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How to vacuum carpet like a pro

Start with picking up loose change and other small items

Published: January 20, 2015 08:00 AM

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You may be surprised to learn that vacuum purists advise that you go over a section of carpeting eight times to get it completely clean. But if you vacuum regularly—at least weekly and more often in heavy-traffic areas—you’ll probably find that going over the carpets or rug back and forth from top to bottom and then again from side-to-side will get the job done. Here are some other carpet vacuuming tips from the experts at Consumer Reports.

Steer clear of small objects. It can be hard to resist sucking up pennies and paperclips. But our repair analysis has found that small objects can clog nozzles and hoses, and they can also damage fans, which could lead to an expensive visit to the repair shop.

Be creative. Some small, lightweight items, among them pine needles, threads, and pet hair, are difficult to vacuum up. If your vacuum cleaner’s attachments don’t do the job, use a lint roller, or wrap packing tape around your hand with the sticky side out and “blot” up the elusive materials.

Check the settings. Set the vacuum to the correct level of suction for your carpet. Deep-pile carpeting needs a different setting than a flat-weave rug, for example. Some vacuums adjust automatically.

Prepare for some heavy lifting. Move your furniture and vacuum beneath it every six months or once per year if possible. More frequently, use special attachments to reach under furniture and to clean along the edges of a carpeted room.

Take special care with area rugs. To prevent frayed edges, vacuum from the center of the rug out towards the perimeter. You may also be able to machine-wash small rugs, and it's a good idea to occasionally take larger ones outside and beat them with them with a broom. Be careful of the fringe.

Minimize the mess. The less dirt that enters your home, the less your vacuum will have to pick up. Lay mats at entrances and impose a no-shoe policy to prevent filth from being tracked indoors. Also, dust furniture, blinds, and window sills before you vacuum, so the vacuum will pick up fallen particulates.

Kirby Sentria II

Top 5 uprights for carpets

Uprights generally provide a wider cleaning swath than canisters and, because of their heavier heads, tend to be better at deep-cleaning carpets—particularly bagged uprights. Here are the top five uprights for carpet cleaning from Consumer Reports’ tests. All five got an excellent score for carpets.
Miele S 7210 Twist, $475
Miele S 7260 Cat & Dog, $715
Eureka Boss Smart Vac 4870, $160
Miele S 7280 Jazz, $600
Kirby Sentria II, $1,370

—Mary H.J. Farrell (@mhjfarrell on Twitter)

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