At 7.30am this morning (that’s 0830h German efficiency time) I opened the door to take delivery of a free vacuum cleaner from the people at Miele. Mainly to amuse my teenage offspring, in a cool-ironic-parent fashion, I thought we ought to have what is known in the trade as a ‘box opening’ post. Normally this is what young men in t-shirts do when they take delivery of a new games console or smartphone ahead of the pack. Whereas in previous generations they might have been marching around a square doing National Service, or hefting an axe down a coal mine, now they spend their time sharing their experiences of gadgets with other young men in similar t-shirts. Indeed, to achieve a proper box opening, an entire day of their lives is invariably spent opening said box and fully evaluating the contents, whilst filming it for posterity on YouTube. A distinctive feature of the box opening is the improvised narrative, recorded in a lugubrious semi-monotone, disguising their insane excitement at the new and shiny gadget. Fortunately, today you will be spared such a narrative.
So what do we have? Well , the outside of the box has lots of shiny pictures promoting the features. Most of the little pictures make sense, and paint a picture of a brighter, cleaner domestic world if you only buy their vacuum. One of the pictures remains elusive though – something called ‘Dynamic Drive’ with a red arrow pointing up and down, which doesn’t appear to correspond to any part of the vacuum I can see.
Suddenly I notice that my son has put his fingers on his lips in an imitation of the cherubic unisex child on the box. A feature of this product is supposed to be that it is so quiet, you should be able to vacuum while your children sleep. As an experienced parent, I hope you will not attempt this too often, as my position is that when children sleep, parents should generally also be resting (or at least having a sit down with a cup of tea and a fondant fancy). However I accept occasionally there may be a need for running the vacuum around – for example if a visit from one’s mother-in-law is imminent. But I do think the Miele chaps have missed a marketing trick here. The main reason for making a vacuum quiet is because an unreasonable proportion of children are terrified of the noise they usually make, and anything to calm the situation down can only be a good thing in terms of flogging the product to parents. (Of course, the reason the vacuum is so quiet is apparently because they have redesigned the motor so it uses less than half of the wattage of many of their other products, which also saves energy).
Upon opening the box to a mental, if not literal, fanfare, I find a smaller box with pipes and accessories.
I am pleased to see that there is a telescopic pole, which makes hoovering a lot simpler for anyone over 5 foot 4, and allows remotes cobwebs in the corner of ceilings to be dealt with effectively, if one is trying to avoid a Dickensian ‘Miss Faversham’ domestic chic. Accessories are the normal ones – upholstery tool, crevice nozzle (Ooh, Matron!) and a dusting brush. We also have instructions and an invitation to pay for a 10 year warranty for £50. As Miele vacuums are nigh on indestructible unless you go berserk with the annual Christmas tree needle offensive (as I found out to my cost in the past), I am not sure I will need to do this. In fact the people at Miele have calculated that if you hoover for an average of 45 minutes a week, this beast will last 20 years. (Worryingly such a statistic also indicates that the average woman will spend something like a total of 15 weeks hoovering during their lives unless they live in a equality-minded household where they share the task. A better reason for feminism I do not know).
The main brush is quite clever and has different setting for carpets and hard floors, that you adjust with your feet as you shift from one surface to another. Retro fitting accessories from earlier vacuums is possible, so from time to time, I will probably be using my well loved Miele turbo brush, the Ferrari of vacuum accessories. Being a bit of a housekeeping nerd (WHO KNEW?) I also have a mattress attachment and an extra long crevice nozzle that I bought from Miele in the past, which I use periodically. (These people take hygiene seriously. I noted with amusement when I ordered my bits and pieces that they also supply attachments so you can vacuum your computer, car, or even horse, repeat horse. Sadly they don’t seem to do attachments for vacuuming children yet). The main brush clips onto the body of the vacuum for storage, and the other accessories sit inside it so they are readily to hand as you pootle about with the vacuum.
Another significant feature is that this vacuum has a HEPA filter. This stands for High Energy Particulate Air, and is a medical grade filter which in this case removes dust and pollen from the air. If you have an asthmatic in the family, or someone with a serious allergy to pollen, a HEPA filter will make a lot of difference to your symptoms. You will need to change this every few months, depending on how often you vacuum.
Is this vacuum a good Austerity purchase? It’s actually quite expensive in the first instance (around £250), but it did win a Which? best buy award, as it’s clearly a highly effective and well engineered vacuum. The low energy quiet was unnerving to us at first, as we are used to associating dramatic motor noise with effective suction, but it was clear to us it worked well on linoleum, wooden floors and carpets, and on the quiet setting it really was, well, quiet. So if you have a family house, and an allergy sufferer in the family, the Miele Silence Plus S8390 may well be worth saving up for.