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Here's the Right Way to Vacuum Your Home (and It Isn't the Back and Forth Method)

You've likely been vacuuming wrong your entire life.

Macy Meyer Editor I
Macy Meyer is a N.C. native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021 with a B.A. in English and Journalism. She currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., where she has been working as an Editor I, covering a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, fitness and nutrition, smart home tech and more. Prior to her time at CNET, Macy was featured in The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, INDY Week, and other state and national publications. In each article, Macy helps readers get the most out of their home and wellness. When Macy isn't writing, she's volunteering, exploring the town or watching sports.
Expertise Macy covers a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, smart home tech, fitness, nutrition, travel, lifestyle and more. Credentials
  • Macy has been working for CNET for coming on 2 years. Prior to CNET, Macy received a North Carolina College Media Association award in sports writing.
Macy Meyer
2 min read
Removing dirt from soft carpet with a vacuum cleaner

Your usual back-and-forth method isn't cutting it. 

Hazal Ak/Getty Images

Vacuuming the house is one of those weekly chores -- or daily if you're like me and have two pets with thick fur -- that you just have to do. It's necessary to keep your home neat, and with the right vacuum cleaner, it can even be enjoyable to watch your room go from grubby to tidy -- especially when you're vacuuming correctly.

Yes, you read that right. There is in fact a right way and a wrong way to vacuum, and many people aren't doing it properly. Below, we'll cover the efficient method for vacuuming your home like professional cleaners. And if you're looking for a new vacuum machine, check out our recommendations -- we've tested a bunch to identify the best cordless vacuum cleaners and robot vacuum cleaners on the market.

The right way to vacuum clean your home

Those short, quick, back-and-forth motions that the majority of people do when vacuuming isn't actually sucking up all that dust, dirt and lint that is embedded into your carpets and floors. The more efficient way to vacuum -- and the way professional cleaners do it -- is to go forward, in structured rows.

You'll first start by vacuuming a row of your carpeting in one direction, wall-to-wall. This first pass should be against the nap of the carpet to make it fluff up and to make the deeply inlayed dirt come up easier. A way to tell if you're vacuuming against the nap correctly is if the carpet piles stick up or look a little darker. 

You're using your vacuum cleaner wrong (pictures)

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Next, push the vacuum back over that strip you just vacuumed. This will lay the carpet back down flat and will suck up the rest of the dirt you missed on the first pass. Once you're back to your starting place, vacuum another strip right next to the first, overlapping slightly. Keep repeating this routine until the whole room has been vacuumed thoroughly.

Once you've completed that step, go perpendicular: If you were vacuuming north to south the first time, vacuum east to west on this second pass. Yes, it's extra work and maybe it even seems like overkill, but this method ensures you get every bit of dirt and debris, which will keep your carpet cleaner and looking newer for longer. 

For more helpful vacuum info, explore the best Roomba alternatives to keep your floors clean and the best robot vacuum deals available now. 

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