Learn tips and tricks to making the most of your vacuum cleaner and exactly how to use it to the best of its abilities.
Vacuuming is probably one of the easiest home chores of all. It’s something parents let their kids do when they are in elementary school to give them responsibility. It’s something you ask your spouse to do because you know they can’t screw it up. And it’s something that you don’t need an instruction manual to do.
Or do you?
Actually, vacuuming is a little more complex than just pushing a heavy machine aimlessly around the room as you race against the clock to finish before the commercials go off and your favorite show comes back on, and all those little tools that came with it? They can, and should, be used often. So let’s start by talking about the basics.
Adjust The Height Settings
Before you even plug that big guy into the outlet, take a look at the height setting you have it on. Those numbers or dots signify the height of the brushes. Don’t try to outsmart the system by thinking you can put it on a lower setting to get all the dirt from deep down in your shag rug. It’s not a lawn mower.
The height can make or break your cleaning job. And can damage your floors if not done correctly. Obviously, the lowest setting would be for bare floors and the highest level would be super shaggy carpet. Some vacuum cleaners can change the height automatically, but mine doesn’t, so just be sure to skim through the owner’s manual.
Pick Up Big Pieces By Hand
Next, check the floors for anything that can be picked up by hand. Yeah, I get that the waste container has a little compartment for things that are larger and can be easily removed, and while that’s convenient, sucking up big pieces can damage the vacuum during the process.
Just because there’s a spot for cat mice and Lego bricks to land doesn’t mean you should be sucking them up on purpose. Think of it as a mini workout. Every time you bend over to pick up something and stand back up, you’re strengthening your abs, legs, and back. Pushing the vacuum around is an arm workout.
Now, you’re not going to get ripped over doing simple housework, but you can at least work off the calories from the doughnut you ate at the coffee shop this morning. Time to get moving!
Vacuum In A Grid Pattern
After you’re plugged in and the height is at the right level, start by vacuuming in one direction over the entire room. Then go back over the whole room in the alternate direction, like you’re making a grid.
Working in an up and down, then side to side rotation will ensure that you get all the ickies out of your carpet and on their way to the garbage can. This isn’t something you should rush, either. Moving too quickly can cause a lot of gross things to get left behind, like dead skin, pet dander, dirt, and even the fecal matter from bugs. That’s totally worth a second round, I think.
So now that you’ve got the basics on how to vacuum correctly and effectively, let’s dive into the details, like how often you vacuum your whole home.
If you’re like most people, you wait for the floors to start looking a little dirty or when you have to wipe cracker crumbs off your bare feet after you’ve walked from one room to another, so you pull out the machine, run it through the main traffic path, and call it done.
That, my friend, is not very effective.
First of all, waiting until you “see” the grossness is super bad news because that means the base of the fibers is so gunked up that it’s just piled up so high that it’s actually noticeable. Secondly, if you never get those hard-to-reach areas like corners, baseboard edges, and under furniture, you’re just inviting allergens to live in your house (and nose) with free rent.
At least once every two weeks, you should be moving the furniture and getting underneath anything and everything, as well as edging the entire room. And a simple traffic path vacuum should be happening at least twice a week, and more if you have pets or allergies/asthma.
Vacuum Bare Floors Carefully
Okay, so you’re a pro at keeping those carpets clean, but what if most of your home is hardwood, tile, or another bare surface? Don’t settle for a broom and dustpan and assume they’re doing their job effectively.
Brooms do a great job picking up crumbs and fur and cat litter pieces, but the tiny little dust particles sneak their way up into the air and escape the dustpan without you even knowing. That’s why you notice your floors look dirty almost thirty minutes after sweeping.
While you should continue to sweep (I recommend a soft bristle broom, followed by another round with a microfiber pad like a Swiffer floor duster to catch any pet fur you missed) it’s also a good idea to run over the surface with the vacuum cleaner once a week. The vacuum cleaner gets it all. Its high-powered suction gets the dirt and dust that your broom just can’t handle, and it takes much less time than sweeping the traditional way.
Just be sure your vacuum is compatible with your type of flooring. Not all machines are made for hardwood and tile and can scratch them if not done correctly. This is another reason you should hang on to that owner’s manual.
Bonus! Dust First, Vacuum Second
One last thing, before you go get your vacuum, now that I’ve made you uncomfortable about the bug fecal matter party going on in your living room rug. Before you vacuum, do all your dusting first. The surfaces, the ceiling fans, the baseboards, whatever you need to dust that day, do it first.
No matter how fantastic your microfiber cloth is, some of that dust will settle on the floor, and if you’ve already vacuumed, you’ve pretty much just wasted your time. Now go get your vacuum out of the closet, give it a name, become best friends, get your floors and rugs super clean, and have another doughnut. Because you just worked off the first one, there’s room for the extra calories. 🙂
Kate S says
This is pretty exhaustive details on vacuuming. We all assume that we know basics but eventually we forget things like not picking up the bigger items which can actually cause damage to the internal mechanics of the vacuum cleaners. Thanks for sharing such basic but neat details. This will surely help to clean better.
Sandra gandy says
great information. thank you.