6 Vacuuming Mistakes That Are Leaving Your Floors Dirty

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If it feels like your floors are never truly clean no matter how often you vacuum, it’s time to look at whether you’re making some common vacuuming mistakes. Many people unknowingly use the wrong techniques and leave behind dirt, pet hair, and dust.

In this article, we will explore the things to avoid while vacuuming, so you can get your floors (and home) cleaner and make the most of your cleaning efforts.

1. Not Preparing the Room Before You Vacuum

You’re tired, and all you want is a clean floor so you can finally relax. It’s tempting to skip the step of picking items before you vacuum, but doing so means you aren’t getting your floor as clean as you think.

Pushing toys or shoes around with your machine also pushes around any dust or debris trapped beneath them. To ensure optimal results, move items and clutter that can get in the way, then pick up pieces too large for your vacuum to suck up—generally, anything bigger than your thumbnail. Your vacuum will make better contact with the floor and you won’t spend three minutes trying to get up that one piece of popcorn.

2. Using a Dirty Machine

Who doesn’t remember the scene from Friends when Monica said she wished she had a little vacuum cleaner to use on the bigger one? She was onto something. Making the mistake of not cleaning your vacuum regularly reduces its effectiveness and can leave you with dirty floors.

To maximize your vacuum’s suction and performance, it needs space in the canister or bag, a clean filter, and a functioning rolling brush or free-flowing attachment hose. Empty the canister or change the bag when it’s more than half full and clean or replace the filter every 3-6 months, as recommended by most manufacturers. Then, before each cleaning session, check the roller brush for tangles and ensure nothing is clogging the attachment hose.

3. Not Vacuuming the Other Soft Surfaces

Glittering dust motes floating through the air are pretty in a photograph, but in your home, not so much. Since dust enters the air from other surfaces and settles on the floor, it’s a mistake not to use your vacuum to clean other surfaces, too. This is important if someone in your home has indoor allergies.

At least once a month, before you vacuum the floor, use the brush attachment to clean curtains or blinds and use the upholstery attachment to clean sofas and chairs. This proactive approach helps get pet hair under control and reduce dust throughout your entire home.

4. Cleaning Carpets like Hard Floors

If you make the mistake of vacuuming carpets like they’re hard floors, you won’t remove all the dirt. Carpet fibers are twisted and looped strands glued into a woven backing. This creates many surfaces for dirt to attach, plus dust can sift through the backing to the floor or carpet pad.

To clean a carpet properly, you need to adjust your vacuum’s head so the roller brush’s bristles or beater bar contact the rug surface without reducing suction. Different carpets may require different heights. A good sign that you’ve set the vacuum height properly is when you see faint lines as you clean, but the machine still moves freely.

5. Going Too Quickly

We’ve all hurriedly vacuumed before ‌last-minute guests, or when we’re pressed for time. But rushing through the process routinely is a mistake that leaves behind a lot of dirt, whether you’re cleaning carpets or hard floors. For optimal cleaning results, it’s essential to give your vacuum time to suction up the dust, pet hair, and other debris.

To vacuum floors properly, work back and forth slowly in overlapping sections, allowing the machine time to remove debris from the floor. In carpeted rooms, don’t forget to turn at a right angle and repeat the process to clean all sides of the twisted carpet fibers. By taking your time, you’ll remove far more dirt from your floor, carpeted or not.

6. Not Vacuuming Often Enough

One of the most common errors is simply not vacuuming often enough. Many people mistakenly believe that vacuuming the entire room is necessary every time, leading them to put it off because they’re too busy or overwhelmed.

But the general rule is to vacuum wall-to-wall once a week, then clean only the high-traffic areas and in front of seating three days later. If you have many pets or children, do only the high-traffic areas more often as time permits.

Thorough weekly vacuuming removes dust and soil that can become embedded in carpets or dull the shine on hard floors. Remember, since the floor is the largest visible surface in most rooms, avoiding these vacuuming mistakes enhances the overall cleanliness and appearance of your home.

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  1. Helen Playdon says:

    Thanks, Katie, forth reminders. I am very apt to leave the sofa and chairs because they are so fiddly and it is hard to use the attachments on my cleaner. But today I am a new woman, after your encouragement, and the chairs WILL be done! Not so sure about the sofa, but then, I can’t remember the last time anyone sat there, and we have no pets to leave hairs.But I do use it when folding laundry, so maybe \i should give it a vacuum to make sure there are no extraneous fabric threads left behind. NOw must get started or nothing will get done!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Helen,

      Don’t feel like you need to do it every time you clean the room, but since dust settles on soft furniture as it does on floors (even if no one sits on it), you’ll notice a difference.