Vacuuming Sucks

There’s nothing like vacuuming to make me angry, so I tend to put it off until the dust bunnies are rolling around like tumbleweeds and it becomes embarrassing to have people over. In fact, normally the only time I vacuum is when I’m expecting guests- and, I’m ashamed to admit, I often go two months or so (and we will not investigate how long “or so” might imply) between dinner guests.

And by the way, why the hell does vacuum have a double U in it? According to our friend, Wikipedia, it’s one of the few words in English to have two consecutive Us (yous, yews?). There’s actually quite a list of them, but apart from continuum, they are rather obscure- however, I’m sure that there’s a need for ignus fatuus to come into everyday usage- meaning something that misleads, deludes, an illusion- clearly a word with many uses. In fact, it’s an illusion that designers of the vacuum cleaner are suffering under if they think their products are easy to use.

Do the guys (& I’m making an assumption here that they are mainly designed by men) who make vacuum cleaners actually try them out on anything other than a perfect square of carpet in a lab?

Last financial year I decided to lash out and spend my tax refund on a new iPhone, mattress, camera, hot pair of boots, vacuum cleaner. I reasoned that I vacuumed infrequently because the last four vacuum cleaners I owned were crap and that once I had a fancy one I would be a perfect haus frau and vacuum every week(ish).

I did my research & bought a 2nd to the top of the range Dyson and put it to the test:


Although it’s the best vacuum cleaner I’ve owned so far, I still find it is like trying to vacuum with a recalcitrant octopus. I can’t go more than two metres before the thing gets stuck & I have to yank the hose – which doesn’t dislodge it, so then I have walk back & pick the damned thing up & carry it with me. The suction head on it works well, but is so big that it won’t go into small spaces or under things, so you have to swap to the nozzle thing & then back to the suction head & then back to the nozzle.

Somehow, going around furniture, corners etc., I seem to get tangled up in either the hose, the cord or both and end up wrestling with it. It’s at this point that my blood starts to boil and I start to wonder why someone hasn’t invented a ride-on vacuum cleaner with a hand-held hose with a head that can morph from nozzle to suction head as required. How hard can it be?

So to all budding industrial designers and inventors out there, please, please, PLEASE take the opportunity to make yourself a fortune and design a vacuum cleaner that’s easy to use- preferably a slimline ride-on version. Available in a range of decorator colours.

Etymology of vacuum, in the off chance you’re interested:

Vacuum: 1540s, “emptiness of space,” from L. vacuum “an empty space, void,” noun use of neuter of vacuus “empty,” related to vacare “be empty” (see vain). Properly a loan-translation of Gk. xenon, lit. “that which is empty.”

Vain: c.1300, “devoid of real value, idle, unprofitable,” from O.Fr. vein “worthless,” from L. vanus “idle, empty,” from PIE *wa-no-, from base *eue- “to leave, abandon, give out” (cf. O.E. wanian “to lessen,” wan “deficient;” O.N. vanta “to lack;” L. vacare “to be empty,” vastus “empty, waste;”

From the Online Etymology Dictionary.


About Tanya

Tanya, MA Art Curatorship, Melbourne Uni
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5 Responses to Vacuuming Sucks

  1. I’m amazed anybody can write so much about vacuuming as you did but it was fun to read nonetheless. That’s quite an awesome picture of the octopussy.

    It’s funny but vacuuming is one of the things I love to do, having a bit of OCD. Anything related to cleaning up, I will be first to offer myself to take on the task. I like how it sucks up every bit of visible (and gleefully, invisible) dirt on the carpet and floor. Every icky thing gets packed into a dustbag and they won’t see daylight again, ever.

    • Ha, ha…I have a friend who also loves vacuuming for the same reasons as you- although unfortunately it doesn’t extend to coming over to do mine! As far as housework goes, I prefer washing-type activities- clothes & dishes & I fancy myself as a bit of an expert in both- I run a strictly segregated wash- no mixing of blacks & whites & I have a inflexible peg methodology too. (which sounds bad until you compare it with my sister’s peg colour-coding system…lol)

  2. melly86 says:

    Would you believe I have the same Dyson, but none of your issues! I don’t like the task, but if you do it hard enough and fast enough it can be seen as a form of exercise! Nothing like killing two birds with one stone!

    • It’s probably partly because I don’t have good storage (read: hopelessly hoard things in dysfunctional containers) & my place is quite small- meaning there’s very little room to manoeuvre & a lot of inaccessible spaces. It’s definitely exercise, but I tend to end up with a backache 😦
      I also tend to feel the urge to vacuum & dust when I have assignments due- but I valiantly resist the urge (& make do with cleaning the kitchen cupboards & bathroom grouting).

  3. jmcbrandon says:

    Maybe polished floorboards are the way to go? You can get away with either sweeping or using one of those fancy dust collecter things that way… I have floorboards though, and it brings its own set of problems – dust becomes immediately visible as soon as it gathers. Unlike carpet, with which you can get away with tramping a certain amount of it into the carpet fibres, floorbards just begin to gather a thick layer of visible dust that shifts with each passing breeze. So may be not much better. Perhaps a solution if you hate vacuuming enough…

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