How often should you vacuum?

Dust, dirt, and allergens can collect on your floors. Here's how frequently you need to vacuum them clean.

How often should you vacuum
(Image credit: The Creative Exchange)

Vacuuming might not be your favorite task, but there's no arguing that it's your best ally in the chore war against dust bunnies and pet hair. But how often should you vacuum? While there is no one-size-fits all answer, your lifestyle can offer clues about the best vacuuming schedule for you.

The ideal frequency will depend on things like the number of pets in the house, whether you typically wear shoes while you're home, and the type of flooring your have. Read on to find the right balance for your home and family. And, if you need a new vacuum to keep up with the task, check out our best vacuum cleaners guide. 

How often should you vacuum hardwood floors?

Hardwood floors are surprisingly easy to maintain. Hardwood, tile, and other synthetic wood surfaces or laminates should be vacuumed at least once a week, with a vacuum that specializes in hard flooring. (If you have a multipurpose vacuum, make sure the setting is properly adjusted, since using a carpet setting can scratch wood floors.) 

Then, you’ll want to wet clean your floors every week or two. Think more frequently if your home is heavily trafficked with muddy paws or dirty sneakers. You can use a Swiffer pad or one of the best mops to do the job. 

Don’t be tempted to skip your weekly vacuuming if your floors don’t look dirty or dingy. Allergens and dust can gather whether you can see it or not.

How often should you vacuum carpet?

Carpeted floors call for more frequent vacuuming than other types of flooring. That’s because carpet’s fibrous makeup can hold and trap the same dust, bacteria, and allergens that can collect on hardwood. Don’t be tempted to put off the task...waiting to remove debris can cause it to become more ingrained in the carpet.

The same goes for area rugs. Like carpet, they can trap dirt and grime. Not to mention, keeping area rugs clean can also help protect the floors underneath. For smaller rugs, give them a good shake outside, vacuum the flooring underneath, replace the rug, and then vacuum. 

Upright vacuums are ideal for carpet cleaning, but you can use any vacuum with a carpet setting. If you have multiple options, be sure to select the option that most closely suits your rug pile. 

How often should pet owners vacuum?

If you have dogs or cats living with you, you’re going to need to vacuum more frequently. Ideally, it should be done daily. 

This goes for both animals that do and don’t shed. Pets that go outside don’t have the option of taking off their shoes, so they can bring bacteria into the house. And, furry friends that do shed will leave hair and dander all over your floors. Letting that build up can cause inhabitants to experience allergic reactions, even if they don’t have a pet allergy. Not to mention, it's just plain gross.

Frequent vacuuming can also do wonders to keep dog smell at bay. Consider investing in a specialized pet vacuum or an automated vacuum (like a Roomba) to do some of the work for you. It’s also wise to invest in one of the best carpet cleaners, or hire a steam cleaning service yearly. 

Vacuuming for allergies & asthma

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, if you have allergies or asthma, you’ll want to vacuum at least once a week (or more) using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. These vacuums are specially designed to catch even the smallest of allergens trapped in your carpet. 

Adjusting for room usage

Of course, the suggestions above are not set in stone. You’ll need to adjust accordingly depending on how much traffic your floors and carpets see. 

For rooms that don’t get much use (formal dining rooms, guest rooms, etc.), you can go every two weeks. On the other end of the spectrum, high-traffic spaces (mudrooms, entryways, hallways, recreation rooms) will need more frequent vacuuming. Think every other day and up, depending on the size of your brood. 

For everything else, weekly is a good rule of thumb. For example, you may go in your bedroom every day, but chances are you aren’t wearing shoes or doing too much stomping around. 

In general, you don’t want to wait until you can see the dirt and dust bunnies, but if you do, it’s time to run the cleaner. 

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