Patent illustration of a carpet sweeper

A carpet sweeper is a mechanical device for the cleaning of carpets. They were popular before the introduction of the vacuum cleaner and have been largely superseded by them. However, they continue to be used in many home and commercial applications because they are lightweight and quiet, enabling users to quickly clean small messes up from the floor without disturbing patrons, patients, babies and pets, and because they do not require electricity to operate.


Patent illustration of the underside of a Bissell carpet sweeper

A carpet sweeper typically consists of a small box. The base of the box has rollers and brushes, connected by a belt or gears. There is also a container for dirt. The arrangement is such that, when pushed along a floor, the rollers turn and force the brushes to rotate. The brushes sweep dirt and dust from the floor into the container. Carpet sweepers frequently have a height adjustment that enables them to work on different lengths of carpet, or bare floors. The sweeper usually has a long handle so that it can be pushed without bending over.[citation needed]


The design was patented by Melville R. Bissell of Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, in 1876[1]. Bissell began selling carpet sweepers in 1883. They became popular in the UK after the first Ewbank model went on sale in 1889.[2] New powered versions were designed at the beginning of the 20th century, with rechargeable batteries and an electric motor to spin the rollers and brushes.[citation needed]

Modern usageEdit

The legacy of carpet sweepers lives on in floor cleaning robots that have limited suction power and rely on sweeping to collect larger bits of debris from the floor. While some research models of robotic vacuums only rely on vacuum motors, models on the market such as Roomba or bObsweep invariably combine suction and sweeping.[3]

In popular cultureEdit

A very early appearance in film occurs in the 1914 Charlie Chaplin film Laughing Gas, where Chaplin uses it to clean the waiting-room floor of a dentist. Carpet sweepers are still available in many parts of the world.


  1. ^ US patent 182346, Melville R. Bissell, "M. R. Bissell carpet-sweeper", published 1876-09-19 
  2. ^ Gantz, Carroll (2012) The Vacuum Cleaner: A History, McFarland and Co Inc, ISBN 978-0786465521, p. 33
  3. ^ [1]