Thanks so much for the feedback on the vacuum cleaners – in the comments, and the emails and phone calls. Who knew vacuums could elicit such strong feelings? So here’s the story of our new vacuum(s).
Friday night we tried out a new restaurant, and by the time we finished up dinner several of the places we thought we might look at vacuum cleaners were closing. So we just stopped in a nearby Target to look at their selection. Like I said before, it’s been thirteen years since we bought our last (non-Roomba vacuum) and we were in a bit of sticker shock when we saw the selection. Based on the criteria I listed on Friday, none really seemed to fit the bill either. I knew that a lot of people really liked their Dyson vacuums – like some of you – but we have used one at E’s school before and didn’t love the pivot wheel – that was the only model we had personally tried. And again, it’s not light, nor cheap, so we weren’t ready to put down five or six hundred bucks til we had shopped around a bit more. (I was certainly hoping to not spend that much.)
We had also heard really great things about Miele vacuums – like some others of you – and the full lines are carried at Oreck dealers around town. They all closed at six, so Saturday morning I headed over with the girls to take a look. (Note to self: Don’t take F to a store with plugged in, ready to test drive vacuum cleaners. She had zero self control.)
I gave the guy my wish list, and he was very helpful in detailing every aspect of every vacuum in the place – starting with the Miele vacuums because that’s what I told him initially brought me in. The Mieles are beautiful, and ridiculously well designed. They have features that I didn’t know existed on vacuums, but when the salesperson described them it was like little light bulbs went off – Aha! That (particulary amazing feature) would solve this (particularly annoying) aspect of vacuuming (like the anti-tip hose – designed in a way to not tip the vacuum cleaner over on your feet while you are stretching the hose way under the bed.) This sort of thing constantly happens to me and it drives me nuts. But guess what? Those fabulous features come with a fabulous price tag – and since we didn’t want a canister vac, that left the uprights with tons of nifty hoses and attachments that were also really huge and really heavy. Not cool, because E is currently taking over a lot more of the vacuuming responsibilities.
And – as I mentioned – this is the real issue in our house:
Forgive these 2004 in progress photos of the stair to the third floor – but they should give you an idea of all the various pieces and parts related to the thirty-five steps and landings that we have in the house. We currently balance a cumbersome vacuum cleaner on a stair tread and then use the hoses to clean all the nooks and crannies of the adjacent three stairs, then lug the thing up another three steps and start again. We occasionally drop the vacuum – not good, nor is it particularly safe. And it’s completely un-fun.
The base of the Miele was very deep, and would have hung over the stair treads by a good four inches – more than our current vacuum, and thus even more prone to tipping. I had no desire to see a six- or eight hundred dollar vacuum tumbling off the stairs anytime soon. The smaller stick vacuum looked cool, but didn’t have all the hose options, so we could have vacuumed the stair treads, but not the exposed stringers and hardware. So the Miele vacuums were out, as cool and sleekly designed as they were.
I was the only one shopping for a vacuum cleaner at that time, but I noticed that there was a regular stream of people coming in to have their Oreck vacuums cleaned – like a car wash. Each one of them (unprovoked) professed their love to me (perhaps I looked confused by the decision making process in front of me) for their vacuum cleaners. I was more than a little intrigued by their devotion. The Oreck vacuums have bags (something M wanted), they were lightweight (under ten pounds, vs. 16-18 pounds for typical upright with on board tools), two of the models were perfect for hardwood floors and area rugs, and the real kicker – lifetime warranty). The vacuums are light because they have no hoses or tools on board – you purchase a vacuum system – one upright and one shoulder canister. So we can hold that on our shoulder, vacuum the stairs, trim, shelves, mantels – everything – without dragging around a tippy vacuum cleaner, and then follow up with a quick sweep of the floor with the vacuum cleaner. Both have small profiles, so they actually fit into the tall cabinet that we have in the laundry room designed (by us) for smaller vacuums than the supersized machines currently on display. (And they are currently on sale for $100 less.)
The Orecks aren’t sexy machines – in fact, they are pretty bland. But at least the model that we got wasn’t the burgundy one. I didn’t know burgundy still existed as a color option, but it does.
Jazzy, right? I know the other vacuums win in the looks department – and I’m sure they work quite well too. But this system works perfectly for our house – and I’m perfectly happy to have this be the last vacuum cleaner I have to put any thought into.
Epilogue: M’s mom calls Saturday night as E is vacuuming the baseboards and shelves with the canister, and I’m vacuuming the floors. She’s read the blog and she asks M if we have purchased a vacuum cleaner yet. Because – get this – that’s our Christmas present from them, the Christmas we haven’t celebrated with them yet because of the unfortunate timing of the flu. They had found a backpack vac – another thing that we thought might work really well in our house. Talk about bad timing… I feel terrible. Usually I drag out the decision making process a little bit longer, but – at least for vacuums – there’s really only so much time I want to spend thinking about them.
Now I’ve got some vacuuming to catch up on.