Kirby Vacuum Cleaners

February 15, 2008
kirby vacuum cleaners
Heavy duty vacuums that’ve been around a long time are Kirby vacuum cleaners. Their construction materials make them heavier than most vacuums on the market, but that also makes them more durable. By virtue of having been around for so many years they have a good reputation, sometimes one that’s not deserved.

Kirby vacuum cleaners are made by the Kirby Company of Cleveland, Ohio. John Kirby, an inventor specializing in household conveniences, created a water-based vacuum cleaner in 1906. Deciding that getting rid of dirty water was too much trouble for consumers, Kirby invented a vacuum cleaner that pushed dirty air into a cloth bag, where the dirty was filtered out.

Kirby continued developing his vacuum cleaner through World War I. In 1925, he released the Vacuette Electric, the forerunner of modern multi-attachment vacuum cleaners.

Also in the mid-1920s, Kirby decided that his versatile convertible vacuum cleaner needed to be demonstrated in consumers’ homes. He began the famous tradition of door-to-door vacuum cleaner sellers who made Kirby vacuum cleaners so successful and literally a household word.

Today, Kirby’s signature product is the Sentria System vacuum cleaner. It has a variable-speed motor which enables it to operate in twelve distinct modes. Made of die cast aluminum, not plastic, it easily converts to a deep-cleaning upright, a carpet shampoo system, a canister Vacuum, a floor buffer, and more.

The Sentria Kirby vacuum cleaners have a powerful airflow and HEPA 11 filtration system. This filter removes 99.97 per cent of all particles larger than 0.03 microns, including dust mite feces that contribute to asthma and allergic reactions.

The Kirby vacuum cleaners have an on-demand powered drive head. Called TechDrive power assist, it allows the Kirby vacuum cleaners to be easily pushed ahead with just one finger.

A foot-activated control allows adjustment of the cleaning height for carpets, low-pile rugs, or bare floors. Why this is not an automated feature remains a mystery. And all Kirby vacuum cleaners have LED headlights that light up the darkest corners.

The quick-drying carpet shampoo mode provides professional results at a fraction of the cost, using off-the-shelf carpet shampooing liquids. Or consider the portable canister mode allows easy vacuuming of bedding, curtains, upholstery, and other hard-to-reach places.

Kirby vacuum cleaners:
In tests conducted by Consumer Reports, the Kirby vacuum cleaners (estimated price $1,350) performed about as well as $200 to $400 vacuum cleaners made by Dyson, Eureka, and other vendors. The Sentria weighs 25 pounds, more than most and more than many consumers are willing to haul up stairs. But that’s where the convertibility to canister mode comes in.

A number of consumer report Web sites bear testimonials from consumers that Kirby vacuum cleaners are sold by rather pushy doorbell ringers. Complaints about Kirby sales reps range from refusing to leave when asked to breaking a consumer’s current vacuum cleaner during a “demonstration” of the Kirby. Sales reps have also been accused of preying upon the elderly, humiliating potential customers, lying about free financing, and not honoring the company’s three-day return guarantee.


Fortunately for the consumer, there are other places to buy Kirby vacuum cleaners. eBay lists many current and older models for sales every day. Used vacuum cleaner shops are reliable sources of refurbished Kirby vacuum cleaners. Craigslist is yet another good source of used, probably not refurbished Kirby vacuum cleaners.

Kirby vacuum cleaners are a venerated name brand, not so much because they are superior functionally, but because they have been around a long time.


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