Carpet Sweeper History – Who Invented the Carpet Sweeper?

Before Industrial Revolutions most houses had wooden (or stone) floors that could be cleaned with brooms. When carpets and rugs became more affordable more people started having them in their houses. When it was time to clean carpets, people would hang them outside and beat them with carpet beaters but this method wasn’t very practical. New one had to be invented.

Picture Of Patent Illustration Of A Carpet Sweeper

Carpet sweeper is a mechanical apparatus that consists of a box, wheels, handle and rollers with brushes. It is used, as its name suggests, for cleaning carpets. They appeared before vacuum cleaners become common household appliances and were very popular until then. Today, they are used in places that require keeping the environment quiet or that have no electric power supply.

Inventor of a carpet sweeper was one Melville R. Bissell from Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, and he designed it in 1876. He and his wife Anna held a small crockery shop and because crockery (tableware) is packed in wooden boxes and sawdust, their show always had sawdust that had to be cleaned at the end of the work day. Sawdust had an annoying characteristic to embed into the carpet and to be hard to clean with a standard broom. This frustrated Anna so she told about the problem to her husband. He, being mechanically inclined, built her a carpet sweeper. He made it as a wooden box that is open at the bottom and that has wheels that carry the box when it is pushed with a long handle. These wheels are connected to the roller that has brushes and, while rotating, cleans the surface over which it is pushed. Collected dust ends up in a container which has to be emptied when filled. Melville’s sweeper worked very well and others soon found about it and wanted one for themselves. Melville and Anna grabbed the marketing opportunity and started producing them after Melville patented it the same year he invented it. They started small. Brushes were made local women in their homes, and then complete sweepers were assembled in a room above the store by Melville and Anna. They also sold sweepers alone. They would load their buggy with carpet sweepers and sold them by walking from door to door, Melville selling them on one side of the street and Anna on the other.

Picture Of The Underside Of A Bissell Carpet Sweeper

Others also tried to make and sell their own variants of Melville’s sweepers (which he called “Grand Rapids”) but they made them heavier, they could not work on uneven floors like “Grand Rapids” did, and created a cloud of dust when cleaning. Melville’s and Anna’s business worked so well that they opened their first plant for manufacturing of carpet sweepers, called BISSELL, in 1883.

Melville died in 1889 and his wife Anna Bissell took control of the company and started leading the business, which makes her the first female corporate CEO in United States. And she was very good at her job. She defended the company’s patents and expanded her business to all parts of the world. She was at the helm of the firm until she died in 1934, at age 87. BISSELL still exists today and it is still in the hands of a Bissell family and it still manufactures electric and mechanical cleaning solutions. In the 1960s they developed the first combination of a vacuum cleaner and a floor scrubber, and they made the Gemini Sweeper, the first two-brush sweeper. In the late 1980s, they made first deep cleaner that no longer needed to be connected to a water source in the house. They called it Big Green Clean Machine but is also known as “Big Daddy.”