When it comes to purchasing a vacuum cleaner, there are a lot of different features and design elements that you may look for. Some people prefer canisters over uprights, others may prefer the bagless design over units that use a bag for dirt collection, and you have people that need a vacuum that is specially designed for cleaning up after pets. These are all great things to consider, but for some people, allergies are the big concern.
If you, or anyone in your household, suffers from allergies, your vacuum might be one of the things that is contributing to your/their symptoms. For this reason, many people need to look for a vacuum that is designed with the concerns of an allergy sufferer in mind. In this guide, we will look into the issues relating to allergies and vacuuming, and we will recommend a few models that are designed to minimise the negative effects on air quality associated with vacuuming.
Vacuums and Allergies
The big issue with vacuuming and allergies is indoor air quality. Over time, things like dust (and the droppings of dust mites like the nasty little critters shown in the picture below), pet dander and other forms of particulate contamination will settle into carpets, floors and furnishings. When you use your vacuum, the machine sucks up these contaminants and they can then be re-emitted into the air through the vacuum’s exhaust as they tend to be microscopic in nature. This puts all of these allergens back into the air and potentially spreads the contamination over a wider area. Over time they will settle back down but, in the interim, they can seriously aggravate the symptoms of allergy sufferers.
With older vacuums, the only filtration was to protect the motor of the machine. In essence, they were filters that were only designed to catch large pieces of dirt and debris that could damage the machine. On the current market (and certainly at the cheaper end of the scale), you can still find vacuums that have fairly simple filters that will not do much to remove microscopic particles from the air that passes through the system. There are however other models that use advanced filtering to limit the impact that vacuuming has on the indoor air quality of the home and these are the hoover models we’ll talk about in more detail below.
What to look for
In the process of selecting the right vacuum for your home, there are several points that you may want to consider. Of course, you are going decide whether you want an upright or a canister and consider things like bagged or bagless, but an allergy sufferer needs to take the vacuum’s impact on indoor air quality into account.
As a person with allergies, the most important point to consider is the filtration. Every vacuum has filters, but you need to find one that has the right kind of filtration. The key thing to look for is a machine that has a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for ‘high-efficiency particulate arrestance’ or ‘high efficiency particulate air’. A HEPA filter will trap most of the microscopic contamination that passes through the machine. To be considered a HEPA filter, it must have an efficiency of at least 95%, but many of them are much more effective. You can find out more about how they work here.
Bagged vs bagless – why this can have additional implications for allergy sufferers
An additional and important point to consider is emptying the machine. If you are thinking about buying a bagless machine, the simpler and more hygienic the emptying process, the better. If you’re considering a bagged machine, you want to ideally choose a model with bags that ‘self-seal’ when they are removed from the machine.
Some bagless cleaners, even though they may be very efficient vacuums, can cause significant amounts of dust to be released into the atmosphere when you empty the dust container into the bin by the very nature of the process of shaking the container to get the dust and debris to fall out.
One option to consider, even though it may be a little tedious, is to empty the vacuum outdoors ie take a carrier bag or nearly-full bin bag and empty the contents of the dust container into that, and then put it straight out with your regular rubbish for collection. This will save any unnecessary dust escaping back into the air inside your home. This is obviously far from ideal, but certainly worth considering if your allergy problems are severe.
This is one of the areas where, unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer, as both bagged and bagless models have advantages and disadvantages so you’ll need to take a view based on your personal circumstances.
You can find further information on this subject in our buying guide here.
So, without further ado, below are a a few of the machines we would recommend you take a look at. Prices, as you will see, vary significantly, from about £40 up to about £250. As always, to a certain extent, ‘you get what you pay for’ but that’s not to say you have to spend an arm and a leg to get a model that will meet your requirements. We have added a link for each machine to Amazon.co.uk as they tend to be very competitive for electrical appliances, so we are happy to recommend them. That’s not to say they are always the cheapest, and we’d recommend you shop around, but they aren’t often beaten on price for these types of products due to the competitive nature of their 3rd party marketplace.
If you have allergies, then a vacuum is not (sadly) going to solve all of your problems. That said, a vacuum that is equipped with the right features can do a lot to improve the indoor air quality of the home, and it can help to prevent the flare-up of contaminants that occur every time you do the hoovering.
Other things to think about to reduce the impact of allergies would be periodically scrubbing your hard floors and giving your rugs and carpets occasional deep cleaning. You can find further information to help you allergy-proof your home here.
In this article, we explained what to look for when shopping for a good allergy vacuum, and we offered some recommendations for machines that work well for these purposes. In addition to the vacuums that we covered here, there are numerous other models that can work equally well for allergy sufferers. Just bear in mind the points mentioned above, and you should be able to quickly narrow down your shortlist.
We hope that the information in this article has been helpful, and that it will help you to find the right vacuum for your home.
We always love to hear your feedback so please let us know your experiences, good or bad, by leaving comments below as this can help others in the future.