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The Best Way to Vacuum Carpet is to Memorize this Routine

Perhaps this has happened to you: You’ve lived with carpeting, then for one reason or another you live with hardwood or some other type of hard surface flooring that shows up every little bit of dust and dirt. You can’t believe it! You can sweep or vacuum one day and by the next morning, dust and dirt have returned. 

A little boy and a girl sitting on a bed

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Of course, you think that some new dirt- and dust-producing thing has mysteriously descended on your living space, but the truth is it’s the same dust and dirt that has always been present only now you can see it.

I cannot tell you how shocked I was to see what accumulated in such a short time on my new dark wood floors. In my mind, I multiplied by 7, 14 and even 21 days. Am I the only one who doesn’t vacuum every day of her life? Yes, I admit it. And just imagining what had accumulated in the carpeting almost made me wretch. Seriously.

Another surprise is how much dirt vacuums miss, especially when we use them on carpet. Because we cannot see the dirt, we assume a single pass will do it.

The problem is that once dirt goes deep into the carpet (closer to the bottom than it is to the top of the pile), it doesn’t easily come out. It takes agitation and suction to coax it out of there. And in the meantime, it’s easy to start hating your carpet. 

RELATED: How to Clean Carpet Even if It’s Old, Stained, and Disgusting

Keep it clean

The best defense is a good offense. That means you need to do all you can to keep the dirt from getting to the carpet in the first place. A shoes-off rule is ideal, but not always practical. Place sturdy doormats at all entrances.

Vacuuming carpet frequently is the only way to keep dirt and grit from embedding into the weave of the carpet backing. It is critical to use a vacuum that is lightweight and easy to maneuver. It should glide effortlessly.

Know your passes

As you plan your vacuuming route, spend the most time on the areas where dirt collects. Memorize this routine and count as you work:

  • 2 passes of the vacuum within 4 feet of outside doors
  • 8 passes in high-traffic areas
  • 4 passes elsewhere

In the areas where the carpet has not been regularly and thoroughly cleaned in the last year, double the passes given above for three months. It will take that kind of effort to get all of the dirt, grit, dust, and grime out of the pile and into the vacuum.

Area rugs

Because they are not stable, it is difficult to thoroughly clean area rugs at home. The best way to deep-clean area rugs is to have them rolled up and taken away to be washed in big tanks created just for this purpose. I have my wool area rugs cleaned this way and they turn out well. This is an investment I make in these rugs that were manufactured to last a lifetime.

Best vacuum

I’m nearly certain I have owned or used every major brand of vacuum ever produced. Call me a vacuum snob and it’s OK. In fact I kind of like it. And I would be a worthless columnist if I did not share what I know.

The best vacuum on the market is the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional. It is bagless, easy to empty, lightweight, maneuvers like a dream and extracts the most amazingly disgusting stuff out of carpet that you could ever imagine—yes, even sand and pet hair.

Over the years I’ve purchased and tested so many Shark models, I’ve lost track; I keep giving them away. I love my current Sharky so much,  I have three of them—one in every area of my home. (Remember when I got my first one?)

You can vacuum with your Dyson or Miele, Electrolux, Kirby or Hoover. When you’re done, I’ll vacuum the same area with Mr. Sharky Pro. Prepare to be amazed (if not a little embarrassed) by what Sharky will find that the others left behind.

Here’s the best part: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional is cheap—way less expensive than its competitors, which for me is a fabulous bonus. While price is not my first consideration in vacuum cleaners, that it comes in at a price that makes me smile.

Originally published: 8-19-14; Updated 2-12-19

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  1. kasaan says:

    Seems like a lot of people have had a bad experience with this product. On Amazon the bad remarks seem pretty major with shocks and broken parts and a LOT of back orders.

    • Guest says:

      Hmmm … I’ve used three different Sharks over a matter of years and have never experienced shocks or breakdowns! I am hard on vacuums, too. Back orders? Probably because I tell everyone they need one. Haha.

    • Sassy says:

      Some people don’t follow directions too well. I have a vacuum on every floor (all Sharks) because I have back problems and it’s difficult for me to go from one floor to another carrying a vacuum cleaner and for the price I can do this. I’m also a vacuum-crazy person. My husband used to joke that I was looking for the perfect vacuum — one that would do the work for me. The Shark really has performed just as well or better then the very expensive vacuums I used to own.

  2. Mitomom says:

    I have to say that we bought a Shark a year or 2 ago after Mary raved about it and my husband (who does the vacuuming) has not been at all impressed. He finds it difficult to use, we’ve had to replace a couple of parts that have broken, and it doesn’t do a very good job on pet hair. Just my $.02. Don’t assume that it’s the best one on the market for your situation. I’m glad that others have been happy with it.

  3. LisaD says:

    After I read your first column telling us of your recommendation of the Shark Navigator, my husband and I bought one at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Reasonably priced, not heavy, and does a fantastic job! We bought one for our son the following year and he also loves how well it cleans! Then we picked one up for our daughter and she is also delighted with it. Thanks for all you do, Mary!

  4. shadon says:

    I just found it on Amazon. It is really reasonable. I’ve been through so many vacuums, and have usually been disappointed in their performance. I was wondering if I should stick with the standard brush roll or go with the premium brush roll. ?

  5. MzKlly says:

    I have a Shark and I have to agree it is the best!! Especially for cat hair. I got mine on Amazon. I do surveys and save up the points I get for Amazon gift certs. I ended up paying about $9 and change for mine. I absolutely love it…

  6. Becky B says:

    Recently when purchasing new carpet the salesman told us that carpet should be vacuumed 1 time a week per people in the house — if there are 2 people in the house carpets should be vacuumed 2 times in a week — if there are 5 people 5 times a week!

    • Guest says:

      Oh thats is a great rule of thumb. I feel sorry for my niece with 8 kids. (Joanie, can you hear me? You need to be vacuuming 10 times a week.)

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