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How to Choose the Right Vacuum Cleaner for Your Business or Commercial Facility

July 24, 2019 8:38 AM by Tennant Company



With so many styles of commercial vacuums on the market, selecting the right one for your job can be complicated. With myriad options and features, narrowing down vacuum cleaner choices is time-consuming and often confusing for even seasoned cleaning professionals.

Here’s a look at the different types of commercial vacuums and their best applications for commercial cleaning.

Upright Vacuums

Upright vacuums have been on the market a long time and as such remain one of the most popular styles. Commercial upright vacuum cleaners differ in terms of number of motors and type of bags used to collect debris. Single-motor uprights are used largely in classrooms, lobby rooms, office space, hotel rooms and smaller areas that require quick cleaning. These machines are relatively lightweight so users can clean at a faster pace. It’s also easier to transfer single-motor uprights to and from cleaning carts or between rooms. These models are often used in hotels and hospitals since they also provide excellent dust control.

Alternatively, dual-motor uprights are used in areas that require a more thorough cleaning. Heavier than their single-motor counterparts, these models are frequently used by building service contractors and workers who clean lobbies in hotels, schools and other areas with high amounts of foot traffic. Dual-motor vacuums serve two functions: they extract dirt from carpet while simultaneously grooming it.

Both types of uprights can be fitted with a high filtration bag for debris collection. Users can easily see when the bag needs to be emptied. High filtration bags require users to unzip a cloth bag, remove the filter bag and replace it with a new one. Since they’re designed to capture dust, high filtration bags are used by long-term care facilities and other environments where air hygiene is a priority.

Backpack Vacuums

Cleaning spaces like cubicles, stairways, under furniture and other tight quarters calls for a more versatile machine. Backpack models are vacuums with a hose and wand that sucks debris, dust and dirt into the canister which is designed to fit on the users back, hips and shoulders. In this way, the repetitive back-and-forth motion of vacuuming with an upright is eliminated. Since this type is smaller and more maneuverable, users can navigate highly populated areas without disturbing passersby. For this reason, backpack vacuums are also frequently used to clean office spaces and education facilities. Since they are usually only fitted with a floor nozzle, they may not be as efficient at removing dirt from carpet as an upright’s revolving brushes.


V-WA-30 Wide-Area Vacuum Cleaner in an office

Canister Vacuums

Canister vacuums operate similarly to a backpack vacuum, but the user does not wear the machine on his or her back. Instead, the machine is fitted with wheels, allowing the user to easily pull it from one area to the next. Canister vacuums can clean a variety of surfaces, so they're quite useful in facilities with multiple floor types. Because canister vacuums have small and maneuverable cleaning heads, they can easily clean under desks and furniture. They can also maneuver around obstacles and fit in tight spaces. An added bonus: canister vacs are usually quieter than upright versions, making them ideal for noise-sensitive environments like hospitals.

Wide-Area Vacuums

A different type of machine is required to efficiently clean large, spacious areas. Wide-area vacuums are useful in airports, meeting and ball rooms, broad hallways, hospitals and other facilities with lots of area to clean. The machine’s agitator brushes penetrate carpet to remove dirt and dust. High-power motors and a larger overall size ensure productivity. Wide-area vacuums are more expensive than standard upright models, but production gains will soon make up for the initial outlay.


Wet-Dry Vacuums

Cleaning moisture and soiled areas from floors is most effective with a wet-dry vacuum. Also called “jumbo vacs,” “tank vacuums”, or “industrial vacuums,” these are not the models you might find in a suburban garage. These are professional wet/dry vacuum systems typically purchased through a janitorial equipment company. Capable of vacuuming wet and dry messes simultaneously, these systems also help speed up floor stripping and refinishing. Wet/dry vacuums are perfect for cleaning up construction and renovation sites, removing moisture from floors and carpets in schools, removing debris and particles from industrial settings and cleaning other heavy-duty jobs.

Battery-Powered Vacuum Cleaners

Daytime cleaning calls for a special kind of vacuum. A cordless vacuum cleaner works perfectly when building service contractors must work around tenants during the workday and in stores and hospitals when cleaning around patients and guests. Lightweight cordless vacuums don’t need to be plugged into the wall so there’s no tripping hazard and they allow you to go anywhere! The absence of a cord also prevents the vacuum from getting hung up on furniture and feet and helps reduce trip/fall hazards.


V-BP-6B Battery-Powered Backpack Vacuum

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