How To Vacuum & Clean A Vacuum Cleaner

Cleaning may not be your favorite way to spend your time, but it's necessary to maintain a healthy home. That being said, there are several steps you can take to make sure housecleaning, including vacuuming, is a "once and done" project.

In this guide we will look at how to vacuum and ways to keep your vacuum functioning properly​ by learning how to unclog them and clean their filters.

Do you want to automate your vacuuming? Check out our guide on the Best Robotic Vacuums and discover how they can save you time even while you're at work or on vacation.

Should You Dust or Vacuum First?

Work from the top down, and work rooms clockwise to make sure you don't miss anything.

  • Dust along the corner between the wall and the ceiling.
  • Wipe down cabinets, picture frames, counter tops and shelves.
  • Tidy and clean tables.
  • Put away everything that's out of place, and if you don't have a place for stuff, designate one.

Once it's all clean from the top down, you're ready to start on the carpets and flooring.

How Often To Vacuum

  • High traffic areas should be vacuumed daily.
  • Twice weekly vacuuming should be enough for medium traffic areas.
  • Low traffic areas can wait for once a week. Be sure to use crevice tools for corners.

One of the most important vacuuming tips to remember is not to rush the process. The vibration of the vacuum cleaner loosens dust so the suction can draw it up.

Slow Down!

The slower you go, the more dust you collect and the longer your carpet will last.

How To Vacuum Stairs

Vacuuming your stairs with an upright vacuum can be inefficient, because the roller hangs over the edge of the stair and you don't get an effective seal against the carpet for maximum suction.

It can also be dangerous; you're either lifting the vacuum ahead of you or following it, and both put you at risk of tripping over a cord or tumbling down the stairs.

A cordless hand-held vacuum is a terrific option for stairs. If you need more suction power, or if bending is problematic, consider a cordless upright.

Many manufacturers offer a small, lightweight cordless upright for small projects including Electrolux, Hoover and Dyson. These units can be run off a rechargeable battery and have a smaller vacuum head, ideal for stairs.​

Change the Bag or Empty the Cartridge

On bagless machines, empty the cartridge frequently. You'll get a better quality clean and lessen risk to your vacuum. If your machine has a bag, vacuum experts at Vacuums Guide recommend replacing it when 2/3 full to reduce risk to your vacuum cleaner motor.

How to Unclog a Vacuum

Unplug the machine! Never disassemble any appliance that's still plugged in.

Most vacuum clogs arise because something big or oddly shaped is stuck in a tight corner.

The first place to check is where the hose goes into the body of the vacuum. If you disconnect this and see something poking out, you've probably found your clog. You can remove any visible debris (gloves are a good option at this point, to avoid splinters or cuts), reattach the hose and turn on the vacuum for a test run.

If the connection between hose and body is clear, you'll need to flip the machine over to check the port between the beater bar and the body. Most vacuums have a fairly sharp corner here. A long piece of debris can get jammed and become a blockage as dust and pet hair push against it. Again, wear gloves.

Use a wire coat hanger, straightened, to push into the debris clog and loosen the blockage. You may be able to twist the coat hanger into the clog and pull it out, or at least loosen it so you can draw out the debris and find the source of the clog.

Once the gunk is cleared, reassemble the machine and power it up to see if it's working.​

How to Unclog a Vacuum Hose

Vacuum hoses often need to make tight turns inside the body of the vacuum. To clear clogs in the hose, stretch it out. If you can disconnect it completely, drop a coin through it to see if it passes all the way through.

If not, you may be able to clear it with a broom handle. Be careful when inserting a coat hanger into a plastic vacuum hose; you may puncture the plastic and lessen the power of your vacuum.

How to Clean a Vacuum Filter

Thanks to HEPA filters on many vacuum cleaners, we can clean our homes and remove a great amount of allergy-related materials for better air quality. However, HEPA filters get clogged quickly and need to be cleaned every three to four uses.

Your vacuum manual should provide you with detailed instructions on how to get to the filter and the best cleaning methods, but there are some basic steps that should work with any machine.

Per experts at DoItYourself.com, there are some basic steps to follow:​

  1. Move the vacuum to a solid surface, preferably onto a patio or porch, or to a garage. Pulling that filter can release a lot of dust, so if you've just cleaned, you don't want to waste your work.
  2. Shake or tap excessive dust from the filter. You may want to wear a mask for this process. Brush the filter to remove embedded dirt.
  3. If your manual recommends, wash the filter with water and allow it to air dry, then replace it in the vacuum and you're ready for your next cleaning day!​

What About Steam Cleaning?

Steam cleaning carpets is the best way to protect the quality of the air inside your home. Dust and dirt build up over time no matter how diligent you are about vacuuming, and professional steam cleaning is the best way to remove it.

Per Susie Strutner, many carpet warranties can be voided if carpets are not steam cleaned on a regular schedule.

SEE ALSO: How To Get Grease Out Of Carpet​

Final Thoughts

Properly cleaned, your carpet can last for years. Properly maintained, so can your vacuum. Consider checking the floor area before vacuuming to pick up large debris or clumps of pet hair that can jam your vacuum hose.​

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