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Most household vacuuming takes place on carpets and rugs using a vacuum equipped with a beater brush. Hard floors should be cleaned using suction tools without a rotating brush (or with the brush turned off).


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The following tips should help you finish the task quickly and effectively.


Carpets and rugs need vacuuming at least once a week — more often in areas that see a lot of foot traffic. The dust you see on counters, bookshelves and tables lands on rugs as well. Carpeting partially traps this dust, but only up to a point. Foot traffic drives dust, grit and dirt into carpeting, where it begins to grind away at the fibers if allowed to accumulate excessively.


“Nothing will extend the life of carpets (and, for that matter, other furnishings) more than faithful vacuuming,” says Don Aslett, author of The Cleaning Encyclopedia: Your A to Z Illustrated Guide to Cleaning Like the Pros.


The good news is that you don’t need to be super-conscientious about getting into crevices and corners every time you pull out the vacuum cleaner. Edges and corners get just as dusty as everyplace else in your home, but they don’t get any foot traffic, so you can overlook these places in routine cleaning without compromising the longevity of the carpet. Instead, go after this dust during the occasional deep cleaning.


If your machine is in top shape (see vacuum cleaner maintenance) and you vacuum the carpet weekly, you won’t need to go over each section several times in multiple directions. “Purists may advise you to go over a section of carpet eight times to get it completely clean,” the editors of Consumer Reports write in How to Clean and Care for Practically Anything, “but if you vacuum regularly you will probably find that a couple of swipes back and forth are sufficient.” On some carpets, vacuuming at right angles — first pass over a section in one direction, the second pass perpendicular to the first — can be highly effective at getting up all loosened debris if necessary.


Use a vacuum cleaner with a good beater bar and a height adjustment for differing piles: higher for a deep shag, lower for short, tight weaves. Listen to the machine for clues on proper adjustment. Lift the running machine off the carpet a little bit to hear what the motor sounds like with no resistance. If the motor slows down noticeably when the machine is lowered, the height adjustment is too low for the carpet you're cleaning. Some models automatically adjust for proper beater-bar height.


Vacuuming:  Created on November 3rd, 2009.  Last Modified on November 3rd, 2009


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