Inside the secret world of Dyson and the things you never knew about your vacuum

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The sleepy town of Malmesbury doesn’t appear to be a hiding place for the next batch of hi-tech innovations but this leafy part of Wiltshire is full of some of the brightest brains in Britain. Dyson set up shop in this area of the UK all the way back in 1993 with its campus now covering a whopping 75 acres and employing 3,500 people. The famous vacuum firm is usually pretty secretive about what’s behind the iron gates of its British headquarters but recently gained an access-all-areas pass to take a look behind the scenes and find out just how its new products are created.

If Willy Wonka made vacuums he’d definitely feel right at home at Dyson with the place full of weird and wonderful rooms where the next batch of dust-busting products are born. In fact, there are 129 state-of-the-art laboratories full of employees in white coats testing everything from the noise these machines make to how well they pick up different versions of Cheerios.

Yes, in one room the firm spends hours each day vacuuming carpets with everyday objects such as rice and LEGO scattered across them. There’s even a cupboard full of different household products such as cereals and pet food with Dyson revealing that it’s vital to test objects from across the world to make sure all of their vacuums work no matter where they launch. You might not realise it but a UK Cheerio, for example, is a different size from its US cousin and this extra weight can wreak havoc with suction if Dyson doesn’t get things right.

Hair is also something that drives the firm to distraction with the company spending endless hours trying out new accessories that don’t get clogged up – something that’s way harder than you might think.

It’s not just about sucking things up as Dyson has also built an anechoic chamber at its HQ so it can test out the sound that its upcoming products belt out.

The idea behind this foam-filled area is that it’s completely isolated from the outside world meaning no sound contamination ever affects the audio tests.

This silent room lets the firm test out the noise levels of its new products because as things get more powerful they often get louder.

Each time an engineer comes up with a great idea it’s sent straight to this room to see if will pass the audio test – if not… it’s back to the drawing board as consumers simply don’t want a cleaner that rattles the walls each time the house gets cleaned.

Of course, to test new products you’ve got to build them first and Dyson has vast areas of its campus which run for 24-hours a day creating unique one-off parts to be put through their paces.

By the time people spot visible dust in the home, it is highly likely that there are dust mites in your home

Monika Stuczen, Research Scientist in Microbiology at Dyson

It’s a vital process for any new product and not everything makes it to market with many prototypes never seeing the light of day.

One area that remains out of bounds to visitors is the secret block named “D9”. This building is surrounded by mirrored glass so nobody can see in. Only those who work in facility have access and here’s where new devices are born and shown to James Dyson himself to be given the green light.

It’s here the new Zone headphones were developed with these air-cleaning cans expected to launch soon – you can how we got on when we tested the Zones here.

Perhaps one of the most terrifying rooms that we were allowed to step into is where the firm keeps its small army of dust mites.

These little critters feed off our dead skin and seeing them under a microscope will have you itching from head to toe.

Dyson spends a huge amount of time and money analysing dust particles and the microscopic creatures that live in our homes – it’s vital research as many allergies come from the air we all breathe in.

Interestingly, it’s not the bugs themselves that cause problems for humans but the faeces these tiny mites discard from all that munching. Yuck!

Making sure your home is free from dust is hugely important if you want to keep mites to a minimum and Dyson says you must not wait until you see dust before you clean it up.

“It is a cause for concern if people only clean when they spot visible dust on the floors as many dust particles are microscopic in size,” said Monika Stuczen, Research Scientist in Microbiology at Dyson. “In fact, by the time people spot visible dust in the home, it is highly likely that there are dust mites in your home.”

Wandering around this sprawling site reveals just how much time, effort and innovation goes into keeping homes clean and we can’t wait to see what Dyson has next.

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