Germaphobes are always on high alert when it comes to disease-causing bugs. They viscerally dislike dirt, germs, and allergens. But what if one of their most trustworthy weapons in the fight against pathogens backfires? Numerous studies have found that some vacuum cleaners can turn into petri dishes of nasty bugs, which they can freely spread around your home.
The good news is that there are things that you can do to lower your risk of bacterial and viral infections when vacuuming the house. Buying a quality HEPA vacuum cleaner is one of them. But not all these machines are created equal. So, what to look for in a vacuum cleaner if you are (borderline) germaphobe?
What Does a HEPA Vacuum Do (+ Its Limitations)
A HEPA vacuum cleaner is a safer alternative to your regular vacuum cleaner since it has an extra filter to trap 99.97% of the microscopic nasties inhabiting your home. HEPA vacuum cleaners are the top choice of places like hospitals, daycare centers, and nursing homes and they are recommended to homeowners with allergy issues or chemically contaminated homes.
HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter is a mechanical filter that needs to be cleaned or replaced regularly. And they don’t come cheap. Some vacuum cleaner users skimp on HEPA filter quality and purchase the so-called HEPA-like filters, which are cheaper. But those are not the real deal, and those people risk contaminating their homes even further.
A major problem with many vacuum cleaners is that they are not properly sealed. As a result, a large portion of the contaminants collected from your floors and furniture get sprayed back into your home by the vacuum cleaner. This may lead to allergic reactions in allergy sufferers and even infections. In other words, your vacuum cleaner may be making you sick.
Also, recent studies have found that E. Coli, Clostridium botulinum, and salmonella can thrive in a vacuum cleaner after being sucked in. Imagine those bugs being released back into your room when vacuum cleaning. That’s why you need a fully sealed vacuum cleaner. Both the HEPA filter and the frame in which the filter sits need proper seals to prevent air leaks.
Also, look for a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA motor exhaust filter because through that filter bacteria and viruses get released back into the air. And if HEPA seems like it is not enough, you can buy a vacuum with (ULPA) Ultra-Low Particulate Air filter, which now runs into thousands of dollars. Unlike a HEPA filter, a ULPA one is pharmaceutical grade and can trap 99.99% of particles down to 0.1 microns.
Bagged or Bagless?
This debate has been ongoing for ages. Bagless vacuum cleaner fans claim that these machines are safer because many of them have hygienic bin emptying systems that prevent users from coming in direct contact with the collected dirt and allergens. Bagged vacuum enthusiasts claims that bagged are safer for allergy sufferers since a dust bag contains the bugs better than a bagless vacuum can.
Indeed, bagged vacuum cleaners can be safer than bagless ones if the dust bag is made of multi-layered HEPA-grade materials to trap all allergens in. Paper dust bag just won’t make the cut in the long run.
But regardless of your choice, make sure that you invest in a quality vacuum cleaner if you worry about contamination. Dysons are reliable machines even though they don’t run cheap. If you plan on investing in one, make sure that you get one of the latest models or a model specially designed for allergy sufferers (check out this side-by-side comparison of the most popular Dysons on the Pick Vacuum Cleaner blog site).
If you’re a bit of germaphobe yourself consider replacing your old vacuum cleaner with a last-gen HEPA vacuum. Also, don’t skimp on quality as not all HEPA vacuums are the same. Make sure that the new machine is a fully sealed system and that it has more than one air filter. Clean the HEPA filter or replace it periodically and if allergies are an issue, consider investing in a quality bagged vacuum.