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    Home / Science projects / Make a Vacuum Cleaner
    • Make a Vacuum Cleaner

      Make a Vacuum Cleaner

      A vacuum cleaner is able to suck dirt off carpet because high pressure air from outside it flows toward low pressure air inside. In an electric vacuum, a fan causes air inside the vacuum to move quickly, which lowers the air pressure, causing suction. The higher-pressure air from outside the vacuum is sucked in to replace the low-pressure air, bringing dirt and dust with it to be caught in the filter bag. (Learn more about how vacuums work here.)

      In this project you can make a hand-pump vacuum cleaner that alters the air pressure inside it and creates suction using a piston instead of a fan. Follow the procedure to make your vacuum, then read the explanation of how it works! An adult will need to help with the cutting.

      What You Need:

      • 2-liter plastic soda bottle
      • Ping-pong ball
      • Razor blade, box cutter, or sharp scissors
      • Tape
      • Thread
      • Paper
      • Tissue paper

      What You Do:

      1. Cut the bottom of the soda bottle off about 1/3 of the way up from the base. Now cut a slit down one side of the bottom third of the bottle - this will allow you to slide it inside the top part of the bottle so it can act as a piston.

      2. Cut a 6'x3' strip of paper and fold it in half lengthwise for extra strength. Tape this strip to the bottom of the bottle to make a handle for your piston.

      3. In the top part of the bottle, cut a 3/4-inch hole about 1-1/2 inches below the neck. This hole will lead to the filter bag.

      4. Make a filter bag for your vacuum with a 6'x4' piece of tissue paper. Fold the paper rectangle in half and tape the sides to make a bag. Tape this over the hole you made near the neck of the bottle.

      5. Tape one end of the thread to the ping-pong ball. Put the ball in the top part of the bottle. Feed the free end of the thread through the mouth of the bottle, and tape it to the outside of the bottle so the ping-pong ball hangs just slightly below the neck.

      What Happened?

      How does this contraption you just made work? Push the bottom part of the bottle into the top part, then pull it back sharply. This decreases the air pressure inside the bottle, because now there is a bigger space for the same amount of air. The lower-pressure air inside the bottle creates suction, pulling in higher-pressure air from outside in through the mouth. Now push the piston back in; this compresses the air and increases the pressure, so air flows back out of the bottle. The ping-pong ball works as a valve - when you push the piston in, it forces the ball into the neck of the bottle so that the air exits through the hole with the filter bag, rather than going out through the mouth.

      Now put your vacuum to work! Try sucking up bread crumbs or tiny balls of paper. When you pull the piston out, they will be sucked into the bottle, and when you push the piston in, they will be forced into the filter bag.

      Experiment to find out the best way to use your bottle vacuum. Does it work better to pump the piston rapidly? Should you pull out on the piston faster than you push in on it? Can you think of ideas to improve the design and efficiency of your vacuum? Give them a try!

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    By: Rahul sharma
    Date: May 25, 2016

    if i put a motor inside then the motor will go clockwise and the air will go outside rather then sucking items ... plz help me .....

    By: Abhinav
    Date: Nov 12, 2015

    Yes it really works. I am surprised when it sticks all the dirt and paper into it. It works good when mortor is inside.  I have made another vaccum cleaner which has mortor inside and works with a cell.

    By: Kim Jeeves
    Date: May 23, 2015

    Amazing Tutorial!
    Thanx a lot :)

    By: Lana MacKenzie
    Date: Mar 31, 2015

    This website is awesome…why can’t other websites be like this

    By: jyotiranjan sahoo
    Date: Mar 15, 2015

    invention is great !

    By: me
    Date: Dec 15, 2014

    what is scientific about that????

    By: 'Mnen Favath
    Date: Sep 19, 2014

    Very nice device; very simple materials but fairly complex action. However, the description of function misrepresents what’s happening, which is a shame since the whole point here is to teach the science! The very first sentence is correct, that the higher pressure air flows toward the lower pressure [area]. But then you talk about suction, which is not something that actually exists, and later on talk about the vacuum pulling things in. These are untrue and confuse a student about exactly the thing this should be explaining: the higher pressure air forces its way in against the lower pressure air, sweeping with it anything in the way. The device doesn’t pull; the outside air pushes. A vacuum cleaner in space could do nothing without surrounding air, since it doesn’t pull at all.  Fix that; the activity and device really are excellent.