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How Vacuum Brooms Changed the Way Victorians Cleaned Their Homes

Demonstrating the operation of a Vacuum Broom
Deborah Upshaw journalist

by Deborah Upshaw

Professional social media advocate. Devotee of the 1900's arts & crafts movement. Inquisitive lover of the finer things.


Welcome to our home magazine, where we explore the latest in home cleaning technology while also paying homage to the pioneers of the past. Today, we dive into the world of vacuum brooms and how they revolutionized carpet cleaning in Victorian times. The vacuum broom utilized the power of suction through rubber tubing connected to a vacuum pump, eliminating the need for laborious carpet beating. This technology not only saved time and energy but also led to healthier living environments. Join us as we explore the historical significance of the vacuum broom and its impact on modern cleaning methods.

History of Vacuum Brooms

In the late 19th century, the development of vacuum technology revolutionized the way people cleaned their homes. The early prototypes of vacuum brooms were a far cry from the modern-day vacuum cleaners we use today. The first vacuum cleaners were bulky machines that required two people to operate—one to push the machine and the other to hold the hose. These early prototypes were not very efficient, and the suction power was limited.

However, as technology advanced, vacuum brooms became more practical and easier to use. The first portable vacuum cleaner was invented in 1905 by Walter Griffiths, a British engineer. His design was compact and easy to move around, which made it ideal for cleaning carpets. This was a major breakthrough, as it allowed people to clean their carpets more efficiently and effectively.

Over time, vacuum brooms continued to evolve, with manufacturers incorporating new technologies to improve their performance. By the 1930s, vacuum cleaners were becoming more common in households across America and Europe, and the designs were becoming more streamlined and easier to use. The Science Museum discusses the invention of the vacuum cleaner.

Today, vacuum brooms are an essential tool for any home, and there are a wide variety of models and styles to choose from. From handheld cordless models to powerful uprights, there is a vacuum cleaner to suit every need and budget. But it all started with the development of vacuum technology in the late 19th century and the early prototypes of vacuum brooms that laid the foundation for the machines we use today.

What is a Vacuum Broom?

A Victorian era vacuum broom was a sweeping machine that used suction to remove dust and dirt from carpets and floors. It consisted of a brush portion with a longitudinal slit connected to a vacuum pump through rubber tubing. The force of suction drew the dust through the tubing and into a glass bulb, where it could be seen swirling around like a mini sandstorm. The use of this type of cleaning technology was a significant advancement during the Victorian era and was considered an improvement over traditional brooms that relied on manual labor.

The Victorian era vacuum broom was a predecessor to modern vacuum cleaners, and there are several key differences between the two.

Firstly, Victorian era vacuum brooms relied on suction created by a central vacuum system rather than an electric motor. The suction was generated by a vacuum pump, which was often located in a different room or even outside the building. In contrast, modern vacuum cleaners use an electric motor to create suction, which is located within the vacuum cleaner itself.

Secondly, Victorian era vacuum brooms often used long rubber hoses to transport dust and debris from the cleaning head to the central vacuum system. Modern vacuum cleaners typically have shorter and more flexible hoses or use a canister design with a built-in motor and filter.

Thirdly, Victorian era vacuum brooms were primarily used on carpets, while modern vacuum cleaners are designed to clean a variety of surfaces, including carpets, hard floors, and upholstery.

Ultimately, our modern vacuum cleaners are more efficient, convenient, and versatile than their Victorian era predecessors.

How Vacuum Brooms work

Vacuum brooms are powered by suction, which draws dirt and debris into a collection container. The key components of a vacuum broom include a motor, a fan, and a dustbin. The motor powers the fan, which creates a vacuum that sucks in air and dirt. The dustbin collects the dirt and debris, and can be emptied when full. Some vacuum brooms also have additional components such as filters and brushes, which help to remove dirt and debris from carpets and other surfaces. The brushes agitate the carpet fibers, loosening dirt and dust for easier pickup by the vacuum. The filters trap allergens and other particles, preventing them from being released back into the air. The mechanism of vacuum brooms provides a fast and efficient way to clean carpets and other surfaces, making it an essential tool for any household.

Benefits of Vacuum Brooms

Vacuum brooms offer numerous benefits over traditional brooms, making them a popular choice for cleaning large areas in the home. Unlike regular brooms, vacuum brooms use suction to remove dirt and dust, making them more efficient at picking up debris. This also means that they are suitable for people with allergies, as they prevent dust from being kicked up into the air during the cleaning process.

Another major advantage of vacuum brooms is their time-saving capabilities. With a vacuum broom, you can clean a large area in a fraction of the time it would take with a regular broom. Plus, with the added benefit of suction, you don't have to worry about sweeping dirt and dust around, only to have it settle in another part of the room.

In addition to these benefits, vacuum brooms are also typically more versatile than traditional brooms, allowing you to clean a wider variety of surfaces. Many models come with interchangeable heads or attachments, allowing you to easily clean upholstery, stairs, and other hard-to-reach areas.

Vacuum brooms offer a range of benefits that make them an attractive choice for homeowners looking to streamline their cleaning routine and achieve a more efficient, thorough clean.

Use of Vacuum Brooms in Public Spaces

Public spaces like theatres, concert halls, and other large venues require efficient cleaning methods to maintain a hygienic environment for patrons. The adoption of vacuum brooms in such spaces has been a game-changer. Unlike traditional brooms, vacuum brooms are faster and more effective in cleaning large areas. In addition, the suction function of vacuum brooms ensures that dust and allergens are trapped and not released back into the air. This makes them particularly useful in public spaces where many people gather and allergies can be a concern. The use of vacuum brooms has also shown to be more effective in removing stubborn dirt and stains compared to traditional methods, ensuring that these public spaces are kept clean and well-maintained for the enjoyment of all.

Fun Fact…  the first patent for a vacuum cleaner was filed in 1860 by Daniel Hess in Iowa, USA, almost two decades before the invention of the vacuum broom in the Victorian era.


In conclusion, the vacuum broom has revolutionized the way we clean carpets and floors, providing a more efficient and time-saving solution than traditional brooms. From its early prototypes to the modern-day vacuum cleaners, the technology has come a long way. Its adoption in public spaces like theatres has demonstrated its effectiveness in large-scale cleaning. Looking forward, there is potential for even further advancements in the future, with new innovations in suction power and design. As we continue to embrace new cleaning technologies, the vacuum broom remains a timeless classic that has stood the test of time.

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