Got an old Vacuum Cleaner? Turn it into something that doesn’t suck!

Media Release, 30th May 2023

Recycle Your Electricals campaign encourages UK householders to recycle broken and unused vacuums, as the iconic Dyson DC01 turns 30!

  • This month it’s the 30th anniversary of the Dyson DC-01 and 2023 is the 125th anniversary of the patent for the first-ever electric vacuum cleaner*
  • The average person in the UK vacuums 126 miles or 70 HOURS a year
  • We own a total of 34.5 million vacuum cleaners in the UK 
  • There are over 10 million unused or broken vacuum cleaners gathering dust  around the country that could be recycled 

30th May 2023 – This May, it’s the 30th anniversary of Dyson releasing its iconic DC-01 – perhaps the first time vacuum cleaners were sexy? 2023 is also the 125th anniversary of the first patent for the first-ever electric vacuum cleaner. Recycle Your Electricals has used both anniversaries to explore the UK’s relationship with vacuuming and raise awareness of what to do with unused or broken vacuums, which can either be donated, or recycled and turned into really useful new objects, from lifesaving equipment, to children’s play equipment. 

When looking at the country’s vacuuming habits, the average person vacuums 126 miles – or 70 HOURS – a year, cleaning on average almost four times a week for 20.6 minutes a time. Vacuuming tends to fall to women, with 72% saying they do the bulk of this chore (although 50% of men claim they do the bulk…). 14% of households say the designated ‘vacuumer’ in their household sings or dances whilst doing this chore, 4% say they do it in the nude and 6% have given their vacuum a name!

Across the UK, households own nearly 34.5 million vacuum cleaners, with the average household owning 1.4 machines! Nearly 1 in 5 UK households have more than one vacuum and 3 in 100 have more than four! 42% of UK households have a corded upright, 31% a cylinder (like a Henry), 23% a stick (like a Dyson v8), 22% a cordless upright (like a Miele Triflex or Shark), 13% a cordless handheld (like a Dustbuster) and 3% a robot vacuum (like a Roomba).  

37% of UK households have more than one vacuum because they use different types for different parts of the house (upstairs, downstairs), 36% because they use them for different reasons (the car, the stairs, one in the kitchen for crumbs etc), whilst 25% have more than one vacuum because they kept the old one as a spare. 

An estimated 10.5 million unused or broken vacuum cleaners are gathering dust around the country that could be donated, or recycled. Moreover, there is also a ticking time bomb of vacuums on the verge of conking out. The average vacuum is expected to last around 8 years, over 1 in 5 (21%) households around the country have 5 million vacuums aged 8 years or more.

Scott Butler, Executive Director, Recycle Your Electricals, said: “We work our vacuum cleaners hard. Whilst they tend to last a long time, when they do finally give up the ghost, remember that by recycling them they can be turned into something more useful, from lifesaving equipment like defibrillators to children’s play equipment.”

James Brown, founder of the UK’s first Vacuum Museum said: “There are millions of vacuum cleaners in UK homes as it’s one of the most popular electrical items of all time. I know as well as anyone it can be tempting to hang on to your old vacuum, for parts, as a spare or because you think it might be worth something one day. Some iconic vacuum cleaners might be worth keeping, but more often than not it makes sense to sell or donate them, if they are still working and in good condition. If not, you can always recycle your old vacuum cleaner, giving it a new lease of life.”

Anything with a plug, battery of cable can be recycled, simply visit to find your nearest recycling point – 


  • *125 years ago, the end of the 19th century saw the introduction of powered cleaners. Early types used some variation of blowing air to clean instead of suction. One appeared in 1898 when John S. Thurman of St. Louis, Missouri submitted a patent (U.S. No. 634,042) for a “pneumatic carpet renovator” which blew dust into a receptacle
  • Dyson first sold the first ‘G-Force’ in Japan for $2000 a piece, the royalties supporting the production of the DC01
  • The ‘Henry’ is the only vacuum still mass produced in the UK, in Somerset
  • The disposable dust bag, which revolutionised vacuum cleaning, was invented in 1907 by asthmatic James Murray Spangler, the cousin of the more famous William Henry Hoover. Spangler’s design incorporated a pillowcase-like cloth filter bag to collect dirt and debris. Hoover then bought the patent from Spangler and produced the first truly portable upright vacuum cleaner the following year
  • The first robot vacuum cleaner, known as the Electrolux Trilobite, was introduced in 1996 by Electrolux. It featured advanced sensors and navigation technology, allowing it to autonomously clean floors
  • The first portable vacuum cleaner was introduced by Walter Griffiths in 1905. It was a canister vacuum with a flexible hose and attachments

Notes to Editors

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Note to Editors

Research – The research was conducted by Opinium. The sample size was 2,000 UK adults aged 18+ and research was run from 16th to 19th May 2023. Results were sent to a nationally representative sample and are also weighted to nationally representative figures of age, gender and region (taken from the ONS) to further ensure a nationally representative makeup.

Material Focus is a not-for-profit organisation whose goal is to stop the nation throwing away or hoarding all their old small electricals. Material Focus is delivering the UK-wide Recycle Your Electricals campaign

The campaign is revealing the value hidden in electricals and is making it easier for us all to recycle and reuse the small electricals we no longer need by providing more recycling points as well as providing practical information on how households can reuse and recycle.

The campaign is funded by producers of electrical appliances which pays for a range of activities, including communications, behaviour change activities, increased recycling projects and research. Ultimately the aim is to support actions that will help the UK increase the levels of reuse and recycling of waste electricals.

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