Let's face it. I'm relatively young (for now). I'm a newlywed. I just got out of grad school and I'm only six months into my new full-time job. I'm not exactly the cleanest person around, and the only vacuum cleaner I've owned was a gift from my dad, given to me almost 9 years ago, and probably much older than that - an Electrolux.
Recommend this product?
This was back in the day when Electrolux was solely a vacuum-seller.
Yeah. My vacuum was that old.
Now - I don't have any babies yet, but I've got a one-year-old 80-pound pooch that likes to play in rain puddles, dig in the mud, roll in the mulch, and eat animal excrement just to puke up later. Oh, and he sheds. Needless to say, our carpet started to get some stains on it as well as collect dog hair, and the old vacuum wasn't cutting it. Christmas ruined it, I think - sucking up all those pine needles from the Christmas tree was too much for it to handle - and after it finally went kaput, the hubby and I had to find a new vacuum that fit within our budget, tackle puppy messes, and last long enough (hopefully) to help us when the first baby comes along.
Did I mention that our carpet is white? We also have hardwood floors. Oi.
Enter the Bissell Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet Vacuum. It fit all our criteria when looking for a vacuum - reasonable price, multi-surface cleaning, versatile (accessories for hard-to-reach spots, stairs, and auto), bagless, and most of all, strong suction geared towards cleaning up pet hair. We decided to go with Bissell because upon doing a few comparisons with Dyson (eek! Run away! Too expensive!), Eureka (mmm...not a whole lot of rave reviews), and Hoover (good, reliable vacuums but just a tad more expensive for something that seems to have the same qualities as Bissell), the Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet Vacuum seemed to be the one for us, especially since it focuses on pet mess.
What's the difference between this vacuum and other Bissell vacuums? Really, not much. I was actually looking at a few others that appealed to me, but what sold us was the price (on Amazon it's cheaper, plus free shipping). Besides, like I said, we're not complete slobs around the house and we aren't running after kids yet, so we didn't need an ultra-super-duper awesome vacuum that does everything and turns into Optimus Prime.
Briefly, I'll go into the features:
Bagless: I personally didn't care for this feature - I think emptying a vacuum bag is far more simpler than pulling out a large plastic cup and dumping God-knows-what into your trash can (that may or may not float around in a nasty cloud). However, we went with the bagless because my husband wanted one, and he does not like purchasing bags separately when we run low. I can see how this can save money in the long run, and really, it's not that much of a pain to empty out the canister. I know some people could get really annoyed with this feature, especially if they have a LOT of pet mess to clean up in a large house, since the cup isn't very big and it might take several trips to the trash can before the entire house is clean. The bagless feature is growing on me, though, because I can monitor just how much dust and hair I'm sucking up in any given room, and how much more cleaning it probably needs - something you can't observe with an enclosed bag. I don't know how many ounces this thing holds - I can't find that info on the vacuum or on the website - but it's not very big. Probably only 5 to 6 inches in length and width.
Multi-surface: We had to have this because we didn't want to scratch up the hardwood floors with the brush, but we also wanted plenty of contact between the brush and the carpet. This vacuum allows you to turn the brush on or off, and it also has a small dial that lifts the head up or down depending on carpet fiber size. Thick shag carpet? Raise the head up a couple notches. Low pile carpet? Turn the dial down so the head has closer contact. I love this feature, because I was pulling up so much gunk I didn't know existed down there. We have low-pile carpet, and the high-traffic areas were starting to get mushed down, but this vacuum pulled the carpet back up almost like new, and the first time I used it in one room I had to vacuum at least three times. That's how crappy our other vacuum was. When it came to pet mess, I couldn't believe the amount of pet hair I was pulling up. Our pup even sleeps on a red "blanky" and at first, we thought it was starting to stain the carpet - but the teeny red fuzzies weren't coming out of the fibers after vacuuming (with the old vacuum). Not anymore! I went over his blanky spot with the new Bissell a few times and I could see the fuzzies collect in the canister. I even started to smell the difference, if that was even possible - I had sprinkled some Glade Carpet & Room "dust" on the carpet a few months back to freshen up the house, and it was coming back up with the new Bissell. At least I know that the Bissell Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet Vacuum is doing its job - a good job, at that.
Accessories: The Bissell Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet Vacuum comes with four different accessories - the crevice tool, the combination dusting brush/upholstery tool, an extension wand, and a pet turbo brush. Our last vacuum didn't have any of these things, so this is a bonus for us. For those that need all the bells and whistles, this vacuum may not provide you with everything you want or may not be what you'd expect - for example, the combination dusting brush/upholstery tool is just a little attachment you put on the end of the hose and I guess you use it to clean dusty surfaces or inside the car. It's just a little piece of plastic with a few bristles on the end. The extension wand, I know, will come in handy later so we can suck up cobwebs (and since I'm so darn short). Again, it's just a hollow plastic tube that can attach to the hose and has an extension/lock option if you need to reach high spots. The crevice tool is another plastic attachment about a foot long that tapers so you can clean, well, crevices, and I have no idea what the pet turbo brush is for. (I would like to use it directly on my dog but it might freak him out.) I haven't had the time to figure it out yet (we just got the vacuum this weekend) but I'm assuming you connect the turbo brush to the end of the hose and it'll sweep like a mini-vacuum. I can see this becoming very useful after a trip to the vet (he sheds and pukes in the car) or after a romp in the mud (targeting little dirt spots in the carpet). Additional accessories may be purchased separately, like a stair-cleaning tool or a shoulder strap (thus, the "lift-off" feature - the vacuum canister is detachable and may be carried around with a shoulder strap if you have to get on a ladder or something to clean cobwebs or the tops of fan blades).
Aesthetics: I don't know why vacuums these days need to look like something that came from outer space, and I don't really know why the Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet Vacuum has to be blue, but ours is. I really don't care about what color a vacuum is but blue wouldn't be my first color of choice. The body is built to hold every accessory, however, so you're not digging around in the closet looking for the pet turbo brush or the extension wand. When you need it, boom, it's right there attached to a little compartment on the vacuum itself. Nice! The bagless cup is easy to remove and is also washable, which I do when I'm finished cleaning, because I don't want stinky pet hair sitting around in the vacuum. The cord, which is 30 ft. long, can be easily wrapped up and attached to the vacuum, and there's even a bumper on the vacuum head - which is great for me because I'm incredibly clumsy and careless. I've dinged my furniture and walls countless times (to my husband's chagrin). All in all, a very handy machine indeed.
Additional comments: I like how this vacuum is very versatile in that you can purchase other accessories that are compatible with it if you need them. In addition, the filter should be replaced every so often, depending on how much crap is going through it, but it's relatively inexpensive and is HEPA (High Efficiency Air Filter) compliant. The only beef I really have with this vacuum is that it's plastic. I know, I know - what else would it be made out of? But it's the type of plastic that shocks the living crap out of you after rubbing it against something. Like this vacuum. It builds up lots of static electricity after going across the carpet, so dust and dog hair accumulate really easily on the wheels and on the back of the engine. We have to either suck this accumulated hair off with a hose or wipe it down with a paper towel. This might get annoying in the wintertime. Because of its make, however, I believe that this vacuum is lightweight and easy to move around. I've read a few reviews that state otherwise, so I guess physical fitness is really the key factor here when determining proper vacuum weight. Again, I'm a little biased - my old vacuum was made over two decades ago and weighed a ton compared to the Bissell, so... Oh - and it has a headlight, if you need that sort of thing.
Overall: I'm perfectly happy with my vacuum so far. It does what we want it to do and it picks up plenty of pet hair, which is what we need right now. Four stars because the vacuum is a little on the cheap side compared to others (accessories aren't exactly top-of-the-line, neither is the hose, and I'm a bit nervous to see that the replacement belts come in two-packs - what, do those need to be replaced often?) but everything else is just fine with me.
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