Most Common Vacuum Cleaner Mistakes

Every year over 35 million vacuum cleaners are sold in the United States. That’s a lot of vacuum cleaners! Not surprisingly, almost every household in the USA owns a vacuum cleaner.

use the vacuum cleaner

What’s even more surprising is the fact that many of those new vacuum cleaners are purchased either because “the old one broke” or because “my previous vacuum cleaner isn’t very powerful”.

Both are very legitimate reasons. The only problem is that vacuum cleaners usually break because they’re not used correctly. And although they do lose some power with time, most of the time the power loss is due to not knowing how to correctly operate the vacuum cleaner.

Many of the discarded vacuum cleaners could work just fine if we learned to treat them correctly. Your pocket will thank you and the environment will help you!

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the most common mistakes that owners make when using their vacuum cleaners.

Mistake 1: Not emptying the bag or canister before is full

Not emptying the bag before is full

This could happen either because we don’t like cleaning the dirty bag of our vacuum cleaner, or simply because we don’t realize that the bag is full.

Apparently, it’s not a big deal. Except, it actually is. Unless you don’t care about your vacuum losing power.

When the bag is full, your vacuum loses power because of all the soil and dust that’s already inside the bag. And in the long run, it can cause the engine to overheat and shorten its lifespan.

Not many people know this, but most manufacturers recommend emptying the bag when is 3/4 full.

Mistake 2: Not cleaning the filter after you vacuum

Not cleaning the filter

Most vacuums have a filter that’s meant to trap the smallest particles your vacuum cleaners sucks in. Filters can be disposable, but most robotic vacuum cleaners and the latest cordless models use filters that aren’t disposable. They’re sometimes called disk filters or coffee filters (because of how similar they look to coffee filters).

These disk filters are made of cloth or paper. And that’s the reason why it’s so important to change them. When your filter is full, the moisture trapped in the dust passes to the cloth and paper. And those materials aren’t supposed to be humid, and so they break long before they were meant to.

And manufacturers know this happens. That’s why those filters are quite expensive to replace.

Mistake 3: Not cleaning the brush roll from all the dust and hair and debris

Not cleaning the brush roll

A brush roll full of hair and debris won’t clean. It’s that simple. But the worst part could come if it has difficulty turning because it can burn out the motor!

It’s fair to say that if you burn out the motor, on almost every scenario it will be cheaper to buy a new vacuum rather than fix the one you already have. So make sure you’re cleaning the brush roll!

To prevent this from happening, cut out all the hair and strings tangled in the brush roll. Most vacuum cleaners allow you to remove the brush roll to make it easier for you to clean it properly.

Mistake 4: Letting the retractable cord rewind by itself

wind the cord

If you want your vacuum cleaner to last as long as possible then you shouldn’t let the rewindable cord rewind by itself. Letting it rewind alone can break it or send it off track.

To avoid this, when pressing the rewind button, hold the cord on your hand to guide it all the way in.

This is something that no manufacturer will ever tell you, but there’s a huge amount of vacuum cleaners that die when their cord dies.

And please take extra care when dealing with broken (or poorly fixed) cords! I’ve been shocked more than once and is not a good feeling!

Mistake 5: Buying a cheap vacuum cleaner

cheap vacuum cleaner

You probably heard your mother or grand mother say something similar, but home appliances aren’t built today the way they were built back in the day.

And although that’s somehow for almost every appliance brand, it’s always true when it comes to inexpensive vacuum cleaners.

I know it may seem as if you’re not paying as much money, but trust me…. you will pay more money if you buy a cheap vacuum cleaner.

If you’re going to make a change, take a look at our buyers guide for the best vacuum cleaners of 2022. We independently test all the options in the market and tell you which one is the best option considering your needs.

Mistake 6: Vacuuming one of the following things

Don`t vacuuming this things

Some of these are quite obvious, but some others aren’t as intuitive. You might even wonder why some of these items made the list.

But please trust me! These things could break your vacuum (or its filters), so you don’t want to risk it:

1. Used coffee grounds. When they stick together they behave like a solid rather than tiny particles. They can (and will) ruin the motor and clog pipes.

2. Wet Foods or soil. Kitchen spills often will cause your vacuum to clog. But that’s not why you shouldn’t vacuum wet food. It’s both because of the moisture and the smell! If you don’t clean the bag right away, it won’t be easy to remove that tedious smell.

3. Plant debris. Plant debris can easily clog your vacuum cleaner. Especially, because most of the time we aren’t just cleaning “one or two leaves”, but way more than that.

4. Fireplace ash or construction dust. They are so tiny, that your filter won’t be able to trap everything that you’ve vacuumed inside the bag. And thus, you’ll be throwing the ashes back to were they came from.

Please be careful! Fireplace ash and construction dust are so tiny that they’re quite dangerous to breath and you sometimes can’t even see when you do. Don’t vacuum them, and you won’t risk it.

5. Make up. Although most makeups seem to be harmless to vacuum, that’s not always the case. Some bronzers, foundations or eyshadows can melt when exposed to heat. Which is exactly what would happen inside your vaccum. This could potentially break your vacuum cleaner, of course.

6. Liquids. This should be obvious, but for some reason it isn’t. If you vacuum liquids you could cause an electrical short circuit. And not many vacuums will ever recover from that.

Again… please be careful if this ever happens to you. Being electrocuted is not fun. Not fun at all.

7. Clumps Hair. It’s not that you can’t do it… It just isn’t worth it. I honestly think that it takes longer to de-clog the vacuum cleaner, rather than sweeping it up. And exactly the same thing could be said for shredded paper.

Mistake 7: Not Vacuuming enough

Not Vacuuming enough

IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) in conjunction with CRI (Carpet and Rug Institute) are the institutions that test all the carpet cleaning methods. Including, but not limited to, vacuum cleaners.

These institutions released a report in the year 2015 that said that in order to keep your carpet clean you should vacuum daily (for extreme conditions use), 2 to 4 times per week (for heavy soils), once or twice per week (for medium soil) and once per week (for light soil).

If these standards aren’t met, you might feel like your vacuum isn’t powerful enough to clean your carpet. When in reality, the actual problem is that the soil has gone from the top of the carpet (where a vacuum can suck it incorrectly) to the lower 2 thirds of the carpet (where no vacuum can get it).

In other words, your vacuum could be alright. You might just need to use it more often.

Mistake 8: Using the wrong attachments

Using the wrong attachments won’t break your vacuum, but you might not be taking advantage of all the features that your vacuum cleaner has to offer.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions and you might find out that some of the attachments are more useful than you though!

Vacuum cleaner attachments

Mistake 9: Pulling the power cord like a maniac

You’ve seen it happen before! And so have I! Someone wants to unplug the vacuum cleaner and simply pulls the cord until they detach it from the plug.

I said it before, but I’ll say it again. Many vacuum cleaners weak spot is their cord. If you don’t take care of it, you can ruin the whole thing because of the cord.

Pulling the power


As you have seen, there are two types of mistakes on this list.

On the one hand, we have those mistakes that we make because we don’t know how to clean the vacuum cleaner. These mistakes are quite easy to overcome. Simply search online on how to clean your vacuum cleaner. And that’s it. Every model is different, but manufacturers are getting better and better at simplifying the process.

If you want to take a look at the vacuum cleaners we recommend, take a look at this post where we tested the best (and worst) vacuum cleaners in the market.

On the other hand, we have mistakes that aren’t really “mistakes”, but things we tend to do because we’re lazy or simply don’t care about our vacuum cleaner. These “mistakes”, are quite difficult to overcome if you don’t put the will to it. But I honestly think it’s worth it! Your vacuum cleaner will extend its life for a couple of years.

Nancy Adams

I am a fan of home decor, I devote all my free time to this activity. One of the most important components of home comfort is carpets & rugs and at the same time, it is one of the poorly covered topics on the Internet. Therefore, I decided to share my experience and knowledge in this niche.

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