A vacuum cleaner is an electrically operated machine which is used to clean carpets, rooms, floors, bookshelves and electronic instruments. It can conveniently remove dust and bits of paper. It can be handled by a single person and has proved very useful in cleaning homes, factories, stores, curtains, carpets, walls, and cars.

The inventors of household appliances in the late 1800s sometimes succeeded by trial and error method. The first electric cleaners actually blew out a stream of air to dislodge dust from carpets. Unfortunately, dust went and settled down on everything else. In 1901, an inventor named H.C. Both had another idea. Why not make the cleaner suck and not blow? To see if the idea worked, he lay down on the floor and began sucking through a handkerchief. It worked, and H.C. Both built the first modern vacuum cleaner.

A vacuum cleaner consists of a small electric motor to which a small fan is attached. The fan rotates at a very high speed. It sucks the dust in from one side and throws it out from the other. A cloth bag is fitted in the machine to collect the dirt. This bag is made in such a way that it allows the air to push through while even very tiny dust particles are trapped in. When the cleaner is turned on, the fan inside spins very fast. And as the cleaner’s nozzle is pushed along on the carpet, air rushes in taking the dust and dirt from the carpet along. These get trapped in the cloth bag and the carpet becomes clean.

In fact, when the fan rotates, a partial vacuum is created inside the machine. That is why it is called a vacuum cleaner. Because of the partial vacuum, the pressure of the outside air pushes dust and small light-weight materials into the bag.

Modern industrial vacuum cleaners are able to suck up rubbish including wood shavings, broken glass and even liquid.