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Misunderstood

Getting less-than-stellar performance from your vacuum cleaner? Don't chuck it -- you just may be using it wrong ...

For example: If your upright is making a grinding noise on carpet, it's not necessarily broken. Check the power setting. It may be on too low.

Looking for a better vacuum? Let us help!

Published:Caption:Photo:Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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Smooth suction

It doesn't matter how modern or ancient your vacuum is; you'll know you're on the right suction setting for your surface when the grinding sound goes away and you can hear an even flow of air through the machine.

We fear no vacuum, and neither should you: Here's the only buying guide you need.

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The right moves

Even the best uprights need to be moved properly to do their jobs right.

Cleaning and vacuum experts say that an ideal wall-to-wall carpet cleaning involves pushing the vacuum both vertically and horizontally over the same space, no matter how powerful the machine (or the presidential owner).

Is your vac among the year's best?

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Go with the grain

Exotic rugs can be a different story. Persian rug experts recommend moving the vacuum only with the grain of the rug. The beater bar will move in the opposite direction, lifting the nap and cleaning out the dirt. It's best to avoid the fringes of the carpet, though.

More vacuum cleaner mysteries are revealed here.

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Mystery brushes

If this odd-looking gadget has you baffled, that's because you're probably using something else to do this attachment's job.

Cleaning expert Melissa Maker has outlined its essential role in a how-to video.

They're here: All the best vacuum cleaners of the year

Published:Caption:Photo:Melissa Maker
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Now you know

It's a dusting attachment! It's found on many vacs and is recommended by professional cleaners for more delicate jobs, such as electronics or, you know, statues of Alexander Hamilton.

Some of these brush attachments are so soft that you can use them to dust the entire house ... or an entire Capitol Rotunda.

Sure, you can use specially designed wipes or compressed air for electronics. Or you can use what you already have in your utility closet.

Confused about what vac to buy? Check out our vacuum cleaner buying guide.

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Facing the corners

How many times have you seen someone vacuum right up to a wall with a standard upright and expect the dirt to just come flying out of the corners?

Sometimes the dirt does come flying, but if not, blame user error, not the vacuum.

The best new vacuum cleaners have arrived, and we've got the details!

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Cornered

That's what the snipey-looking crevice attachment is for. Use it.

Make buying a vacuum easier with our handy buying guide.

Published:Caption:Photo:Melissa Maker
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Love triangles

This cool triangular vacuum line pattern was so popular with the audience of one blogger that she posted a how-to video.

Here's the simple trick, according to Allison Hepworth: Push the vacuum straight forward, but pull back at an angle. Repeat.

From power to versatility, we've found the best vac for you.

Published:Caption:Photo:Allison Hepworth
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Vac yourself out of a corner

Start at the corner opposite the door, follow the pattern correctly, and you won't have a single footprint in your gorgeously vacuumed carpet.

And when you're finished ...

Need still more info about vacuum cleaners? Check out our buying guide.

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Triumph!

... you'll have sucked yourself right out of the room. Go ahead; celebrate your cleaning triumph.

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