American Industry Overview: Household Vacuum Cleaners

This classification covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing vacuum cleaners for household use.

The value of shipments for household vacuum cleaners (including parts and attachments) was $1.2 billion in 2008, down more than 60 percent from 2002. In 2003 "top ten" retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Sears sold $2.6 billion in vacuum cleaners. That year, more than 1.87 million units were sold in the United States.

Vacuums remove 80 percent of soil from carpet, making them essential for carpet care. Vacuums are more effective if they have a rotating brush, beater bar, and powerful suction capabilities. Even with these features, they must be adjusted to carpet height, bags must be changed when full, and belts and brushes must be maintained.

The four primary categories of household vacuums are upright, canister, stick, and handheld models. The upright vacuum cleaner, which was the first vacuum to gain widespread acceptance in the United States, descended from the manual carpet sweeper. Uprights come in two styles: those with a vertically mounted soft collector bag and those with an exterior plastic shell that contains the bag. Because they have a rotating brush, uprights are usually better at cleaning carpets. Their limited suction makes them less efficient at cleaning upholstery and bare surfaces, however.