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Getting Carpets Clean Requires Proper Vacuuming; You’re Probably Doing It Wrong

There's a right and a wrong way to vacuum carpets and most of us have been doing it wrong all along.

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.
Chris Wedel Home Tech Editor
Chris Wedel is a fan of all things tech and gadgets. Living in rural Kansas with his wife and two young boys makes finding ways to stay online tricky — not to mention making my homestead smarter. However, by utilizing his years of experience in the tech and mobile communications industries, success is assured. When not conquering the outdoors and testing new gadgets, Chris enjoys cruising a gravel road in his UTV with some good tunes, camping, and hanging out with his family.
Expertise Smart home devices, outdoors gadgets, smartphones, wearables, kid's tech, and some dabbling in 3D printing Credentials
  • Covered the mobile and smart home tech space for the past five years for multiple large publications.
Macy Meyer
Chris Wedel
3 min read
The Vactidy V8 Pro brush head and LED lights cleaning low-pile carpet.

Cordless vacuums have improved greatly in the last few years and can now handle the vast majority of a home's cleaning needs.

Chris Wedel/CNET

One of the most unavoidable parts of adulthood is cleaning. While it isn't the most enjoyable task, it's a necessity for maintaining a healthy and comfortable living space. Vacuuming -- next to doing the dishes -- might be the most frequented cleaning chore and may also be one of the most instantly gratifying ones. Seeing the dust debris (and pet hair on the floor for those with furry friends) there one second and gone the next while rolling around a powerful machine can be highly satisfying.

It's a job that can at least make a room feel more enjoyable. If you're like me, you may not be aware that there is a correct and incorrect way to clean your floors. Even if you have the best vacuum on the market, by using it wrong, the tool will not perform at its peak and your floors won't be as clean as you want.

We've done a lot of in-depth hands-on and lab testing to ensure we are recommending the best cordless, robot, and budget vacuums on the market. As we all know, the best tool isn't going to help much if we don't use it properly. So, by combining the top vacuums with professional cleaning tips, you're sure to have tidy floors in no time.

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 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 embedded 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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