How to Vacuum Your Carpet

Gladys K. Connelly
As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a professional housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.
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Updated May 21, 2023

How To Vacuum Carpet
Vacuuming your carpet floor can sometimes feel like a never-ending task. Carpets and area rugs can attract a lot of crumbs, dust, and dirt. And this can make it hard to stay on top of your carpet care.

But, with the correct method, vacuuming your carpets can be a lot quicker. There are also considerations to take into account to make sure you’re not damaging your carpet fibers.

Here are some tips on the right way to vacuum your carpet to help it keep in top shape.

The Right Way to Vacuum Your Carpet

  • Remove any obstacles. Make sure you choose a vacuum with attachments that are suitable for your carpet needs.
  • Push your vacuum forward in tight rows, starting slowly to lift the dirt.
  • Overlap your strokes slightly and go over each row carefully.
  • Repeat this process in the opposite direction.

How Often to Vacuum Your Carpet

You should vacuum your carpets regularly, at least once a week.

The CRI (Carpet Rug Institute) also recommends doing this more often if you have more foot traffic:

  • Vacuum daily in high-traffic areas or if you have pets.
  • Twice a week in moderate traffic areas.

Before You Begin


Use a Vacuum Cleaner for Carpet

There are several types of vacuum cleaners to consider for cleaning your carpets. You can choose from an upright, canister, or handheld model.
They all have pluses and minuses:

  • An upright has an all-in-one design that makes them feel heavy. But they provide strong suction power on a carpet
  • A canister has a wheeled body that’s lighter to pull and easier to maneuver. However, the wheels can be hard to drag on high-pile carpets and may get caught in the fibers
  • A handheld model is lightweight and perfect for spot cleaning. But if you need to deep clean your carpet, this is not the vacuum cleaner to choose

To help you choose, the Carpet and Rug Institute certifies vacuums through a Seal of Approval. This system can guide you to find the best vacuum based on performance capabilities for removing soil as well as containing dust. It also takes into consideration the appearance of the surface of your carpets after vacuuming.

Vacuums that are CRI certified can guarantee efficient cleaning potential.


Select the Right Settings and Accessories for Carpet

Beater Brush Bar

Check if your vacuum cleaner comes with a beater bar. Beater bar brushes are designed to lift and loosen debris embedded in your carpet fibers. They work well on low to medium pile carpets. But, the bristles are stiff and can damage high pile carpets or cause tangles on shag carpets.

Adjustable Height

Beater bar brushes are incompatible with certain types of carpets, such as Berber or natural wool. Instead, consider a vacuum cleaner with a height-adjust vacuum head. This feature raises the brush high to avoid tangling long fibers.

Some beater brushes can also be switched off for vacuuming delicate carpets.

Special Carpet Attachments

You should also consider attachments that are designed specifically to clean carpeted areas.

For instance, a crevice tool like this crevice attachment can help you clean hard-to-reach areas around your room’s edges. Or, if you have high-pile or area rugs, a mini-motorized brush can remove dust embedded in the long carpet fibers.

An upholstery attachment allows you to vacuum furniture without damaging the fabric.


01 Clear The Surface

Remove any obstacles from your carpets before you start cleaning. Move the furniture if needed. Pick up any clutter or large debris from your floors.

This will save you time cleaning, but it will also help prevent your vacuum from getting clogged. Small objects or large debris can get stuck in your vacuum bag or hose attachment and could damage your cleaner. It can also cause it to lose efficiency due to loss of suction while you clean

02 Vacuum In Strokes

Start slowly and vacuum in strokes between three and four feet in length. Then, move sideways to begin the next pass.

Overlap your strokes slightly as you vacuum to ensure you don’t miss any debris on your carpet.

Vacuum Your Carpet With a Stick Vacuum

Push your vacuum in tight rows under furniture. Use additional attachments to clean wall to wall edges or behind fixtures and tight spaces. For example, use a pet hair attachment to remove pet hair or embedded dirt. You can also remove the floor head to clean tight corners.

Continue vacuuming the room using two to four passes over each carpeted area. Maintain a slight overlap for each straight line.

If you have a cut-pile carpet, lay the pile flat when cleaning and use overlapping strokes in one direction. Make sure your final stroke is always in the same direction.

Vacuum Your Carpet With an Upright Vacuum

When using an upright vacuum cleaner, it can be difficult to clean under furniture. Clean as much of the room as you can using two to four passes.

Clean difficult areas with a stick vacuum one to two times a week.

Repeat this cleaning process in the opposite direction to tackle stubborn or embedded deep dirt in your carpet. Continue with two to four passes until the entire room is vacuumed.

03 Clean The Vacuum & Re-order The Room

Check the filters, the dirt container, and the bag. If the bag is full, replace it. Likewise, empty the dust bin if it’s ¾ full. Replace the dirty filters – wash them only if they’re washable.

If you want to go a step further, wipe down the vacuum canister and the dirt container. Cleaning the brushes and bristles can also be beneficial. A clean brush helps to vacuum up the hidden crumb on your carpet.

Replace the moved obstacles and furniture to their original positions.

Tips To Help Your Carpet Last Longer

Follow these vacuuming tips to keep on top of your carpet care.

Vacuum Slowly

To vacuum your carpet properly, vacuum slowly. This way, you’ll have better airflow through your vacuum head. And the brush bar will loosen better dust and debris between your carpet fibers with each pass.

Plus, it helps you avoid missing tiny particles or allergens that may be hidden in your carpet.

Go Over The Same Spot – But Not Too Often

Going over each row carefully provides a more thorough clean for your carpets to get rid of all the dirt. This allows for better suction and a deep clean with each pass.

But, going over a row more than two times can be inefficient. According to Dyson’s research, too many strokes can cause wear on the surface of your floor coverings.

Avoid vacuuming more than twice over one area during each clean.

Don’t Forget The Places You Can’t See

Often the places you can’t see can harbor more dirt and more dust, as well as lots of tiny particles and dust mites. Don’t forget to clean these areas in the room as well. This includes under furniture, behind curtains, and under sofa cushions.

It’s also important to do this regularly to avoid airborne particles floating in the air. If inhaled, these particles can cause allergies.

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