Are you unknowingly making these common vacuuming mistakes every time you clean?

Cleaning experts have shared the most common vacuuming mistakes that people make on a weekly basis

close up of a vacuum on a wooden floor to support a guide on common vacuuming mistakes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For what is often classed as a simple task, there are several pitfalls when it comes to vacuuming. Cleaning experts have shared the most common mistakes you could be making every time you clean your floors. 

When you've got one of the best vacuums on your side, cleaning can feel like a dream and vacuuming becomes effortless. And yet, it turns out there are several ways you can make mistakes whilst vacuuming your home every week. 

Even if you know how often you should vacuum your home and fancy yourself a vacuuming pro, the chances are you've made one of these mistakes – we certainly have. Luckily cleaning experts have shared how to avoid making them and offer alternative ways to achieve the perfect clean.

8 most common vacuuming mistakes

So what can you be doing wrong when you're vacuuming? Well, similarly to common dusting mistakes to avoid there are a few small things that can negatively affect your cleaning results and even damage your carpets. 

Here are, the most common vacuuming mistakes made daily... 

1. Neglecting your vacuum

picture of handheld vacuum in living room

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Your vacuum is an essential gadget for getting rid of dust and removing pet hair. And whilst most models are very durable and can take a lot of use there is a certain amount of maintenance your vacuum needs to function effectively. 

Speaking to Olivia Young, the cleaning expert at Astonish, she says, "Put simply, if your vacuum itself isn’t clean, how can you expect it to clean your home? It might sound simple and almost obvious, but this is generally one of the ways most of us are going wrong!"

She points out that not only will a dirty or clogged filter make for a sub-par clean but it could also be adding to the dirt, blowing it out in the air and back onto the carpets you're trying to clean. Ever wondered why your room smells when vacuuming? A dirty filter is the most likely cause.

"To avoid this, give your vacuum some TLC and make cleaning the device a regular thing. This includes replacing the filter and cleaning the attachments – a damp cloth will do the trick," she explains. 

Can you use malt vinegar for cleaning - picture of Olivia Young
Olivia Young

Olivia has worked in both formulation science and analytical science for over three years, testing and designing household products from scratch. She now works at cleaning brand Astonish where she is based in the on-site lab testing and creating products to ensure they work effectively. 

2. Vacuuming too fast

No one wants to spend all day vacuuming, especially when you consider how often you should clean your house, however, there is a risk of vacuuming too quickly. 

"We’ve probably all said the phrase ‘I’ll just do a quick vacuum’ before – but this might not be as effective as you think. Unfortunately, no matter how powerful your appliance is, a speedy vacuum just won’t quite cut it to achieve a thorough clean," says Olivia. 

If you vacuum too fast, you won't give your vacuum a chance to actually get under the carpet fibres and pick up all the dirt and debris. 

Olivia continues, "A quick clean is just a surface-level clean and will more than likely lead to you needing to repeat the clean a few times. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to vacuuming!"

3. Forgetting to move furniture

woman picking up rug to vacuum underneath

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Have you finally got your room designed in the perfect Minimaluxe set out? As much as rearranging furniture is the last thing you want to do, simply vacuuming around items in your room will not give you the deep clean you want.  

"While this may seem like a time-saving technique when vacuuming, this prevents you from having a thorough clean," says Liam Cleverdon, flooring trends expert at Flooring King.  "Not moving furnishings while vacuuming can cause you to miss areas that aren’t visible, leading to a build-up of dust and dirt."

When vacuuming to deep clean your house then skirting around your sofa, rug or lamp will not achieve the level of cleaning you're aiming for. Instead, Liam says to avoid this surface-level clean move furniture around as you vacuum your space and return them as soon as you're done with the area. 

4. Not adjusting the attachment for different surfaces

When finding ways to reduce dust in your home and keep it as clean as possible, consider the various surfaces where dust collects. The way you tackle your curtains will be completely different to how you clean your countertops, the same goes for the surfaces you vacuum. 

"If you have hard floors and carpet in your home you need to adjust the floorhead to suit each surface. Many models have specific heads for different surfaces but even a budget vacuum will have the option to raise and lower the floorhead," says Sarah Dempsey, cleaning expert at MyJobQuote. 

She suggests that when vacuuming different surfaces the brushes should be down for hardwood flooring and raised for the carpet. "This ensures that the vacuum is working efficiently by being as close to the floor covering as possible," explains Sarah. 

Consider this when vacuuming your mattress or cleaning a velvet sofa because both require an upholstery attachment.

A photo of cleaning expert Sarah Dempsey
Sarah Dempsey

With over twenty-five years in the cleaning industry, Sarah is truly an expert in what she does. Specialising in domestic cleaning and laundry, Sarah also works closely with MyJobQuote to provide expertise in cleaning to homeowners, tradespeople and media outlets.

5. Vacuuming in only one direction

vacuuming line on carpet

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Perhaps one of the most common vacuuming mistakes, only vacuuming your carpets in one direction will limit how much dirt and debris you remove. 

Sarah stresses the importance of vacuuming from multiple directions, explaining: "This action agitates the carpet fibres and is more effective at releasing deeply embedded dirt and dust. If you only vacuum in one direction the dirt will get trapped as you flatten the pile and the vacuum won’t be able to pick it up." 

Although it will add time to your deep clean, it's best to avoid spring cleaning mistakes so that the next time you tackle that area it feels far less overwhelming. 

6. Picking up things you shouldn't with your vacuum

As much as it's easier to vacuum large areas without inspecting them, there are certain objects and smaller pieces of debris you shouldn't be using your vacuum to get rid of.

"It’s important to note that the sole purpose of using a vacuum is to lift dust, dirt, and debris. Using this cleaning appliance to remove bigger pieces, such as coins, earrings, or large shards of glass, can damage the mechanism, resulting in repair or a new vacuum," says Liam. 

Similar to how many common radiator cleaning mistakes can damage your radiator, vacuuming these bits up will cost you money in the long run. To avoid any damage, Liam recommends scanning your floor for these larger pieces and picking them up manually to dispose of. 

7. Forgetting to clean your vacuum filters

dirty paper filter for vacuum

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just like there's a time frame on how often you should replace your carpets, your vacuum filter needs replacing too. With all the impressive vacuum models on the market, most will work more efficiently with a clean fresh filter. 

Dawnn Hilton-Lito, manager at cleaning company One Less Thing, stresses the importance of this particular vacuum maintenance. She says, "By refusing to properly clean or replace filters, homeowners can end up compromising their indoor air quality." 

Not paying attention to the condition of your vacuum filter will lead to a low-quality cleaning and may add to the dust already in your home. Dawnn suggests consulting the manufacturer's instructions for guidance on how often you should clean or replace the filters and how to do it. 

Should you want to replace your filter altogether, then these Dyson-compatible filters from Amazon for £21.99 are perfect. 

Dawnn Hilton-Lito, cleaning expert
Dawnn Hilton-Lito

Dawnn founded her own domestic and commercial cleaning business in the UK after moving from the States, she eventually went on to also open a carpet and upholstery cleaning service to the mix. She is now the general manager of One Less Thing, which is a domestic cleaning company, where she runs the cleaning team and trains new members. 

8. Only focussing on the floor

It's not just your floor that can benefit from a good vacuum. But not taking full advantage of your vacuum for other surfaces around your home is a common mistake. 

"When we think about vacuuming the home, many of us tend to think only of our floors, often neglecting other areas of the house which would benefit from a regular vacuum. Many surface areas are just as vacuum-able as your hard floors and carpets, so it’s important to show these spots some attention when cleaning the home," explains Paul Bagwell, CEO and Founder of Halo Vacuums

Paul says that the most common area that's missed is blinds, especially Venetian ones as the flat surfaces collect dust more than other types – ideal when cleaning blinds

He says, "Most vacuums come with additional attachments for various areas of the home, sunning a bristled brush head over your windows will stop dust from spreading around the home and create less cleaning work for you and your vacuum." 

This also applies to soft furnishings too, using the upholstery tool on your vacuum is a great way to clean a fabric headboard or tackle your sofa. 

Is there a wrong way to vacuum?

Whilst there are many mistakes to fall victim to, vacuuming still remains a relatively easy task to do. Sarah says there's really only one wrong way to vacuum, "Vacuuming all in one direction will not remove the dirt and debris from carpet fibres. Instead, a multi-directional approach is recommended to agitate the pile of the carpet and effectively displace dirt, debris and dust." 

As mentioned above, vacuuming in multiple directions is the best way to achieve a deep thorough clean. 

Is vacuuming every day bad?

Unlike how often you should mow your lawn, vacuuming is more of a personal choice and down to your household situation. There are a lot more variables to take into consideration, and unlike lawns, your carpet won't die from excessive vacuuming. 

"If you have pets or small children, you’ll probably be vacuuming three to four times a week particularly if you have carpet," explains Sarah. "Hard floors such as laminate or engineered wood should only need to be vacuumed once a week but high-traffic areas such as hallways will usually need more frequent vacuuming." 

Vacuuming will never be the same again, simply avoid making these common mistakes and you will soon notice the difference in your home's health and cleanliness. And why not tackle different areas in your home? Your vacuum can handle it

Emily Smith
Digital lifestyle writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. After writing various health and news content, she now specialises in lifestyle and home writing where she covers all things cleaning, interiors and homeowning.