Well before carpet cleaning or even fitted carpets were around any form of cleaning was achieved by beating a rug or carpet to remove dry dust. “Cleaning Up” meant sweeping up with brooms.
American Hiram H. Herrick of Boston submitted a patent for a carpet sweeper in 1858 and Daniel Hess, an Iowa man, turned in a patent in 1860 for a device with a rolling brush and an elaborate bellows that generated suction. However they weren’t terribly efficient and didn’t really catch on!
The very first carpet cleaning machines were first brought to light in 1868. It was called the “sweeping machine” which was invented by Ives McGaffey of Chicago USA. McGaffey took further the technology of the time, creating in 1868 something relatively light and compact, but with a tricky hand crank and an eyebrow-raising $25 price tag (who could afford such convenience?). With the help of the American Carpet Cleaning Co. of Boston, McGaffey sold models in Chicago and Boston. It is thought most were lost in the Chicago Fire of 1871.
Two McGaffey vacuums remain today.
In 1876, Melville Reuben Bissell an allergy suffer who couldn’t withstand all that dirt hidden in the carpet fabrics, invented the first mechanical carpet sweeper. Thanks to his keen eye for his saw a potential market in his Michigan, Rapids, and Grand neighbourhood. To boost sales, he would demonstrate how a handful of dirt would disappear into the changing contraption of his carpet sweeper. He reduced the burden of using the bulky whirlwind invented by Ives. His model could also be operated with one hand.
John Thurman in 1898 invented the first gasoline powered vacuum cleaner and received his patent on October 3, 1899. His horse-drawn door to door services led to his popularity in St. Louis. According to history, he invented the first motorized cleaner that blew dust, lint, and other debris in a cyclone which was then directed into a container.
Not long after in 1901 Hubert Cecil Booth patented a British carpet cleaning machine. His machine was a large horse drawn gas driven machine. This could often be seen parked outside of properties that were being cleaned the hose would be pulled through the windows of the building to where the carpet was being cleaned.
In 1907 James Murray Spangler, a genius of his time invented the first portable electric vacuum cleaner. It was started when he realized the carpet cleaner he used stirred a lot of dust into the air, the reason for his cough. He used a fan motor, soap box, broom handle and a pillow case as a dust collector to make his vacuum cleaner.
Later in 1908, he received a patent for his invention after improving his basic model using cleaning attachments and a cloth filter bag. His cousin was among the beneficiaries of his work. He then formed the Electric Suction Sweeper Company. Unfortunately, Spangler didn’t make much from his invention.
In 1908, he decided to sell his patent to William Henry Hoover who made the business explode. Still today the word “Hoover” is used in place of “Vacuum” because of the popularity of the Hoover cleaners in the UK. Similarly in New Zealand they say the word “Lux” after the Electrolux vacuum cleaners which were always more popular there than the Hoover vacuum cleaner.