Vacuum cleaners

In twenty years as a single man and then twenty years of marriage, I have purchased too many vacuum cleaners.

Bought a few basic models, which crapped out quickly. When I was especially impoverished, I bought a used vacuum cleaner from a thrift store, which lasted maybe two months. By my fourth or fifth vacuum cleaner, I was reading Consumer Reports and doublechecking Amazon reviews against Fakespot. Purchased a few vacuums that cost more than I could afford, because a higher price means it's better, right? Nope. Actually, the worst vacuum I ever owned was also the most expensive.

I'm anti-mechanically inclined, but with much effort, Googling, cursing and bloody knuckles I was sometimes able to repair the vacuums to the point that they halfway sorta kinda worked. Taking it to a repair shop was always out of the question; more than the cost of a new vacuum cleaner.

My wife dreamed of a Dyson, reputedly the best and most reliable brand, but they're astoundingly expensive. Or they were — my memory is that Dysons started at around $800 and went into the thousands, but maybe my memory is mistaken, or maybe the price has come down? Googling just now, I see Dyson's discount models starting at $250.

Instead, I spent perhaps $1,500 on eight different vacuums, one lousy machine at a time. Every one of them began wheezing or died within a few years, or sometimes months, and again I'd be looking for a vacuum cleaner.

Stubbornly, I went for a couple of years without a vacuum cleaner, in a carpeted two-bedroom apartment. I mastered the stupid skill of sweeping carpet, but that's a tedious task, and really only gets the visible flotsam and jetsam, leaving lots of icky stuff down under.

For my most recent vacuum cleaner, I decided to go cheap. Eliminating the vacuums with horrendous reviews on Amazon, I bought the least expensive machine that remained: a Bissell Zing Canister, 2156A Bagless. It's $60 now, but it was $44 when I bought it.

It is cheap and ugly. It has a nice long cord, which retracts at the push of a button, and that's nice. Other than that, absolutely no bells and whistles. It has wheels but it doesn't roll very well, and it's easier to drag the sucker head across the carpet toward you, instead of pushing it. The long plastic pipe that connects the motor to the sucker never latched, and it isn't even designed to latch; I had to duct-tape it together.

But you know what? This damned vacuum cleaner works, and it's been working for more than a year with no hassles. Not once have I sworn at it, or had to take anything apart.

For a $44 investment, my dirt-cheap Bissell is already the all-time cheapest in cost per vacuum, among the entire fleet of vacuums I've owned.

Bottom line for me: Dyson maybe, if you believe the hype. Bissell definitely, if you just want a cheap vacuum that vacuums.



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