What’s the best way to vacuum your carpet? The Ultimate Guide

Carpets can easily become breeding grounds for dirt, dust mites, and allergens if not cleaned regularly and properly. Vacuuming is essential to keeping carpets fresh, hygienic, and prolonging their life. This comprehensive guide will discuss everything you need to know about effectively vacuuming carpets.

Types of Vacuum Cleaners for Carpet Cleaning

When it comes to effective carpet cleaning, having the right tools is essential. If one tries cleaning carpets with an unsuitable vacuum cleaner, achieving satisfactory results becomes difficult. The operating principle behind all vacuum cleaners relies on a motor-driven fan that creates suction, pulling air through a narrow tube. This vacuum draws loose dirt and debris into the tube, which then collects in a receptacle for later disposal. However, not all models are equally proficient for every cleaning task. Here are the main types available and their key features:

Upright Vacuums

Upright vacuum cleaners were the original model developed for home use. These cleaners feature a motor, bag or canister for debris collection, and a cleaning head, all built into a single upright unit that must be physically pushed and tilted to maneuver across carpeting. While somewhat heavy and unwieldy, upright vacuums offer powerful suction that makes them ideal for cleaning large expanses of carpet. Most upright models also come equipped with a variety of attachments, such as crevice tools, dusting brushes, and extension wands that enable accessing hard-to-reach areas like ceilings, upholstery, and stairs. With the right attachments, upright vacuums can adapt to fulfill most household cleaning needs. Their upright design does limit mobility though, especially compared to newer lightweight stick vacuums. So while still the preferred choice for large carpet maintenance, upright vacuums come with certain maneuverability tradeoffs.


  • Powerful suction
  • Large dust canisters
  • Height adjustments
  • Rotating brushes to agitate carpet fibers

Best for: Thick carpets and rugs, large areas, pet hair removal

Canister Vacuums

Canister vacuum cleaners, exemplified by the iconic Henry model, feature a main unit housing the motor and dust collection bag which remains stationary on the floor during use. A flexible hose connects the floor unit to a lightweight wand and cleaning head allowing easy manoeuvrability around furniture and accessibility for above-floor cleaning. This versatile design performs well on most floor types from hard floors to thick pile carpets. The tradeoff for convenience and versatility is a larger footprint both when in use and for storage. Still, for whole home cleaning power, canister vacuums like the Henry remain a popular choice for many homeowners.


  • Strong suction
  • Compact size
  • Attachments for flexibility
  • Wheeled design

Best for: Hard floors, carpets, pet hair removal, stairs

Stick Vacuums

Cordless vacuum cleaners, powered by rechargeable batteries rather than traditional power cords, have surged in popularity in recent years among residential consumers. These lightweight, portable vacuums provide the convenience of not needing to locate wall outlets or navigate cords while cleaning.However, there are tradeoffs. Cordless models typically have less powerful suction capabilities compared to their corded counterparts. Additionally, limitations in current battery technology can result in faster discharge rates that may not adequately support cleaning large spaces in one session. Still, for many consumers, the increased flexibility and ease-of-use afforded by cordless designs outweighs these potential shortcomings.Moving forward, improving battery life and suction power in cordless vacuums while retaining convenient weight and size profiles remain important considerations for manufacturers targeting residential user needs. Striking an optimal balance across these areas will likely expand the appeal of this category.


  • Lightweight
  • Cordless convenience
  • Attachments like crevice tools
  • Bagless models

Best for: Smaller homes, hard floors, area rugs, quick cleanups

Robotic Vacuums

Robotic vacuums offer convenient, automatic floor cleaning. Equipped with sensors, they can navigate and clean independently without human operation. Key features include scheduling, app control, and long battery life. Advantages are hands-free cleaning, reaching difficult areas like under furniture, and integration with smart home systems. However, disadvantages include high upfront costs, less thorough cleaning than traditional vacuums, and the need for regular maintenance like emptying dust bins and replacing filters. Overall, robotic vacuums excel at routine maintenance cleaning but may not fully replace manual vacuuming.


  • Automated cleaning
  • Compact size
  • Multiple cleaning modes
  • Scheduling options

Best for: Light, maintenance cleaning for all floor types

Handheld Vacuums

Handheld vacuums are lightweight, portable cleaners ideal for quick, small messes. Key features include cordless operation and attachments for crevices. Advantages include easy portability to clean cars, stairs, and tight spaces. Powerful models have strong suction. Downsides are short runtimes from 15-45 minutes per charge. Small dust bins require frequent emptying. Limited battery life reduces usefulness for large jobs. Still, handheld vacuums fill an important niche with their convenience for rapid spot cleaning tasks.


  • Extremely portable
  • Cordless use
  • Specialized attachments
  • Bagless models

Best for: Small messes, upholstery, car interiors

Step-by-Step Guide to Vacuuming Carpets

Follow this methodical cleaning process to clean your carpets thoroughly:

Prepare the Area

  • Remove any furniture, small rugs, and other obstacles from the area.
  • Check the vacuum to ensure bags are empty or filters are clean.


  • Use a broom or duster to remove any loose debris or surface-level dust from the carpet. This prevents clogs.

Vacuum Slowly in Overlapping Strokes

  • Go over each section of the carpet 2-3 times slowly.
  • Use overlapping strokes so no area is missed.
  • Give extra attention to high-traffic zones.

Use Attachments on Edges and Corners

  • Use crevice tools and upholstery brushes to vacuum along baseboards, corners, and around furniture legs.

Check for Missed Spots

  • Look over the area when finished to spot clean any visible debris.
  • Re-vacuum spots that need more attention.

Must-Have Vacuum Accessories

Specialized vacuum attachments can simplify cleaning challenges:

  • Crevice tools – access tight spaces along edges and between cushions
  • Upholstery brushes – remove pet hair, debris from furniture
  • Extension wands – reach curtains, ceiling corners
  • Pet hair attachments – rubber bristles grab and remove stubborn pet fur
  • Multi-surface tools – adjust brushes for optimal cleaning on different surfaces

Recommended Vacuuming Frequency

Vacuum carpets based on household traffic:

  • High traffic areas – Daily is ideal, 2-3 times per week minimum
  • Medium traffic areas like bedrooms – 1-2 times per week
  • Low-traffic areas like formal living rooms – Once a week

Adjust as needed based on pets, kids, seasonal allergies etc.

Different Carpet and Fibre Types

When it comes to vacuuming different carpet types and fibers, technique matters. Wool carpets require gentle yet thorough vacuuming at least once a week, preferably with an upright vacuum with adjustable suction and height settings to avoid excessive fuzzing or damage. Nylon carpets can handle more aggressive vacuuming thanks to their durable synthetic fibers. A vacuum with a rotating beater bar helps lift dirt from nylon carpet piles. For olefin carpets like Berber, avoid vacuums with stiff brush rolls as they can snag the tight loops—a suction-only cleaner is best. Regular vacuuming keeps all carpet fibers looking their freshest, while helping to realign crushed piles and prevent dirt from embedding deeper. Proper vacuuming also makes professional steam cleaning more effective when done every 12-18 months. Ultimately, understanding the unique properties of each fiber type allows tailoring vacuuming to lift soils without harming carpets. With wool, gentleness prevents fuzzing; with nylon and olefin, suction power or brush agitation lifts clingy particles. Knowing which tools to use ensures carpets stay cleaner for longer after each vacuuming.

Maintaining Your Vacuum for Optimal Performance

Caring for your vacuum ensures it effectively cleans carpets over time:

  • Empty dust canisters when halfway full
  • Wash or replace filters monthly
  • Check for and remove clogs in hoses/pipes
  • Replace worn-out brush rolls and belts
  • Wipe down the exterior to remove debris and dust

Common Vacuuming Mistakes to Avoid

Some common mistakes lead to lackluster carpet cleaning results:

  • Using the wrong vacuum cleaner type – Stick vacuums won’t deep clean thick carpets.
  • Rushing through – Take your time to cover all areas thoroughly.
  • Neglecting edges and corners – Use attachments to access these spots.
  • Not emptying the canister – Full canisters reduce suction power.
  • Forgetting maintenance – Clean filters and remove clogs regularly.

Extra Tips and Tricks

  • Sprinkle baking soda before vacuuming to absorb odors.
  • Move furniture and rotate small rugs to reach all areas.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses too.
  • Have your carpets professionally deep cleaned yearly.


Thorough, methodical vacuuming is crucial for clean, fresh carpets. Follow these guidelines on vacuum types, techniques, accessories, and maintenance to keep your carpets looking their best. Consistent vacuuming removes allergens, prevents premature wear, and maintains a healthy home environment.


1. What is the best vacuum cleaner for thick carpets?

Upright vacuums are ideal for cleaning thick carpets. Models with adjustable height and powerful beater bar brushes can thoroughly clean plush and shag carpets. Canisters are another good option. Straight suction vacuums lack the agitation effects needed for thick carpets.

2. Why does my vacuum get stuck in the carpet?

If your vacuum gets caught or stuck while vacuuming thick or plush carpets, the height may need adjustment. Raise to the appropriate setting for clearance. Check the beater bar brush too for obstructions. Reducing suction power can also help.

3. How do I vacuum carpets without damaging them?

To avoid vacuum damage on delicate rugs, turn off the rotating beater bars and brush rolls. Use straight suction and adjust to the lowest effective setting. Light, careful movements also prevent snags or pulls on the carpet backing or fibers.

4. What is traffic lane vacuuming?

Traffic lane vacuuming involves frequently vacuuming high traffic areas and walkways. These paths through rooms get the most foot traffic and require more frequent attention. Focus daily vacuuming on traffic lanes for cleaner carpets.

5. How can I get pet hair out of low carpet?

To thoroughly remove pet hair from low pile carpets, use the specialized carpet rake attachment. The long metal tines comb through the carpet fibers, lifting out the stubborn embedded hairs so suction can remove them.