The war on wires is ongoing. The modern home is absolutely infested with them — power cords, Internet cables, HDMI cables, drawers and drawers full of random USB cords we’re terrified to throw away — despite the proliferation of wireless technology. Even our beloved Wi-Fi pretty much always starts with a cable of some sort. It’s no surprise that whenever we can ditch a cable or cord, we do it. Cordless vacuums were once nifty toys that weren’t very useful, but they’ve come a long way. Today you can clean your home reasonably well using a cordless vacuum, and there are plenty of good reasons to do so: They’re lightweight and easy to carry, they convert into a handheld dustbuster for quick jobs, and the lack of a cord means you can swan around your apartment without tripping over a wire or having to unplug and plug the damn thing in every five minutes as you go from room to room.
But there’s one drawback. Even in this age of cutting-edge technology where actual battery-powered cars can go hundreds of miles, the best cordless vacuums in the world only last about 45 minutes — and that’s typically on the lowest power setting. Many only work about 20 minutes before they punk out. If you’ve got more than a studio apartment to clean, that’s problematic — but there are ways to increase the run time of your vacuum.
Use the right mode on your cordless vacuum
Most cordless vacuums operate at two or more different “modes,” which is essentially the power of their suction. As you might imagine, the higher the power mode, the shorter your run time. Taking the time to be thoughtful about what you’re cleaning and how much power you need will help extend your vacuuming session. Switch on the higher power mode only when you need to, and switch back to the lower setting whenever you don’t.
Turn your cordless vacuum off
If your cleaning routine sees you pivoting between vacuuming and wiping down surfaces or organising as you go, a simple and obvious way to increase your battery life is to turn off the vacuum when you’re not, you know, vacuuming. If you’re going to leave the vacuum standing idle for more than a moment, switch it off to conserve power instead of just letting it run down for no reason.
Keep your battery charged
Most cordless vacuum batteries are lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which means they don’t really have what’s called a “memory effect,” which plagued older batteries like nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. That means you don’t need to run the battery down all the way before charging it — and you shouldn’t. Your vacuum’s battery actually has to work the hardest to recharge when it’s at 0 per cent, and that hard work strains it, shortening its lifespan and lowering the amount of time it runs the vacuum’s motor.
Instead, charge the battery before it gets to zero. Doing shorter “partial” recharges will keep the battery stronger longer.
Keep the vacuum’s filter clean
Your vacuum sucks air — and dirt and cat fur and popcorn kernels — in and pulls it through a filter of some sort. There are two sets of filters, typically: The filters in the motor that keep debris from gumming up the works, and a secondary filter like a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that traps tiny particles like pollen or pet dander instead of circulating them back into your house. Pulling air through these filters strains the battery — and the dirtier they are, the more strain they cause. Cleaning those filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions and replacing them on a regular basis will help your battery last longer.
Store the cordless vacuum at room temperature
Finally, while temperature’s effects on batteries aren’t as powerful as they were in the past, they do have some effect on your battery’s efficiency. Your best bet is to store your battery in a room-temperature area, which means hanging the charger on the wall of your unheated garage might lower the amount of time it powers your vacuum.
If you’re shopping for a cordless vacuum right now, one last piece of advice is to make sure you purchase one with a removable battery — and buy an extra battery. This way you can keep both charged up and switch them out if you run out of juice, because there’s nothing worse than getting through most of your cleaning routine, only to have your vacuum die. Taking a few steps to ensure your battery has the longest possible charge will remove one more tiny piece of frustration from your life.