...But I Hate to Vacuum

By: David Roth

A common question about house cleaning is how often should the carpets be vacuumed? Some people are obsessive, or so it would seem to some, about vacuuming every day or even several times a day. Others have a hard time finding the vacuum cleaner. So, just how often should you vacuum your carpets? Let's look at several factors.

Do you have pets?

Pets contribute greatly to dirty carpets. They shed hair (most do, anyhow) and pet dander, which is what people with pet allergies react to. They also bring in dirt and plant matter from outside. They sneeze, cough, and drool, too. Do they eat snacks on the carpet? Include crumbs in the pet-dirt mix, too.

Homes with pets should try to vacuum daily or at least every other day to keep carpets their cleanest.

Do you have kids?

Young kids who crawl around and play on the carpet are much closer to the dirt, dust, dander, mites, and other carpet crud than adults are. It's true that exposure to germs helps children build the antibodies they need to fend off colds, flus, and other illnesses, but you still should vacuum more often with kids in the house. Again, try for every day or at least every other day.

Do you eat over a carpeted area?

If you regularly eat over a carpeted area, or even walk through a carpeted room with a snack, you can be dropping tiny crumbs. Even if you eat sprawled back on the couch or nestled in your favorite recliner, you'd be amazed at how much food falls in the cracks. Take a look sometime between couch cushions or at the floor under the couch. These food crumbs can attract ants, roaches, and other unwanted critters. Vacuuming often eliminates a vital food source for bugs and other pests.

Is it a heavily trafficked area?

If lots of shoes, feet and paws tread over your carpet, these areas should be cleaned more often, preferably every couple days, if not daily. You can see dark, dirty areas on the surface (especially if it's a light colored carpet) around heavy traffic areas, but there is also more dirt down in the fibers, which gets ground in when it's walked over. This constant grinding of dirt against fibers weakens your carpet and wears it out much sooner.

Vacuum heavy traffic areas daily if possible, at least every couple days. And be sure to go over the area several times slowly to get as much stuff up as you can. A quick once-over isn't getting your carpet as clean as it could be.

Consider adding an inexpensive throw rug or runner over heavy traffic areas. They will catch a lot of dirt and pebbles that would otherwise be ground into your expensive carpet.

Keep in mind, too, that removing shoes at the door greatly reduces dirt and carpet wear.

What color carpet do you have?

Dark carpets show more surface stuff, like lint, pet hair, and other odd things that end up on the floor. Light and patterned carpets tend to show less loose surface stuff like pet hair, but can show more surface dirt from dirty shoes, feet, and paws on those high traffic areas like entryways and hallways.

Don't let a clean looking light colored carpet fool you there is still a lot of dirt, dander, and other carpet goobers down in the fibers.

If you need help remembering to vacuum every day, try leaving the vacuum out where you can see it as a reminder instead of having to drag it out of a closet daily.

For daily vacuuming, it isn't necessary to move furniture out of the way. You're looking to pick up the daily dust, dirt, and crumbs. Save the furniture moving for a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly deeper cleaning.

Unless you have a very large house, a quick run over the carpets shouldn't take more than about 10 minutes.

If you have children, let them help. Assign them days to vacuum. If you have more than one child, perhaps one can vacuum while the other sets the table or does the dinner dishes. Younger kids often love to vacuum and help mommy. Take advantage of that and get them in the cleaning habit while they still like it.

Basically, it comes down to personal preference. If you want clean carpet that lasts and looks good for years, try to vacuum daily or at least every other day.

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Dave Roth owns and operates Vacuum Cleaner Talk, specializing in reviews about vacuum cleaners. Learn about Hoover, Rainbow, Dyson, A href="http://www.vacuumcleanertalk.com/central_vacuum_systems.html ">central vacuum cleaners, and more.

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