The History of Bissell Commercial

The History of Bissell Commercial

For as long as carpets have covered floors, people have been finding ways to get rid of the dirt that soils them. At first, that meant taking your rugs outside for a good beating. Depending on where you lived, this may have only been possible during certain seasons of the year, and many people only included carpet cleanings in their once-yearly spring cleaning. What a time to be a dust mite! 

That began to change in 1868, when Ives W. McGaffey invented the first carpet cleaner, called the Whirlwind, in Chicago. While the Whirlwind was certainly a technological and cleaning breakthrough, it was also backbreaking — operators had to manually turn a crank while pushing the heavy machine across the floor. 

Eight years later, in 1876, the first successful mechanical sweeper was invented in Grand Rapids, Michigan by a man who suffered from allergies and asthma. The sweeper featured a central brush, rubber wheels and other vast improvements on vacuum technology, and the inventors name was Melville Reuben Bissell. 

Bissell’s carpet sweeper is still familiar to cleaners today — you’ve probably seen something very similar in restaurants or other locations where operators don’t want to disturb guests with the roar of an electric vacuum. 

A fire destroyed Melville’s first factory in 1884, but he was able to overcome the loss and eventually expanded his business widely. After his death in Grand Rapids in 1889 from pneumonia, Melville’s wife Anna Bissell took control of the company, becoming the first female CEO in the United States. 

Since then, other innovators and inventors sought patents for electric-powered vacuums and other floor cleaning machines, but Bissell remains the standard in customer service, high-quality machines and innovative ideas that maximize the efficiency of commercial cleaning. Today, our products service many different industries with the goal of helping each business foster the cleanest environment possible through efficiency and innovation. 

From Melville’s first carpet sweeper to our modern upright vacuum cleaners and industry-leading deep cleaners, we’ve developed products that help maximize efficiency in the cleaning process on all types of floors. The commercial industry is always evolving, which is why we are constantly finding new ways to address the challenges and needs of our commercial clients. 

To learn more about the products that have made Bissell synonymous with cleaning efficiency for more than a century, explore our upright vacuum cleaners, floor machines and extractors, or contact us today to learn more.