Today I was going about vacuuming with our bagless Hoover when I realized that there was a burning smell emanating from the machine. I checked the belt, feeling oh-so-handy with my husband’s workgloves on as I deftly (not really) used the screwdriver to remove the grill. The belt was okay, so I picked off some balls of dust and hair off the beater bar while I was in there, wondering what could be causing the light but unmistakable smoky smell.

Meanwhile it occurs to me that I’ve never read the manual very carefully. I’m not a very careful person, or one endowed with a great deal of common sense, so I am trying to make it a rule to read manuals of anything remotely technical before using them (besides, sometimes the machines don’t turn out to be made with a whole lot of common sense either). I get it out and discover just how delightfully complex the vacuum and its various parts are. It gives me a good feeling to know, for the first time, that we have a complex, multi-talented vacuum.

So I go outside to empty the dirt cup, and realize that the “dirt cup filter assembly” was also pretty dirty. I didn’t know this part existed before reading the manual; the “dirt cup filter” is hidden within the “cartridge,” which was oozing dirt. Might as well clean that while I’m out here. This is where the reminder to you all comes in, if you by chance are as ignorant as me about how these bagless vacuums work. All the dust, except for maybe 1%, apparently goes into the “dirt cup filter.” I would say that I have probably never seen so much dust in one place in my life; very possibly the sum of all the dust I’ve ever seen in my twenty-one years was less than the amount clinging to the filter. It is honestly beyond me as to how an 8-month-old vacuum, used to clean an apartment the size of some people’s bathrooms, could collect *so much dirt.* After about 20 minutes of banging and scraping, I reasoned that the “dirt cup filter” should not have to be immaculate, as it is only going to sit inside my vacuum collecting more until the next time I remember its existence.

The best part of the story is that once the filter is cleaned, your vacuum will do wondrous things—things you never thought it could do! Mine sounded much louder—perhaps, happier—when I turned it on after The Detox. I also solved the mystery of the beater brush attachment that wouldn’t beat. Apparently its health is vitally linked to a clean “dirt cup filter assembly”; and as for my health, my heart just about failed within me when I attached it to use on the rug— as always, somewhat skeptically. Well contrary to all prior experience the vacuum mustered up a sound like a motorcycle revving up to pass me (as they do often here), and the arm holding the attachment began vibrating as if I had just grabbed an electric fence. It turns out the beater brush beats quite well. So now I know: and knowing is half the battle.