How Often to Vacuum Carpet

Weekly Schedule, Floor Types, and Tips

Carpet vacuum cleaner

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Most of us don't vacuum every day but prefer to run the vacuum regularly to keep the home feeling fresh and clean. Although vacuum cleaners keep our carpets tidy, some people say that vacuum cleaners damage carpet fibers. This is because a rotating beater bar or brush pulls, stretches, and wears out carpet fibers. While this is true, dirt often has more of a wear-and-tear effect on carpet than most vacuum cleaners do. Read on to find out how often to vacuum carpet and floors and how to do it properly.

How to Vacuum Properly

  • Choose the right type: Select the best type of vacuum for the majority of the flooring in your home. Canister vacuums are usually more efficient in collecting soil from hard surfaces, while rugs and carpeting are better cleaned with an attachment or upright vacuum with a beater bar to loosen the soil.
  • Customize settings: Overworking your carpet is possible. If your vacuum cleaner has multiple settings that let you customize surfaces, you shouldn't be vacuuming your carpet on the bare floor setting. Instead, save it for the bare floors as the vacuum instructions indicate.
  • Check height: Check your vacuum's height settings. This can affect how it cleans or wears on the carpet. If it is set too low, for example, you may damage the carpet, the vacuum's roller brush, or the drive belt. On the other hand, a vacuum set too high won't pick up dirt very well. If you are not sure how high or low you are vacuuming, turn it on at the highest setting and then lower it until you can feel the vacuum tugging at the carpet as you vacuum. 
  • Go slow: Vacuum slowly to trap more soil. Move the vacuum several feet ahead of you and pull it back toward yourself following the same path. As you move to a new area of the floor, overlap the paths. Work in one direction of the room (east to west) and then repeat at a 90-degree angle (north to south).
  • Adjust the head: Adjusting the vacuum head height on upright vacuums to match the type of flooring will give you better suction and trap more soil.
  • Prepare the beater bar: Engage or disengage the beater bar depending on the type of floor surface. Leaving the beater bar engaged while cleaning hard surface floors can result in dents and scratches.

More Best Practices for Cleaning Carpet

When it comes to vacuuming, three other general rules should be applied. 

  1. Consider what's underneath your area rugs: While area rugs should be vacuumed twice weekly, don't forget to remove them and vacuum the flooring under them weekly. You should also occasionally flip the rug and vacuum its backing using the vacuum's upholstery attachment.
  2. Opt for a machine with a HEPA filter: A HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter traps as much dust, dander, spores, and bacteria as possible. A HEPA filter will collect many more particles than a regular vacuum and prevent them from redepositing on floors and other surfaces like upholstery.
  3. Take care of your vacuum: Vacuum cleaners take a lot of abuse as they're accidently slammed into walls and furniture. Be aware of some other don'ts when it comes to keeping your machine in good operating order, such as avoiding vacuuming over hard or large objects don't vacuum over the cord, don't run it over water, and don't let the vacuum run with a full dustbin.

Why You Should Vacuum the Home

Frequent vacuuming remains one of the best ways to keep your home clean. If you don't vacuum your carpet, the dirt will break down carpet fibers and create a breeding ground for dust mites and bacteria. In addition, your home will begin to smell musty from the dirt, mites, and other organisms settling into the fibers. But if you see carpet fluff in your vacuum cleaner dust bin, don't panic and don't stop vacuuming; your vacuum is not destroying your carpet fibers. Carpets are meant to be vacuumed several times a week without sustaining damage.

Vacuuming Frequency

Vacuuming frequency depends on a few factors such as the number of people in your household, whether it's a high-traffic home, and how many pets you have. Vacuuming once a month is not recommended. Carpet and rugs are typically vacuumed more than hard surfaces because they collect more soil and dust that can become damaging as it grounds deep into the fibers. Hard surface flooring does not capture and hold onto dust and loose soil as easily as carpet.

  • High-traffic rooms with carpets and rugs (entryways, living areas, and kitchens): 2x per week
  • Low-traffic rooms with carpets and rugs (guest rooms, formal dining rooms): 1x per week
  • Hard-surface floors (tilehardwoodlaminate, and vinyl): 1x per week

Tip

If you have pets or someone in your household works outdoors, all carpets and floors should be vacuumed daily to capture the large amounts of dander, dust, and dirt. It is perfectly okay to vacuum carpet every day in these situations.

Protecting Your Carpet

If you're concerned about ruining your carpet by vacuuming, consider purchasing a carpet-protecting spray. This can be applied easily. Check if your carpet is under any warranty, as adding products to the carpet could void that warranty entirely.

Article Sources
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  1. The Importance of Vacuuming. The Carpet and Rug Institute.