Are backpack vacuums worth the money?

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by Tom Watson on August 28, 2016

When I first started my cleaning business I had no idea that backpack vacuums even existed, let alone why you would need one.

But it didn’t take long for me to see the value that these units can bring to the table. And before you know it I owned four units!

But I will say they are not good for every application. For most run of the mill cleaning accounts a regular vacuum will suffice (the Sanitaire SC785 is my favorite “traditional’ upright vacuum and is perfect for most accounts).

Backpack vacuums on the other hand are not ideal for most accounts because they are kind of clumsy and not everyone likes to use them. The fact is backpack vacuums aren’t all that compact, which makes storing them an issue, plus it feels a little awkward wearing one at first.

I can’t tell you how many walls I bumped into while wearing one of these units. But if you have the right “type” of job then a backpack vacuum blows away a traditional upright one by a mile. The “type” of job I’m talking about is one where you need to handle vacuuming large square-footage areas.

These type jobs may include large showrooms, larger office buildings and apartment complexes. I primarily used all my backpack vacuums at apartment complexes. I was hired for dozens of buildings that had tons of wide open spaces. I also cleaned a large mortgage company where we had to vacuum a lot of carpet.

Normally these spaces consisted of long hallways and wide staircases, and a backpack vacuum is perfect for those type jobs. Though a quality backpack vacuum can cost two to three times as much as a regular unit, they are worth every penny because you’ll get done faster, and TIME IS MONEY as they say.

My first backpack vacuum was some generic brand that a janitorial supplier talked me into purchasing. It was small, of low quality and wasn’t all that good considering what I paid for it. Needless to say I was disappointed. Not concerning owning a backpack, just owning that brand of backpack.

So I talked to another vendor and they suggested the ProTeam Backpack Vacuums Super CoachVac HEPA Commercial Backpack Vacuum Cleaner. The name is kind of long, but I just called my units the ProTeam Backpack Vacuum and left it at that.

These vacuums are on the expensive side, however they are quality built, last a long time and boy do they make you look professional when you show up at a job site. The best part is they get you done FASTER (provided you are using them on larger accounts where time can be saved by vacuuming more carpet per hour).

To make a long story short, backpack vacuums ARE WORTH THE MONEY in my opinion. They are another tool in your cleaning “tool box”, and they sure do come in handy on larger accounts. So check out the ProTeam Backpack Vacuum if you are in the market for one. They are worthy of your consideration.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 D. Hogan August 28, 2016 at 5:32 pm

I currently own a few backpack vacuums and by far they are worth every penny; not only when it comes to cleaning large commercial accounts, but also when it comes to using the detachable hose for cleaning cob web, taking care of ceiling vents, etc. Overall it depends on what the person preferrs at that time.

2 Tom Watson August 28, 2016 at 6:05 pm

THANKS for adding that D. Hogan! Much appreciated.

3 C. DEFOREST BROWN August 30, 2016 at 11:46 am

Love my back-packs!

4 Mehul August 31, 2016 at 2:28 pm

I totally agree. I own 4 units since 3 years and they paid for themselves in just over a month in terms of time it saves while vacuuming. They have come out with battery pack vacuum as well, that would eliminate power cord but I am not sure if it’s worth the investment. I think it will not have as powerful suction as wired vacuum. Well, at least not the initial versions, I believe. Do share if anyone has experience with these.

5 Tom Watson September 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Hi Mehul! If i was still cleaning, i would have tried the cordless backpack vacuum ( I don’t know if the suction is the same. If there was a vendor that had one in stock that would be a great way to test it before buying it.

6 Cranston September 11, 2016 at 9:13 pm

Tactical question:
When you have cleaners doing the service, do you leave the vacuum at the account?

If so does that mean you have to buy a vacuum for every account?

If not and you don’t have an office yet, what do you suggest?

7 Tom Watson September 12, 2016 at 10:16 am

Hi Cranston! Depends. If the account is only once per week (or twice) then the cleaner keeps the vacuum in the trunk of their car. These accounts are almost always on the smaller side. If a job is 3 to 5 times per week, then the vacuum stays on the job site (almost always). This is why I loved the Sanitaire with the folding handle, as it doesn’t take up much room…

8 Cranston September 13, 2016 at 7:46 am

Thank you so much. That makes sense and I will follow your recommendation and get both of them.
I purchased your startup guide and it is worth it’s weight in gold. I also bought your flyer packet and will send out my first set of direct mailers at the end of this month. Im really excited.
My last tactical question, would you recommend a brute dolly with a can caddy or a maid cart? And would you use these on small accounts (such as 1-2 per week service)? Would these be kept with the cleaning techs vehicle also?

Thank you for your help.

9 Tom Watson September 13, 2016 at 8:38 am

Hi Cranston! Our staff liked the brute dolly setup. And no, we didn’t move these around. These just got kept on job site. We only used them on five night per week accounts (and not all of them, just the larger one where they made sense).

Once you get some accounts, you (or your staff) will know if you need a brute dolly (or cart for that matter) on a given site. I never bought something just for the sake of buying something. It had to save me time, or save my staff time. With that said, if it didn’t save the staff time BUT made things EASIER for them I did make the purchase (ask for input from everyone).

10 Bridget Ballew October 7, 2016 at 7:57 am

I was wandering what carpet cleaning system do you recommend? I would love to add carpet cleaning but after a good but of research online I am still having a hard time with which one is best.

11 Tom Watson October 9, 2016 at 10:02 am


I used hot steam extraction with a truck mounted unit. But I started out with a portable how water extraction unit. These cost maybe $800 to $2000 and are your best best in the beginning. I did a post on that here…

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