A carpet sweeper is a mechanical device for the cleaning of carpets. They were popular before the introduction of the vacuum cleaner and have been largely superseded by them. However, they continue to be used in many home and commercial applications because they are lightweight and quiet, enabling users to quickly clean small messes up from the floor without disturbing patrons, patients, babies and pets, and because they do not require electricity to operate.
A carpet sweeper typically consists of a small box. The base of the box has wheels and brushes, connected by a belt or gears or rollers. There is also a container for dirt. The arrangement is such that, when pushed along a floor, the rollers/wheels turn and force the brushes to rotate. The brushes sweep dirt and dust from the floor into the container. Carpet sweepers frequently have a height adjustment that enables them to work on different lengths of carpet, or bare floors. The sweeper usually has a long handle so that it can be pushed without bending over.
The design was patented by Melville R. Bissell of Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, in 1876. Bissell began selling carpet sweepers in 1883. They became popular in the UK after the first Ewbank model went on sale in 1889. New powered versions were designed at the beginning of the 20th century, with rechargeable batteries and an electric motor to spin the rollers and brushes.
Carpet sweepers are still available commercially. Their legacy lives on in floor cleaning robots that have limited suction power and rely on sweeping to collect larger bits of debris from the floor. While some research models of robotic vacuums only rely on vacuum motors, models on the market such as Roomba or bObsweep invariably combine suction and sweeping.
In popular culture
Another appearance occurs in the 1989 computer adventure game The Colonel's Bequest, where the butler, Jeeves, uses one to clean up the library and the parlor after the murders of Dr. Wilbur C. Feels and Gloria Swansong.
In Seinfeld Season 3, Episode 15, ‘The Coma’, Newman offers Kramer the use of his carpet sweeper, when Kramer is unable to access and use his vacuum.
- US patent 182346, Melville R. Bissell, "M. R. Bissell carpet-sweeper", published 1876-09-19
- Gantz, Carroll (2012) The Vacuum Cleaner: A History, McFarland and Co Inc, ISBN 978-0786465521, p. 33
- Harkna, Christian (January 23, 2014) VIDEO – bObsweep vs Roomba: Battle Of The Robots. viewpoints.com
- "A to Z Carpet Cleaning". Thursday, 11 March 2021