How Does a Vacuum Cleaner Work?

What You'll Need
air pressure
electric motor
porous bag

Vacuum cleaners are commonly used items. You have probably used them in the past, but have you ever stopped to think about how they work? While they may seem complicated, vacuum cleaners operate on a few straightforward principles, using a fairly simple set of main parts shared between all models. The following parts and principles are required for understanding how a vacuum cleaner works.

Step 1 - Creating Pressure

A vacuum cleaner runs its motor using electricity from your outlet. It uses this motor to spin its fan rapidly. The fan has angled blades, which push air up towards the bag. This moves air from under the fan away, leaving an area of low air pressure below the fan, and near your floor. Air always moves from areas of high pressure to comparatively low pressure. This process is what will remove dirt from your floor.

Step 2 - Moving Dirt

Because your fan has create an area of low pressure near your floor, air from your floor is going to move in to fill that space, due to how air pressure works. Sometimes, very small particles of dirt and dust will be lifted by the low pressure area as well. In addition to this, air takes larger, loose particles of dust and dirt with it using friction.

Step 3 - The Brush

Many vacuum cleaners, in addition to using a fan, also use a rotating brush that sweeps your floor. Sometimes, this rotating brush is powered by the very same motor that runs your vacuum cleaner's fan. Occasionally, this brush will be powered by being pushed back and forth across the floor instead. Either way, this brush serves the purpose of loosening trapped dirt and dust particles stuck in your carpet that would not have been picked up by the air pressure, and moving them to the surface, or even into the air, where they will be picked up easily.

Step 4 - The Bag

Once your vacuum cleaner has sucked in air and dirt particles, the high pressure area directly above your fan — remember, air travels from comparatively high to low pressure areas — causes them to continue to move upwards. At this point, the air and dirt particles enter your vacuum cleaner's porous bag. This bag is porous enough to allow air to pass through easily, but dense enough to trap dirt, dust, and any other larger particles that were on your floor. After exiting the bag, the air leaves the back of your vacuum cleaner, leaving any dirt that came with it trapped in the bag.

Step 5 - Putting it Together

Repeated applications of the rotating brush, when it is present, tend to loosen all dirt after a while, as well as trapping larger particles completely in the bristles and lifting them where they can be more easily sucked up into the vacuum cleaner's porous bag.

With the simple principles described above, your floors are kept a little bit cleaner.