Out with the old…and the old was pretty awesome

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life47 Comments


Meet my dying Dirt Devil. Dirt Devil, blog readers. Blog readers, Dirt Devil.

I bought this shimmering example of cleaning efficiency in 1990, the year I moved to Minnesota to shack up with an ambitious coffee shop upstart by the name of Daniel Ezekiel Zielske, Jr. Moving in with a member of the opposite sex was bound to bring many changes, but regardless of how different things were going to be in my life, dust bunnies still had no business occupying the various living spaces of the 1880s duplex we were sharing in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul.

This Dirt Devil has seen every single momumental mess  or crumb pile of my entire adult life.

It was there to suck up many fur balls from my now deceased and much loved pets.

It was there to vacuum up countless Cheerios flung callously from high chairs by the two Zielske toddlers.

It was there to clean every single nook and cranny that the large vacuum simply couldn't reach.

And it did this, without so much as a thank you, for 21 years.

Think about this: 21 years, people. 21 years of weekly use and not once did it break down or stop working. (Okay, so the on/off switch died about 10 years ago, but that, friends, is what packing tape is for.)

I loved this thing so much, I wrote about it in one of my "Me: The Abridged Version" albums. Here's what I said a few years ago, under "V" for "Vacuums that get their money's worth":

 I’ve had the same, red, Dirt Devil can vac since 1990. That is 19 years for anyone who’s counting. NINETEEN YEARS! I’m sorry, but I love this portable can vac. Sure, the little guy has seen it’s better days. The on/off button hasn’t worked in years and I simply plug it in to hear the lovely roar of the suction begin, but I have to say, it still works as well as the day I brought it into Dan and my’s relationship. That’s what is wild: the vacuum has lasted as long as our relationship. Dan doesn’t love this little vac the way I do. He chooses to put the attachment hoses on our upright whenever he’s tackling a vacuuming task. He doesn’t realize the superior suction power and the easy of mobility afforded by the Dirt Devil. What is sad to me is that Dirt Devil no longer makes the same model. Sure, they have something similar, but all the online reviews I’ve read say over and over: it’s not like the original. I feel like every time I’m cleaning, I’m using a family heirloom—a precious family heirloom. And that’s okay by me. I heart you, Dirt Devil. Please don’t die on me anytime soon.

But like many relationships in life, sometimes they simply run their course.

The suction has been slowly lessening over the past 6 months and I was beginning to realize that my time with this beloved little tool was coming to an end. All the fresh replacement bags in the world weren't helping it to pick up even the simplest of random crumb piles. While I did do a modest amount of research, looking at higher end can vacs from companies like Dyson and Miele, in the end, I just decided to stay true to a brand that has served me so loyally over the years, and I bought this:


Another reason I picked up this model? The prices on the Dysons and the Mieles made the large vein in Dan's forehead throb uncontrollably.

Will it be a relationship for the ages, me and the new Dirt Devil Vision?

I can say this as of today: it totally sucks, as in a good suction way, which is already an improvement over the current state of its predecessor.

Long live the Dirt Devil.





Cathy ZielskeOut with the old…and the old was pretty awesome

47 Comments on “Out with the old…and the old was pretty awesome”

  1. #1
    madeline St onge

    I bought a new Dirt Devil upright a couple of years ago and hated it, just not like my old one, replace it with a Shark and love it

  2. #3

    Ahhh. Sorry for your loss 🙂 They just don’t make ’em like they used to– I remember every detail of my mom’s vacuum, because it lasted for the 2+ decades I lived at home. The first one I bought when I moved out lated barely 3 years, and my husband just bought our 3rd vacuum the other day (we’re still too young to have had 3!) Thanks for making me laugh, and enjoy sucking up the crumbs with the new one.

  3. #5

    I’ve never had a vaccuum that long. I kill them with husky hair. Oh yes.. two huskies and two kids that have lots of little legos. They have no chance in this house. You really like bagless? Never got into that either. Always grosses me out cleaning it.

  4. #7

    So funny Cathy. I had a Hoover in England that was a gem. Over there, you don’t vacuum, you hoover the rugs etc. Even tho it was an attachment-less upright, I wished I could have brought it back to the US with me.

    I agree with Dan on the high priced ones. If I bought one, I’d feel I had to use it fairly often, and come on, is that what I was put on earth to do??

  5. #8

    My parents still have an old mini-shop vac (that my brother and I named R2D2 when we were growing up) that still runs perfectly; I think it has a baby blue cord on it, if you’d care to guess the age of it. They also have an old toaster that has been passed down a few generations; dad replaced the cord on it, but SERIOUSLY the thing makes GREAT TOAST! (Do you know how many toasters I have been through since living on my own? Let’s go with… MORE THAN ONE!!!)

    You know what they say… they just don’t make things the way they used to.

    I hope you enjoy your new Dirt Devil!

  6. #10

    Cathy! I had a great Dirt Devil but it only lasted 10 years. I replaced it two Christmas’ ago with a new Dirt Devil, the vision as well. I couldn’t justify the cost of the Dyson (even though I really, really, really wanted it) with a new baby on the way. I H.A.T.E this vacumn. I am sorry, I was so super excited b/c the old vacumn had lost suction power and is why we replaced it. But now it gets clogged ALL the time with just simple crumbs, dust and regular house crud. I wish I would have “upgraded” despite the vein on my own hubbys forehead. I hope you have better luck with yours.

  7. #11
    c@rol w

    You might laugh at my comment, for once! When I married my husband, 27 1/2 years ago, he had a Firestone vacuum. FIRESTONE! … like the tire company! They don’t make parts for it anymore and yet he has managed to modify it or make something to replace anything on it when it needs tender loving care and repair. He duct tapes the paper bags to fit. It’s still the best vacuum I own!

    I think that it’s a sign to me that no matter how much I fall apart in our future together, he’ll tape me back together! ha!

    P.S. He’s still the best husband I could have, too!

  8. #13

    I read this this morning on my phone and when I got to the part that said, “And it did this, without so much as a thank you, for 21 years,” I thought, well, that’s not entirely true, you *did* do a scrapbook page about it, not too many vacuums can say that! And then I scrolled down and saw that it was from your MTAV album/class. 🙂 Sorry for the loss of your beloved vacuum, Cathy, I hope your new one serves you as well for even half as long! 🙂

  9. #14
    Tammy M.

    I remember you mentioning said Dirt Devil in your ME album…we’ve had our Hoover for over 21 years and though it’s no longer my “everyday” sweeper…it’s still always there when the others break down. May your new “predecessor” serve you as well as its matriarch. Have a great day Cathy!

  10. #15

    Im afraid of this, that i will regret not shelling out $400 bucks for a Dyson. I really debated this… you know what though? I told Dan, if this vacuum is a stinker, i will have learned my lesson! Then, Ill by the pricey one!

  11. #16
    Kris Van Allen

    I love having something that lasts so long! too bad the “small appliance repair” places have gone by the wayside….we used to take everything from TVs, to vacuums, to blenders and toasters to those magicians to fix!

  12. #17

    I’m not quite ready to give up on my 23 year old Toyota pickup. It just crossed the 500K threshold, and still going strong!

  13. #18

    Sorry to hear about your loss. May your new relationship be as long and wonderful as the first one. Keep us updated on how it is working out.

  14. #20

    I too have a vacuum that I’ve had forever, actually about 30 years! I should have put it in my MeTAV book! Mine has duct tape holding up the bag, and my girlfriend said I should dump it because it is ugly. But is still works great! It’s a keeper!

  15. #21

    My dh’s vein started throbbing too when I suggested we look at a Dyson.
    Instead, we just fixed up the old vac. A fairly reliable Oreck. And, dang, if she doesn’t work like new (almost).

    I love your stories, Cathy. Even a story about a vacuum had me laughing. …you tell them so well.

    Thanks for the chuckles.


  16. #26

    I have a red Dirt Devil exactly like your old one. It’s still going strong. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. My problem is finding vacuum bags. I actually order them from Amazon.

    Last year, I researched canister vacs because of the whole “can’t find replacement bags” thing. I ended up keeping what I had because the reviews on all of those high priced vacs had horrible reviews.

    Have fun with your new vacuum.

  17. #27

    Unless the man with the throbbing vein is using the new machine, he should not even think about questioning the price of something that is used by you daily. If the price of those made him fliker, he’d have fully kieled over by the price of mine LOL!

  18. #29

    Wow, Cathy, it really is true – you can write a story on ANY subject at all, even a domestic appliance, and it still makes for an interesting read.. 😉
    This is why I love scrapbooking, I mean, I would love to have known more of the ‘back stories’ from my grandparents day to day lives, to be able to add to my picture of them.

  19. #30

    I have a Dyson. I got it for free with my mom’s airmiles, and I must say I looooooooooove it!! It has been the best vaccuum I’ve ever used, and now that I know how good it is I will definately only be buying Dysons…hopefully no time soon though, otherwise my love affair with the Dyson will be short lived! lol I use it every day on every floor surface…I don’t even sweep anymore…it rocks! I hope your new vaccuum is as good to you as your old one! Isn’t it funny the things we get excited about as we get older? I never would’ve thought I would be so enthralled with vaccuums!

  20. #34
    Carol T.

    You should write the company a letter about your experience! I am sure the would send you some DD swag!

  21. #36

    I can so relate. These little dear hearts (mine is a Eureka) work so well they ARE a part of the family. My sympathies–but so happy you found a replacement. LOVE the scrap page 🙂

  22. #37

    Sadly, we go through a vacuum every 18 – 24 months and a Dirt Devil upright was one of them, along with a couple of Hoovers, a Eureka, and a Bissell. I think I’m running out of brands and will need to shell out the money for a Dyson. Maybe then I will find the love of which you speak!

    On a side note, the Dirt Devil will always hold a special place in my heart. My 13-year old son received a toy dirt devil vacuum when he was 2 years old and he loved that machine so much. I have pictures and video of him with that vacuum. Good memories!!

  23. #38
    Sherri Stone

    You brought a smile to my face too! Love that about your blog. Keep us posted on the new Dirt Dev…I may be in the market for one soon:D

  24. #39
    scrapper al

    I felt the same way about my hair dryer. I even took photos of it to scrap someday. Alas, I haven’t found a replacement for that true love.

  25. #40
    Jody Myers

    I have a Dyson amd I have to say…it’s only okay! You would think for the amount we paid for it, it would also do the dishes..ha! Not sure I would buy another one! I hope your new vacuum sucks, I mean that in the nicest way!

  26. #41

    Cathy…your post tickled me because I’ve had my little Eureka Mighty Mite just a hair longer, and I love it in a mighty way. I’m in denial that the suction’s weaker, I’ve got tie-dye duct tape sealing a couple holes in the hose, and I have to get bags from a specialty vaccum store, but its been my go-to vaccuum from my single days right through 21 years of marriage. Sadly, they don’t make it anymore. I wish you and your Dirt Devil many happy years together!

  27. #42
    Suzi Ferguson

    (sorry to be behind the time here; I’m very backed up on my blogs!!)

    I’m sorry about the loss of your beloved vacuum. We have had 4 vacuums in our 21+ years. The last was 6 years ago and, tho it cost more than my first car, I decided it was better to buy a Dyson than a new hoover ever 2-3 years. I figured if I used it for 10 years, it would have only cost me $50 a year and it would be worth it. I LOVE it. It doesn’t loose suction!!!! I can vacuum the whole upstairs or the whole downstairs w/o having to empty the bag (I could probably do the whole house buy my hubby gets an eye twitch when I don’t empty it) The ONLY thing I don’t like about it is how heavy it is. I would SERIOUSLY consider buying a 2nd one just to keep in the basement; I love it that much!!!! Even my cat loves it! When I vacuum, he lays down so I can vaccuum him too!!!

  28. #44
    Toni Delecia Williams

    Dear Kathy,

    Thank you for sharing your story. A wonderful tribute to an amazing product.

    I have had mine in the 25 to 30 year range. It STILL performs like a champ! That is with – if not daily use, then at least once a week EVERY week for all those years. Most of the time is was handling cat/dog hair also. Truly an amazing example of superior American workmanship!!

    I WONDER WHY on earth they quit making this model??? All I can imagine is for them (the company) the big problem WAS that they lasted soooo long!!

    I would like to torture whatever JERK came up with the idea of “planned obsolescence”. It SUCKS (and NOT in a GOOD way) for US the consumer.

    When my daughter left home, she wanted a vacuum that was as good as mine. THIS is when we found out Dirt Devil no longer made this model. So she bought a Dirt Devil upright vac. It only lasted around a year. We were both SAD & disgusted. She has been married about 12 years and has had 9/10 vacumm/steam cleaners!! It’s a REAL shame.

    Just curious, when you started having the “loss of suction”, did you try replacing the drive belt?

    Just for everyone’s FYI, EBAY has the bag very inexpensively. Not an auction, a “buy now” usually. They also sell the belts. When mine quits, I will definitely TRY replacing the belt, before giving it up. 🙂

    Thanks again I really enjoyed the story.

  29. #46
    Clean Freak

    I still have mine! 18 years…..i just noticed the hose has a tear in it. I want to cry. That’s how i came upon your blog. Thank you for sharing!

  30. #47

    Ha! You know, over time, I have come to love my new Dirt Devil. As long as I keep a clean filter in the thing, it works like a charm!

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