A lot of folks ask me from time to time about vacuum cleaners which can be used by allergy sufferers and people with asthma. There is a good market niche, and also a hot subject, as summer is here. I.e. Dyson recently released a special vacuum which can be used for vacuuming mattresses. Studies show that regular dusting and vacuuming on a weekly basis can significantly reduce the harmful allergens, dust and mites that pollute your home and lungs. The best vacs for asthma and allergies feature several technologies, among which one may count a sealed system that uses a special HEPA filter. I was talking about filtration systems a while ago, make sure you also check that article. This system prevents air leaks and HEPA filter helps in controlling vacuum emissions. Without the HEPA filter, much of the vacuumed dirt will be blown back into the air you breathe and will likely exasperate your allergy symptoms.
Nowadays, allergy/asthma sufferers have so many options and can choose from a wide selection of HEPA systems. I might add that vacuum cleaners are some of the few appliances where paying a bit more yields a lot more dividends in terms of convenience, reliability and performance. But choosing a new vacuum can be a daunting task, as all big manufactures seemingly offer you the same choices. Don’t worry, I’ll help you take a closer look, so you can distinguish between them and choose the unit that best suits your needs.
Type of vacuum cleaner – You’ll have to choose between an upright or a canister. If you have wall to wall carpets, then you may have to invest in a traditional upright vacuum, as they have a beater bar or a brushroll mechanism that will quickly churn up the dirt embedded deep below the surface of carpeting. On the other hand, if you have just a few scattered rugs and lots of bare floors, a canister vacuum can seamlessly move around from one place to another. With the recent technological advances, you can also get a highly efficient lightweight which works best for elderly, disabled, or those with arthritis or back problems.
Filtration system – No matter the type of vacuum cleaner you choose, its filtration system must be impeccable. No dust should escape from vacuum cleaner’s exhaust system. These days, many vacuum cleaners come with a good post motor HEPA filter and in some models, the entire airflow is sealed. Washable filers usually degrade over time, so make sure you replace these regularly. Some of the latest vacuum cleaners even have a “clean filter” indicator, that alerts you when it’s time to change the filters.
Bagged or bagless – If you recall, a while ago I made a small round up on this theme. The result is trivial: bagless vacuum cleaners are still very allergy unfriendly. So, all those who have allergy should go with vacuums that use dirt bags, as these provide an extra layer of protection. Another important factor is the way you get rid of the dirt an debris. In bagless models, the bin opens usually at the bottom, by pressing a button. This will effectively put you in contact with the contents of the bin. Most of the units that use bags have an auto-seal feature that doesn’t allow any dust to escape from the bag. In other words, what gets inside the bag stays there. One good piece of advice I might add here: always buy original bags, even though they are a bit more expensive, as these are made of high-quality materials, unlike their China brothers which may easily tear up, break or lose contents.
Odor filtration – Filtering dust, mites, pollen and other airborne particles is not everything. There is also the smell, an inconvenience for most. Luckily, today there are available models that handle this, using active charcoal, UV lighting and other technologies.
Maneuverability and comfort – Many units come with handles that easily fit in your hand, and some high end products even have all the speed and mode controls right on the handle, which helps you in conveniently managing the vac from your standing position rather than bending down all the time (which is a risk factor for allergy/asthma sufferers). Moreover, today almost every unit is equipped with a head that can turn and swivel in all directions, making vacuuming much easier. Some great designs allow you to lie the unit flat, so you can easily get underneath beds and couches where dust usually accumulates.
Attachments – Allergy sufferers need to cleaner like freaks. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ll find pretty useful a galore of attachments. If you’re basic cleaner then you don’t need them, but if you’re a cleaning pro, you cannot do without them. Also make sure you read my complete guide to vacuum cleaner accessories.
Noise – If you don’t like when your pet flees at the sight of vacuum cleaner, you should consider buying a low-noise vacuum cleaner. While the noise is not really a factor in choosing an unit for asthma/allergy conditions, these models come with proper insulating materials and better made fans and motors so they are most likely better for your condition too. Also check out my small talk on quiet vacuum cleaners.
Motor Power (amps) – Higher amps doesn’t necessarily mean more cleaning power. In fact, airflow is a truer test of vacuum’s effectiveness. Uprights may reach up to 300 AWS (Air Watts), while canisters can be much powerful (400 AWS). If you’re an allergy sufferer, you need a unit with a good suction, but this is completely tied to the effectiveness of the filtration system. If you’re getting an unit with high AWS and weak filters, it will do you more harm than good. A useful feature is the air volume adjustment. If you’re tired of sucking your expensive Persian rug off the floor or curtains off the window, this will prove useful.
Automatic height adjustment – Need to keep going from rugs to bare carpets? This useful feature will make a life lot easier, and will ensure a completely sealed airflow, from floors to bag.
Edge cleaner – Edges are particularly important, because they house some of the highest concentrations of bacteria and dust mites. Many upright vacuums have a special edge extension tool that is effective in edge cleaning, others have their nozzle engineered to handle this issue. If you don’t have this, you can always use one of the sharp attachments.
Certification organizations – Vacuum cleaner producers often appeal to 3rd party organisms for certifying their products. One such initiative is the Asthma & Allergy friendly™ Certification Program. As you can imagine, these services are paid by the manufacturers. This should raise distortion/misrepresentation issues, but I believe the 3rd party services maintain an undeniable quality standard. Excluding the financial part, if the products pass the tests, they get a badge that certifies their compliance to the organization’s standards, such as the one from the left image.
Here are 5 of the best vacuum cleaners for asthma and allergies (I update this list every once in a while, so be sure this information is complete and actual):
Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog
- 6 levels of suction
- Large 1.18 gal. self-sealing HyClean bags with spring-loaded, self-sealing collar
- Active Air Clean HEPA Filter with active charcoal for odor elimination
- Deluxe Comfort Grip handle with Electrobrush control
- 11.9 lbs, digital controls
- AirTEQ head for better suction and more effectiveness on bare floors
- 77dB on the maximum setting
- 7-year warranty on motor and casing, and 1 year warranty on all other parts
- Currently, on sale with a good discount
Sebo X5 Automatic
- Read my full review of this upright
- Tightly sealed hospital-grade filtration, S-class pre-motor micro filters
- Large 1.4-gallon filter bags with 3 paper layers
- Bag full / clog detection with automatic shut off
- Automatic height adjustment, low 5 1/2-inch Profile
- 3 on-board tools: the dusting brush, the crevice tool and the upholstery nozzle
- 40-foot cord, weighting 16.7 lbs, with a nozzle width of 15 inches
- 5-year warranty with lifetime belt warranty
- Read more reviews
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Plus Allergy
- Browse the outline of the Cinetic Big Ball
- No filters required, thanks to its Cinetic technology
- Weights 19.8 lbs and has a dirt bin capacity of 0.57 gallons
- Easy to steer thanks to the ball technology, automatic height adjustment
- Attachments are engineered specifically for allergy sufferers, for removing fine dust and allergens from hard to reach places.
- Certified asthma & allergy friendly
- 5-year warranty
- Best rated in hundreds of customer reviews
Dyson V6 Mattress
- Check out my popular review of the V6 mattress
- Cordless and lightweight (5 lbs.)
- Runs continuously for 20 minutes
- 100AW in max mode
- HEPA filtration, captures 99.97% of particles bigger than 0.3 microns
- The motorized tool agitates mattress fibers to release dust and allergens
- Quieter then previous cordless Dysons
- 2-year warranty
- Check out this best deal I’ve found
Neato Botvac D80
- Read the complete review of this robotic vacuum cleaner
- Autonomous cleaning for a cleaner dust free environment, autonomous recharge and laser guided navigation
- Extra-large high performance filters and dust bin
- Precise edge cleaning
- 62db – very low sound levels
- 1h autonomy
- 1 year warranty, 6 months for batteries
- Selling for a good price here
There are a couple of things you should take into account, especially if you or someone in your family is suffering from allergies. For starters, don’t vacuum just before you go to bed. Allow some time for the airborne particles to settle. Always vacuum when your kids are at school or playing outside. This will protect them from getting in contact with mites and other stuff that flows around. If you are using a bagless, empty the bin outside.
So, what do you think? Have I nailed everything? Did I miss something? Have a better product to talk about? Use the comments form to talk about it.
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