Thread Number: 40966  /  Tag: 50s/60s/70s Vacuum Cleaners
What is the dirtiest/nastiest vacuum you've ever encountered?
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Post# 435021   11/14/2020 at 18:55 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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Not sure if this was asked before, but what's the worst condition you've seen one in, can be vintage or modern?

I have not encountered anything too bad. Mostly just ones that need a really good scrub down due to being left in storage for years.

It's amazing stories of bagless vacuums that never had their filters cleaned or bin emptied even. Or people using a bagged vacuum with no bag!

I do have to admit I usually don't keep my vacuums that I use regularly as clean as I do my older ones that mostly just sit around. I don't let them get filthy but I don't always keep them spotless like the ones I've restored and given a thorough break down and clean up.

Post# 435022 , Reply# 1   11/14/2020 at 19:26 by kirboover (Watertown South Dakota)        
One Experience

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was a Kirby H2 with a broken fill tube and torn outer bag. The lady that owned it was hard of hearing and couldn't really see that well. But anyway, there was dirt all over the vacuum and the cloth bag had about an inch of dirt on it. We dug a little deeper into the head, finding the brushes with about a half-inch of dirt caked on it, and the same with the fan. It took about 3 hours of cleaning to get it back to the way it was.

Post# 435024 , Reply# 2   11/14/2020 at 20:36 by Hoover300 (Central Kentucky)        

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My Torrington was in a flood 20+ years ago. Not to mention, the guy that shipped it to me broke part of the handle and refused even a small refund because "it WAS for parts". Ugh anyways it was white with corrosion,the aftermarket bag wasn't a bag anymore, motor was stuck, and all of the non aluminum bits(except the grip, that was fine) were seized with rust. Got most of the corrosion off, replaced the amazingly still working yet destroyed wiring, and unstuck it. Back wheel was unfixable so I broke off the part that was rusted together and zip tied a new L shaped axle in with a k'nex wheel so it would at least roll. Works alright now, but I can't get it open to replace the felt washers as the most of the screws are still stuck, and it is not at the top of my list. First pic below is when i got it(added a bag from ebay), and second is when I got the corrosion off and unstuck it.

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Post# 435037 , Reply# 3   11/15/2020 at 07:51 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        
My only....

beef was buying vacs on eBay and receiving their bags full of someone's dirt. I know it was just laziness....but to me, that's like urinating on something and then handed it to someone.


Post# 435051 , Reply# 4   11/15/2020 at 11:28 by human (Pines of Carolina)        
I do remember a similar thread in the past...

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I've had a few. The worst was my Filter Queen Majestic that had been severely abused. There was a huge amount of black dog hair in the tub and inside the power nozzle, plastic elbow of which was broken into about three pieces from aggressively smashing it into things. The thing also stunk to high heaven of dog piss. I ended up scrubbing the tub out with toilet bowl cleaner and a toilet brush, which seemed appropriate, and take care of the odor there. But despite using countless Lysol wipes on its disassembled parts, I never got the odor out of the power nozzle. That's one of the many reasons I gave up on that machine and stuck it in the barn. My plan is to donate it to my church's rummage sale, whenever they have it again.

I've also encountered a couple of Kirbys with rips in their fill tubes, which make for nasty dirt bags, floor nozzles caked with that metal corroding carpet fresh crap, and then there are the dump bag machines that are simply nasty by design. Both of mine have been converted to use inner filter bags and will never again see a dump bag setup—at least as long as I own them.

Post# 435055 , Reply# 5   11/15/2020 at 12:06 by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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A colleague of mine asked me to go over to her home to see why her vacuum was not working. When I got there and pulled it out of the closet, I saw a bagless upright with a dust container filled with water!!! My colleague, or her cleaning lady, seemed to think that a plastic bin meant it could suck up water!!!!

Thank goodness no one had gotten electrocuted!!!!

Post# 435064 , Reply# 6   11/15/2020 at 16:03 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Some of the worst

I've ever seen have been the bag less disposable uprights. The owner probably never intended to maintain or keep the vac any longer than it would last with total neglect. Then they just toss it and pick up a new one. Same cycle over and over. I know people who hate to vacuum and still buy an expensive machine. I always SMH and say "what a waste".

Worst: Hoover Dialomatic that I reconditioned and gave as a housewarming gift to a friend. He was so excited and showed it to a lot of friends. Two years later he's moving to NYC for new job, left everything but his clothes and laptop,so guess what is left to be picked up out by the dumpster.A friend called me and said he pulled it out.When I stopped by to see it my friend and I just stood there in silence. To some people it's "just an appliance."

Happy Ending: After another day at the spa, my brother and his wife have the Dial a Matic and take good care of it.Saved from the crusher twice! Billy

Post# 435068 , Reply# 7   11/15/2020 at 16:47 by electrolux137 (Land O Plenty USA)        
Kitty Litter and Pantyhose



During my very short-lived stint as a vacuum cleaner service technician at a shop here in Los Angeles, two customers still stand out as the most amazingly stupid people I have ever seen.

One day a man brought in a Eureka Bravo and said it was not picking up anymore and was "making a funny smell when it runs."

The shop owner brought the machine back to the Service Department and one of the guys laid into it. He removed the bag chamber cover and OH MY GAWD this horrible stench filled the shop!

Holding his nose with the fingers of one hand and carrying the machine with the other hand, he beat a hasty retreat out the back door with all of us following behind him. He stood the machine on the parking lot pavement, pulled off the bag that was so full at the bottom it was like a solid mass, tore it open and looked inside.


The bag was full of KITTY LITTER.

Not CLEAN kitty litter.

USED -- very used -- and very rancid -- kitty litter.

Even outdoors the odor was overpowering. Our eyes were burning and noses were running.

The serviceman very gingerly wrapped the bag inside a heavy duty garbage bag and taped it closed - to show the customer in case he had any arguments. (They had a lot of experience at that shop with kooks.) He would not bring the Eureka back inside but left it sitting by the back door. "I can only HOPE some dumm mudder-fudder steals it!" he said.

The shop owner called the man and asked if he could stop back by. The man came back later and the owner told him his sweeper was outside in the parking lot by the back door where he could get it if he wanted it, and then showed him the plastic garbage bag, and then told him what was in it.

The man was very confused, concerned and angry. He "simply could not imagine" how this could have happened, and was hinting that he still wanted to get a replacement machine under warranty.

Fat chance buddy! The man left a couple days later muttering he was going to go buy a Dirt Devil.

Good riddance!

A couple days later the man came back with a very sheepish look on his face. When he had gotten back home he had grilled his family about the vacuum cleaner. His 12-year-old STOOPID son finally admitted he had used the sweeper to make quick work of his least-favorite chore: cleaning the cat box. Yep. He just vacuumed the entire contents into the vacuum cleaner and then "forgot about it."

It stood in the cleaning closet for several days until the man's wife went to use it and detected "the strange smell" (Good Lord, what could have been wrong with HER nose?!) and that it would not pick up.

The man said he wanted a new Bravo, and his son would be paying for it out of his allowance.


Another time, same store, a customer came in and said her Eureka Bravo (what was it with these machines?!) wasn't picking up and was making a "burning smell."

The owner brought it back and one of the guys took a look at it. He peered up into the agitator roller and saw a little white thing -- what looked like a little piece of gauze -- sticking out. He pulled at it with his fingers but could not get it free. So he removed the agitator and tried to stick his fingers up inside the motor housing. He still could not get the cloth out.

So one piece at a time he disassembled the machine, getting closer and closer to the motor. Finally he got up into the motor housing and began pulling and untwisting something. Looking like a magician doing the "never-ending scarf" trick, he kept pulling this white gauzy fabric out of the machine until it was free. He shook it out and held it aloft for all to see:

It was a pair of super-duper mammoth-plus-size nurses' white PANTYHOSE!!!

The owner picked up the pantyhose and, dangling it off the end of his finger, took it out to the counter and showed it to the customer. He said, "THAT is why your machine stopped working. Someone sucked up this up into it. Maybe they ran the vacuum under the bed or something?"

The lady became VERY irate and started shouting. "What kind of MF BS is this? I ain't got no pantyshose like dat (maybe not -- if anything, she would have required a pair several sizes larger if you get my drift!") The owner said, "Well, ma'am, I don't know what to tell you, but this was what we found when we checked out the machine. The serviceman had to completely take it apart to get to the, um, hosery. The service charge will be [X amount - whatever it was, I don't remember now] dollars. Will that be cash or charge?"

She hollered "What kinda MF scam you runnin? That be a brand new MF vac and it ain't workin no mo and you just don't want to respect the warranteee! I'll SOO you if you don't give me a new one at no charge!"

The owner very calmly said, "Ma'am, you can sue all you want. Meanwhile, you will please take your vacuum, leave my store, and don't ever come back here again."

With a harrumph and one last profanity mumbled under her breath, she snatched up her repaired Bravo and waddled out of the store.

Post# 435153 , Reply# 8   11/17/2020 at 10:30 by vaclab (Pickerington, Ohio)        
I've seen (and smelled) a few awful ones

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Kirby D80

Bissell Powerforce Turbo


Post# 435156 , Reply# 9   11/17/2020 at 15:16 by detroitdirtbag (Bottom of the Bag)        

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I went though this one, it was mine.

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Post# 435171 , Reply# 10   11/17/2020 at 22:31 by huskyvacs (Indiana)        

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I have not had it officially tested yet but one of the worst for me in terms of figuring out a game plan is a Kirby 500 series that hasnt been used in probably 25-30 years that potentially (unconfirmed) has asbestos drywall or concrete dust in it. It's very powdery yet also extremely heavy and dense, like flour or baking soda and ice cold to touch. Several people informed me it looked like drywall dust and based on the age it could be asbestos laden.

A worst in terms of nastyness would be the Oreck Halo I rescued from a Brooklyn tenament house. The box had live roaches in it, as well as the vacuum. I got it outside in time before they scurried into my house. Had the vacuum sealed up entirely in trash bags and coated the inside and bottom of it in Raid spray and it still is sealed.

Second worst was my first eBay Dyson vacuum I could afford. Seller didn't know what packing material was and just threw it in a box and mailed it. Most of it broke apart and I got a half refund from the seller due to the situation. Still have it, and the entire bin is packed to the top with dirt and nastyness. I'm sure the cyclone is lodged solid too.

Another nasty one was my first curb vacuum find in the wild, a 1 year old Dirt Devil. Jammed up with crap in the bin and it smelled like stale ranch chips and it also emits an aura around it of stink that you smell when you get within 2 feet of it. Also appeared to have been sitting outside for several months, all metal parts on it had surface rust and the entire bottom 4" of it has mud splatter. Otherwise brand new and looked like it was only used less than 2 or 3 months.

Post# 435185 , Reply# 11   11/18/2020 at 14:49 by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        

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Working from a few vacuum shops, half of the time I would come across with vacuums looking like these.

Post# 435249 , Reply# 12   11/19/2020 at 14:53 by Elecroluxmodel1 ( Schererville, Indiana)        
I have encountered more than one dirty vacuum!

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I went to Goodwill a while ago and found a whole bunch of vacuums that look like they have never been cleaned! There was a Eureka Capture(more like crapture), a Dirt Devil featherlite, a Bissell 9200. There were other vacuums but I forgot what models they were.

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