How to Vacuum Like a Pro

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Even though I don't have carpet anymore, my vacuum is still my most important home-keeping tool. I'll say it again: My vacuum is THE most important housekeeping tool I own! I think it should be yours, too, since it makes such a variety of housekeeping chores so much quicker and easier.

Before Vacuums = Exhausted Housewife

But before I get into how useful vacuums are today, I want to refer back to a popular post I made on this blog's Facebook page recently. I want you to consider what life was like before vacuums.

True, wall-to-wall carpeting was rarely a thing in the 19th century or earlier, but women still had large carpets to clean. (Homes weren't well-insulated until recently, and wood floors truly needed carpets to help keep the house warm.) To accomplish this, women drug all their many carpets outside, hung them up (often on the laundry line), and beat them - hard! - with a stick to remove dust and debris. I'm sure it was quite a workout!

Women also did all the dusting by hand...and it was probably a much bigger chore in those days because homes were far less "tight" and nearby streets were often dirt.

Then in the early 1900s, the first home vacuum machine came along, priced for wealthy families only. And while it was considered labor-saving, it required the maid to lug around a 600 lb. "portable" machine.

So...let's just remember how easy we have it today, ladies!

The first home vacuum weighed 600 lbs!
Modern Vacuums = Best Friend

To really take advantage of a modern vacuum, you have to use it for more than just floors. Here's an example of how I often use my vacuum. (Which is a Shark Apex I highly recommend.)

I usually begin by extending the hose on my vacuum. Then I:

1. vacuum the front porch and doormat with the hose, as well as
2.  vacuum the front door jam.

Now I close the door and focus on the inside of the house. Still using the wand, I:

3. vacuum up spider webs around the ceiling and window frames.

I then add a brush or dusting attachment and:

4. "dust" light fixtures, the tops and shelves of bookshelves, and the tops of door jams,
5. "dust" picture frames and mirrors,
6. "dust" lamp shades,
7. "dust" just about any surface (from tabletops to pianos).

Periodically, I then put the upholstery attachment on the hose and:

8. remove dust and pet hair from the furniture.

Periodically I use the hose without an attachment (or I put the crevice attachment in place) to:
Vacuums are for more than floors (and couches)!

9.  clean the crevices between the floorboards and the floor,
10. vacuum the "runners" of the sliding glass door and windows, and
11.  clean the floor under the cabinets or other furniture, where the vacuum roller won't reach.

Next, I put my vacuum on the bare floor mode and:

12. vacuum the vinyl and wood floors. (I've never understood why anyone uses a broom any more!)
13. And vacuum throw or area rugs. (Depending upon your vacuum, you may need to use a different setting or attachment for rugs and throws.)

When I had wall-to-wall carpet, I then, finally, put the vacuum on carpet mode and vacuumed the carpet.

In addition to this vacuuming routine, I use the vacuum to:

* Clean filters (like the house's air filter).
* Vacuum under the refrigerator.
* Vacuum out stubborn lint from the clothes dryer.
* Clean and dust the inside of drawers or cabinets.
* Vacuum curtains or draperies. (Use the vacuum's low-suction setting or the upholstery attachment.)

Having a vacuum really does make house cleaning faster and easier. In fact, if a 19th-century woman were to watch me use one, I'm sure she'd be shocked that it takes the place of at least a few maids :)

A version of this post originally appeared in May 2010.


  1. I use my hand vacuum for most of this, but I have to admit I very rarely use my "real" vacuum. You asked why people still use brooms. I use my broom almost daily. Why? Because only our top floor is carpeted, we keep the big vac up there. The broom is just easier than carrying that thing up and down two flights of stairs, and the hand vac is just too small for most jobs.

    Thanks for sharing these great tips!

  2. That makes sense, Tanya. But I hate brooms so much, I'd probably buy a second vacuum :D

  3. My husband thinks that our kitchen should be swept with a broom. I beg to differ--and routinely vacuum all of our hard-surfaced floors with the vacuum, using the wand attachments for hard-to-reach crevices, like around the toilets and under the china cabinet. I hate my broom, too. And, I nearly went into a panic a few weeks ago when I thought I'd burnt up the motor in our vacuum! (Fortunately, I'd just burnt up the belt, though the smell of burnt rubber was so intense, the vacuum spent the day outside on the patio.)

    When I was growing up, we had a central vac system--and once the dogs got used to it (they're MUCH quieter than a regular vacuum) we were able to use the vac system to vacuum the dogs off. They actually loved it!