The thing that really sucks people into the vacuum debates is that there exist almost as many models and brands as there are opinions about which model and brand one should buy. Given the intensity of the debates, it will come as no surprise when someone ultimately disagrees with HCA’s three selections for professional residential home cleaning. If you want to join the debate, then register in the Forum by clicking here:

We hope to distill the debates, by:

  1. Identifying those attributes in a vacuum which are most important for residential house cleaning;
  2. Explain the basis for those vacuums we have chosen for the House Cleaning Alliance Shop; and
  3. Defend HCA’s decision to carry only three vacuums in its online Shop.

Important Vacuum Attributes for Residential Home Cleaning

One twist to choosing the perfect vacuum for residential home cleaning is that there exist about one million ways to organize a residential home cleaning business, and the vacuum which is best for any particular company depends largely on the company’s operational and marketing choices. Each company differentiates itself by a lot of factors, but two have some bearing on the vacuum issue: 1) how many persons per team; and 2) how it positions itself on the price / quality spectrum. Some cleaning professionals clean themselves; other companies manage teams of two to four persons. Some companies sell a quick, dirty and cheap service, while others peddle a thorough and expensive service.

If you’ve read the many Articles included in this site, then you can guess that the House Cleaning Alliance Shop would, of course, be dedicated to providing cleaning equipment and products to those professional home cleaning companies which are intent on elevating the quality of service and the overall profitability of the industry. The products carried by the House Cleaning Alliance Shop are biased to cater to the needs of those companies which offer thorough cleaning. So of course, effectiveness is important. But if you are in business for the long haul, then durability and serviceability are also important factors in selecting a vacuum. And if you are going to remain competitive, then cost is always a consideration. The vacuums we have chosen are proven products with durable designs, have parts which are easily changeable, and won’t cost an arm and a leg to service.

Also, for residential cleaning, filtering is critical. For each of the models we have chosen, there exists a lower priced model by the same manufacturer with inferior filtering. Using vacuums with shake-out bags, dust cups and poor filters for home cleaning won’t make a positive impression on homeowners. The vacuums we have selected rely on micro-filtering and are particularly well-suited for residential use. [Compare to HEPA filters? Click here].

So, if you are comparing prices, please be aware that every manufacturer sells literally dozens of models of each vacuum line and across any given line, the price will vary by as much as 240% from the cheapest model to the most expensive model of the same line of one manufacturer’s vacuums. Differences relate to agitator, bag and filtering system, motor size, and material. If you are careful to compare models, we are confident that you will find our prices are very competitive.

Good Reasons for Choosing a Really Cheap Vacuum

We tried to think of good reasons for choosing a cheap vacuum, and were able to come up with just one: you should choose the cheapest vacuum possible, if you have serious doubts that you will be in business next year.

Otherwise, HCA believes that professionals can capture labor efficiencies and enjoy good value by investing in the best quality vacuums suited to the maid service industry. Maintain and operate a high quality vacuum properly, and you’ll benefit from five good years of service. In the process, your vacuums will not fail to make a positive impression on your clients. It makes no sense to dress employees in nice uniforms and have them use shabby equipment. And of all the equipment you use, in your clients’ eyes, your vacuums will make the biggest impression.

Beyond their ability to attract and keep customers, maid service operators’ success or failure depends primarily on the ratio of their prices to their all-in labor costs. Labor costs are huge in comparison to the pennies per day of amortization for a vacuum. Using the Sierra backpack as an example, with a cost of $450 and a useful life exceeding five years, an operator need capture less than $90 per year in labor efficiencies to pay for the vacuum. That breaks down to $1.73 per week or 35 cents per day. That means if the Sierra must save one of your employees just 1.5 minutes per day for five years to pay for itself. Put another way, a vacuum’s cost is miniscule in comparison to labor costs. If you think of break-downs in a similar way, then you’ll quickly appreciate our case for going up-market in choosing quality effective vacuums.

For Thoroughness, One Vacuum Doesn’t Cut It

Thorough vacuuming is central to thorough cleaning, and thorough vacuuming involves cleaning a wide range of surfaces, including wall-to-wall carpeting, carpet edges, hard surface floors, oriental carpets, upholstery, curtains, and high ledges. For the past five years, we have searched for the right vacuum to clean such a wide variety of surfaces, and have reached a conclusion that the most effective solution is in using two vacuums: an upright vacuum with an agitator bar for cleaning wall to wall carpet, and a backpack vacuum for cleaning everything else.

If you are cleaning alone, you might survive by using one upright vacuum with on-board tools (though we wouldn’t recommend it, since it is awkward, inefficient and less effective). But if you are cleaning with teams, the couple of hundred dollars per team you save initially will quickly be squandered in comparison to the efficiencies which could have been captured with having two vacuums. Additionally, dividing the cleaning between two vacuums reduces the load of each, thereby stretching the serviceable lives of each. So, if you are long-term serious about thorough and efficient home cleaning, it would be penny wise and pound foolish not to use two good vacuums for each cleaning team. And even if you are cleaning alone, the backpack vacuum makes a positive impression with your clients.

Which Combination then?

The House Cleaning Alliance conducted its own independent research of vacuums before selecting the vendors and models which it believes are best-suited for residential home cleaning, and it should come as no surprise that the vacuums it has chosen are already widely used by established maid service franchises. We might not have chosen the life of a franchisee, but you won’t catch us calling franchisors foolish.

Whether you are cleaning yourself, or relying on teams, don’t clean professionally without a backpack vacuum. Amongst backpacks, we believe that Pro Team’s Sierra Backpack vacuum is best suited to residential home cleaning. The Sierra’s size and contoured shape allows it to fit closely to the back, so as to avoid knocking over an excessive number of lamps. And, if properly maintained, we’ve found that it provides a powerful 98″ lift for over five years of intensive commercial use. Its price is high, but if you are in business for the long haul, then it offers exceptional value for the price. Clients love backpacks. Backpack vacuums imply a level of professionalism that a canister does not. So, if you are presently chipping about your clients’ homes with a drag around, then it may be time for an upgrade. Switch to a backpack-you’ll never go back.

We’ve heard Pro Team’s claims that the Sierra out cleans the Sanitaire, and Eureka’s claims that the Sanitaire out cleans the Sierra. We believe the premise of the argument between the two is absolute rubbish. Each has its best use, and using both together offers the most effective combination for maid services relying on teams.

HCA chose the Sanitaire model SC888 (don’t use a less expensive janitorial version for home cleaning!!), because of its near-indestructible design, serviceability, and efficient performance. No other vacuum in its price class has such an effective and durable agitator and drive system. We believe that this vacuum could survive one month’s hard use by a team of four gorillas. That notwithstanding, our maid teams regularly abuse and even damage them. But when they do, it doesn’t cost much time or money to swap out the parts. This vacuum takes a beating and keeps on whirring. Buy it, maintain it, repair it, and use it, forever . . .

If you are cleaning homes professionally and using your own vacuum, then it doesn’t have to be gorilla proof, because it’s your own vacuum and you treat it like the expensive friend that it is. In this case, there is no sense in lugging around a 25 pound Sanitaire tank. Instead buy an 8 pound Oreck model XL200HHB. Its filtration efficiency is exceptional. Its design is elegant, and with careful use, it will prove durable.

Why does HCA carry only three vacuums?

First of all, these are the vacuums we like, so we went to the manufacturers and begged to become dealers. It wasn’t the other way around. And we didn’t run around to twenty manufacturers searching for the brands which would yield us the highest margins. We chose these three, phoned up the manufacturers, and got ourselves approved as dealers. We put these three vacuums in the store, because they represent the best value among high quality vacuums.

Most vacuum vendors cater to commercial cleaning companies instead of residential cleaning companies, simply because such companies buy more vacuums. We aren’t really catering to commercial cleaners. The models we have selected are designed specifically for residential use. We chose these three, because these three are best suited to residential cleaning.

Finally, we’ve always found it annoying to buy vacuums from vendors who don’t bother with parts and service. So we are committed to providing parts for, and servicing, all vacuums we sell. Using the Sierra as an example, it has outperformed all other backpacks we have used by miles, but we’ve always found it difficult to get the most common replacement part. So when we approached Pro Team about selling the Sierra, we made parts sales a precondition to carrying their product. We’ve taken the same approach to selling the Sanitaire and Oreck. Each vacuum has an incredible number of parts. So we are stocking loads of SKU’s just to support the three vacuums we have selected.

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