How to choose the best vacuum cleaner

A good carpet program starts with vacuuming.  Daily removal of soil from the carpet will improve the carpet’s appearance and life span.  Also, the carpet in your facility acts like a filter, collecting airborne pollutants like fungus, pollen, and dust.  Removing these contaminants on a regular basis will improve indoor air quality and make your occupants more healthy and comfortable.

The best vacuum cleaners for your cleaning program will depend on your building layout and cleaning methodology.  See the descriptions below to get a better understanding the types of vacuum cleaners.

Types of vacuum cleaners

  • Upright Vacuum Cleaners.  Upright vacuum cleaners are the most common type of carpet vacuum.  These vacuums clean a path between 12″ and 15″.  They are compact vacuums that will fit on a janitorial cart.  Upright vacuums have a roller brush that flicks the carpet fibers, lifting the dirt and making it easier to remove from the carpet.  The quality of upright vacuum cleaners varies quite a bit, as does the price point.  More expensive upright vacuum cleaners are generally better for professional cleaning as they are more durably constructed, have longer-running vacuum motors, and can be easily serviced.
  • Backpack Vacuum Cleaners.  Backpack vacuum cleaners are the best option for vacuuming quickly.  The increased productivity over upright vacuum cleaners comes with a trade-off, however.  Backpack vacuums don’t have a roller brush, so the vacuum motor has to do all the work to remove the soil from the carpet.  Backpack vacuum cleaners are still very effective and suitable for most carpet types.  Backpacks can also be cumbersome if the custodian needs to complete a wide variety of tasks, like cleaning restrooms or wiping surfaces.  In those cases, an upright vacuum cleaner may be a best.
  • Battery-powered Backpack Vacuum Cleaners.  Battery-powered backpack vacuum cleaners offer a whole new level of productivity.  With a battery backpack vacuum cleaner, your staff can spot clean up to 30,000 square feet per hour.  In addition, battery backpack vacuum cleaners can help clean areas where electrical outlets are not typically found, like stairwells and elevators.  Also, because battery backpack vacuum cleaners are cordless and quiet, they are the best option for vacuuming during the day in occupied areas.  The trade-off with battery backpack vacuums is the run time.  For large areas, you might find the battery pack wears down before the job is complete.  In those cases, it is best to plan on additional chargers and batteries or you might want to use a corded vacuum.
  • Wide Area Vacuum Cleaners.  Wide area vacuums are best option for high-productivity vacuuming programs.  If the facility has long hallways or open areas, like conference rooms, a wide area vacuum cleaner can save a tremendous amount of labor.  Equipped with a 30″ roller brush and a cord that is about twice the length of a typical upright vacuum cleaner, wide area vacuums make quick work of open areas.  Incorporating wide area vacuum cleaners into your cleaning process is the best way to save labor that far exceeds the cost of the vacuum.  If you need to find a way to get more done with the same number of people, wide area vacuum cleaners might be the best option for your operation.
  • The Model M-1 “PIG”.  NSS Enterprises makes one vacuum cleaner that does not fit into the above categories.  The Model M-1 vacuum cleaner is best described as a “high-CFM canister vacuum”.  This vacuum is known for its reliability and durability.  It’s also known for its high-dusting capabilities.  When used with our High-Dusting Tool Kit, the Model M-1 can clean up to 20′ above the floor.  This vacuum is commonly used to clean high shelving, windows, lighting, and much more.  Here’s a video that does a good job explaining this vacuum cleaner’s unique capabilities:  High-Dusting Video.

Get Expert Advice

NSS Regional Managers are experts in cleaning process improvement.  They can help you find the right equipment to make your cleaning process better.  Use the “START A CONVERSATION” button at the bottom of the page and we’ll reach out to you.

Further Reading

Vacuum Type What You Need To Know
Upright Vacuum Most common vacuum. Good for most applications. Roller brush improves deep cleaning.
Backpack Vacuum Faster than an upright. No roller brush, so it doesn't clean as deeply. Best for systems where the custodian is dedicated to vacuums. Can be cumbersome to do other things while wearing it.
Battery Backpack Vacuum Very high mobility and productivity. Good for spot cleaning and areas where electrical outlets are not available. Limited by battery pack run time. Good for day cleaning of occupied areas.
Wide-Area Vacuum Like an extra-wide upright. Roller brush for deep cleaning. Vacuum large areas seven times faster than an upright. Labor savings can pay for the vacuum quickly.
Model M-1 "PIG" Unique vacuum cleaner exclusively made by NSS. Vacuum anything from floor to ceiling. High-dusting tool kit cleans over 20' above the floor.
Vacuum Cleaner Productivity
Model Square Feet Per Hour
Pacer 12 UE (12" Upright) 2,240
Pacer 15 UE (15" Upright) 2,800
Swiftvac 6 (Backpack) 7,407
Outlaw PB (Battery Backpack) 30,000 (Spot Cleaning)
Pacer 30 19,000
Model M-1 "Pig" with 16" Tool 7,300
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