On November 14, 1898, John S. Thurman of St. Louis, Missouri, submitted a patent (US No. 634,042) for a “pneumatic carpet renovator”. It was issued on October 3, 1899. Thurman created a gasoline-powered carpet cleaner for the General Compressed Air Company. In a newspaper advertisement from the St. Louis Dispatch, Thurman offered his invention of the horse-drawn (which went door to door) motorized cleaning system in St. Louis. He offered cleaning services at $4 per visit. Thurman’s machine is sometimes considered the first vacuum cleaner. However, the dust was blown into a receptacle rather than being sucked in, as in the machine now used.
What Thurman really invented was an on-location rug dusting procedure using compressed air – a mechanical rug beater. We can find many examples of these horse drawn carpet cleaning machines being used to go to the customers home and clean the carpet on location.
We found the wording from an ad that advertised the cleaning services of one of these horse drawn carpet dusters. Here is what it said:
“Our portable engine and air compressor mounted on a strong truck arrives at your residence or other building to be cleaned in the morning. A small hose is run into the house, the tools are coupled up, which compresses some 75 feet of free pure outdoor air per minute at a high pressure which is conveyed through our patented tools to the articles to be cleaned. Nothing is taken from the premises. Carpets are cleaned right on the floor where they belong.”
Change a few words and you could almost use the same text in an ad for your truckmounted carpet cleaning machine.
Here are two drawings of the very first “on-location” dual wand cleaning operation using compressed air.
And you know professional carpet cleaners, they soon wanted more power. Many went from a one horsepower version to a “two horsepower version”. More power you know.
There is not much information, available for these horse drawn on location rug dusters. No one is quite sure what “killed off” the on-location rug dusting businesses. An educated guess would tell you that when combustion engine vehicles were invented, it was easier to transport the rugs and the in-plant cleaning operations most likely did a superior cleaning job as compared to these rug-dusters.
Also, keep in mind during this same period, the growth of in-plant rug cleaning operations continued. In fact, some of the pictures of horse drawn carpet cleaning companies where you can’t see the steam or gasoline engine apparatus in the back, were probably in plant operations picking up and delivering rugs to and from their customer’s homes and businesses.