The best vacuum for your cleaning business

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by Tom Watson on February 3, 2013

I’ve purchased quite a few vacuum cleaners for my cleaning business over the years. No correct that, I have purchased TONS of vacuums cleaners.

If I have learned anything, it’s that they are not all created equal. Some of the cheaper ones perform better than the expensive ones, and some of the expensive ones aren’t worth the extra money.

Needless to say you can blow through a lot of money just learning what’s best. After all, if your cleaning company grows quickly you’ll need to be buying vacuums all the time. Knowing how to approach the issue by learning from my mistakes will save you that learning curve.

When I first started I just went with the cheapest I could find. After all, money was tight plus I didn’t know any better. I’m pretty sure the first vacuum I purchased was at K-Mart for thirty some bucks. It worked for a while, then it slowly stopped being effective. It was retired after ony a few months.

After learning the lesson that cheap wasn’t a solution I jumped around, buying all different types of vacuum brands trying to strike a balance between price, performance and longevity. This approach soon meant that I had a collection of about 20 vacuums, 10 of which were different brands and styles.

This is about the time when I first realized I had a few problems on my hands. First up was the fact that having all these different brands and styles meant that I needed to have all different style bags to swap out. Depending on the model, some had to be changed every few days because they were small.

This not only was a headache, I mean who wants to keep track of a ton of vacuum cleaner bags? But it also became expense depending on the bag style. So I realized rather quickly that the bags needed to be factored into the equation when making a purchase for my business.

The next issue I had to deal with was spare parts for all the different vacuums. This is because without fail someone always seemed to be losing one of the attachments which meant the vacuum itself was about useless! Without the attachments you can’t edge the carpet properly, so any vacuum without them is no good in my opinion.

Anyway, losing a tiny piece of plastic would mean I might have to replace the whole vacuum and that’s not going to work long-term! Then came the issue of longevity, as many of the vacuums simply didn’t last very long. Some units may have been fine for a homeowner who vacuumed 30 minutes twice a week, but not for a professional who used it for many hours per day every day. They were just the major issues I had to tackle.

There were other smaller details I had to factor in such as units having a short cord for plugging the vacuum in and the total size of the unit itself. You know it’s not easy transporting the larger units around from job to job, not to mention some of them are quite heavy. So to make a long story short, I needed a simple solution as they ALWAYS work best.

I knew standard vacuums didn’t last, so it had to be professional grade. Then it needed a long cord, because that makes it easier to use. I also wanted to use ONLY one brand because I didn’t want to track different bag styles PLUS if a part was lost somehow, I could swap it from an older unit that had been “semi-retired”.

Luckily I was recommended by a close friend in the janitorial supply business to try the Eureka Sanitaire® Model Sc785. I was soon hooked on it. It had all the features I was looking for plus a few I never thought of, such as a folding handle. This nifty idea allows you to transport the vacuum super easily as it hardly takes up any room (only 28.5 inches long) in your car or truck. It also makes it easy to carry around from job to job.

The unit also comes with 2 motors, one for the beater bar and the other for the suction. This means the unit is quite powerful and perfect for the commercial market. I also like the fact that it has a 30 foot cord, which eliminates the need for an extension cord most of the time. The bag is a nice size plus the price works, as it runs a little under $200.00.

I have purchased more than 100 of the Eureka Sanitaire® Model Sc785 since I started buying them. I have beaten them to death and they still keep on chugging. At times these units have been run for several hours per day for months on end before showing signs of wear and tear. Most of the time good training and care will make these units last a long time.

The only thing you need to worry about is when you wrap the cord up. If you pull the cord too tight when putting it away, the stem that goes into the unit starts to pull away. It’s an easy fix, but you can avoid it completely by just wrapping the cord a little looser and not creating so much tension.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to our Cleaning 4 Profit RSS feed. If you are looking for a step by step blueprint that will show you how to start your own cleaning business, then check out my Cleaning Business Training Manuals. If you need a great website or would like to upgrade what you already have then you may want to take a look at my Cleaning Business Website Packages.

DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase any items through my links odds are I’ll earn a commission of some kind. I only recommend products and services that I have used or think may be useful to those starting or operating a cleaning business.

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leighann February 3, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Thanks for doing the research!

2 Tom Watson February 3, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Hi! I’m very happy to be able to help!

3 oluwafemi julius February 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Hi Mr. Tom.
happy new year.
I recently find out that so far i have being exploiting information about cleaning business development, all i have read through your regular imput are far enriched, educative and most practical than every other stuff i have read through on the net. More grease to you relbow while am looking forward to read more from you this year and probably if one can get any of your products(books) to purchase.I am Julius from Nigeria.

4 Tom Watson February 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Hi Julius! Very happy to hear you enjoy the website. If you need anything just let me know, I will help.

5 Pedro April 27, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Is there a vacuum that is about the same but bagless? And would you recommend a bagless vacuum?

6 Tom Watson April 28, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Hi Pedro! Honestly I don’t know. From my experience most commercial grade vacuums have a bag of some kind, but then again I never really looked too hard. I really fell in love with the one I wrote about in the post, and stopped looking for something better once I found it.

7 Melitha Stevenson May 23, 2015 at 7:09 pm

I have been cleaning houses for about 15 years being the 1st house I started cleaning & still cleaning for that particular customer. I have just bought my cleaning supplies at walmart or Dollar General. But I know I could save more money by buying in bulk. On occasion I have bought at
Sams. But Im looking for a janitorial supply company that can & will sell products to me at bulk for a savings.
Can you help me?

8 Tom Watson June 7, 2015 at 9:52 am

Hi Melitha! Sorry for the delay… in the process of MOVING (what a pain). Anyway… I did a post on this, detail here…

9 Janelle August 8, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Thank you Tom! I went on Amazon and noticed that they have a commercial vacuum that looks almost the same as the one you recommend. Do you know the difference between the two? The commercial is also a little bit cheaper. Thanks!

10 Tom Watson August 8, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Hi Janelle! You would have to send me the link to the one you saw for me to compare. I did a quick Amazon search and only saw the SC 785.

11 Gus August 14, 2015 at 9:07 pm


Is one month free cleaning service too much to offer in order to get a good long term contract that brings in $250.00/wk, 2hrs/day, 6 days/wk?. Please, advise. Thanks.

12 Tom Watson August 16, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Hi Gus! You could offer that, but that may be a little too much. I would think offering 50% off the first month would give you the same impact.

13 Dale October 27, 2015 at 12:13 am

Hey Tom, I was looking into buying a vacuum for my upstart residential cleaning business. Would you still recommend the vacuum you have listed above? I was actually thinking more along the lines of this one

any input you would have on this would be greatly appreciated as this is the final piece of equipment I need to get started.

14 Tom Watson October 29, 2015 at 9:02 am

Hi Dale! Yes I still recommend that. But what you are interested looks fine, so why not try it out. The cleaning path may be a bit small on larger jobs, but it may be worth a shot.

15 Kali September 17, 2016 at 9:42 am

Is this usable on hardwood floors? If not, what do you recommend?

16 Tom Watson September 17, 2016 at 10:18 am

Hi Kali! Yes it is. You can also turn off the beater bar and just leave the vacuum motor on with this unit (in case you want to be extra sure).

17 judy September 22, 2016 at 10:14 pm

I am looking for a light weight vacuum to clean our church. It needs to get under pews and also clean granite floors. What is the best vacuum for this?

18 Tom Watson September 23, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Hi Judy! The Sanitaire in this post is worth your consideration. It’s easy to move around becasue the handle folds so you can cart it around like a suitcase (by just holding the handle). It also allows you to get under pews because the upright will tilt more than enough to allow you to get underneath them. And you can also turn off the beater bar motor (it has a switch that allows you to control the two motors) and just let the vacuum motor run and vacuum hard surfaces floors. All for less than $150.00.

19 seth January 9, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Hey Tom,

I am looking into vacuums and I hesitate on the uprights because 1) they seem hard to use on stairs; and 2) they seem hard to use to reach high places. With a canister you can pick it up and go a couple steps up a stepladder.

However, I have not seen any commercial grade canisters with agitator brushes. There are some like the Electrolux EL4335B or a Mielle, but those are not marketed as commercial at all. Plus I do like the price of the Sanitaire :).

What do you do to solve those issues?

Thanks, Seth

20 erastus nangolo January 10, 2017 at 5:28 am

good day sir… im interested to learn more on your product Eureka Sanitaire® Model Sc785 that.. and how much is it

21 Tom Watson January 11, 2017 at 11:28 am

Just follow the link to get over to Amazon, That will give you current pricing.

22 Tom Watson January 11, 2017 at 11:34 am

Hi Seth! We really just made do with the Sanitaire for the most part. I did have a few small canister Orecks that I bought second hand that we used on steps early on in my business. The problems is after a while you find yourself having all type of “specialty gear” that needs to be carted from job to job. The extra time it takes to get everything in and out eats up the time savings that equipment yields.

23 Ryan January 18, 2017 at 3:10 am

Ill have to give this one a shot, I am going through vacuums like crazy. I use to sell Kirby Vacuums and would love to use these but the truth is they are just too heavy to have my girls haul these around every day in and out of the car as well as up and down the stairs of our clients homes. One vacuum I have seen a lot of people talking about is the Shark Rocket Duo, honestly it looks very cheap but everyone I see talking about them says they are great. I think im gonna give it a little more time with them to see how long they last before I go that route though. Thanks for the info Tom 🙂

24 Dawn Hackett May 25, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Why do you like this over the regular commercial Sanitiare Vacuums with the metal bases? Just curious. When I worked for other cleaning companies this is what they always had. I made the mistake of buying an Oreck Magnesium and I’ve had it less than a year and it’s now trash. Now it was not made for the wear and tear I put on it but it sure was a good little vacuum till the bag holder broke. I’m in desperate need of something new.

25 Tom Watson May 28, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Hi Dawn! I like the portability of it more than anything. The handle folds, plus it has two motors and they are VERY cost effective. Not to mention they last a long time! Plus… it has the ability to edge the carpet with the attachments. Lots of commercially branded vacs don’t have that option for some reason.

26 Chris June 29, 2017 at 7:22 pm

I love this vacuum for a cleaning service. It appears, though, that it was too reliable. My vacuum dealer has told me that this model has been discontinued. Tom, do you have any other information about this? Do you know of a suitable replacement that also has the simplicity, durability and portability/folding handle? Sanitaire’s website and contacts have been worthless/useless. Thanks

27 Tom Watson July 2, 2017 at 10:46 am

I have not heard anything about that. I see them on Amazon being sold by many different vendors ( here is a link… ). Perhaps JUST THAT VENDOR is not selling them anymore.

28 Chris July 2, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Hi. I have confirmed with Sanitaire that the SC785 is discontinued. All stock on Amazon and others is stock on hand and will not be replenished. This is why the vacuum is now available at Home Depot. They and Jet(owned by Walmart) purchased the last lot from Sanitaire. So stock up now.

29 Tom Watson July 2, 2017 at 6:26 pm

WOW… what a bummer. Thanks for doing that legwork! I’ll have to do some homework now on what to recomend going forward. I even have them in my house (we had one upstairs and one downstairs).

30 Dawn Hackett July 3, 2017 at 6:52 am

Personally, I bought this Vacuum in June from a third Party through Walmart. Honestly, I did not like it. The handle is uncomfortable to hold. It is heavy and most importantly, it did not work well on hard wood floors. I was able to return it thankfully. I did however just purchase an Oreck Commercial Vac. (Red Base) It is super wonderful. No, it does not have the hose attached but that is something rarely used and I always have my mighty might canister vac with me. The Oreck is light weight works, wonderful on hard wood then straight to carpet without having to change speeds, has a longer cord and the price was around $185. I’m very pleased with the Oreck if anyone is interested in trying it out.

31 Tom Watson July 12, 2017 at 10:09 am

THANKs for sharing your experience Dawn.

32 eddie cook November 11, 2017 at 2:41 pm

excellent info!, thanks.
so I was just about to buy the cleaner you recommend and continued reading and know now that are going to be discontinued. any suggestions on what kind of vacuum to buy for my cleaning business? I have some old Panasonics and they are work horses with long cords but i’m about to upgrade and needing to buy 5 or so cleaners and I agree with all you said. I don’t need a vacuums cleaner store with different, bags, parts, etc. any new suggestions.

33 Tom Watson December 3, 2017 at 4:18 pm

I would not worry they will be discontinued. They last FOREVER. They will sell bags for them for as long as the millions who own them still need them. I just bought one for my home. That’s my two cents anyway! Hope it helps!

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