For years, I regularly coexisted with tumbleweeds of pet fur and became accustomed to small particles of dirt stuck to the bottoms of my feet. I wasn’t dirty per se. I definitely cleaned! I just wasn’t great at cleaning floors. Yes, I’d use a vacuum on carpet, when necessary, but what about all the surfaces of my apartment that weren’t carpeted? (Most of them!)
The corded vacuum was heavy, bulky, inconvenient. Each cleaning event required a tiresome ordeal of retrieving and unspooling and plugging and navigating and maneuvering and unplugging and replugging and more maneuvering and finally respooling and putting it away. I had a handheld too, but I never remembered to charge it. It isn’t apparent where something that both needed to be plugged into the wall and is a small, ugly tripping hazard should go, so it usually ended up shoved in a corner, out of the way and entirely forgotten. I briefly shared a chaotic apartment with three roommates and a Roomba knockoff, but its primary value seemed to be entertainment. The thing always wound up beached on a pile of cords or a blanket well before the floor was detritus-free. From time to time I reached for a broom, but crouching to fill the dustpan and then nearly spilling the contents was an ordeal I preferred to avoid. The result? When my floors got dirty, I sometimes cleaned them by getting on my hands and knees and dragging a damp paper towel around.
In that former life, vacuuming was a last resort, and the floor was always slightly … not clean. But on the advice of colleagues, I got the Dyson V7 Motorhead. Shockingly, I paid $300 for it. More shockingly, I’m so happy I spent that money.
That tiresome ordeal is now a simple matter of grabbing the vacuum—shoop! shoop! shoop!—and putting the vacuum back in its spot. To do a touch-up job like picking up spilled crumbs takes less than a minute, total.
The head of this vacuum pivots to fit under shelves and slots seamlessly into the nooks between pieces of furniture, so as to leave minimal floor space untouched. The experience is so different from using a regular vacuum that using it registers less to my brain like housecleaning, and more like playing a video game.
Like many Dyson offerings—hoop-shaped fans, a hollow hair dryer—the V7 is characterized by negative space. Where other vacuums are bulky, this one looks like a hot-pink Tinkertoy, with a rolling brush head on one end and on the other a clear chamber for dirt, which replaces a traditional vacuum bag. (Don’t mistake its wispiness for lack of power, though.) It’s beautifully easy to use: To turn on the vacuum, just grip the handle. To empty the dirt from the chamber, pull up a tab labeled with a small trash can, while holding the chamber over a trash can. You could send this machine to an alien, and—as was the hope with the Golden Record sent into deep space aboard the Voyager—the alien would be able to decipher how to use and care for it. I know because I was that alien, unfamiliar with vacuuming.
Within a month of owning the V7, I found myself home on a Friday night drinking a hard cider and using the machine in its handheld configuration—the Tinkertoy body snaps off so you can affix the head or other attachments directly to the dirt chamber—to clean the interior of our apartment’s junk drawer. I used it without any attachments at all, so it was just a column of upward suction, to siphon up several pieces of cat food that had been jammed for months in the side panels of the air conditioner. I even took a piece of advice from cleaning expert Jolie Kerr that, like the V7’s price tag, previously seemed ludicrous: I vacuumed my bathroom.
I didn’t realize how many small particles inhabited my life until they were blissfully all gone.
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