There are a few basic rules about vacuuming floors that, once understood, makes vacuuming floors more efficient. The disappointing news for perfectionists is that you may have to go over the same spot of carpet up to seven times to remove all soil.
For the rest of us, vacuuming is a high-speed chore, though you shouldn’t just rush through it. You have to go slowly enough to give the machine time to suck up the dirt.
Vacuum last. Dust, polish, make the beds, clean the walls if they’re on the schedule – do all your cleaning tasks before you run the vacuum. That way you catch up any dust and dirt your cleaning knocks to the floor.
Before you start, get clutter off the floor. Be on the lookout for items that may jam the machine. Wearing an apron with pockets gives you a handy place to dump stray items.
On a carpet, start by the door and work your way across the room, going back and forth. You need to overlap each strip by a little, because your vacuum doesn’t clean absolutely up to the edge of the machine. (Many people have a habit of pushing back and forward in lots of mini-movements, as they might sweep a floor. This takes longer and means you miss bits.)
Go tight into the corners every third vacuum if you have fitted (wall-to-wall) carpets. Doing the corners takes a bit more effort and, frankly, isn’t called for every time you clean. You may need a combination of the crevice nozzle (for tiny spots) and the dust-brush (when suction alone isn’t enough).
Doing a big room can mean hard, on-your-knees work, so do this first and then stand up and leisurely vacuum as normal. By contrast, if you’re vacuuming wood or hard floors, you need to get into the corners every time because dirt and dust collect in corners.
Vacuum rug fringes by moving from the rug towards the end of the fringes. Going the other way will suck up the fringes and can jam the moving parts of your vacuum.
Wood floors scratch easily. When vacuuming a wood floor, check the vacuum’s wheels before you start and wipe off any grit that could mark the floor. Remember to switch off the beater bar or choose the hard-floor attachment if your machine has one. Always vacuum in the direction of the planks.
If your vacuum suddenly sounds different, stop immediately. Unplug it, then check for blockages. Typically an odd noise is caused by something caught in the brush bar. Continuing to use the vacuum whilst it is blocked in any way will burn out your motor or other moving parts.
Check your manual for advice on undoing the brush bar to remove foreign matter. Don’t stretch for that extra metre and risk damaging your machine or tripping over taut flex. Stop and plug the vacuum in again at a closer socket.
When you’re in a dash, it’s absolutely fine to do just the high-traffic walkways.