Vacuum cleaner
A vacuum cleaner, commonly referred to as a "vacuum," is a device that uses an air pump
A pump is a device used to move fluids, such as liquids, gases or slurries.A pump displaces a volume by physical or mechanical action. Pumps fall into three major groups: direct lift, displacement, and gravity pumps...

 to create a partial vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

 to suck
Suction is the flow of a fluid into a partial vacuum, or region of low pressure. The pressure gradient between this region and the ambient pressure will propel matter toward the low pressure area. Suction is popularly thought of as an attractive effect, which is incorrect since vacuums do not...

 up dust
Dust consists of particles in the atmosphere that arise from various sources such as soil dust lifted up by wind , volcanic eruptions, and pollution...

 and dirt, usually from floors, and optionally from other surfaces as well. The dirt is collected by either a dustbag or a cyclone
Cyclonic separation
Cyclonic separation is a method of removing particulates from an air, gas or liquid stream, without the use of filters, through vortex separation. Rotational effects and gravity are used to separate mixtures of solids and fluids...

 for later disposal. Vacuum cleaners, which are used in homes as well as in industry, exist in a variety of sizes and models: small battery-operated hand-held devices, domestic central vacuum cleaner
Central vacuum cleaner
A central vacuum cleaner is a type of vacuum cleaner appliance, installed into a building as a semi-permanent fixture. Central vacuum systems are designed to remove dirt and debris from homes and buildings, sending dirt particles through tubing installed inside the walls to a collection container...

s, huge stationary industrial appliances that can handle several hundred litres of dust before being emptied, and self-propelled vacuum truck
Vacuum truck
A vacuum truck is a truck mounted, heavy duty industrial vacuum loader designed to pneumatically convey solids, liquids, sludge or slurry through suction lines typically 2-4" in diameter with 3" being the norm. The typical pump used in the industry is the rotary vane vacuum pump. The truck can be...

s for recovery of large spills or removal of contaminated soil.
The vacuum cleaner evolved from the carpet sweeper
Carpet sweeper
A carpet sweeper is a mechanical device for the cleaning of carpets. These were popular before the introduction of the vacuum cleaner and have been largely superseded by them....

 via manual vacuum cleaners.