Vacuum cleaner heads and tools – what are they all for?
There is a plethora of tools and heads that come with vacuum cleaners. What are they all for and how should you best use them?
Combined carpet and hard floor head
The most basic corded vac will usually be supplied with a combined carpet and hard floor head. These usually have a foot operated switch that raises and lowers the head - for hard floors the raised head avoids scratching, and bristles around the edge help collect debris. For carpet the lowered head creates more suction to remove the maximum amount of dirt. With battery operated stick vacs and some corded models, you may get a specific hard floor tool that will be designed to not flick debris around.
Next up from these basic heads is the turbo head. Sounds fast and powerful right? Well, it’s not. A turbo head has a rotating brush that is driven by the air flow from the vacuum. This rotating brush helps with deeper cleaning of carpets, but our tests often show they don’t help as much as you might expect, three out of five of our worst performers for cleaning all have turbo heads!
The boss of all head types is the powered head. It’s similar to its turbo brother, but the brush in the head has a motor so it can spin faster, making it more effective at deeply cleaning carpets. Often the more expensive vacs will have a powered head, and our current top models for cleaning performance alone all have powered heads. That’s not to say that a powered head is a must for good cleaning performance, none of Miele’s corded models have powered heads and they still perform well enough to gain our recommendation, although this is also due to their reliability, ease of use and customer satisfaction ratings.
Most machines will also be supplied with a number of additional tools. If you are lucky they will be housed in storage compartments on board the main vacuum body. If not you will likely leave them in a cupboard somewhere and forget you even had them.
The crevice tool is the somewhat squashed looking thin nozzle that amplifies the suction effect. It’s used to suck up all those coins and buttons you have dropped down the side of your sofa, along with 10-year-old pizza detritus. It’s also quite fun to suction one against your skin and make funny popping noises.
The upholstery tool is, you guessed it, for vacuuming sofas and chairs. Some models (usually stick vacs) may even have powered upholstery heads. They resemble a mini floor head and often have lint strips to help lift dust and lint from textiles and upholstery. It’s also useful for vacuuming cushions and mattresses.
The dusting brush has a round head with long soft bristles used to dislodge and suck up dust from surfaces. Useful for cleaning windowsills, shelves, lampshades and blinds. If your vac has a variable suction dial you can turn this down whilst using the dusting brush so you don’t suck up your Faberge egg collection.
You may also come across other more specialised tools (usually at extra cost), for example pet hair heads designed to suck up Fido’s sheddings (Dyson have an anti-tangle version), mattress cleaning tools, and stiff bristle tools that can be used to dislodge ground-in dirt from carpets.
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