You can clean some unexpected things with a vacuum, and some people use them to clean up virtually anything. But there are things you should avoid vacuuming—especially if you have a basic vacuum cleaner. Here are the ones to watch out for.
Don’t clean up liquid with a regular vacuum
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Liquid might seem like a no-brainer, but common sense isn’t always common, and it can be easy to forget when so many vacuums aren’t plugged into walls these days. Even if it’s cordless, your standard vacuum can run into serious damage by sucking up liquids. It can also get moldy inside your bag or container. Unless you have a vacuum specifically noted to handle spills, always wipe or mop up liquid before vacuuming.
Don’t vacuum fireplace ashes
While vacuuming ash from your fireplace is often recommended as a great way to clean the fixture, there’s a major caveat: You have to use a specialized ash vacuum. Your standard household vacuum isn’t cut out for ashes, as explained by Brick and Ember Outfitters. Not only are the particles small enough to slip through your vacuum’s filter, but they can obscure still-hot embers that can damage your appliance or even start a fire. (This also goes for soil and coffee grounds, since they can be wetter than you think and lead to the liquid-associated problems previously mentioned.)
Don’t vacuum sharp or pointy objects
Don’t vacuum glass, needles, or anything sharp or pointy, as it can damage inside the vacuum, according to Family Handyman. Even if you aren’t using the old-school kind with a bag in there (which you should actually consider using), sharp objects can still cause internal damage, and you should sweep them up instead. To make sure you get them all and reduce your inclination to reach for the Hoover, try using a squeegee.
Don’t vacuum makeup
Family Handyman also advises against sucking up the loose powders of your makeup, lest they get into the motor and wreck your device or escape back into the air. They’re just too fine of particles to be properly gobbled up by the vacuum. And vacuuming won’t have much impact on makeup stains either, so you’re better off cleaning them with some dish soap and cool water from the start.
If a mess is big enough to sweep, just sweep it
If something is big enough to sweep—like paper scraps or coins—always opt for that instead. There are specialty vacuums designed for messes like ash or liquid, but if you had one, you’d know. Don’t risk your expensive appliance or your own safety to save a few seconds of effort.