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How to Use a Vacuum Cleaner to Effectively Clean Your Home

Written by James Hall |

A guide to vacuuming more efficiently

Vacuuming is easy…or is it? Here are our top tips for getting the most out of your vacuum cleaner.

Having spent countless hours testing vacuum cleaners, we’ve realised that a vac’s performance isn’t always the issue. Sometimes how your vacuuming is just as important.

In this article, we’ll take you through our top tips for vacuuming your home more efficiently.

General Vacuum Tips

Regardless of the type of flooring, here are some vacuum tips that are always important:

  • Empty your vacuum before it’s full. Don’t wait until the bag or canister is filled to the brim, as this may affect suction power. Instead, empty bags when they are approximately 75% full, or bagless canisters when they hit the “Max” line.
  • Remove any small objects from the floor before you start vacuuming. Aside from making it more difficult to clean your floors, small items could clog your vacuum or even damage an internal component. Get rid of Lego blocks, rubber bands, large cereal pieces, and anything else that could cause an issue for your vac.
  • Vacuum (at least) once per week. A thorough vacuuming each week can maintain dust, dirt, and other debris at manageable levels. Ideally, you should vacuum carpets twice a week though.
  • Vacuum before your floors look like they need it! The longer dirt sits on your carpets and hard floors, the more time there is for it to become caked in.
  • Make sure your vacuum is cleaned and unblocked. Clogged filters, partially blocked hoses, and tangled brush bars can all reduce your vacuum’s cleaning power. Check out our guide to cleaning a vacuum to learn how to refresh your vacuum and restore its performance.
  • Don’t rush your vacuuming. Moving too fast over a patch of floor prevents the vacuum from performing at its best. Move backwards and forwards across the surface at a controlled speed. If you have time, move over the same areas from different angles.
  • Focus on high traffic areas. Floors that get the highest traffic are always going to accumulate more dirt. You may need to vacuum these areas more frequently.
  • Dust high surfaces before you vacuum. This ensures your vacuum picks up any dust or debris that falls on the floor.

Maximise Your Cordless Vacuum’s Battery Run-Time

Many cordless vacuum cleaners have multiple power settings. The higher the suction, the shorter the battery run-time. It’s best to save maximum power mode for carpets or dirty doormats, as these require the most suction. Lower power modes should be used for hard floors – as long as there isn’t too much debris.

How to Vacuum Carpets More Effectively

  • Check your vacuums carpet settings. It’s vital that you’re using the right settings for cleaning carpets. These vary depending on the model, but you should generally switch on the brush bar (at least for short pile carpets) and raise the bristles on the floorhead. For delicate carpets, you may want to have the brush bar switched off.
  • Plug your vacuum into the socket closest to the door. This allows you to start cleaning on the far side of the room and finish at the exit, leaving your carpet perfectly refreshed (for a short time anyway!)
  • Perform multiple passes on carpets in a criss-cross pattern. One pass is rarely enough to remove all dirt and dust from a carpet. Go back and forth multiple times for a better clean. A criss-cross pattern moves the fibres in different directions for a deeper clean.
  • Vacuum rugs first. These often contain the most dust, so it makes sense to clean them first. You could also bang them off outside to get rid of more debris. Make sure you check the label for the right way to clean your rug though.
  • Don’t vacuum carpets with looped fibres with a powered brush bar. This could damage the carpet.
  • Vacuum carpets more often than hard floors. Every time someone walks on a carpet, dirt and dust is pushed deeper into the fibres. This is why it’s a good idea to vacuum high traffic areas more than once per week.

How to Vacuum Hard Floors More Effectively

  • Make sure you’re using your vacuum’s hard floor settings. Just like with carpets, it’s important to use the right settings for hard floors. Some vacuums have a hard floor tool, such as the Dyson Soft Roller. Others allow you to lower the bristles or switch off the brush bar to prevent scattering. There are also vacuums with hard floor suction modes. Read the instruction manual to find out how to maximise your vacuum’s effectiveness on each surface.
  • Use the crevice tool along floor edges. Many vacuums have poor edge cleaning performance, which allows dirt to build up along skirting boards. Use your vacuum’s crevice tool to pick up debris that the main floorhead can’t reach.
  • Avoid vacuuming large amounts of big debris. Rice and a few small cereal pieces are probably fine to vacuum, but large debris can block a vacuum. Use a dust pan to get rid of the worst of a spillage before using your vacuum.
  • Never vacuum liquid spills. Vacuums are not designed to handle liquids. Vacuuming up even a small spill could damage the motor. The exception is if you’re using a wet and dry vacuum cleaner (read our guide “What is a Wet and Dry Vacuum?” to find out more.)
  • Vacuum the same area of floor at least twice. Don’t just run your vacuum over a patch of hard floor. Instead, move back and forth several times. Even vacuums with excellent suction can’t remove all dust in a single pass.

How to Vacuum Furniture and Stairs More Effectively

  • Use a mini motorised tool when possible. A mini brush bar often makes these more effective than a non-motorised upholstery tool.
  • Vacuum furniture before floors. This means your vacuum will pick up any dirt or other debris that falls onto the floor.
  • Don’t forget to move your furniture. You don’t need to clean underneath furniture every day, but it’s important to move them occasionally for a thorough clean.
  • Use a crevice tool to get into the edge and corners of each stair step. Dust and dirt always collect in these locations, as even mini tools find it difficult to suck right up to the edge.

How to Choose the Right Vacuum Accessories

Most vacuums come with a dusting brush, crevice tool, and upholstery brush as standard. It’s easy to overlook these tools, but they are all designed for specific cleaning tasks that are difficult with the main floorhead.

Crevice tools are brilliant for cleaning in tight spots, such as corners and behind radiators, although we’re often disappointed by the short length of many modern crevice tools. Dusting brushes have softer bristles to prevent scratching delicate surfaces, while upholstery tools are wider for cleaning furniture.

The best all-round tools are mini-motorised tools (sometimes called turbo tools.) Unlike non-motorised tools, these have a powered brush bar that’s similar to the full-size floor heads. This makes them a great choice for cleaning stubborn dirt and pet hair.

Make sure you use these tools, as they make it much easier to clean your entire home. Most vacuum floorheads don’t do a good job along edges, can’t be used for above-floor cleaning, and are too bulky for stairs. That’s why extra accessories are vital.

It’s also important to make sure you’re using the right floorhead. While most vacuums only have a single floorhead, some include separate heads for carpets and hard floors.

Tip: Always take your shoes off at the front door. Walking mud and other debris through your home makes it much more difficult to keep your floors clean.


There are right and wrong ways to vacuum a home. By using the tips above, you can maximise the performance of your vacuum cleaner and make sure your home is as clean as possible.

Do you have any questions about how to vacuum efficiently? Or do you have your own tip that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments section below.

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