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9 vacuuming mistakes you’re probably making

A red canister vacuum cleaner being used on a hard floor
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Some appliances are more simple to use than others. Take vacuum cleaners — you push it back and forth and there’s little more to it right? Wrong. Most of us will likely be making at least one mistake as we clean the floors in our home, and once it becomes routine, it will no doubt affect the performance of your machine. 

Even if you own one of the best vacuum cleaners, you need to make sure you’re using it properly to get the best results. That’s why we’ve found 9 common mistakes everyone makes with vacuum cleaners — to shine a light on those bad habits. If you’re guilty of any of the following, it’s time to make some changes. 

1. Vacuuming too quickly

A vacuum cleaner head leaving a clean streak across the carpet

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

First of all, it’s not a race. While we all look forward to finishing this chore and storing away the vacuum for another week, rushing will only make the work redundant. Your vacuum cleaner will struggle to pick up as much debris if it passes over the floor too quickly.

Instead, you should vacuum slowly, covering each section both forward and backward before moving onto a new lane. Your vacuum cleaner will pick up more with additional passes over any areas of heavy debris as well. Take your time and you will notice better results.  

2. Ignoring areas as you vacuum 

A vacuum cleaner reaching under furniture

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It’s easy to be guilty of this one. How many times have you looked at an awkward area as you vacuum, such as under the bed or behind the couch, and thought "I’ll get it next time?" It’s all too easy because, again, we want to get the chore over with as soon as possible.

However, if you don’t make time to vacuum these areas, dust and debris will build up to extreme levels over time. This can result in increased allergies around the home, not to mention a less hygienic environment. So, make sure you dedicate time to vacuuming these areas once in a while. If you can find someone to help move furniture out of the way as you vacuum, that can be a real help. Alternatively, some of the best robot vacuums are great for reaching awkward areas. 

3. Vacuuming with a full bag/canister 

The Dyson V11 vacuum cleaner being emptied

(Image credit: Future)

Is your vacuum cleaner suddenly not picking up as much as it should? Or perhaps it sounds more high-pitched? Both are indicators that the bag or canister are full and need emptying. It sounds insane, but a lot of people will continue vacuuming rather than empty the bag there and then if it’s inconvenient. 

But, the fact is your vacuum will collect very little, if anything, with a full capacity. Remember where you left off and empty your vacuum cleaner immediately once it’s full. If you’re experiencing the above problems, but the canister is empty, that’s a sign that you may have a blockage which you will need to take the vacuum cleaner apart to dislodge.

4. Forgetting to raise and lower the brush bar 

A vacuum cleaner head which shows the switch to lower the brush bar

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’ve got a combination of hard floors and carpets in your home, you will want to pay attention to this one. On some vacuum cleaner models, you can manually raise and lower a line of bristles or felt pads to the floor using the switch on the vacuum cleaner head. 

These bristles will help protect your hard floors from scratches as you vacuum, so it’s important that you remember to use them. Once you’re back onto carpet, simply hit the switch again to recede them so you can have better contact with the pile. 

5. Using too much power  

The Dyson V11 Boost mode on the LCD display

(Image credit: Future)

We all assume more power equals a better performance from a vacuum cleaner, but it’s not always necessary. It’s much easier to collect debris from hard floors versus carpets, so you won’t need as much power to do an effective job on this surface. If your vacuum cleaner comes with more than one power level, take it down a notch on hard floors. 

This is a particularly useful tip if you mainly use a stick vacuum cleaner around your home. It will save precious battery life and help your vacuum last longer between charges. Some vacuum cleaners even come with floor sensors, so they can adjust power depending on the floor type for you.  

6. Not cleaning your vacuum cleaner 

The Dyson V11 canister being cleaned with a damp microfiber cloth

(Image credit: Future)

It’s all too easy to forget that a vacuum cleaner needs cleaning too once in a while. Otherwise, the filter will get clogged and it won’t run like it used to. Eventually, your vacuum cleaner will struggle to pick up anything from your floors.  

The good news is that cleaning a vacuum cleaner is pretty straightforward. The chore involves separating the parts, cleaning out the canister and filter, cutting away any tangled hair from the brush bar and clearing out any blockages. Take a look at our guide on how to clean a Dyson vacuum for more info.  

7. Cleaning in the wrong order 

Someone dusting the cabinets, picking up succulents as they clean

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you dust after you vacuum, then you’re making another mistake. When you clean in this order, any dust you flush into the atmosphere as you clean the surfaces will only settle on your freshly-vacuumed floors, making the whole chore counterproductive. 

You should dust first and then vacuum; that way you’re collecting any fresh dust at the same time.   

8. Sticking to the floors 

A vacuum cleaner with the upholstery attachment being used to clean upholstery

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Our vacuum cleaners are more versatile than we give them credit for, and they’re capable of cleaning much more than just floors. If you take advantage of your vacuum cleaner accessories, they can be used to clean upholstery, light fixtures and even mattresses. 

Taking the time to clean these forgotten areas can help reduce the symptoms of allergies around the home. And using a vacuum cleaner to clean them can also make the task much easier. So, whatever you do, don’t throw out your vacuum’s accessories just because you don’t understand their purpose. If you could use a breakdown on which is which, check out I love my vacuum cleaner attachments, so why don't more people use them? 

9. Putting your vacuum through the ringer 

A vacuum cleaner being used to pick up dirt on hardwood floors

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

With regular use and a drive to finish the job as quickly as we can, some of us admittedly forget to show our vacuum cleaner the TLC it deserves. As a result, we end up accidentally ramming it into the walls as we clean, or vacuuming over objects which are clearly too big to be picked up, such as coins or wires.  

This won’t do your vacuum any good, and both it and your home can end up taking damage as a consequence. Move any items which shouldn’t be vacuumed out of the way before you start the chore. Take your time as you vacuum as well — your baseboards will thank you for it.  


For more cleaning tips, tricks and how tos, check out how to clean a washing machine, how to clean a cast iron skillet and 10 cleaning mistakes that will ruin your home


Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed kitchen appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be stand mixers as she loves to bake in her spare time.