8 Surprising Uses for Your Vacuum Cleaner

Upright vacuum cleaner with hose being used on wooden floor

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

No matter whether you love or hate your vacuum, it can do much more than remove the dust and dirt from your floors and carpets. Since you have a machine that uses suction to capture messes, here are eight surprising uses for your vacuum cleaner's action all around the house.

For most of these jobs, you will need a canister or upright vacuum that includes a hose with different attachments or a detachable portable hand vac rather than a simple upright floor vacuum cleaner. For some jobs, a smaller handheld vacuum will also work well.

Capture Excess Pet Hair

A vacuum cleaner's job is to gather all the pet hair sticking to rugs and tumbling along on hardwood floors. But you can also use it to vacuum your pet's bedding and remove pet hair from quilts and bedspreads before you toss them in the washer. Excess hair in a washing machine is one of the main culprits in causing clogs, leaks, and water pumps to fail.

There are also attachments that you can purchase to help groom your dog by brushing and suctioning away all of the loose fur, but remember never do anything that makes your pet uncomfortable.

Vacuum cleaner head capturing excess pet hair on wood floor

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Exert Insect Control

A study by Ohio State University shows that frequent vacuuming will kill 96 percent of fleas (adult and larvae) in a home. A vacuum is also a great way to remove dust mites and the human skin cells they feed on from mattresses.

A vacuum hose and crevice tool are also a great way to reach and capture spiders or mosquitoes that gather in ceiling corners. After the insects are gone, attach a clean white cloth to the tool with a rubber band to corral cobwebs and dust.

Freshen Upholstery, Pillows, and Carpets

Beyond removing dust, crumbs, and dirt, your vacuum and a box of baking soda can do wonders to remove odors and brighten fabrics. Simply sprinkle baking soda liberally over upholstery, toss pillows, and carpets. Work it in lightly with a damp sponge or a mop.

Allow the baking soda to remain on the surfaces for at least one hour and then vacuum away. You'll be amazed at how much brighter fabrics can look because the slight abrasive nature of baking soda helps loosen soil and the vacuum whisks it away.

Vacuum cleaner removing sprinkled baking soda on upholstered chair

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Prevent House Fires

Using a vacuum cleaner is a great way to remove any excess lint, a leading cause of house fires, from your dryer vent system and from the dryer itself. Always unplug the dryer first and turn off the gas line if you have one and then use the crevice tool to access the vent area and under the appliance. If you are handy, open the outside housing at the back of the dryer and vacuum away any trapped lint.

Reduce Indoor Allergens

Keep window sills and the crevices between outdoor screens and window panes from accumulating allergens by vacuuming regularly. Use the dust brush attachment to vacuum window and door screens to remove pollen and dust. And, don't forget to give the drapes and any window treatments a good going over as well.

Recover Small Items

If you have dropped something small like an earring, nail, or screw behind a hard-to-move piece of furniture, grab your vacuum. Attach a piece of mesh or old pantyhose over the end of the crevice tool with a rubber band. Aim for the lost item and the suction from the vacuum will trap it against the mesh so you can make a recovery.

Trap Dust Before It Spreads

Use the vacuum's dusting brush attachment to trap dust on lampshades, books, light fixtures, blinds, and even plant leaves before you do any additional cleaning. Removing the dust first will prevent streaks and smears.

using a vacuum to clean a book
The Spruce / Michele Lee 

Clean Kitchen Appliances

No, your vacuum is not going to clean out the refrigerator or remove grease from a cooktop, but it can help you in the kitchen. For each of these tips, ALWAYS unplug the appliance first before doing any work.

  • Use the vacuum cleaner to remove dust from the refrigerator coils and condenser. Your refrigerator will work more efficiently and keep temperatures colder and more steady.
  • Decrumb the spaces between appliances and countertops with the vacuum crevice tool. Keeping crumbs under control will help prevent insect infestations.
  • Prevent small fires by using the vacuum to remove crumbs from unplugged toasters and toaster ovens.
  • After running an automatic oven cleaning cycle, use the vacuum to capture any ashy residue.
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cat Fleas’ Journey Into The Vacuum Is A “One-Way Trip” - 12/17/07. “Cat Fleas’ Journey Into The Vacuum Is A ‘One-Way Trip’ - 12/17/07.” Accessed August 11, 2021. https://news.osu.edu/cat-fleas-journey-into-the-vacuum-is-a-one-way-trip---121707/.

  2. U.S. Fire Administration. “Clothes Dryer Fire Safety Outreach Materials,” November 4, 2019. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/clothes_dryers.html.

  3. “The Importance of Vacuum Cleaners in Controlling Allergies.” Accessed August 11, 2021. https://www.kent.co.in/blog/how-vacuum-cleaners-can-help-reduce-allergens/#