Ever feel like your home feels dustier after you're done vacuuming? Experts say there are common causes, plus simple ways to avoid it.
Do you ever feel like your home feels dirtier after vacuuming than before? It's simple to blame the device and not the technique, but experts say most people make mistakes in the cleaning process. From going too fast to passing in only a single direction, it's easy to get the basic task of vacuuming totally wrong. Luckily, we spoke with vacuum brand experts to explain common vacuuming mistakes and offer advice on how to avoid them.
1. Vacuuming Too Fast
Few people really enjoy vacuuming, so it’s no wonder that people try to race through the job. However, a speedy pass is not effective on carpets and rugs. James McCrea, lead mechanical engineer, Technology & Development for Dyson, advises covering half a meter or 20 inches per second. When vacuuming faster than that, you don't give the airflow and brush bar the time needed to remove the dust and dirt between the flooring fibers.
“If you do it quickly, you might just have to do it two or three times,” McCrea warns. It is better to do it once, relatively slowly, to make sure the job gets done well the first time.
2. Making One Pass in a Single Direction
While vacuuming in one direction is the intuitive approach, it is not the right one. McCrea suggests vacuuming carpets in four directions. Why?
That comes down to understanding your carpet piles. Each has a direction. It is important to vacuum in multiple directions to release dust and dirt from the fibers. If your first pass actually closes the piles, then dirt and dust get trapped. This is why experts recommend vacuuming in different directions and thoroughly agitating the carpet piles.
3. Using the Incorrect Type of Vacuum
"A key factor that will make the cleaning process more efficient is choosing the right type of vacuum for your common messes,” says Liz Hawk, brand specialist at BISSELL.
There are many types of vacuums on the market today. From robotic and handheld models to cordless and upright vacuums to pet-friendly ones, each vacuum has pros and cons. Matching the right type of vacuum to your flooring surface and the common messes in your home can be tricky business.
Read the manufacturer’s manual before purchase to ensure that the vacuum will work for your home. Don’t be shocked if you need to buy more than one vacuum. For example, a robot vacuum can help with daily maintenance, but a wet-dry vac could be very useful for heavy-duty spills and deep-down stains.
4. Not Changing Filters Regularly
Dirty or clogged vacuum filters decrease suction, which limits the vacuum's ability to pick up as much dirt as it should. Worse still, dusty vents can blow back dirt into the air, carpet, or curtains. After all your hard work, the reward could be a home that feels much dirtier.
To avoid this, change the vacuum bag, empty the dust canisters, and replace filters on the recommended schedule. Also, clean the vacuum attachments, including the hose and vents, with a damp microfiber cloth or a moist paper towel.
Hawk adds that "many machines have more than one filter that needs to be cleaned or requires regular replacement to keep things running smooth. Always check your vacuum's user guide for more information on your specific model to know if filters need to be cleaned or replaced."
5. Picking Up a Robot Vacuum
“The number one tip I give: let the robot vac do its job,” says Nick Webert, senior director of Care Field Service Operations at Samsung. “Picking up and moving it to another room mid-clean can affect its sense of direction and connection to its home base." He recommends putting its base in an open and accessible space within Wi-Fi range versus jammed in a closet or other discrete corner.
Rather than moving the robot vacuum to avoid obstacles, remove the obstacles before letting it run through its cleaning cycle. Webert says that most sensors will know what to avoid, but it’s still best to pick up small items, like coins or hairpins, that can damage the vacuum. Also, move pet bowls or any liquids on the floor.
Evaluating Your Vacuuming Routine
“Here’s the great news—many common mistakes are easily fixable,” reassures Webert. Even if pre-cleaning and slow vacuuming seem like a pain, the results are undeniable. You’ll likely notice reduced allergic reactions, fresher smells, and cleaner floors all around.
Pet parents can take the extra step of keeping pets groomed regularly to reduce the amount of pet hair and dander that the vacuum has to tackle with each pass. McCrea suggests using vacuums with detangling tools to avoid touching hair fibers and long attachments to avoid back pain while cleaning crevices and corners.
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