There are a lot of reviews and claims online about how vacuum cleaners perform. They might go on about how good the suction is, how great the vacuum filtration system is, how well it performs, etc. But, let’s be honest here, most of the time these are aimed at one thing – getting you to buy.
How do you know that the claims are valid? How are you confident that you will get what you have been promised? That is not as simple as reading a few ads, but there are several organizations worldwide that do test the manufacturer’s claims.
These are independent firms that have nothing to gain by supporting the manufacturer and nothing to lose if they tell the truth. They will use a set of confirmed industry standards to test against and so can tell you how well a model performs in respect of these.
These standards, in turn, will help make your final choice.
Standards & Testing Organizations
The Carpet and Rug Institute is at the top of the list if you are looking for an organization performing independent testing.
Consumers Union is a well-established organization that runs a variety of tests to check out manufacturers’ claims – in and outside of the vacuum cleaner industry. Their consumer reports have become something of a gold standard for consumers to check.
The American Society for Testing and Materials is another non-profit institution that sets the standard for a range of manufacturers to aspire to.
If you are someone that you live with have asthma or allergies, you can rely on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America here at home, or the Allergy Standards Limited association globally to understand whether or not your top pick is certified.
These two have worked together to create the most comprehensive Certification program for sweepers and other products that are used to help reduce asthma and allergy flare-ups.
Carpet and Rug Institute
Cleaners have to jump through quite a few hoops when it comes to getting the Carpet and Rug Institute Seal of Approval or their Green Label Certification. This is a trade association for the textile, rug and carpet industry and takes its mandate seriously.
It tests to see how well soil is removed, dust is contained and how well the cleaner maintains the appearance of the carpet. There are quite a few tests that this institute conducts, and we will go into these in full detail below.
The CRI awards a Bronze, Silver or Gold rating and will list the brands that have met the requirements on their site.
This involves some cool x-ray fluorescence tech that has been enhanced by NASA in place of the more common gravimetric tests. This gives exact results and is shown in 30 ounces/ square yard for commercial pile carpeting or for loop pile carpeting.
This falls under the name of C112 testing if you want to look it up.
In order to pass this test, the cleaner cannot allow any quantity larger than 100 micrograms to be released in a cubic meter of air when it comes to dust. Everything must be locked up securely in the body of the canister and not able to get out into the open air again.
Surface Appearance Change
Also notable is that the sweeper not negatively impacts the pile of the carpet. The maximum change allowed is one step at the equivalent of a year of what would be considered normal usage. The cleaner is passed over 900 times, and the sample turned every 50 times to simulate this.
Consumers Union & Consumers Reports
This organization works out of Yonkers in New York an publish a range of different tests – it is not only vacuum cleaners that they put through their paces.
The do work slightly differently in that they offer subscriptions and, while they don’t have an official stamp of approval as such, they do give awards to their top reviewed models per year and per category.
They test more extensively than the Carpet and Rug Institute do, and we will go through what they look for in the section below in more detail. They check performance over a wider range of surfaces and test for specific things such as picking up pet hair.
They also check for how much soil or sand can be lifted but use only a carpet with a medium pile to do this. However, they do also sprinkle the area with talc and test that as well.
They do put the sweepers through their paces and ensure that the talc or sand is firmly packed in.
What would any of these tests be worth if they did not also see how the model performed when it came to hard floors, like tiles or vinyl? In this instance, they check how well the sweeper is able to gather the sand without causing it to spread. The less the mess, the better.
They also check how much strong the suction is at the end of the nozzle. A machine might offer decent suction close to the machine, but if this dissipates at the end where the nozzle is, it is not that great for cleaning with.
So, instead of just checking the suction in general, they have a more targeted test.
If your sweeper is powerful but makes an awful racket in the process, you are not going to really want to use it as often as you should. Also, if the decibel level is too high, it could end up causing hearing loss in those who use it regularly.
So, Consumer Union checks this rating as well.
This is something that we don’t really think about too much, but it is worth checking – how many particles are released when the motor is turned on initially, and when you are busy vacuuming.
They use wood-flour dust that is quite fine to test this rating for you. Obviously, the higher the rating, the worse it is for you.
A vacuum is something that you are going to use fairly regularly. This means lugging it around your home. This rating measures how easily it moves and how easily it can be carted around. They test how easy it is to either push or pull around and how easy it to carry as well.
If you have pets, especially those that shed a lot of hair, this rating will be extremely important to you. This will tell you how well the cleaner performs when it comes to vacuuming up pet hair.
They do test a few different varieties and check out how well it works on medium-pile carpeting.
This works on a similar basis as the Consumers Union does. It offers comprehensive reviews so that you can make the best decision possible. The brand is different in that it offers expert reviews and invites users to leave reviews as well.
They do give ratings for brands in general and provide accreditation, so that is another area in which they differ from Consumers Union.
It is worth noting here that it pays to take some of the user reviews with a pinch of salt. Check what the actual experts here say rather than just believing all the reviews from consumers on the site.
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International)
This organization, though based in America, is a recognized world leader when it comes to the development of consensus norms that companies are able to aspire towards. There are more than 12 000 different ASTM standards that test everything from sweepers to the bags inside them.
The organization does not restrict itself to just cleaning equipment but to get a full idea of what they do look at; you can visit their website and have a look there.
For now, we are only interested in what they test when it comes to hoovers and how these tests stack up against other industry leaders.
In perhaps no other area is independent testing as important as it is in this one. Where a bad asthma attack allergic reaction could be a life or death situation, you want to make sure that you minimize possible triggers.
One way of doing this is to vacuum regularly and keep your home as dust-free as possible. However, these methods are really only as effective as the cleaner that you use.
As a result, there are several organizations that test these standards and several that work together to ensure that the claims made by the makers of these machines do bear further scrutiny.
This is the top agency in the United States when it comes to looking for solutions when it comes to allergies and asthma. The organization does fight for the rights of those with these conditions to be properly informed when making a buying decision.
If they give a product their stamp of approval, you know it is for real.
Naturally, there are such institutions worldwide as well. The ASL is the leading global organization in this regard and often works hand in hand with the AAFA to come up with long-term solutions for the problem of allergies and asthma.
They have highly qualified doctors and scientists on their team to aid them in testing.
Allergy Research Limited (Allergy UK)
This organization carries some serious clout in the industry and tests products on the basis of how efficiently they help to get rid f allergens. They are picky about who they give their Seal of Approval to and insist that the sweepers get put through many tests.
The advantage of this program is that it has more wide-spread acceptance by the major manufacturers. Big brand names that subscribe to these standards include Dyson, Shark, LG, Samsung, and Hitachi.
These are just a few of the brands, however, making this an extremely useful certification to be on the lookout for in general.
Those are the salient points about the certifications that you may encounter and the various organizations that take on testing. While all the testing methods are different, each organization is thorough in how it performs the tests.
If you want a completely unbiased review of products, these are the organizations to watch. There really is nothing stopping you from checking on all the above sites and ensuring that your potential purchase is covered by independent reviews.
If the company avoids having their product tested, it makes you wonder whether or not they might have something to hide, after all. Not being certified does not mean that a product is inherently bad, but it might be a sign to steer clear.
Perhaps the maker has not got around to having their item tested yet but, considering the amount of competition in this market, that is not likely to be the case for long.
As a result, be very careful when it comes to models that don’t carry any certification.