Don Sheelen - "Father of the modern vacuum"


Credit for the invention of the vacuum cleaner should be given to many people – from Daniel Hess to Don Sheelen.

Some of these men made major improvements to the basic invention. No one made more major improvements to vacuum cleaners than Don Sheelen whose prolific creativity as CEO and “inventor extraordinaire” at the Regina company has changed the way we vacuum today.  Don Sheelan’s inventions cross the vacuum sphere from the basic vacuum cleaner to the steam cleaner. The “tools on board” idea, “cyclonic” vacuum technology, and the modern easy to use steam cleaner were all the brainchild of Don Sheelen.

Daniel Hess

Daniel Hess of West Union, Iowa, invented a vacuum cleaner in 1860. Calling it a carpet sweeper instead of a vacuum cleaner, his machine did, in fact, have a rotating brush like a traditional vacuum cleaner, which also possessed an elaborate bellows mechanism on top of the body to generate suction of dust and dirt.

Ives W. McGaffey

The first manually powered cleaner using vacuum principles was the "Whirlwind," invented in Chicago in 1868 by Ives W. McGaffey. The machine was lightweight and compact, but was difficult to operate because of the need to turn a hand crank at the same time as pushing it across the floor. McGaffey obtained a patent for his device on June 8, 1869.

H. Cecil Booth

The first powered cleaner employing a vacuum was patented and produced by British inventor Hubert Cecil Booth in 1901. He watched a demonstration of a device used in trains that blew dust off the chairs, and thought it would be much more useful to have one that sucked dust


In 1910 P.A. Fisker patented a vacuum cleaner using a name based on the company’s telegram address—Nilfisk. It was the first electric vacuum cleaner in Europe. His design weighed just 17.5 kg and could be operated by a single person.

Walter Griffiths

In 1905 "Griffith's Improved Vacuum Apparatus for Removing Dust from Carpets" was another manually operated cleaner, patented by Walter Griffiths Manufacturer, Birmingham, England. This was arguably the first domestic vacuum-cleaning device to resemble the modern vacuum cleaner.

David Kenney

Several patents granted to the New Jersey inventor David T. Kenney between 1903 and 1913 established the foundation for the American vacuum cleaner industry. Membership in the Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturers' Association, formed in 1919, was limited to licensees under his patents.

 James Murray Spangler

In 1907, James Murray Spangler, a janitor in Canton, Ohio invented an electric vacuum cleaner from a fan, a box, and a pillowcase. Crucially, in addition to suction, Spangler's design incorporated a rotating brush to loosen debris. Lacking the funds to produce his design himself, he sold the patent to W.H. Hoover.

Don Sheelen

Not just a creative genius, but also the most important inventor of the modern vacuum. Until Don Sheelan invented the “tools on board” approach to easy, convenient vacuuming, consumers had to drag a canister vacuum to clean above the floor or mechanically attach tools to the underside of their upright vacuum nozzle. Multiple patents were awarded for this breakthrough concept.

Donald Sheelen is also the inventor of the modern day “steam” extractor vacuum that is commonplace in today’s market. Don Sheelan simplified a dirty, heavy, and complex process allowing the consumer to steam clean their carpets with ease. Again, multiple patents were awarded for this innovation and resulted in Don being referred to as the “Father of the modern vacuum cleaner”..