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10 vacuuming mistakes to avoid

Vacuuming mistakes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There is ample advice out there on how to vacuum effectively, but have you ever considered what not to do? We've rounded up ten vacuuming mistakes to make you aware of the things you could be doing (or not doing), that are hindering your cleaning routine. 

From techniques to technical maintenance, there are many aspects to vacuuming that go further than a speedy every day clean. Many people think that using one of the best vacuum cleaners (opens in new tab) is a simple task that can be completed quickly. However, if you want to get the most out of your time spent on chores, there are many common mistakes to make sure you avoid so that you know how to clean a carpet (opens in new tab) effectively. 

1. Using the wrong type of vacuum

One of the biggest mistakes people often make is choosing the wrong vacuum for their floors. This is something to consider in the research process, as it's important to be spending your money wisely on an appliance that works for your home.

Whether it's an upright, stick, or robot vacuum (opens in new tab), there are specially designed options out there for different floor types and lifestyle requirements. For example, upright and canister vacuums are best used for high-pile carpets and often come with dedicated attachments for upholstery and crevices. 

Using a smaller, stick option designed for light cleaning on a heavily soiled carpet will take longer to reach the desired level of cleanliness. This will result in much harder work for less than perfect results. 

So, to optimize your vacuuming technique and time spent completing cleaning tasks, make sure that the device you choose to invest in has the sufficient power and attachments for your floors. 

2. Not cleaning the hair out of the suction

A common mistake to make in many households is not cleaning the hair out of the suction. Whether you have lots of pets running around your home or simply shed hair yourself, it can quickly become bound within carpet fibers. 

Pablo Montero, CEO of Lupe Technology (opens in new tab), advises on the best way to combat this: "To make sure there isn't too much hair build-up around the brush roller, take it out periodically and clean the hairs off with scissors. How frequently to do this would depend on how "hairy" your household is, but it will make your machine perform much better."

3. Not moving furniture around 

How many times have you actually considered moving your heavy bed or sofa to clean underneath it? While this is a time-consuming task (and furniture is often too heavy to move on your own), it will be entirely worthwhile when your carpets are evenly cleaned and free of discoloration. 

Rotating furniture periodically, including area rugs, will prevent any indentations from becoming permanent as well as discoloration from the sun. It also makes sure you get into every crack and crevice, so that no areas become thick with dust and damaged in the long-term. 

4. Vacuuming too quickly

Pablo Montero advises that "the slower you go, and the more forwards and backward movements you make, the cleaner it will be." And we couldn't agree more. 

Vacuuming too quickly is a tempting habit as it gets the dreaded everyday chores done much quicker, but slow and steady wins the race. Taking the time to vacuum thoroughly, with repeated motions over the same spots, will give you the best chance of combating dirt. So, next time you want to rush through the task, remember how much better the outcome will be with a bit more care and attention.

5. Avoiding regular vacuum maintenance

What the expert says...

Pablo Montero, CEO of Lupe Technology (opens in new tab), says, "some machines have safety protections to alert you of issues but not all machines do. If you ever find that the exhaust/outlet air is running really hot it's definitely something you should attend to straight away by checking the manual or calling customer service of your vacuum cleaner manufacturer."

It's important to protect your investments, which is why avoiding regular machine maintenance is one of the biggest vacuuming mistakes. 

Luckily, Pablo Montero has said that "with vacuum cleaners, it's fortunate that no failure is really going to be catastrophic, so you don't need to worry too much if you're not maintenance minded."

However, "periodic checks of the pipework for blockages and splits would be advisable." This offers peace of mind that your vacuum cleaner is working efficiently before any further issues occur. 

To keep your machine in top condition, it's also worth understanding how to clean a vacuum cleaner filter (opens in new tab), as this will remove any dust enabling your vacuum to suction much more effectively.

6. Only vacuuming in one direction  

Dirt and dust can quickly become deeply embedded in carpet fibers, so vacuuming in both directions will ensure that it doesn’t stay trapped in the pile. Moving the fibers side-to-side allows you to pick up hidden bits of dirt for a more thorough clean. It’ll also help create those lust-worthy carpet stripes that make your space look instantly tidy.  

7. Not adjusting the height 

Vacuum cleaner manufacturers add height settings to their machines so that consumers can get the most out of the appliance, while also cleaning their floors to the optimum ability. By selecting the wrong height, your vacuum could run the risk of sitting too close to the carpet, therefore preventing it from moving smoothly. Likewise, if you use the highest height on hard flooring, the brush won’t be able to reach the surface. 

It’s worth checking the user manual that comes with your machine to learn how to manually alter the height, but there is usually a pedal or knob that will lower or raise the bottom of the vacuum for you. 

8. Vacuuming sharp or large objects  

It’s tempting to be lazy when vacuuming and simply glide over those cumbersome toys or small pieces of broken glass, instead of taking the time to pick them up carefully. However, doing so can cause a clog in the suction that may cost you to repair. 

We’ve all asked ourselves ‘can you vacuum broken glass? (opens in new tab)’ and it’s best to err on the side of caution by picking up any large shards to prevent them from bursting the vacuum bag. Not only would this be annoying to clean up, but it would also mean that you’d have to replace the bag or filter prematurely. 

9. Only vacuuming floors  

While vacuuming is a chore that is mostly dedicated to the floors in our homes, there are many advantages to using this cleaning method on furnishings too. Sofas and mattresses in particular benefit from a spot of vacuuming from time to time to prevent dust mites and get rid of any crumbs that may have accumulated. 

10. Vacuuming in the wrong order  

It’s time to be tactical with how you vacuum. If you’re removing pillows and cushions from your sofas ready to vacuum this area, do it before your carpets as crumbs and extra debris are likely to fall out. It’s also a good idea to complete any area rugs first, as these can house a huge amount of crumbs and dust that will only get your perfectly vacuumed carpets dirty again. 

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Holly is the Features Editor at Top Ten Reviews where she focuses on creating informative, how-to advice. She has a degree in English Literature and previously worked as a copywriter at Howdens, specializing in kitchens and trend-led interiors. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her exploring the best London bars and brunch spots, or planning the next budget-friendly city break. 

With contributions from