Where was the vacuum cleaner invented?

When was the first vacuum cleaner available?

The vacuum cleaner is one of the most important inventions for the household. But who actually invented the vacuum cleaner? Judith, 9 years old, asks us that. -

Nowadays, modern robot vacuum cleaners do the vacuuming at the push of a button. They independently clean entire rooms and even clean under the furniture.


With the first hand-operated vacuum cleaner, cleaning habits changed. The "Whirlwind" was developed in 1865 by an American inventor from Chicago. There are only two copies left today, one of them in the historic Hoover Center (Hoover is a well-known American vacuum cleaner brand).
Vacuuming was a man's job.


These hand-operated vacuum cleaners were very popular in the mid-19th century, but they had to be operated by two people because they were quite large monsters, as you can see here. At that time, vacuuming was usually a man's job. That was due to the monstrous size and enormous weight of the monster.

The spiritual fathers of the vacuum cleaner

Today nobody knows exactly who invented the vacuum cleaner. There are several candidates: the inventor Melville Bissell, Cecil Booth or Axel Wenner-Gren. In the mid-19th century, Anna and Melville Bissell owned a small bakery in Michigan. There was of course a lot of dust. Anna had to spend hours sweeping and cleaning every day after work. When she complained to her husband about this, he immediately went to work and developed a carpet cleaning machine.

The machine worked very well and soon customers were asking if they could have a carpet cleaner like this too. The BISSELL Carpet Sweeper was patented in 1876. In 1883 the machines were mass-produced in Bissel's factory.

Noisy monster

The Englishman Cecil Booth invented the ancestor of the vacuum cleaner in 1901. What Cecil Booth, a bridge builder by trade, developed still had little resemblance to today's vacuum cleaner. He was a noisy monster that didn't even fit in an apartment.

Mounted on a horse-drawn wagon, the machine rolled on the street to the front of the house where vacuuming was to be carried out. The suction hoses snaked through the windows like the arms of an octopus. The elaborate procedure was an expensive pleasure that only rich people could afford in the early 20th century. In addition, this monster made so much noise that neighbors complained to the authorities, and horses kept going through when they were vacuuming the dust next door.

It wasn't until seven years later that the portable electric vacuum cleaner was invented. Now, luxurious vacuuming became affordable for more and more people. Axel Wenner-Gren is also repeatedly mentioned as the inventor of the vacuum cleaner, which is actually not entirely true. But one can with a clear conscience call him a pioneer when it comes to vacuum cleaners in Europe.

The Stockholm resident joined the Lux company, later Electrolux, in 1912 with a new idea. He had seen one of the first vacuum cleaners in a Viennese shop window, which at the time was unwieldy, heavy and very large. He worked for the manufacturer for a while and then returned to Stockholm with his experience. There he produced the first household vacuum cleaner with Lux, the Lux 1. He was then appointed general representative of the company.

Today, Electrolux has shares in the household appliance division of AEG AG and is the world market leader in household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, ovens and vacuum cleaners.

The future of the vacuum cleaner

Vacuum cleaners continue to be developed to this day. There are now household robots that clean independently at the push of a button. Brushes rotating in opposite directions work together like dustpan and broom. It can also easily get to hard-to-reach places, for example in corners or under furniture. Thanks to his sensor, he avoids stairs.

You can read even more about exciting inventions in WAS IST WAS Volume 35 Inventions. Genius and a flash of inspiration