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For years I felt like the carpet in our RV was never truly clean, but I finally found vacuum cleaner solution for our camper that both I and my husband are happy with.
Before I tell you about it, though, let me give you a little background.
Our RV Central Vacuum System
Our fifth wheel RV actually has a built-in Dirt Devil RV central vacuum system, same as the one pictured below. It came factory-installed in our Keystone Everest fifth wheel, but you can get them after market as well. Some people install them inside a cabinet or under a bed or dinette booth.
My Experience with the Built-in RV Vacuum
At first I thought having a central vacuum system in my RV was really cool. I love that it's hidden out of the way inside our wall, and that the hose stretches throughout the entire length of our 37-foot camper. If you really wanted to be efficient with space, you could even add a Vroom Retractable Hose which is sucked into a small box or flexible tubing for storage, as seen in this video:
The Problem With Our RV Vacuum Cleaner
As I said, I really liked the convenience of having a central vacuum, but there was just one problem with it. While the suction was very powerful and worked great for the areas of our RV where we had linoleum, the suction alone wasn't strong enough to pull the cat fur and long blonde hair (mine) out of our carpet.
I think that in an RV with laminate floors our Dirt Devil RV vacuum by itself would have worked great, and honestly, replacing the carpet in our RV with laminate flooring is something I had planned to do and just never got around to doing before we moved out of it a few months ago.
And depending on the size of your camper, replacing the flooring might actually cost less than buying a quality vacuum cleaner!
But for us, vacuuming with suction alone just wasn't enough to keep our carpet clean.
We did have a turbo attachment, but it too was powered only by suction, not electricity, and so was practically worthless. To vacuum, my husband or I would crawl around on our hands and knees scrubbing at the carpet with the upholstery tool, which had the most powerful suction, trying to loosen the hair from the carpet fibers.
I searched online for an attachment we could buy for the Dirt Devil that had an electric-powered attachment, but my search came up empty.
I did find this rubber carpet cleaning tool online that actually worked really well for scraping up massive amounts of pet hair. However, it required some muscle to use and wasn't something I wanted to do every day or even every weekend, so it was only a partial solution for our problem.
My First Cordless Vacuum
Finally I decided to give up on the RV vacuum and just buy a compact cordless vacuum cleaner. (It had to be cordless, because I absolutely hate using a regular corded vacuum cleaner and knew that if I got one I wouldn't vacuum as often.)
A lot of RVers online recommended that I get a Dyson or a Shark, but when I saw how much those brands cost, I decided to try a cheaper brand and ended up deciding on one that cost around $100 from a brand called Dibea.
It worked a little better than the central vacuum, but only until the dust collector filled up and had to be emptied, which was about every five minutes. Also, the beater bar would get hair wound around it and eventually stop turning, and taking it apart to untangle it was not an easy process.
With this vacuum, I still didn't feel like my floors were REALLY clean, and my husband still preferred the central vacuum.
My Solution: A Powered Vacuum Hose
Finally, it occurred to me to look for attachments for residential central vacuums that might work in the RV, and I ended up finding what for me was the best solution: an electric vacuum hose and power nozzle.
This is a vacuum hose with an electric wire running down the length of it so that can power an electric powerhead. The hose has a cord that plugs into a regular wall outlet on the end next to the vacuum outlet, so the cord doesn't get in the way or need to be moved while I'm vacuuming.
The difference in power between this electric powered vacuum and my cheap cordless vacuum was amazing! And finally, I had a tool strong enough to loosen and suck up pet hair and human hair from the carpet, with the convenience of using my RV's built-in central vacuum system (which my husband was happy about).
You can see it in action in this video I shot when we were later moving out of our RV and I needed to vacuum underneath where the couch had been:
Where to Buy a Powered RV Vacuum Hose
Okay you say, where do I get one of these electric vacuum hoses? The one I chose is made by a German company called Wessel Werk. Here it is on Amazon. But, instead of buying brand new, I watched eBay until I found a used set, which I was able to get for around $120.
There are a few similar sets on Amazon that you might want to look at to compare, and if you dig a little, you might be able to save some money by piecing together individual components.
You just want to make sure you get the right type of hose, with a cord that plugs into a separate wall outlet. It's probably also a good idea to measure the diameter of part that plugs into the vacuum hole to make sure it will fit.
RV Vacuum Hose Storage Idea
The one downside to this central vacuum system is that the hose takes up quite a bit more space than my other one did, because even though the length is the same, it doesn't shrink down as much. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend getting one any longer than you need.
When it's all coiled up, the hose I bought fits into a plastic storage crate like this one:
You could get a vacuum hose hanger like this one or even a decorative garden hose hanger to store the hose on a wall or the back of a door if you can't spare space for it in a cabinet or under the bed.
Another Great RV Vacuum Cleaner
Last fall we moved out of our RV and into a rental house that has about 1,500 square feet of hardwood floors. And of course, just when I had finally found a vacuum cleaner I loved, I couldn't bring it with me since it was part of a central vacuum system.
I wanted to be done with that cheap cordless vacuum, so I donated it to my husband's office and, when my mom told me she wanted to buy me something for the house that I wouldn't buy for myself, I told her I wanted a good cordless vacuum, and ended up choosing a Shark ION.
And let me tell you, I love this thing. (Thanks, Mom!) The power it has compared to my cheaper cordless vacuum is as different as night and day. When I switch it on carpet mode, it does a great job of cleaning the cat hair out of my area rugs. It does have to be emptied after each use but easily makes it through a whole house cleaning.
The beater bar still occasionally has to be taken apart and have the hair unwound from it, but it's easy to disassemble. I especially love that it comes with two batteries so that one can be on the charger ready to go when the other one runs down (but I can usually vacuum the kitchen a couple of times and the whole house at least once before the battery runs out).
The one thing I don't love about it is the weight of the top part, but that is a minor complaint for a vacuum cleaner that does its job so well, and I can now understand why so many RVers were recommending the Shark to begin with. (The Dyson Animal was my other top choice, and I'm sure it would have been a good one as well based on the number of raving reviews.)
I haven't used my Shark in my RV, and the only carpet I've used it on is my area rugs, so I can't say for sure how it would handle regular carpet. But if you are considering buying a cordless vacuum for your RV, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend giving it a try.
So that's the story of my search for a great RV vacuum! I hope reading about my experience helps you and gives you some ideas as you search for the best vacuum for your motorhome or camper!