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There’s A Right And A Wrong Way To Vacuum Your Carpet

Most people already know to vacuum a carpet regularly to enhance its appearance and increase its lifespan. What most people don’t know is that there are a few important things to keep in mind when vacuuming that will make your carpet look and perform its best.

Choose The Right Vacuum

There are hundreds of vacuums on the market today, but not all of them are created equal. If you’re installing new carpet, you should consider checking with the manufacturer to see if there’s a particular vacuum or set of features that they recommend. The newer “soft carpets,” different from the traditional cut-pile styles, might require a different type of vacuum.

CRI Certification

The Carpet And Rug Institute (CRI) has its own set of standards for vacuum cleaners, based on soil removal, dust containment, and carpet appearance retention. If a vacuum meets their standards on all three fronts, it gets their “Green Label” seal of approval, offering you peace of mind and guidance in choosing a vacuum.

Bagged Or Bagless?

Bagless vacuums are much more popular in recent years since they’re easy to empty and don’t require refills. However, they also tend to release more dust and might not clean as thoroughly on deeper carpet piles. Consumer Reports has some excellent info on which type of vacuum is right for you.

Should Your Vacuum Have A Beater Bar?

A “beater bar,” or rotating brush, is a feature on the front of many vacuums that spins and helps to loosen up dirt trapped between the piles of cut-pile carpets. This feature can be very useful on certain types of flooring, but can get caught in looped carpet styles or long friezes, and might accelerate wear and tear on softer fibers. If you have one of these carpet styles, opt for a vacuum that doesn’t have a beater bar, or one that can be turned off.

Adjustable Height

Most vacuums can adjust their height, depending on the surface being cleaned. Some even do so automatically! Make sure you buy a vacuum with an adjustable head height and take the manufacturer’s recommendation into consideration when vacuuming your carpet. This will ensure proper airflow and the best suction, which will clean better and prolong the life of your carpet.

Prepare For Vacuuming

First, go around the area you’re vacuuming and make sure everything’s out of the way. Shoelaces, phone chargers, lamp cords, and small objects like paper clips can get caught in the vacuum and damage it, reducing its effectiveness.

Move small furniture to one side or to another room — it’s tempting to just vacuum around it, but doing so can create uneven wear and tear on carpets and rugs that will eventually create unsightly wear spots.

If you’re thoroughly cleaning your whole house and planning on dusting as well, dust first! Lots of people start with vacuuming, but dusting and cleaning other surfaces creates, well, dust. Some of that dust will fall to the floor, so by waiting to vacuum until last, you’ll clean it up as well.

Finally, make sure your vacuum is ready to go. Most manufacturers recommend emptying the vacuum when it’s no more than half full — beyond that, dirt buildup in the vacuum will reduce its suction and make it less effective at cleaning.

Proper Vacuuming Technique

North To South, Then East To West

No, we don’t expect you to get out the compass when you vacuum. But the standard technique used by lots of people of pushing the vacuum back and forth in short, quick motions is far from ideal. Start along one edge of the carpet or one wall and move slowly and deliberately all the way to the other end. When you’ve reached the end, slowly pull the vacuum all the way back.

When you’ve done the whole room that way, turn the vacuum 90 degrees and do the room again in the other direction, making lines perpendicular to the first pass. Carpet fibers naturally tend to lay in a certain direction, and making sure to vacuum them from all angles is much more effective.

Use Your Attachments

Your vacuum came with lots of fancy attachments for a reason — and it’s not just to look good on the shelf! There’s a crevice tool for corners of walls, an upholstery tool for couches and ottomans, and possibly a few more. Take advantage of those tools to get the most thorough clean you can.

How To Vacuum Stairs

Using an upright vacuum — or even a stick vacuum with a large head — will be ineffective on stairs. The head is simply too big to maneuver properly or to reach into the crevices of a staircase. The easiest way to vacuum stairs is to use a hose attachment designed for small spaces or even just the hose itself. Remember to use the crevice tool to vacuum at the back of each step, where the tread meets the riser, and to pay attention to the nosing of each step where the most contact is made with your feet.

How Often Should You Vacuum?

To get the best life out of your carpet, probably more often than you think. At a minimum, you should be vacuuming at least once a week. In houses with children, high amounts of traffic, or pets, vacuuming two to three times a week might be necessary to get the best life and performance from your carpets.

This may seem like a lot of information to keep in mind for a simple task like vacuuming, but it makes a difference! After all, replacing your carpet is a major undertaking — you want to get as much useful life out of it as you can!

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