The Saratoga Sun -

This doesn't suck … but it's supposed to


Having a cleaner house is simpler today than almost any time in the past.

That is due to a little device that literally sucks.

The humble vacuum cleaner sits where you put it until you finally decide it’s time to get some of that junk off your floor.

So you find the thing, bring it out where your pets can experience pre-vacuuming anxiety, unroll the cord, find a handy socket, plug it in and watch your pets scurry to points unknown as you turn the thing on and begin to roll it around your house.


“Nature abhors a vacuum, And so do I”

—Anne Gibbons


You will bend over

There are several reasons you will have to get your bend on. One is moving furniture. You know you will have to move that coffee table because crumbs have accumulated around the legs. You might have to move some chairs or pick up a couch.

The frustrating bending over comes when you run over a piece of debris … and the cleaner fails to pick it up. You run it over again to the same result. After about five times doing this you finally decide to bend over and pick the unwilling piece up.

Occasionally I have done this then tossed the thing back to the floor and tried to vacuum it up again—sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

You will eventually also have to upend the machine because you have run over a paperclip, hair pin, tack or loose change.

Who among us hasn’t tried to vacuum a penny just to see if the device will pick it up?

You can hear the thing clanging around the beater bar and you just know you are tearing stuff up.

So now you are a vacuum cleaner cleaner.


“I put a Dallas Cowboys sticker on my vacuum.

Now it sucks again.”



My sucky past

We had a Hoover canister vacuum when I was a kid. It was only technically a canister in that the hose fit into something akin to an orange spaceship (wasn’t 70s design fun?). I had endless fun playing with the thing either as a ship for my G.I. Joes or by just flipping the standard light switch on the base and listening to the thing whir to full suck.

I have had a cheap little Singer vacuum since I bought my first house in 1990. It always did a pretty decent job but was of the no-frills type of tool. No attachments, no tools. Just a vacuum cleaner with an easy-to-replace belt and paper bag. This now-beat-up appliance made the move to Saratoga with me and only gets used for home remodeling cleanup. It’s the first in when I have drywall dust or sawdust on my carpet—and it still does its job.

Eventually I bought a higher end vacuum supposedly designed for people with pets. This one had all kind of pet hair removing attachments and the like. The only problem with this thing was it didn’t work well right from the get go (more about that in a bit) and got internally clogged with, you guessed it, pet hair.

Eventually I read consumer reports and found the best price/value ratio for me and got a Kenmore vacuum. This one doesn’t have a lot of fancy accessories, but man it … cleans well.

You thought I was going to say “sucks” didn’t you?


“If it’s true I can call my cats with a can opener—then it’s equally true I can scare them away with a vacuum cleaner.

Maybe I’ll experiment one day and see what happens if I try both at the same time.”

—Keith McLendon

(Look Mildred, dumbass quoted himself!)


Attached to my vacuum

The first accessories I remember were crevice tools and brush attachment. The next big advance was to put headlights on the things. With this addition you could see under things where there is no light. That was a big step forward for me and even my old Singer has a headlight.

Eventually things like the “Pet Power Paw” came out. The ones that have beater bars that are powered by the vacuum’s suction are useless. Those need to have their own motor.

I did have a vacuum that had basically a lint brush that you could brush off cat hair, then when it was full you stuck the thing in it’s own pocket on the vacuum where the brush would be sucked clean. That actually worked well—better than the vacuum it was attached to unfortunately.

There are endless ceiling fan and mini blind cleaning attachments for those fastidious enough to use them. Heck, my vacuum cleaner may have one of those … I wouldn’t know.


“When your dreams turn to dust, vacuum.”

—Wolfgang Riebe


Electronic suckiness

Modern vacuum cleaners come with available sensors that let you know your floor is clean.

Did we need that? My original style sensors (normally called “eyes”) are still pretty good about reporting the job my vacuum does.

If you want a lower cost sensor besides your eyes though, vacuum barefoot. Using this method I found out the semi-expensive vacuum with all the onboard pet hair attachments was just spreading itty bitty grains of rock around instead of picking them up.

It is an interesting feeling to have your feet pelted by specks as you vacuum.

Okay, maybe not interesting. Just weird.

But sensors are just the tip of electronic floor cleanliness.

There are even robot vacuum cleaners (Roomba) now that can be programmed to come out at night and clean your house while you sleep. One Roomba user and dog owner I read about experienced what he termed a “poohpocalypse.”

What happened to this poor soul was that he had set his robotic floor sucker to clean his house at 1:30 a.m. Sometime between when he went to sleep and when the vacuuming was set to begin, his pet made a doggie doo on a favorite rug.

Eventually the Roomba comes out and begins its cleaning cycle.

What the gentleman awoke to the next morning was dog poop everywhere. Furniture legs, carpets, walls, toy boxes and even the Roomba itself—covered in canine feces.

You can see the Facebook post at It’s funny and describes the horror he endured in fuller detail.

The truly hilarious part of all this is that Roomba engineers are aware of this problem (which means it has happened enough times before) and recommend you don’t set your Roomba to clean unsupervised at night if you have a pet that might make a mess in the interim.


Just remember folks, when your life gets dirty … just suck it up.


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