The Right Vacuum Attachment to Use for Each Task

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Get the most out of your vacuum by using the proper attachment for each task.

A floor and a carpeting vacuum cleaner attachment sitting on a rugPin

Basic Vacuum Attachments and What They Do

Basic attachments come with most cordless and upright vacuum cleaners. Unless you’re cleaning professionally or have very specific needs, they’re all you need. This guide will help you choose the right attachment for each task so you can clean better and more efficiently.

Floor Tool

Upright vacuums have a rotary brush or beater bar for carpets, and a hard floor setting that disengages the brush. Cordless vacuums usually come with both carpet and hard floor attachments. The carpet attachment features a spinning brush to lift dirt and pet hair into the vacuum’s suction head. Use it on carpets, large area rugs, sturdy mats, and stair landings. The hard floor attachment may have a felt rotating pad. It’s best for wood, tile, or cement floors, small rugs, and vinyl mats. 

Rotary Head Attachment

The rotary head attachment is popular with cordless vacuum users. It’s essentially a smaller version of the main flooring attachment. The smaller size makes it perfect for cleaning sturdy upholstery, car seats, outdoor cushions, and mattresses. It is also good on carpeted stairs, but avoid using it on hardwood or tile surfaces, which the spinning brush may damage.

Dusting Head Attachment

The dust brush or dusting head attachment has soft bristles for cleaning delicate surfaces. It provides gentle suction strong enough to lift away dust, but not larger debris. Use it to clean vent and register covers, window screens, air conditioner grills, shelves around knickknacks, lampshades, windowsills, and blinds. The dusting brush is also useful for cleaning curtains—hold the hem with one hand and move the brush from top to bottom on the fabric.

Upholstery Tool Attachment

Not every vacuum comes with an upholstery attachment. This is a small but wide tool with either smooth teeth or strips of felt which allow it to go over upholstery smoothly. For many, the floor attachment can work just as well. 

Crevice Tool Attachment

The crevice attachment is perfect for getting into tight spots. A long, skinny shape and angled tip make this tool ideal for places where the vacuum’s other attachments can’t reach. Use it at the base of walls, where the stair treads and risers meet, along window tracks, and between cushions. The crevice attachment is also an excellent way to reach cobwebs in the corners or near your ceilings. Attach the crevice attachment to a flexible hose to clean air ducts and dryer vents, and also the coils beneath or behind your refrigerator.

What vacuum attachments to use

How to Use Your Vacuum’s Attachments 

To get the most out of your vacuum, use the attachments that came with it. They improve efficiency and are sometimes the only way your vacuum can clean certain surfaces.

Vacuuming Floors

Begin vacuuming a room by using the dust brush attachment to clean the baseboards. Then switch to the crevice attachment to clean the groove where the wall or baseboard and floor meet. Cleaning this area can help prevent black edges on your carpets. Continue using the crevice attachment around the base of any large furniture you don’t plan to move, like bookcases or sofas. Finally, change to the main floor attachment and vacuum wall-to-wall. If you have carpeting, turn 90-degrees and clean wall-to-wall again to vacuum properly.

Vacuuming Stairs

Use the crevice attachment at the base of each stair where the tread and riser meet. For carpeted stairs, switch to the rotary brush or floor attachment and clean the treads and risers. For wood or tile stairs, use the dust brush or floor tool.

Vacuuming Furniture

Your upholstered furniture will last longer and look better with regular vacuuming. First, use the upholstery tool or dust brush attachment on the cushions. The upholstery attachment works best for sturdy fabrics like twill, canvas, microfiber, and denim. The dust brush is for leather, suede, jacquard and chenille. Then, remove the cushions and use the crevice attachment in the gap between the back and base. If the cushions are not removable, use the crevice attachment around the seams. Finally, vacuum the arms, back, and sides of the piece.

Remember to wipe your vacuum attachments after use so they’re ready for next time. Wash them in warm, soapy water if they get greasy, and always allow them to air dry completely before use.


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  1. Ali Stevenson says:

    I am afraid of falling and I never stand on steps to reach high places. Save your paper towel tubes. They are useful for removing sticky cobwebs from hard-to-reach places. When you’re done, toss the tube. My house has high ceilings and I push the tubes together to reach awkward places.
    Also, there are special long-handled foam brushes to remove dust from ceiling fan blades.
    I use grabbers to reach high shelves.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Great tips!