Tips for better vacuuming

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Here are some tips I've learned about vacuuming carpets, both through observation and through my old job as a custodian.
  • Slow down. You will pick up dirt that's embedded deeper in the carpet.
  • Go over heavy-traffic areas more than once, and in different directions.
  • Vacuum frequently. The more you walk on a dirty carpet, the deeper dirt becomes embedded. This makes the carpet wear out faster. In rooms that don't collect cooties, try to vacuum once a week to pick up dust.
  • Take a different path. I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds an efficient way to get around all the furniture, and takes that path each time. But changing things up can help you vacuum in different directions, which picks up more dirt, and it can help you notice places that you might not have paid as much attention to when you did vacuumed your usual way.
  • Vacuum against the traffic pattern. If people tend to walk in a certain direction, vacuum the other way, or at a 90° angle to it. This works well when I can manage it, but it's awfully awkward in halls and narrow spaces.
  • Vacuum before carpet cleaning. This will keep your carpet cleaner from getting clogged up with cooties, and it will give it a better chance of picking up dirt that the vacuum can't reach.
  • Vacuum after carpet cleaning. After the carpet has dried, give it special attention with the vacuum for a few days. Carpet cleaning brings deeply embedded dirt to the surface, and if the carpet cleaner didn't pick it all up, the dirt will remain on the surface until it gets ground in again—or until it's vacuumed up. Also, if there is any soap residue left in the carpet after cleaning, it will attract dirt.
  • Clean your vacuum. Clean all the hairs and strings out of the beater bar, and clean out the filter. If you have a bagless vacuum, clean it out thoroughly and frequently.
  • Change the bag frequently, if your vacuum has a bag. If your vacuum doesn't have an indicator, you can tell by a strong dusty or vacuum-y smell that it's time. If your vacuum loses suction or starts leaving behind lumps of dust, it's definitely past time.
Now you can go ahead and tell me that I have too much time on my hands. I promise I don't spend all day vacuuming, and I'm sure my house would be much nicer if I always followed my own advice.

Do you have any tips for vacuuming?


  1. Ha ha ha! You're hilarious! I love this post by the way. Those really are good tips- I think most of us just do it in a hurry and don't take the time to do it right. I don't vacuum regularly and I'm sure it would be nice if I did...
    My tip is to vacuum hard floors instead of sweeping. One time I swept my miles of hard floor and afterward found a layer of grit all over my kitchen counter. I bought a cheap-o stick vacuum for $30 that is as light as a feather. I just whip that thing all around the kitchen and dining room, etc. and it picks up everything plus all the dust! It's very small, so it can get around little corners and under chairs and such and it's so light that it's easy on my arm and back to push around. The kids can help by using it and they get so much more junk than if they were sweeping.

  2. I'm very guilty of not emptying the vacuum regularly!! Thanks for the tips!
    Kristen @ Trial & Error Homemaking

  3. Great tips! I use a seam ripper to remove the hairs and strings from the beater bar.

    1. Wow. I am definitely doing that next time!

  4. In my textiles class, we talked about carpeting. My teacher said that it was fine for the carpet to be fully, intensely vacuumed daily, but since "nobody has that kind of time and if they do they need a hobby", she recommended (based on a conversation with a carpet..person? maker?) that when you do vacuum, go over each area 7 times total before moving on to another area. If that takes too long, just go very slowly over the carpet to optimally clean it.

  5. ha, I love housekeeping details like this! Plus, you're a pro, so that's nice to get the pro perspective.

    I have mostly hardwood floors, but one big rug in the dining room. I vacuum it twice a week and it doesn't look great because I don't have a rugbeater attachment. I've been thinking of getting a second vacuum. . .

  6. I'll always empty the container (it's bagless) and then go over the rugs again more slowly and thoroughly to see what I missed. Then, empty again and do the same thing a third time. By the third time, it's just teeny particles of dirt, and the house has such a fresh feel.

  7. Also, get some essential oils and mix it in a ziplock of baking soda. Shake it up, sprinkle every where, leave for 30 minutes, and then vacuum it up. The smell stays in your house, and it will emit the odor the next few times you vacuum, too.