What is Inside a Vacuum Cleaner? – Inner Workings of a Vacuum Cleaner

A vacuum cleaner is a simple machine that greatly reduces the time required to clean a relatively large area. The strong suction power of the vacuum makes it possible to remove even the finest debris particles from thick carpets, stairs, and floors. Nowadays, people are so busy with their lives that they are no more curious about common machines such as vacuum cleaners. However, if you are one of the remaining curious minds, this article will help you understand what is inside a vacuum cleaner and how does it work.

The Science Behind a Vacuum Cleaner

The vacuum cleaner is based on simple air pressure dynamics. According to physics, air moves from a region of higher concentration to lower concentration with a pressure equal to the area of the void.

In this regard, the powerful suction motor of the vacuum cleaner eliminates air and other gases from the inside of the chamber, creating an empty space of vacuum. This creates a pressure difference between the inside of the vacuum chamber and the outside world. As a result, the atmospheric air quickly starts to enter the chamber through the vacuum’s hose, carrying dust, debris, mold, and other forms of debris. The air is ejected from the back of the unit while the solid waste particles are trapped by the filters and stored in the dust bag.

What is Inside a Vacuum Cleaner? The Parts

What is Inside a Vacuum Cleaner?

A vacuum cleaner is a simple device that requires only five components for its operation. The parts of any vacuum cleaner are:

  • Electric motor
  • Intake hose
  • Filters
  • Dust compartment
  • Exhaust port

Electric motor

The electric motor or suction motor is perhaps the most important component of any vacuum cleaner. Without it, the vacuum cleaner will be useless as there is no mechanism to drive out the chamber’s air and create a vacuum. This motor rotates the fans incredibly fast, ranging from 30,000 to 35,000 RPM. As a result, the air inside the vacuum chamber is driven out while fresh air from the room is sucked inside. 

The efficiency of any motor is measured by the multiplication of vacuum pressure and the rate of airflow. For instance, the higher the motor’s KPa, the more powerful will be the vacuum cleaner and vice versa. 

Intake hose

The air enters the vacuum cleaner through an intake port. Usually, a long hose is connected to this port to increase the vacuum cleaner’s effectiveness. For instance, the suction power is directed towards a particular area by means of this hose. So, when you point the hose towards a carpet, the air intake is directly from the carpet. This air contains dust, pollutants, debris, and several other particles from the carpet. So, the intake hose is responsible for removing debris from various surfaces.


All the air that comes from the intake hose has to pass through a single or a series of filters before being discharged. These filters have numerous small holes that trap most of the dust and solid particles in the air. For example, the HEPA filter can catch up to 0.03-micron particles with an efficiency of 99.9%. So, the vacuum cleaner not only removes the dirt but also keeps you protected from molds, allergens, mycotoxins, fumes, and other harmful contaminants. 

Dust compartment

The dirt and debris collected on the filter fall into a separate chamber. This chamber contains a special dirtbag or dust cup whose capacity varies from device to device. The larger capacity dust bags require minimal maintenance, and you don’t have to clean them as often. On the contrary, the smaller dust bag makes the vacuum cleaner lightweight, but it requires regular emptying. 

For example, the canister-type vacuum cleaners have a large-capacity dust cup that takes at least 1 to 2 days to get full. On the other hand, the bagless, upright vacuum cleaners use small disposable dust bags that require regular maintenance or replacement.

Exhaust port

The exhaust port or output port is the final component of the vacuum cleaner. It is the part from which clean air is delivered back into the room to make space for more suction. However, the air that passes the dust compartment still has some fine dust particles in it. Therefore, an additional exhaust filter is included in this chamber. This filter removes any remaining dirt particles suspended in the air. So, only clean and filtered air is allowed back in the room.

Secondly, the exhaust port also acts as a cooling system for your vacuum cleaner. The fast-moving motor generates immense heat that can potentially damage the vacuum cleaner if not treated properly. How long should a vacuum cleaner last depends on the quality of the suction motor as well as the efficiency of the exhaust cooling system? Usually, a vacuum cleaner can easily last for up to 5-years if you maintain it properly. 


A vacuum cleaner is probably the most useful among all the electronic home appliances. However, it is still just a machine that can become problematic over time. Therefore, having adequate knowledge about what is inside a vacuum cleaner can sometimes help you diagnose the problem at home. Similarly, understanding the working principle of a vacuum cleaner makes you become more appreciative. So, this article discussed everything there is to know about the inner workings of a vacuum cleaner; I hope you liked it.

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