There are so many smart ways to use a vacuum besides just running it over your carpet, but there are also some things you really shouldn’t be sucking up. You can avoid damaging your expensive machine by learning what can’t be vacuumed. Here are the things to always avoid vacuuming up:
Element Electronics, which manufactures vacuum cleaners, recommends never vacuuming up glass. The sharp pieces can do internal damage, especially if your machine has bags or hoses. If you’re worried about stray shards of broken glass that could damage you, try some upgraded sweeping hacks, like this one, to make sure you get it all contained.
Large quantities of hair
A little hair in your vacuum is fine, and likely unavoidable, but there’s a reason you see stylists sweeping after their shifts: Too much hair is not good for a vacuum. Per Element, long hair can tangle around your brush and lead to clogs, so you should get rid of the majority of it with a broom before using your machine for the final stretch.
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If you have a lot of dust in your vacuum, you might think it’s safe to suck up sticky messes as long as the dust coats it once it’s on the inside. According to Element, don’t risk it. Anything tacky can muck up the hose, interior, or brush, which will cause a clog and could even lead to the formation of mold.
Any really fine dust
Super fine particles—like the dust from construction, fireplace ash, the mess from a smashed makeup palette, or even coffee grounds—can burn out your motor and be released back into the air as you use your vacuum. These should be swept, too, Element says.
According to Reader’s Digest, you should also never vacuum up soil. It probably goes without saying, but nothing wet should ever enter a regular vacuum (not only because of the electronic part, but because of the potential for mold and smells to form), but when you vacuum soil, in particular, you also risk pushing it deeper into your carpet, causing a stain.
Finally, don’t vacuum over cords, Reader’s Digest says. It might seem like no big deal and at first, it probably isn’t—but after repeated pummelings by your vacuum, the exterior of the cord may break down, exposing the wires inside. Yes, this goes for your vacuum cord, too—just work around it.