I rely very heavily on my vacuum to help keep my house clean. I use it to keep all of my floors clean—carpet, tile, and hardwood included! But sometimes I rely on my vacuum a little too much, and end up vacuuming things that I probably shouldn’t. After all, despite all the fancy features that modern vacuums have, they aren’t indestructible! And they aren’t necessarily cheap either, so it’s important to keep them in good working order.
To help with that effort, today I’ll be sharing a list of things you should not vacuum up. Or you might phrase it as, “things you shouldn’t feed your vacuum.” Because a vacuum is similar to some dogs in that it will eat almost anything without considering the potential consequences. And you, as the responsible owner, can protect your vacuum by preventing it from “eating” the following items! ;-)
7 Things You Should Never Vacuum Up
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When you’re cleaning up broken glass, resist the temptation to grab your vacuum. Bits of broken glass can easily damage your vacuum. For instance, if your vacuum has a bag, the glass could puncture the bag and create a massive mess. And even if your vacuum is bagless, bits of glass could scratch up the inner workings or even get lodged in the hose!
Instead, start by sweeping up the big pieces of glass. Then use a damp paper towel or a piece of bread to pick up any tiny pieces of glass that may still be lurking in the area. (I’ve used the bread trick several times, and it works like a charm!)
Unless you’re using a Shop-Vac (or a similar wet dry vacuum), you shouldn’t attempt to vacuum up water or anything that’s wet. If moisture gets trapped inside your vacuum, it could lead to mildew growth. (Yuck!) Moisture in your vacuum can also lead to electrical failure, which could put your vacuum beyond repair.
Instead, clean up water and other sources of moisture with a microfiber cloth. They’re very absorbent, and are much better suited for the job than your vacuum!
Makeup spills can be tragic, but attempting to vacuum up the mess could create more problems than it solves. There’s a very real possibility that the vacuum brush may smear the makeup further into the carpet. And even if the makeup does get successfully sucked up into your vacuum, eyeshadow and foundation may actually melt once they are inside. (Now there’s a mess that I would NOT enjoy having to clean up!)
Instead of reaching for your vacuum, just pick up as much of the makeup as you can. As for removing the rest of the spill or stain, check out my post below for tons of tips for cleaning carpets!
4. Long Hair
When I say that you shouldn’t vacuum up hair, I’m not referring to hair that ends up on the carpet or furniture. That’s totally fine to vacuum up! I’m talking about using your vacuum to clean up a lot of hair at once (for instance, the aftermath of an at-home haircut.) Hair can quickly clog up your vacuum, or get wrapped around the brush and prevent it from working properly.
Instead, grab your dustpan when you’re cleaning up a lot of hair. And when you inevitably need to remove a bunch of hair that’s gotten coiled around your vacuum’s brush, check out the link below for easy tips on clearing it out!
5. Ashes & Fine Dust
Normal household vacuums aren’t designed to handle particles as fine as fireplace ash or construction dust. They could end up coating the inside of your vacuum and clogging it up, or those fine particles could just get blown right back into the air!
Instead, just sweep up ash or dust. You may want to sprinkle a wet material like used coffee grounds over fine dust to avoid breathing it in while you work. Or just get an inexpensive Shop-Vac and use that instead! They’re designed to handle just about any mess.
Small, heavy items like coins are really hard on a vacuum’s motor. The may also damage small parts inside your vacuum. It’s also a rip hazard for vacuums that use bags.
Instead, check for larger items before you start vacuuming. Check the ground for coins, small plastic items, and anything that isn’t dust, dirt, or hair, and be sure to pick them up.
I think that everyone has accidentally ran over a cord with their vacuum at some point, so I probably don’t have to describe what happens in detail. So to put it briefly: it doesn’t go well. Either you have to forcibly remove the cord from the vacuum, or it ends up as a shredded, tangled mess.
So before you start vacuuming a room, take a moment to look for any cords that might be in the way. Pick them up off the ground to make sure you won’t run over them. And make sure to keep your vacuum cord safely out of the way as well! Most vacuums have a handy cord clip that can help make it easier.
Have you had to deal with the unfortunate aftermath of vacuuming up something you shouldn’t have?