Today we take carpets in the home for granted, but things weren’t the same 100 years ago. Even as carpets became more popular in households, they weren’t as convenient as the durable fibers that we have on our floors today, and cleaning them was nowhere near as simple as what we’re used to now.
Next time you’re shampooing your carpet with the rug doctor, or taking the vacuum around the home, why not spare a thought for yesteryear and how your great grandparents might have kept their carpets clean at the turn of last century.
Vacuum cleaners are as much a part of modern homes as knives and forks, but in 1869 the technology available didn’t even come close. The first patent for a rug cleaning device was made in this year, and it wasn’t a vacuum cleaner. The bleeding edge of technology at the time was a sweeping machine that used hand pumped air through a wood and canvas body.
In fact even by 1899 the best we had was a vacuum cleaner powered by a combustion engine, and it wasn’t a household device. Affluent families could pay $4 per visit for this vacuum cleaning service. That’s over $100 in today’s money when you take inflation in to account, and as such was hardly affordable for the average household.
It would take until 1907 before the world saw the first handheld vacuum cleaner. A soap box, pillow case, and an old fan motor provided the vacuum assembly, and the concept was patented in 1908. As primitive as the design was, the basics were there, and within a year William Hoover had acquired the rights to the patent and was mass producing affordable in-home vacuum cleaners by 1919.
From humble beginnings the vacuum cleaner has come a long way. Today we have centralized vacuum units for homes, featuring ports in every room. Vacuums also evolved to include air filters which stop fine dust and particles from re-entering the air. There are even bag-less vacuum cleaners which will pull the dust from your carpets and upholstery, with no mess and virtually no dust re-reentering the home.
Next time you’re running the vacuum over your carpets, spare a thought for the invention that made it so easy. Without the vacuum cleaner many of us wouldn’t have carpets in our homes today, and without carpets we wouldn’t have the comfortable, well insulated, and great looking interior spaces that help us to enjoy our homes year after year.