Essential Housewares & Appliances
Full Menu
Essential Housewares & Appliances
Abstract Brushed Metal Background


Maskot / Getty Images 

The Ultimate Guide


6 Things You Should Never Do With Your Vacuum Cleaner

Happy man standing with vacuum cleaner in dining room at home


Maskot / Getty Images 

Few household appliances get more use than a vacuum cleaner. We depend on them through thick and thin to swoop in and suck up the worst messes family life can create. But there's a limit to how much abuse these usually sturdy machines can take. No matter what kind of vacuum cleaner you own, there are several actions you should avoid to ensure that it's always ready when you need it.

Here are six "don't" to remember when it comes to your household vacuum cleaner.

  • 01 of 06

    Don't Vacuum Up Hard Objects

    Most of us have done it: While vacuuming the house, we spot a penny, screw, or small stone on the floor, and rather than stopping and stooping to pick it up, we simply run the machine over the obstacle and hope for the best.

    But this can be a big mistake. These hard objects can cause serious damage to the interior of the machine, or become lodged inside in areas where it will be difficult to remove them. True, such a mistake may not ruin the vacuum cleaner every time—and some machines are pretty good at accepting this kind of abuse. But one time can be more than enough to ruin and expensive vacuum cleaner.

    Avoid the risk and always pick up hard objects manually.

  • 02 of 06

    Don't Vacuum Up Liquids

    Regular vacuum cleaners are not designed to pick up water and other liquids. Never.

    If you are ever tempted to run the vacuum cleaner over a puddle of water, remember that you run the risk of electrocution and serious damage to the machine. Even if you avoid disaster, you'll have a nasty mess on your hands when it comes time to empty the dirt bin or bag.

    Wet/dry vacuums, on the other hand, are specially designed to allow you to pick up water without risking your life or the machine. Wet/dry vacuums are relatively inexpensive and can be a great addition for those emergency situations where you need to vacuum up spills or puddles. But never use a regular vacuum cleaner to do this job.

  • 03 of 06

    Don't Let the Vacuum Cleaner Run Overfilled

    It should go without saying: When the dustbin or bag is at capacity, the vacuum cleaner needs to be emptied. If you don't empty it, the performance of the machine will be drastically reduced and you run the risk of overheating and damaging the machine. Yet all too often, we're in a hurry and imagine the full bag can handle just one more chore. Then one more. And another.

    If you do notice that the vacuum cleaner doesn't seem to have as much suction, check the bag or bin, first. Most of the time, emptying these can make a huge difference in how well your vacuum is cleaning your home. Regular emptying will also reduce stress on the motor, thereby lengthening the life of the machine.

  • 04 of 06

    Don't Vacuum Over the Cord

    Vacuum cleaner cords are tough and usually able to withstand some trauma, but running a vacuum cleaner with a spinning brush over an electrical cord is a bad idea. That same motion that forces the dirt up into your vacuum cleaner can fray or damage the exterior of the cord. Over time, even the best cords will start to show damage, making them unsafe for use.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Don't Throw Away the Machine Because It Loses Suction

    Maybe your vacuum cleaner isn't picking up dirt the way it used to. If you just assume that it is old and needs to be replaced, you could well be wrong. A number of easy solutions can return the machine to perfect operation.

    • First, try checking the bag or dirt bin. When full or nearly full, many vacuum cleaners will begin to perform poorly.
    • If emptying the dirt doesn't work, you may have a blockage in the vacuum cleaner. Unplug the machine and do some detective work. Is the hose blocked? What about the openings where the hose goes into the machine?
    • Is the brushroll turning freely, or is there a build-up of hair and carpet fibers that need to be removed? Cleaning the brushroll can magically rejuvenate a vacuum cleaner.

    Regular inspection and maintenance of your vacuum cleaner will keep it running like brand new.

  • 06 of 06

    Don't Assume the Motor Is Broken

    Did your vacuum cleaner suddenly turn itself off in the middle of a cleaning session? Does it do it repeatedly? It's easy to assume such performance means the motor is burning out and respond by immediately begin shopping for a new vacuum cleaner.

    But it is more likely that the vacuum cleaner motor has simply overheated due to a full bag/bin, or that hair or fibers have locked up the brushroll and caused overheating. Check for these issues as well as for clogs, then try to turn the machine back on. Your machine may have an automatic shutoff feature that shuts the motor down when it overheats; it may start back up once it cools down.

    Be aware that some models have a manual reset button that needs to be depressed in order to reset the motor. Refer to your manufacturer for instructions on how to reset your model.

    To prevent such shut-downs, regularly inspect the various parts of the machine: dust bin, hoses, hose connections, and the brushroll.

Avoiding these six common "don't" can keep a good-quality vacuum cleaner operating efficiently for decades.