in recent human history. Think about how challenging life and medicine would be if we didn’t have a means of containing and killing off dust, germs and bacteria from spreading around us?

It’s without a doubt that the power of the vacuum cleaner has positively contributed to the changing of society. Now, though, you can act as the fountain of knowledge the next time someone asks you how we came to create something so incredibly useful!

Also read: the future of vacuums and robots in your home

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.