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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

Best way to carpet cleaning? Avoid these vacuuming mistakes

Updated: Apr 30

How many of these vacuuming mistakes are you guilty of?

I hate vacuuming... There I said it! I'd much rather be DIYing or decorating than cleaning, but cleaning floors is an essential part of home maintenance. Seeing as the cleaning process is essential, it makes sense to do a great job and get it right the first time, as this approach can prolong the life of your carpets and flooring. I've spoken to a flooring expert who spilt the tea (no pun intended) on the best way to tackle carpet cleaning and common vacuuming mistakes to avoid. If, like me, you lack an in-house team of qualified professionals (dream on!), then following this cleaning advice will see you right away.

Our expert today is Liam Cleverdon, Flooring Expert at Flooring King. Liam is going to share the best way to carpet cleaning with a vacuum as well as top tips for other floor types and the key mistakes you should avoid. How many of these mistakes are you usually guilty of?

1. Not cleaning your vacuum regularly

There's no denying that cleaning your vacuum is a tedious job and one that can lead to you getting covered in dust and dirt, but it's essential to a great experience and ensuring the highest quality clean. Neglecting to clean your vacuum cleaner regularly can lead to a host of problems.

Over time, dirt, dust, and debris accumulate within the vacuum's canister or bag, reducing its suction power and potentially causing unpleasant odours. Regular maintenance, including emptying the canister or changing the bag, cleaning or replacing filters, and checking for any clogs, is essential to ensure your vacuum performs at its best every time you use it.

Liam says, “This common mistake results in an inefficient clean. Vacuuming with a full bag restricts fresh dirt from entering the machine, and a full-capacity vacuum can even release debris back into the room, resulting in a dirtier space than before you started. Regularly emptying the vacuum bag before it gets full is the best practice here, as is cleaning the vacuum filter once a month to ensure maximum efficiency."

“To clean the filter, mix two drops of dish soap or an all-purpose cleaner in two cups of hot water to create a cleaning solution. Place the filter into the mixture, ensuring the cleaning solution penetrates through. Then, leave it to dry thoroughly before inserting back into the machine. For optimum results, make sure to check the brush on the vacuum for any tangled hair, fabric, or any other debris, and remove these using scissors to cut through. This will ensure that there are no obstructions for the brush to spin clearly.”

2. Vacuuming around objects

I'm definitely guilty of this one. There is often a floor full of kids' toys and furniture when I come to hoover and it's tempting to scoot the hoover around the obstacles but vacuuming around objects instead of moving them can result in incomplete cleaning and leave behind hidden dirt and debris. To effectively clean your floors, take the time to move small objects such as chairs, ottomans, and toys before vacuuming. 

“While this may seem like a time-saving technique when vacuuming, this prevents you from having a thorough clean. Not moving furnishings while vacuuming can cause you to miss areas that aren’t visible, leading to a build-up of dust and dirt. To avoid this, clear the floor by removing objects, ensuring a thorough vacuum,” is Liam's advice.

3. Using the incorrect type of vacuum for your flooring

Using the incorrect type of vacuum for your flooring can lead to subpar results and even damage your floors over time. Different types of flooring require different cleaning methods, and using the wrong vacuum can cause scratches or wear. For example, while upright vacuums are suitable for carpets, hardwood floors may require a vacuum with adjustable height settings or a specialized attachment to prevent damage.

“A common household trait is using the same vacuum for different flooring and messes. While this is convenient and cost-efficient, this isn’t the most effective form of cleaning your floors. It’s important to understand what type of vacuum is most tailored to the type of flooring you have, as well as what type of cleanup is needed. For example, an upright vacuum works well for larger areas for a deep clean, while cordless sticks and robot vacuums are great for quick, light clean-ups. Having multiple vacuums with different qualities will help ensure you’re equipped for any mess,” says Liam.

4. Vacuuming too fast

Vacuuming too fast may seem like a time-saving strategy, but it often results in ineffective cleaning. Rapid movements can cause the vacuum to miss dirt and debris or fail to lift embedded particles from the carpet fibres. To achieve the best results, take your time and use slow, deliberate strokes when vacuuming, especially in high-traffic areas or where dirt is concentrated.

“While it might be tempting to rush through housework, vacuuming too fast is ineffective and time-wasting. This is a common mistake whilst vacuuming; however, rushing through this task won’t allow enough time to remove dust and dirt between flooring fibres, thus leading you to vacuum over the same spots until it’s clean. To ensure a thorough, efficient clean, avoid rushing through this task, taking your time covering the entire surface. This will give the airflow and brush bar enough time to work through the dirt and will save you the hassle of vacuuming over the same area,” advises Liam.

5. Vacuuming objects that shouldn’t be vacuumed

Vacuuming objects that shouldn't be vacuumed, such as small toys, coins, or paper towels, can damage your vacuum cleaner and pose a safety hazard. These items may become lodged in the vacuum's mechanism, causing clogs or even damaging internal components. Before vacuuming, take a few moments to remove any small objects from the floor to prevent accidents and prolong the life of your vacuum cleaner.

Liam says, “It’s important to note that the sole purpose of using a vacuum is to lift dust, dirt, and debris. Using this cleaning appliance to remove bigger pieces, such as coins, earrings, or large shards of glass, can damage the mechanism, resulting in repair or a new vacuum. To avoid damaging the vacuum, scan the floor for any large pieces, and manually pick these up and take them to the bin. This will ensure a smooth vacuum and no damage to the appliance.”

6. Vacuuming in a single direction 

Vacuuming in a single direction may seem efficient, but it can leave behind dirt and flatten carpet fibres, resulting in an uneven appearance. To ensure thorough cleaning and maintain the integrity of your carpet, vary the direction of your vacuuming strokes. By vacuuming in multiple directions, you can loosen embedded dirt and lift carpet fibres, leaving your floors looking fresh and rejuvenated.

“Vacuuming in one direction is a common mistake that people make when cleaning floors. This technique may feel natural and efficient, however, this prevents thorough cleaning. Instead, vacuuming in multiple directions helps release dust and dirt from the carpet’s fibres. Varying directions instead of going back and forth with your vacuum can help ruffle the carpet piles, further accessing deeper dirt,” Liam suggests.

7. Vacuuming too often on certain flooring

Vacuuming too often on certain flooring, particularly carpets, can lead to premature wear and reduce their lifespan. While regular vacuuming is essential for maintaining cleanliness, excessive vacuuming can cause fibres to break down and flatten over time. To avoid this, stick to a regular cleaning schedule based on your household's needs and the type of carpeting you have, focusing on high-traffic areas and periodically rotating furniture to distribute wear evenly.

“While vacuuming every day won’t cause many issues and is an effective way of preventing any dust or dirt build-up, this should be avoided on certain types of flooring. A daily vacuum is safe on flooring such as carpets. However, hardwood flooring may experience damage to its boards, so once a week is the best practice when it comes to this type of flooring. Use a sweeping brush in between vacuuming for hard floors where there is high traffic," says Liam.

“Regularly vacuuming areas that see a lot of foot traffic is a cautious way of preventing dust and dirt build-up. Once a week is a good rule to follow, however, depending on how often the room is used, if children or pets are involved, and the type of flooring you have, then this can vary to better tailor to your home lifestyle. Kitchen, playrooms, and even living rooms are likely to need a more regular vacuum, potentially at least twice a week, while less frequently used rooms such as bedrooms can be maintained with a once-a-week schedule,” he continues.

Best way for carpet cleaning - tips for success:

Lady vacuuming living room
Image credit: Tower Housewares

Don't let common mistakes ruin your carpet cleaning efforts. Here's a summary of the best practices to ensure your clean carpets stay in great condition.

  1. Frequent Vacuuming Regular vacuuming is the best way to keep your carpet fibers in good condition.

  2. Choose the Right Cleaner Different types of carpets require different cleaning methods. Ensure you're using the best carpet cleaner for your specific carpet type.

  3. Low-Moisture Cleaning Opt for a low-moisture carpet cleaning system to avoid excess water and long dry times. Excessive moisture can damage carpets and lead to mould growth. Opt for cleaning methods like dry cleaning or low-moisture options

  4. Spot Cleaning Address stains promptly with spot cleaning to prevent them from setting in. Use a spray bottle and clean cloth to tackle spillages and marks. 

  5. Professional Cleaning Schedule professional carpet cleaning services for a deep clean and to extend the life of your carpet if you can, or, alternative hire a traditional steam cleaner or carpet cleaning machines for deep cleaning. 

  6. Pet Treatments Using pet treatments is a great way to remove pet hair, pet dander, and odours effectively.

  7. Consider Upholstery Don't forget about upholstery cleaning needs to maintain a clean and healthy home environment. 

  8. Regular Maintenance Keep up with regular maintenance to prevent dirt, dust mites, and allergens from accumulating.

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