How does it work? - Vacuum cleaner

How does it work? - Vacuum cleaner

The vacuum cleaner creates a partial vacuum and sucks up dust with the help of the incoming high-pressure air.



vacuum, vacuum cleaner, Torricelli, pressure difference, atmospheric pressure, air pressure, pressure, atmosphere, mercury, piston, air, gas, physics, technology, manufacture, mechanics

Related items


Parts of the vacuum cleaner

  • flexible hose
  • telescopic wand
  • dust bag
  • filters
  • motor

Vacuum cleaners take up dust from the floor with the help of external air pressure.

When the pressure in front of the motor drops, that is, a partial vacuum is created, suction occurs: the external air flows into the vacuum cleaner because the air pressure inside the vacuum cleaner is lower than the pressure outside. Together with the air, dust also flows into the inside of the vacuum cleaner.


  • dust bag
  • filters
  • motor

Air pressure inside the vacuum cleaner

  • low-pressure air
  • high-pressure air
  • fan


  • normal atmospheric pressure
  • vacuum cleaner
  • medium vacuum
  • light bulb
  • near space
  • 101,325 Pa (1,013 millibars)
  • 80,000 Pa (800 millibars)
  • 3,000 Pa – 0.1 Pa (30 millibars – 0.001 millibars)
  • 10 Pa – 1 Pa (0.1 millibars – 0.01 millibars)
  • 0.0001 Pa
  • vacuum
  • <0.0001 Pa

The word vacuum means 'empty space' in Latin, that is, space where there is nothing: no air, nor any other particles.
It does not occur in nature, a perfect vacuum does not exist. We usually use this term to refer to a partial vacuum, a space where gas pressure is very low.
In vacuum cleaners there is no perfect vacuum either, indeed, there is only a relatively weak vacuum.


  • low-pressure air
  • high-pressure air
  • liquid
  • syringe
  • atmospheric pressure

Syringes act like pumps, their operation is based on creating a weak vacuum.
By pulling the plunger up in the syringe, we increase the internal volume, which results in a decrease in pressure. The external, higher-pressure air pushes the fluid that we want to take into the syringe.

Atmospheric pressure

  • mercury
  • water
  • vacuum
  • atmospheric pressure
  • 790 mm (31 inches)
  • 10,744 mm (423 inches)
  • pressure of the liquid column

Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647) was the first to recognize the role of atmospheric pressure in the use of suction pumps.

Evangelista Torricelli

He also discovered that at normal atmospheric pressure a pump cannot hold a liquid column of unlimited height, 10 meters was the limit. During his experiments with mercury, he found that at normal athmospheric pressure the maximum height of a column of mercury in a tube was 760 mm. Since mercury is about 13 times denser than water, this was equivalent to a column of water of about 10 m in height.

Atmospheric pressure results from the weight of the air column above us at the point of measurement. Normal atmospheric pressure is measured at sea level. As elevation increases, there is less overlying air, so atmospheric pressure decreases.

Related items

Domestic electric light sources

This animation shows the characteristics of domestic light sources, from traditional light bulbs to LED lights.

De Havilland DH-106 Comet 1 (1949)

The aircraft manufactured by the British de Haviland company was the world's first mass-produced commercial jetliner.

How does it work? - Air conditioner

An air conditioner cools the air inside by drawing heat away and releasing it outside.

Phase transitions

A phase transition is the transformation of a substance from one state of matter to another.

Structure of the Earth (intermediate)

The Earth is composed of several spherical layers.

Suction pumps and direct action pumps

Direct action pumps and suction pumps are among the simplest water pumps.

Archimedes’ screw (3rd century B.C.)

The screw pump commonly attributed to Archimedes made irrigation much more effective

How does it work? - Electric steam iron

This animation demonstrates how electric steam irons work.

How does it work? - Hair dryer

This animation demonstrates the structure and operation of hair dryers.

How does it work? - Microwave oven

This animation demonstrates how microwave ovens work.

How does it work - Refrigerator

This animation demonstrates how a refrigerator works.

Layers of the ocean

Physical properties, as well as the flora and fauna of the ocean change with depth.

Added to your cart.