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A woman in an apartment uses a vacuum cleaner on carpeting

You Should Never Do This With Your Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuum cleaners are necessary to remove messes that could make your home seem unlivable. But as sturdy as these household appliances are, there's a limit to the amount of abuse they can take. Without proper maintenance, they can malfunction and leave you infuriated when you need them the most.

Of all the appliances you have in your house, you probably use the vacuum cleaner the most. You need it to remove messes that could make your home seem unlivable. However, as sturdy as these machines are, there’s a limit to the amount of abuse they can take. Without proper maintenance, they can malfunction and leave you infuriated when you need them the most. 

So, to ensure your safety and your vacuum cleaner’s longevity, here several things you should never do with this household machine, according to The Spruce.

Don’t vacuum up liquids

A woman in an apartment uses a vacuum cleaner on carpeting
Vacuum cleaners need regular maintenance to continue running smoothly | Hauke-Christian Dittrich/picture alliance via Getty Images

Running the machine over spilled milk, a puddle of water, or any other liquid is a recipe for disaster. Don’t do it. 

Regular vacuum cleaners are not made to pick up liquids. Electrocution will likely occur once the machine sucks up water. This is a serious health risk and could also result in serious damage to the device.

If you get lucky and emerge unharmed, you’ll still have another problem on your hands: emptying the dust bag or bin, which will now be wet and messy.

If you want to vacuum liquids, you should buy a specialized machine that can pick up water without any risk of electrocution. Wet/dry vacuums are modestly priced, so you can get one to clean up wet messes in your home. But never use your regular machine for such cleanups.   

Don’t vacuum up hard objects 

This is a common habit most people tend to assume causes no harm to a vacuum. As you’re vacuuming, you might spot a small stone, coin, or screw on the floor. The wisest thing to do is stop and pick it up rather than hum the machine over the object and hope for the best. 

Hard objects could damage the machine’s interior parts or get stuck in places where they cannot be removed easily. Though only one object might not cause this kind of damage, the habit becomes all too common, and before you know it, your machine stops working. 

Don’t use the vacuum cleaner when it’s overfilled

You should always empty the dust bag or bin once you notice it’s at capacity. Failing to empty it will lead to the machine’s reduced performance, risking overheating and damage. Even when you’re in a hurry, avoid assuming the machine can handle just one more cleanup before you empty the dust bag or bin.

Plus, you can get more suction out of the machine if you empty it. Regular emptying also ensures less stress on the motor, and the vacuum cleaner can last longer.  

Don’t throw away the machine once it loses suction

You might assume your vacuum is too old and needs replacement because it fails to pick up dirt at the rate you were used to. The Spruce suggests these solutions to returning your machine to proper working order: 

  • First, ensure the dust bag or bin is empty. Many vacuum cleaners will function poorly when the dust bin or bad is full or nearly full. 
  • Second, check for blockages in the machine. Unplug it from the power outlet first and inspect for such blockages. Check the hose and the openings where the hose connects to the machine. 
  • Finally, ensure the brush roll is functioning properly. Remove any hair or carpet fibers that have built up around it, preventing it from turning freely. You might be amazed at how rejuvenated the machine will be after you clean the brush roll.

Don’t vacuum over the cord 

Even though vacuum power cords tend to be tough, the spinning brushes inside the machine could fray or wear a cord. Over time, such damage could make the machine unsafe for use due to the risk of electrocution.  

Don’t assume the motor is broken 

If your vacuum cleaner powers off in the middle of a cleaning session, either once or repeatedly, you might assume that the motor is burning out. Your next step might be to shop for a new machine. 

However, it could be that the motor overheated because the dust bag was full, or the brush roll was blocked by hair or carpet fragments. Try to solve such issues; then switch the machine back on. 

Your vacuum cleaner may have an automatic shutoff function to restart it once the motor cools. Other models have a manual reset button. If yours lacks such a button, you can refer to the user manual for instructions on resetting it.    

Avoiding the above don’ts will help ensure your vacuum cleaner retains its suction and remains working properly. Also, inspect it from time to time to note signs of damage.