A Vacuum Cleaner Story So Disgusting It Is Embarrassing to Tell

Even though not 100% organized, I pride myself on housekeeping to the point of being accused a time or two of being a wee bit compulsive. This brings me to the matter of vacuum cleaners. I’m particular, if not freakish, about vacuums. There was a time when I wore out vacuums so often that the folks at the Recycling Center knew me by name.

Let me take you back to 2007. I’d just blown out my third Hoover Wind Tunnel, having worn that thing down to its last gasp. I carried it in pieces to the Recycle Center. I was planning to replace it with the latest and greatest from Hoover until I heard about the Shark Navigator.

First impressions

I wasn’t that impressed as I looked over a new Shark Navigator vacuum at the store. It was on the smallish side, lightweight—certainly not the hefty, beefy Hoover I was used to. But based on a recommendation from a trusted friend, I decided to give it a try, knowing I could return it if this Shark couldn’t live up to my standard.

Oh, my. This might be an excellent place to end this post. What happened next is that embarrassing.

Maiden voyage

I plugged that puppy in and started to vacuum my family room, carpeted with 100% wool Karastan carpet. Look, I loved this carpet and had babied it from the day it was installed. It looked like new, which you might want to take with a grain of salt because I never wear my glasses when I vacuum. Still, I thought of it as pristine.

Within minutes, that canister filled to the top—a condition I had never witnessed in any vacuum to that day. And I was vacuuming a fairly small area. I was so shocked; disgust hardly describes the feeling. I took the canister out to the trash to dump it, hoping the neighbors wouldn’t be peering over the fence to see what was coming out of my home.


What on earth?!

This room was not small, but not massive, either. I filled that canister four times before I put Sharky away for the day. The next day, I vacuumed the same room a couple more times, and still, I was sucking out who-knows-what from this carpet. Even my husband was shaking his head. I vacuumed again until the canister remained empty. Finally.

I’ll admit to the carpet being ten years old at the time, but it had nearly been vacuumed to death over the decade. And cleaned routinely. All for naught, apparently.

Shark Vacuum: The final verdict

Buying a Shark Navigator was the best money I’d spent since I got my carpet-cleaning steam vac, which I still use all the time and as recently as yesterday.

I am still stunned at my Shark vacuum’s power and lightweight feature. But more than that, I am so happy to know that the carpet in my home is really clean. I mean, probably as clean as the day it was installed.

And my bonus? No more pricey, disposable bags!


Since getting my first Shark Navigator, I have updated more than a few times—not because a Shark died, but because I need to do a lot of testing. When I buy a new model, I give away the oldest in my current cadre of vacuums. I am still 100% sold on Shark Navigator Lift-Away—often you’ll find “Professional” in the name depending on the model—which remains our pick for EC Best Inexpensive.

Shark Navigator Lift-Away is far and away the best vacuum I have ever owned, tried, or tested. Shark vacuums across the board are low-cost. At this writing, I own three, one for each floor of my home. The “lift-away” aspect is wonderful as I can lift off part of the vac to make a small portable size to vacuum stairways.

As for longevity, Sharks just don’t wear out as other vacuums are inclined to do. And should there be a problem, Shark’s customer service is remarkably helpful and responsive.

Updated for 2024 on 2-27-24


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  1. Byron says:

    Mary, has anyone come up with a good use for the extremely strong plastic bags inside of dry cereal boxes?
    I know they are resealable and I just hate to keep throwing them out.
    Byron B.

  2. QuiltMama says:

    I too, require an exceptional vacuum. We have pets who shed, and we live in the country and have a lot of dust from surrounding farmland. Last year when it was time yet again to get a new vacuum I did extensive online research. I had been wanting a Dyson for years and was so sure that was the brand I would end up purchasing. Not so! My research all ended up pointing to the Shark Navigator which I had never even heard of. Got a great deal on it too, at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20% coupon. The Shark Navigator is by far the BEST vacuum I’ve ever owned.

  3. Diane says:

    I agree 100%. I have the original & the lift a way & sorry to say I didn’t realize how dirty my rug was. I use one for the 1st & 2nd floor & the other one for the lower floor. Di

  4. Dave says:

    Re: product pushes, etc.
    If Mary knows about a v good product…heck, I’m more than glad to hear about. Thank you Mary, for another informative Email.

  5. bigmama-chicago says:

    I have this machine. I call it the “beast” Best thing since sliced bread, running water, etc. I have cats–beautiful longhaired cats, tripled. Before the Shark I had to use a carpet rake and vacumn and the hair still didn’t all come out. No more not since the Shark. Don’t waste your money on thoise high priced machines….this one works. Its the “cats meow” And to Lisa from Calgary
    just keep breaking your back. while the rest of us have happy cleaning. I have the Lift Away NV 350. Its even cheaper on QVC last time I looked

  6. Lisa from Calgary says:

    Did you get paid to write this one? I’m even more skeptic than usual. Love your posts but not your product pushes.

    • Betty says:

      Lisa… I got a navigator lift away when I bought my condo since it was lots lighter than my Kirby.. so much cheaper and I just bought a rocket for the 5 flights of stairs I have… They are that good…

  7. Cindy H. says:

    I also just bought the Shark Navigator Pro and was appalled at what it sucked out of my seemingly clean carpet. This vacuum is amazing! And mine came with a free Shark steam iron. It also reconfigures to make a canister vacuum and has a hard floor attachment that sweeps and dusts the floor at the same time. I love it.

  8. Euvonna says:

    Don’t get the smaller one, get the Lift Away one model NV350. I have a friend who bought the smaller one, and I do not like it nearly as well as my NV350

  9. Euvonna says:

    I do agree this is the best vacuum cleaner available. It is amazing how much it picks up and how light weight it is. I love how you can lean the body of it from side to side to go under and around things.

  10. Michelle says:

    Mary, I don’t mind you “advertising” a product, because I know you sincerely want to help your readers and I trust what you tell us (as long as you’re not getting “paid” by companies to advertise their products). Thanks for the tip on the Navigator. – I wasn’t even thinking of buying a new vac but now maybe I will.

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