Over the past 50 years, the Kirby Company has cultivated a nationwide reputation as a door-to-door seller of long-lasting, all-in-one vacuum cleaners.
These in-home demonstrations can easily run 3 hours. During that time, you’ll see how well the Kirby suctions and shampoos, and you’ll definitely be impressed enough to buy one. Then, you find out the price and get stunned with sticker shock.
How Much Does a Kirby Vacuum Cost?
Kirbys don’t come cheap. Depending on the model and how low you can negotiate the price, you are looking at anywhere from $800 to almost $1,500. If you opt to buy the carpet cleaning attachments, be prepared for the price to climb above $2 grand.
The cost of a Kirby is so expensive that some people who choose to buy them decide to make monthly payments through their Kirby distributor’s third-party financing company. When you finance, you’ll end up paying more money than the vacuum itself due to the interest rate.
What Kind of Warranty Comes With a Kirby?
Kirby offers two types of coverage on its vacuum cleaners. The limited warranty lasts 3 years. It covers problems such as manufacturer defects, and it’s non-transferable.
The other type of coverage is called the Lifetime Rebuild Program. Any time you want to refurbish your vacuum, you can send it to Kirby, and they will clean the vacuum, replace any broken parts and perform maintenance on it. You can have the Kirby rebuilt as many times as you like. However, you’ll have to pay over $100 each time, and that price increases every year.
Can I Buy a Pre-Owned Kirby Vacuum?
Yes. If you’re dead-set on getting a Kirby vacuum cleaner, but you don’t have a grand or more to drop on one, a refurbished model is an option. Reconditioned Kirbys can be found for a cut-rate price that ranges from one-half to one-fourth of what you’d pay for a new model.
The downside is that you won’t get any warranty coverage from Kirby. However, the seller may offer its own warranty. If you buy online, the website may also provide some sort of guarantee. For instance, Amazon offers a 90-day replacement/refund guarantee for renewed (refurbished) Kirbys on top of the seller’s warranty.
How Well Do Kirbys Vacuum?
Vacuuming dirt, hair and sand from carpets is what Kirby vacuums do best. Their brushroll features long, stiff bristles for lifting debris that sticks to carpets, such as pet fur. The floor heads on the G6 and newer models produce incredible suction due to their funnel design, which pulls more dirt per pass and maintains suction across the entire cleaning path.
Are They Just As Good at Shampooing Carpets?
On the plus side, you can use the spray gun tool to shampoo upholstered furniture. When it comes to cleaning carpets, a Kirby doesn’t perform at the same level that it does when vacuuming. Kirbys are only compatible with their branded foam shampoo.
They also employ a low-moisture cleaning method. While this method is great for periodic touch-ups, it’s not effective enough to replace wet shampooing despite Kirby’s claims.
What Features Are Included on a Kirby Vacuum?
No two Kirby models share the exact same features. One of the longest-running features is the self-propelled TechDrive system, which began with the G3 model. The plastic fan was replaced with a more durable Kevlar version on the G5, and HEPA filtration was added to the G6 Kirby. A brushroll switch and blower option can be found on some models, and the Ultimate Diamond comes equipped with a dual-speed motor.
Common Kirby features include bagged dirt collection and manual floor-height adjustment. They also offer in-the-dark visibility with their headlights, and you get a ton of attachments with any model. The standard power cord is long, measuring 32 feet.
What Are Some of the Downsides to a Kirby Vacuum Cleaner?
While Kirbys have that self-propelled drive train and a durable aluminum housing, these two features bring the vacuums’ weight to a hefty 23 pounds. These vacuum cleaners are also noisier than most, and their bulk tends to get in the way when vacuuming along wall edges and under furniture.
Kirby vacuums don’t swivel, so turns are difficult to make, and their handles are anything but ergonomic. From operating to maintaining these vacuums, a steep learning curve is involved – You’ll definitely need to watch the included instructional DVD. There’s an absence of fluidity when using attachments since you must remove the floor head and secure the hose in its place.
How Long Is a Kirby Vacuum’s Service Life?
The lifespan of a Kirby is much longer than most vacuum cleaners. When properly maintained, a Kirby vacuum can last up to 20 years. In fact, some people still have and use a Kirby they bought in the 1970s or 1980s – a full decade before the G3 was introduced. Of course, Kirbys as old as the Heritage have undergone a few rebuilds during their lifetime.
What Kind of Maintenance Does a Kirby Need?
To get the best performance possible from a Kirby vacuum, it should be serviced by a dealer every 3 to 4 years. Disposable HEPA bags and belts must be replaced periodically just like any other bagged vacuum cleaner. Typically, the belt lasts 6 months to 1 year. The brushroll will need to be replaced about once every 5 years.
Kirby’s dry foam shampoo comes in a scented and an unscented version. Out of all the ongoing maintenance costs, the shampoo is the most expensive. A 1-gallon bottle of Kirby shampoo is approximately $30 a pop.
Who Should Buy a Kirby Vacuum?
If your floors are primarily covered in carpet, a Kirby will serve you well. Kirbys are also great for those who have cats or dogs and people who want one vacuum cleaner to handle all their routine carpet-care needs.
Who Should Pass on a Kirby?
People who have mobility issues such as arthritis may find a Kirby to be too heavy and uncomfortable to maneuver. Its weight can make toting it up the stairs an exhausting exercise. Kirbys perform better on carpets, so they aren’t the best choice for homes with a lot of hard-surface floors.
If you only want a carpet shampooer, there are better alternatives out there that are more powerful and portable, and you don’t have to take out a loan to buy them. Check out these carpet cleaners by Kent Investment Corp., Bissell and Hoover.
Kirby Carpet Cleaner Alternatives
Aqua Power C4 Quick Dry Hot Water Carpet Extractor
Powerful enough for residential and commercial use. The Aqua Power C4 is equipped with a two-stage Ametek motor that produces a maximum airflow of 122 cubic feet per minute. The 35-psi pump boasts a 108-inch water lift. A Kevlar-reinforced gear belt and stainless-steel bearings provide incredible durability.
On the undercarriage of the C4, there’s a high-powered brushroll. Rotating at a speed of 1,000 rpm, the triple-row chevron-style brushroll will exceed your dirt-lifting expectations. Year after year, the aluminum housing maintains the integrity of the roller brush.
Thanks to its large capacity of 4 gallons and low water delivery, the impact-resistant tank cleans 300 to 350 square feet per fill-up. The C4 works at peak performance when you add hot water to the tank, and a hinged metal handle makes it easier to carry the tank to the sink and back.
At 39 pounds, the C4 may seem heavy, but it’s lightweight compared to other industrial carpet extractors. The bumper protects the extractor from accidental collisions, and the glider allows for smooth movement on thick carpets. With the T-bar and height adjustable handle, you can enjoy a comfortable grip. The handle also folds to save storage space.
On the T-bar, there’s a squeeze-activated spray trigger. When not in use, you can store the 25-foot power cord around the carpet cleaner’s wrap. If you want to use the cleaner to detail your automobile, stairs or upholstered furniture, Kent Investment Corp. offers an optional accessories package for the Aqua Power C4.
Bissell Big Green 86T3
Get a professional clean anytime. The 86T3 Big Green Professional is equipped with Bissell’s extra-wide brushroll. Due to its tightly bundled, wavy rows of bristles, this brushroll reaches to the bottom of the carpet, easily lifting deep-seated stains along a 10.5-inch path. Its cord measures 25 feet, and it winds around the side-positioned wrap.
A pair of 1.75-gallon tanks prevents dirty water from mixing with clean water. The stacked tanks are secured in place with latches, and they both have a thick handle to help you lift them. When it’s time to empty the dirty-water tank, you’ll appreciate the expanse of its outlet.
Bissell chose a 12-amp motor for the Big Green, which generates a high level of suction. In turn, drying time is minimized. The 40.6-pound carpet cleaner has a within-arm’s-reach power switch, and the 5-year warranty offers coverage in the event of no-fault breakdowns.
The Big Green is designed to move forward and backward, so you can clean a lot of carpet in a short amount of time. On the handle, a T-shaped bar provides an ergonomic hold during extended shampooing sessions. A spray of cleaning solution is instantly released each time you squeeze the T-bar’s trigger, and you can raise or lower the height of the handle to maximize your comfort.
When you want to clean the stairs or your furniture, the 9-foot flexible hose attaches easily with a push-and-twist motion. Bissell includes a 6-inch-wide stain tool with its own trigger. On the machine, a flow indicator lets you know that it’s time to add more water to the reservoir.
Hoover SmartWash Automatic Carpet Cleaner (FH52000 Model)
Carpet cleaning made easy. Hoover automatized the SmartWash, so it knows to release water when you push it and dry the carpet when you pull the cleaner. This means the D-shaped, textured handle doesn’t have a cumbersome trigger you must press and hold, saving your hand from becoming fatigued.
Hoover also achieved simplicity in terms of nozzle maintenance. The translucent cover on the nozzle lifts up, allowing you to instantly remove the FlexForce brushroll and clean it. With its alternating diagonal rows of bristles, the brushroll is strong enough to pull dirt from high-pile carpet yet gentle enough for safe use on area rugs.
The 12-inch-wide nozzle dries your carpet in record time thanks to the cleaner’s HeatForce technology. The motor that powers the brushroll and the HeatForce extraction is covered under a 5-year warranty. A wrap for the 22-foot cord and a handle for lifting are located on the rear of the SmartWash, allowing you to neatly store the 19.8-pound carpet cleaner.
When you add cleaning solution to the 20-ounce dedicated tank, the SmartWash mixes it with the water in the 1-gallon reservoir. No measuring by hand required. The third see-through tank holds the dirty water extracted by the carpet cleaner, keeping contaminants away from the reservoir.
For staircase shampooing, you can use the 8-foot-long hose and dual-purpose pet tool. The hose attaches to the cleaner via an easy-to-insert connector, and the attachment click-locks into place. Hoover throws in a storage bag, so you can keep both accessories in one place.
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Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner (2458 Model)
A lightweight, spot-removing wonder. Weighing just 13.2 pounds, the 10 by 14-inch Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro makes it easy to clean up after children and animals, and it’s great for post-party cleanup. The raised tote handle allows you to lift and carry the 5.7-amp carpet cleaner up the stairs with ease.
On one side of the spot cleaner, a quick-release hook immediately unwraps the 22-foot cord when turned. On the other side, a large reel holds the 5-foot hose securely in place. Since the hose is permanently attached to the Bissell SpotClean, setting up the cleaner is a streamlined process.
The two separated tanks hold 0.75 gallons of water a piece. Their clear housing lets you see when the reservoir needs more water or the collection tank must be emptied. Both tanks are affixed with a hinged handle for no-hassle carrying. Bissell even throws in a trial-sized bottle of its proprietary pet urine eliminator/anti-soiling formula.
Clean your automobile, pet beds and more with the tough-stain snap-together tool. This 3-inch-wide brush has its own solution-release trigger. The see-through head lets you know when all the dirt has been removed. The tool is even able to extract water when you make backward strokes.
With this SpotClean model, Bissell also includes a stain trapper. The cup-like apparatus extracts dirty water from its flared nozzle, holding it in a small tank. To remove a stain, simply move it back and forth in a slow motion. After the stain is lifted, you can twist off the tank and pour out the water into the sink.
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