Rainbow Vacuum Guide

This is a review if the popular Rainbow vacuum cleaner. This will talk about the pros and cons of the Rainbow. It will also talk about how to avoid buying a bad Rainbow vacuum cleaner. It will talk about all the different tools and parts you can buy for Rainbow vacuums from tools, to aquamate shampooer, to rainbow mate - powered upholstry tools.


Great Vacs started selling vacuums online in 1998 and since then we have sold over 10,000 high end vacuums on the internet alone. Because of our volume, we get over 100 emails a day. Most of which are asking about the best kind of vacuum and asking for general vacuum knowledge. We are excited to write this guide because we get emails all the time about Rainbow vacuum cleaners.

Only read this review if you want to learn some serious information about Rainbow vacuums, after reading this you will know just about everything there is to know about Rainbows (good and bad). OK, first of all lets discuss pros and cons of Rainbows vacuum cleaners and why they are so popular.


1. Rainbow Vacuums last a really long time. My grandfather has a 1942 Rainbow vacuum which still works perfectly. It is not uncommon to see 30+ year old Rainbow vacuums still working great.

2. Rainbow Vacuums don't lose suction as they fill up with dirt (take that James Dyson). They use water to filter with so as you pick up more dirt your water just gets dirty. They don't use a bag that would lose suction as it is filled up.

3. Rainbow Vacuums have really good suction. I knew that rainbows had great suction because of all the rave reviews by customers, but I never new how good it truly was. Years ago when I lived in an apartment, a customer who lived near to me wanted to buy a Rainbow vacuum. So I agreed to take the Rainbow vacuum home and they could pick it up at my apartment. When I got home with it I could not remember if anyone at work had tested it. So I plugged the vacuum in and set it on a high traffic spot on my carpet and turned it on. Then I left the room for a minute and came back. When I came back I was SHOCKED (no not by electricity) there was a half an inch of sand in the water bowl AND THE POWERHEAD HAD NOT EVEN MOVED. Wow, these things have some serious power and are powerful cleaners.

4. Rainbow Vacuums seem to work really well with hardwood floors if you don't have a lot of carpet.

5. Rainbow Vacuums use water to filter with so you never have to buy bags.

6. You can use Rainbow Vacuums to pick up wet spills and water. In August of 2005 we were able to buy nearly a semi truck load of rainbow vacuums. We were really surprised as this had never happened to me before where we had gotten so many. We thought it would take about 6 months to sell them all. Three days later Hurricane Katrina hit and we had already started rebuilding them. Suddenly all the rainbow vacuums flew off my shelves and the orders were pouring in. My poor coworkers and I were working 70 hours a week just working on those rainbows to try and keep up with demand. We had to put people on waiting lists. In a little over a month all the Rainbows were gone. So in that situation people were only buying Rainbow vacuums, no other vacuum's demand grew. Why? Because they can pick up water and were a great vacuum to clean up the water and dirt left behind after the hurricane. They work great with a Rainbow carpet shampooer as well. A note here: always use your non electrical tool hose when picking up water.

7. Parts are very easy to find for Rainbow Vacuums. They also make after market parts for just about every model. So you can choose from genuine parts to aftermarket parts. Recently a bunch of other water filtration vacuums have come out and they seem to work well but parts are really hard to find for those other models.

8. Rainbow Vacuums have a track record. They have been around for nearly 100 years. You know what to expect from a Rainbow vacuum. With some of these other copycat vacuums, you don't know what to expect and they have no history.


1. Rainbow Vacuums use water to filter with (you notice that's a pro as well). It's a little more hassle to fill up and dump out every time you vacuum. VERY IMPORTANT when using a rainbow vacuum and after you are done with it and dump out the water DO NOT LEAVE THE WATER BOWL ON. What happens is if you don't do this, is there is a little bit of moisture in the water bowl still and the bearings on the vacuum are still hot. Will guess where the moisture is attracted to? That's right and the bearings rust out and the motor seizes and you think you have a bad motor (and really its just a 3 dollar bearing that needs replaced). Then your local shop is going to charge you around 200 dollars to fix it. So to avoid all of that when you are done vacuuming simply store your water bowl on top of the vacuum.

2. Filtration. Models previous to the E series and E2 Rainbow Models just use water to filter with. Water traps almost all of the dirt except for really really small dust like drywall dust or firewood ash which it does not trap. They solved this with the E series of Rainbows by installing a HEPA filter to trap that. Then that cut down on the suction power so they installed a bigger motor on those to overcome that. Here is an important point. On the models previous to E series that just use water to filter with they are still really great for a allergy vacuum. I have had customers who have had the HEPA bagless type of junky vacuum and have bought the rainbow (previous to the E series) and have had way better results with their families allergies. Just because a vacuum says HEPA filter on it does not mean it is going to filter better. For more information on this check out my article "Picking the right vacuum" In fact with all the models of vacuums we sell, I would have to say I have had more customer compliments on a vacuum helping their families allergies with the Rainbow vacuum.

At the writing of this article the Rainbow Models that we sell and service are: The D3 Rainbow Vacuum, The D4 Rainbow Vacuum, The SE Rainbow Vacuum, The SE PN2 (or PE) Rainbow Vacuum, The E series E2 Rainbow Vacuum, The E2 2 Speed Rainbow Vacuum. We do not sell them new but all are reconditioned or rebuilt and come with a 5 year motor warranty through our shop. I am constantly asked what the differences in models are. To read about that go to our document "Rainbow Model Differences" It is very helpful and also tells the Cubic feet of airflow with each model.

My thoughts and conclusions about the rainbow vacuum-

I would have to say that with all the vacuums we have seen and sold, that I have never seen such customer loyalty than with the Rainbow vacuum. I get emails all the time with such statements as "I have had a rainbow for the last 20 years and I want another one that's all I will vacuum with" or "My mom and my grandmother all had rainbows and I am tired of buying the plastic junk that keeps breaking I want a rainbow vacuum" or "My best friend borrowed my rainbow vacuum and wont give it back. Could I buy a rainbow for her so I can get mine back?". One thing that I think is very interesting about the rainbow vacuum is the interest in the older models. Usually when a new vacuum model comes out that it kills the old model of that vacuum and the price drastically drops for the previous model. Not so with the rainbow vacuum, in fact there almost seems to be more demand for some of the older models than the new current model. I have never seen another vacuum do this. In fact for a 35 year old rainbow we easily sell them for over 300 dollars. Try and find another vacuum that is that old and is selling for that much. You wont be able to, and that speaks volumes about the vacuum.

Buying your rainbow vacuum from the right place

Rainbow vacuums are not easy to properly rebuild or repair and should be done by a experienced shop. Many years ago when I was just starting out in the industry I decided I did not need any proper training to fix Rainbows. So I decided to try and fix it on my own (I was very mechanical how hard could it be?). It took me 2 days and when I plugged it in 2 things happened at the same time. The first was I noticed it ran backwards (blowing air instead of sucking air) and the second was I saw sparks fly everywhere then it caught on fire! Needless to say I went and got properly trained. Every time I think of that experience it makes me laugh. The point is you need to buy from a shop that knows how to repair and rebuild them correctly. We are actually one of the few shops that know how to do it right, and because of that we are always so busy with working on Rainbows. In fact most of the Rainbows we get to rebuild are from Rainbow shops that don't know how to do it right and would prefer if we did it. Every pre E Series Rainbow we get in we rebuild the bottom in. New bearings, seals and other bottom end parts. We clean the fans and the inside of the vacuum and check and replace the motor brushes. We also install new brushrolls and belt in the powerhead. We sell about 400 rainbows on average before we have one back for warranty work. When we go through them we replace any parts that look like they may go out in the future. We want these vacuums to last many, many years and have our customers love their Rainbows. Now there are a lot of Rainbows being sold on ebay and elsewhere that have not been rebuilt or gone through and if you buy one of those you can expect within a few years to have them rebuilt locally for 150 to 200 dollars on average. So in conclusion I would suggest to buy a Rainbow vacuum from a experienced service shop, one who properly test, rebuilds and repairs rainbows.

Rainbow Vacuum

Great Vacs stocks a wide variety of Rainbow Vacuums. In fact we are the largest rebuilder of Rainbow Vacuums and have rebuilt thousands and thousands of Rainbow Vacuums.

Free Advice - If you are still confused as to the right model or vacuum for your family (everyones needs differ) then please feel free to fell out the form below and tell us about your situation (like how much carpet, hardwood, allergies, pets, kids) and we would be glad to help you get a vacuum that would be perfect for you.

Which vacuum cleaner is the best?   We get asked that question all the time.    The fact is it depends on YOUR needs and YOUR situation.    At GreatVacs we are experts at vacuum cleaners and carry all the best brands.    We have rebuild over 50,000 vacuum cleaners (all models) and we know vacuums.    A FREE service that we offer is tell us about your situation and we would love to suggest something that you will LOVE.    Put our expertise to work for you and get a vacuum or air purifier that is perfect for your needs.    

  • Example: 3 Kids & 2 dogs that shed. 60% carpet and 40% hardwood floors. 2 sets of carpeted stairs.

  • Example: I want my next vacuum to work good on pet hair and be able to vacuum carpet & hardwood. I am tired of throwing my money away and want it to last at least 10 years.

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