on February 9, 2013
I resisted getting a vacuum from Dyson for many years. Just because someone claims they make a better vacuum on TV, do you believe them? To how many vacuum salesmen did I listen to form such an opinion? Too many.
After struggling with all sorts of battery-powered vacuums through the years, I wanted several things: a lithium ion battery pack, enough voltage to develop high suction, large dust collection chamber that is easy to dump, simple replaceable filters likely to be available after 10 or so years, and enough quality that I would still want to own it after 10 years.
These requirements really cut the number of choices down to a handful, and further, cut it down to one vacuum, the Dyson DC35. Unfortunately, picking the vacuum up in a store did not make me comfortable with the price of a new one, I questioned if all of my requirements were necessary. Would the Dyson last?
Then I discovered the reconditioned offering on Amazon. I could own the Dyson DC35 for a reasonable price and not feel so bad if it wasn't what it looked like. I haven't owned a vacuum that didn't disappoint me sooner rather than later.
The reconditioned Dyson has not disappointed me in the least.
First, the "reconditioned" vacuum looked brand new. It was beautifully packed and complete. It looked perfect. It worked great, but the battery ran out far too quickly, it seemed to me. As I read the very simple and wonderfully written instructions, I realized that the vacuum has two speeds, normal and max, and that my vacuum was permanently stuck in "max". The battery had lasted exactly as long as the instructions said it would on "max".
I determined that I could not easily fix the stuck button on the Max switch, so I called Dyson customer support. Here was my first disappointment. They weren't open at that moment. I had to wait 'til Monday morning. So, I called on Monday morning, expecting painful telephone waits and uninformed customer service personnel. Neither was true. A very informed agent answered immediately, understood my problem, and shipped out a replacement motor assembly under the 6 month warranty for reconditioned vacuums. Boom. Done. The motor assembly snaps off and snaps on. You can do it blind-folded.
I was also told by the customer service agent that I had the option of returning it and getting the product replaced by Amazon. I did not opt for this. I had all of the packing material, but the package is amazingly engineered and I thought that packing everything back up would take me an hour or two to figure it out. Besides, waiting for the replacement motor didn't seem too bad. After all, the DC35 worked.
The replacement motor came promptly. I snapped the old motor off, transferred the washable filter, and snapped the new motor on. Works great.
What is special about this vacuum?
It is comfortable and balanced in its full configuration. I had worried that the handle position would be uncomfortable. I was wrong. It feels like a natural extension of my arm, and my wife loves it, too.
On max, it vacuums throw rugs better than any other vacuum I have used. You will get stuff out of a rug every time you vacuum it. You can vacuum it on both sides with a shop vacuum and follow this with the Dyson DC35 and still get dirt.
On "normal", it vacuums well, and picks up random messes as well as any vacuum. It picks up dog hair, dust, sawdust, flour, etc. off solid floors and throw rugs with ease.
What it does not pick up well are leaves. Our dog will randomly bring in damp leaves, either tree or grass. Best to use the shop vacuum for these. You can snap the beater-bar head off, push the Max button, and get the leaf instantly with the Dyson, but it isn't really designed for it.
Other features of the Dyson DC35 include the brush attachment and the narrow crack attachment. The narrow crack attachment works fine. The brush is ingenious. It is really two brush attachments in one. The long-bristle brush, great for all sorts of messes, will slide up out of the way, exposing a microfiber brush. This microfiber brush is remarkable for vacuuming odd dusty things like air-conditioner evaporator coils and fine furniture. I had never imagined it before, and it took me time to figure out what it was for, but it works great, getting that fine dust that seems to be glued to some surfaces.
The unit comes with a "charging station" that screws up to a wall (two screws). It holds the vacuum and the two attachments quite securely and conveniently. Its use is optional, as the charging cord separates from it, but it works so well, why wouldn't you use it? I have considered two reasons. 1) you might not be able to put screw holes in the wall of your apartment; 2) it requires about a foot of clearance in front of where you mount it so that the bottom of the vacuum can swing out from the wall when you put it away or get it out. This last can be a problem if you want to store something else in front of the Dyson DC35 on the closet floor, say a full-size Dyson vacuum. Placing the station higher on the wall may fix this problem. Remember to lift the vacuum slightly as you swing it out, or you will put unnecessary stress on the screws holding the station to the wall. It is best to put the screws into a stud.
The power cord extends a generous 6 feet from the top of the charging station. The plug is large, but it extends to the side of the power outlet and out, so it does not block the second half of a duplex receptacle.
If you are challenged by the battery life (about 15 minutes on normal speed for me), you can purchase a second battery from Dyson and a second power cord, so you can have two fully charged batteries. The power cord will plug directly into the battery without the use of the charging station.
The Dyson DC35 snaps together. There are convenient toggles to remove the suction head and suction tube. The battery snaps out of the motor assembly, the motor assembly snaps loose from the filter system. The dust collection chamber snaps open and snaps loose from the filter assembly. In very rapid succession you can have the Dyson separated into its major assemblies, with the only tool being your hands.
The replaceable filter is designed to be washed many times. It is rugged and very effective. It is easy to wash, but it holds a lot of water and takes some effort to dry. I can see these lasting the life of the unit. It is that well made. I find that to dry the filter requires pressing it between layers of paper towels about three times, then blow drying for 1 minute on each side, then letting it air dry for a day. Returning it damp to the unit is a fantastic recipe for growing mildew.
After some use, the clear plastic dust chamber will become cloudy with accumulated fine dust and abrasion. Completely removed from the unit, it can easily be rinsed to lessen this, but be sure to get it entirely dry before snapping it back on. It seals up tight and will not dry completely when assembled, helping mildew to grow.
The cyclone dust separator unit, which is the best part of the vacuum, will accumulate some dust after quite a lot of use. Much of this can be removed with a shop vacuum. However, there are a lot of chambers in the unit, and small places where the air becomes still and amazingly fine dust deposits will build in places unseen. DO NOT WASH THIS UNIT. You cannot get all of the dust, no matter how you wash it as an assembly, you cannot dry it, and it will grow mildew on the deposited dust, making your Dyson smell like a really filthy gym shoe.
If you are competent and careful, the cyclone separator unit can be fully disassembled on my model. First, the suction tube is removed (4 plastic snaps), then the plastic separator grill must be removed (3 plastic snaps), then there are screws to remove to separate the micro cyclones from the head (one of these screws is located in the filter chamber, almost hidden by dust). Disassembled, the unit is easily cleaned and dried. Assembly is petty easy, just reverse your steps. I do not recommend you do this unless you have a unit that smells like the most disgusting gym shoes imaginable or is somehow clogged; where you know that if you fail you are going to buy a brand new cyclone separator unit from Dyson spare parts. You can destroy the cyclone separator unit by disassembly. Plastic snaps can be broken, screws stripped, screws lost, and you could forget how to put it back together. I also wouldn't expect to successfully do this more than once or twice to a unit without special tools to open the plastic snaps. But if it works, and may save you replacing the cyclone separator.
DO NOT USE THIS UNIT TO PICK UP ANYTHING WET.
Like any vacuum, it will not get the finest dust on a hard floor. An electrostatic dust broom, like the Swiffer, will still get stuff a vacuum won't touch.
Although the Dyson DC35 is an amazing vacuum, and it is easy to think it will do anything, it wont. Just almost everything you have ever done with a household vacuum, and more.