Once you know how to vacuum the right way, your floors will be cleaner than ever and your carpets will last longer, too.
Are your carpets starting to look dingy or turning dark on the edges at the base of your walls? Do you notice more pet hair or dust motes flying around in your home’s air? Maybe your home has developed that “old house” smell even though it’s newer. Or you’re starting to feel like your vacuum isn’t doing a good job.
The problem may not be the age of your carpets or home or even your machine’s fault. It may be that you aren’t using it the right way. If so, you’re not alone — most people do it wrong. Read on for how to vacuum the right way, what to do before and after, and how often you should vacuum your home.
How to Vacuum Your Floor
- Vacuum cleaner
- Vacuum attachments
- Pick up floor clutter. The fewer toys, chairs, or small items you have to work around, the better.
- Dust before you vacuum. The idea in cleaning is to move dirt down and then out of a room. The easiest way to do this is by dusting first before you vacuum. Start with the highest surfaces, like ceiling fans and fixtures. Then work your way down to furniture and baseboards. (Related: How to Clean Walls and Ceilings.)
- Get your machine ready. If you haven't already, empty the dust bin or check the bag. Vacuums have better suction when they're less than half full. Also, make sure the roller brush or beater bar can move freely. Remove any string, hair, or other debris that interferes. (Related: How to Clean a Vacuum Cleaner.)
- Use attachments to clean a room's edges first. Even the best machine won't get all the dirt where the wall and floor meet. Then you'll see dark edges on carpets at the base of your walls. Use your vacuum's crevice attachment for this instead.
- Adjust your brush head's height. If the brush is too high, it won't clean deep-down dirt. When it's too low, it can't spin well and interferes with the machine's suction. Some vacuums automatically adjust the height, but if yours doesn't, you'll need to do this yourself.
- Work slowly, in overlapping rows. Your machine needs time to suction up dirt — working too fast sends the dirt flying around. Push the vacuum away from you slowly. Then, without moving it to the side, pull it back. This gives your machine time to lift away dirt stuck between the fibers, instead of just what's on top of them.
- Turn and repeat. Carpet fibers are twisted loops. Those loops get dirty on all sides, so vacuuming in only one direction doesn’t get them completely clean. To get your carpeted floor clean all the way down to the pad, work across a room in one direction then turn and vacuum again from a right angle.
How Often Should You Vacuum?
In an ideal world, you’d vacuum wall to wall twice a week, and also go over high-traffic areas daily. In reality, it depends on the type of flooring and how much use a room gets.
Vacuum hard floors at least once a week. On top of weekly wall-to-wall vacuuming, go over the traffic lanes twice a week in most rooms. For busier rooms, like kitchens, you may want to do that daily. (Related: Homemade No-Rinse Floor Cleaner.)
Vacuum carpets twice a week. Carpet fibers hold onto pet hair, dirt, and bacteria more than hard floors do. To keep your home’s carpets clean, you need to vacuum wall-to-wall twice a week. In busier rooms, you should also do the traffic lanes daily.