The vacuum cleaner will form the foundation of your carpet care program.  Effective vacuuming can not only extend the life of carpet but also help to reduce dust, allergens and other issues related to carpeted areas.  There are four types of vacuums:  upright, tank, back pack, and specialty.  The type machine you need will be determined by the type and amount of carpeting on your site.  Another key factor will be degree of obstruction.  In other words, how much “stuff” is in the building you are trying to clean.  The primary point ponder is identifying the most productive unit for the task at hand.  

Upright vacuums are used for carpeted floors. This is the original unit invented almost 100 years ago with minor improvements over the original design. They consist of a housing that contains the motor and a beater brush, a handle, and a bag or tank that holds the collected soil. They come in a variety of widths from 12 inches up to 24 or more inches. They can have one or two motors.  On the two motor machines, the second motor is dedicated to the beater brush.  Most are not effective in edging, cleaning air vents and other difficult to reach areas which may require the cleaner to use a canister or tank vac of such tasks. According to ISSA Cleaning Times Standards they are the most inefficient units even when maintained properly and can actually contribute to dust issues in a given space.  They are a cheap vacuum cleaner to buy and an expensive unit to own over any period of time if you are cleaning large areas.

Backpack vacuums, as their name implies, are a special kind of canister vacuum designed so the tank can be worn on the operator’s back - much like a back pack is used in camping. The chief advantage of this arrangement is increased productivity with ISSA claiming that a quality back pack operator can cover up to 5 times as much area as a typical upright unit.  They really stand out in team cleaning. In addition, they can be a flexible tool for edging, dusting, cleaning vents, blinds and other areas in a well thought out schedule. Although they oftentimes cost 2 – 4 times as much as a basic upright vacuum cleaner, they tend to pay for themselves in reduced labor for accomplishing the same area.  They also are less expensive to operate since they do not have belts or beater bars that have to be serviced/ replaced on most upright units. One major challenge is to overcome a former upright vacuum cleaner’s reluctance to try something new. How would you “sell” such a transition to your staff?

We will look at other types of vacuum cleaners in a future article.  Your comments and questions are always welcome.  I hope to hear from you soon.  Until then, keep it clean…..


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or