Photo by Kate Mathis
Where to start
If you plan on dusting, do it first—particles will fly around and settle that you’ll want to vacuum up. Then start in a corner and work toward the door to avoid stepping all over your clean floors and those super-satisfying lines in the carpet.
Ways to get the kids/spouse to help
Assign every family member one or two rooms to vacuum each week.
Ask everyone to pick up their stuff before the vacuum is run around. Place bins, separated by person, nearby for tossing stuff into. Empty them out weekly for an effective clutter-control system.
Bagless vs Bagged
Vacuums with bags are generally better at trapping allergens. That’s because they don’t need to be emptied, which reintroduces particles into the air. However, bagless vacuums do a similar job without the added cost of bags. The choice mainly depends on whether your family is allergy-prone.
Best in Class
Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150 is super powerful, with a dirt sensor and pet hair removal attachments, plus it’s certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. amazon.com, $320
Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute has impressive battery life and great suction, and it’s a lot quieter than most. dyson.com, $700
Miele Complete C3 Marin is definitely an investment, but it aces tests on hardwood, carpet, pet hair, noise level and power. mielestore.com, $1,099
Shark Cordless Pet Perfect II is affordable, effective and ideal for spot-cleaning spills or tackling hard-to-reach corners. bedbathandbeyond.com, $60
Source: Consumer Reports
Back hurt from vacuuming?
Stand with feet wide, left foot turned out, and rotate torso to left. Clasp hands behind you, arms extended. Bend forward from hips until back is parallel to floor as you raise arms. Slowly return to starting position. Repeat on other side.
How often should you be vacuuming?
Hit the bulk of the house at least once a week, and go over high-traffic areas about twice as often. Nailed it.
Are Roombas really worth it?
In a word, yes. According to Consumer Reports, “robotic vacuums have finally transcended from being a novelty item in YouTube cat videos to a serious cleaning tool.” While it’s best to keep a traditional vacuum on hand for deep-cleaning jobs, a little bot that does the dirty work for you on a weekly basis is not a bad deal. Plus, there are much more affordable models on the market today, like the Roomba 690, which charges itself on its base, and connects to your Alexa or Google Home (irobot.com, $375).
Do It Right
Pennies, bobby pins and paper clips are all enemies of the vacuum because they can clog nozzles or damage the fan, so first take a minute to scan for small objects.
Use the attachments, people. They’re there for a reason, and you’d be surprised how effective they actually are. Most vacuums come with a crevice tool to tackle hard-to-reach places, an upholstery brush to remove dust and debris from furniture, and a round brush for dusting steps and windowsills.
If you’re using a bagged vacuum, don’t overfill the bag. Replace it when it’s about two-thirds full to keep max suction and prevent that horrifying moment when the vacuum spits particles back out.
Make multiple passes. One swoop just doesn’t cut it. Go over each section in both directions two or three times to really suck up that dog hair.
If you’re vacuuming an area rug, start in the center and work outward, but be extra careful around the edges—you don’t want any frayed fibers getting stuck in the rotating brush.