Profile America: Dust Busting

Tuesday, June 7 — Dealing with one of the oldest challenges to house cleaning — dust — motivated Ives McGaffey of Chicago to patent the first vacuum cleaner in the U.S. this week in 1869. It was hand powered, made of wood and canvas, and sold under the name “Whirlwind.” Thirty years later, a motorized vacuum cleaner was patented. The problem with it was that the motor was gas powered, and thus had to run outside the house, using very long hoses for the cleaning. In 1905, the first electric-powered home vacuum was patented, but it weighed 92 pounds and had an 18-inch fan. Today, vacuum cleaners are lightweight, powerful, and often self-propelled. Making household vacuums is an $800 million a year business for 32 manufacturers in the U.S.

Source: American Community Survey.

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