Home Project Tip 8 – Vacuuming

Vacuuming is a critical home maintenance task.

There’s no escaping it.  Sooner or later you look around and notice the house needs a vacuum.  In fact, it probably needed a vacuum days or weeks ago, but you were just too busy to notice.  And even though vacuuming isn’t rocket science, there are some simple tips to help make the job easier, and to keep your floors looking their best.

What Comes In Has To Go Somewhere

According to Don Aslett, author of “Do I Dust Or Vacuum First”, you can cut the amount of vacuuming you need in half by putting “the right kind of mat at all the entrances to your home”.  Oh, and in case you were wondering he also suggests, “Once your matting is down, always DUST FIRST!”


I think I'd rather blog than vacuum.

Vacuuming is okay, but it's hard to blog and vaccum at the same time.

Mister Aslett ought to know his stuff. He’s cleaned thousands of homes and businesses professionally over 50 years and says that, “Eighty percent of carpet soil comes in by foot traffic, and good mats at all your entrances will keep a great deal of it from ever getting onto the carpeting.” He recommends customers get an indoor mat backed with vinyl—one with nap made of nylon or olefin and an outdoor mat made of AstroTurf.  Apparently, AstroTurf does a great job of cleaning dirt from shoes simply by walking over it.

Eight Ways To Make Vacuuming Easier

What else can you do to keep floors looking great?  Try these tips:

(1)  Since foot traffic is the source of so much dirt, starting a tradition of removing shoes can significantly cut down on the problem of bringing crud into the home.

(2)  Pets and kids are usually the worst offenders when it comes to bringing in dirt, grass and leaves from the yard.  Help them establish a routine that minimizes the mess.  For example, teach the kids to wipe their feet and remove their shoes.  Or depending on the size of the pet, either figure a way to give regular foot baths or limit the area the pet can go out to do its business.

Proper maintenance of your vacuum is important.

Check the roller and remove any string that could bind.

(3)  The condition of your vacuum is critical.  Check your vacuum’s belt drive regularly (see the manual if you don’t know how). If your bag is full, it significantly cuts down on suction power, so be sure to check and replace it as needed.  By the way, vacuum bags should be replaced every month in any case just to get all the “ooky” stuff they hold like pollen, dusts mites, pet dander, etc. out of the house.  If you own one of the newer bag-less vacuums check the manual for recommendations on how often you should empty the canister.  Also, make it a practice to empty it outside over the trash can.  Otherwise, you may end up dumping dust mites, dirt and pollen all over the spot you just cleaned.

Get a good vacuum.  It's worth the investment.

I bought an Oreck from Costco. I like it's small size and weight.

FYI: If you’re looking for a new vacuum, you can go to a site like Amazon.com, search on vacuums and then compare customer comments.  For example, check out this Oreck Signature® Plus II Upright Vacuum at Amazon.  It’s the same basic unit sold at Costco, one I bought and really like for being lightweight, having a small head that fits between chairs, a long cord, and for being able to vacuum all the way under a bed.  Now, scroll to the bottom of the page of the vacuum link above and check the customer comments.  I noticed one of the negatives with this unit appears to be suction power near edges.  As my unit came with a hand held vacuum, and as my former vacuum was much worse with edges I have to say this negative didn’t matter to me.  However, I understand it may matter to you so read up before you buy.

(4)  The speed at which you vacuum is also a function of your vacuum’s sucking power.  In other words, the weaker the motor (and thus the weaker the suction) the slower you need to vacuum to do the same amount of work.  It’s easy to zip a vacuum around the house, but to do more than stir up dust you need to go slow enough to let the machine do its job.  That brush that comes built-in to the unit is designed to lift the carpet pile and loosen particles and debris. It’s far better to take the time going back and forth in a pattern in order to give the brush and the vacuum’s suction the chance to work in tandem as they’re supposed to.


A good vaccuuming requires several extra steps.

Use a crevice tool or other attachment to clean along baseboards.

Pay special attention to any area a pet likes to sit.

Don't forget about all that dust and dander that collects on furniture.

Use an attachment to clean on, under and aroudn cushions.

Pick up cushions to get all the crud that falls in the cracks.


(5)  A good vacuum job involves more than zipping around the heaviest traveled areas of carpet.  Dust travels on the air so it ends up everywhere, including the furniture, drapery, and all those floors that don’t get as much traffic.  As you vacuum, don’t forget to use the crevice tool to get the area right next to the baseboard.  Also, use the extension hoses and attachments to give your furniture and drapes a regular cleaning.  Pay special attention to the areas your pet or pets like to lie down, in order to suck up pet dander, fleas, insect eggs, and other tiny critters pets track in besides dirt.  It also pays to remove cushions on furniture to vacuum all the food and other particles that fall in between.


Take all appropriate safety precautions when vacuuming stairs.

I like to use a hand held vacuum on the stair. It's safer.

Go all the way around the edges first.

Be sure to vacuum those tough to reach corners on the stairs.

Vacuuming stairs is a 3 part process:  Stair, riser and crevice.

Don't forget those stair risers collect dirt and dust too.


(6)  Stairs pose a tougher problem than may meet the eye.  A good stair vacuum job should include the edge around the stair and also the riser, not just the stair.  Because of the risk of falling by getting tangled in your vacuum’s cord or by losing your balance, take extra precautions as you clean stairs.  As long as it has enough suction, a separate hand held vacuum can make cleaning stairs both safer and easier.  Also, a set of knee pads from the hardware store can help save on body wear and tear.

I keep a battery operated spot vac handy.

It's a good idea to spot vac anytime.

(7)  In between regular whole-house cleanings, a battery operated hand held unit can help to gather up larger particles which have a way of breaking into smaller pieces or in some cases grinding into the carpet pile. A quick pick up goes a long way to extending the life of your carpeting.

Glides are well worth the money.  I couldn't do this without them.

Furniture moving slides make moving furniture a snap.

(8)  Dirt, food particles and insects also have a way of collecting under and behind furniture so it pays to move it and vacuum under or all the way around it from time to time.  If you don’t have them, buy a set of furniture moving slides like those used in the picture.  Glides slip under the feet of furniture and allow you to slide it across the floor with relative ease—plus they keep furniture lifting to a minimum.  Believe me; your back will thank you.

(9) Make vacuuming a frequent routine.  Do it at least weekly or more often if you live in a climate with lots of dust, or in busy household filled with children and pets.  One final note: a good quality vacuum cleaner is more than worth the money, especially if you consider the frequency it will be used, and the fact vacuuming extends the life of your flooring.  Good tools make any job easier so be sure to get the right vacuum for the job.


We hope you liked today’s Home Project Tip.  If you have other vacuuming tips you think our readers would appreciate, please be sure to comment below.


To find a complete list of all our project tips, click here for our Home Project Tips page, or go to the  Zero-Based Living menu above to find the drop down menu.


By Bob Anderson

© 2011 Javabird LLC.  All rights reserved.


If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read:
Home Project Tip 7: Hanging Pictures


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