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Soil is the enemy of your carpet and rugs, upholstery and draperies. One of the most important aspects of proper maintenance is to vacuum often and to vacuum correctly. Most people do not vacuum their textile furnishings often enough. And even when they do, the vacuuming may still be done incorrectly or inefficiently. This fact sheet will explain how to vacuum correctly with effort-saving tips and helpful pointers.

Ground-in dust, dirt, sand and grit are the enemy, and it is your vacuum's job to remove them. But did you know that an excessively soiled carpet can hold up to one pound (1/2 kg) of dirt in each square yard (square meter)? This can occur especially at entrance ways and in heavily trafficked areas that are seldom vacuumed properly and not cleaned frequently enough.

Few people really know how to vacuum efficiently with minimum effort. Let's explain how, covering both vacuuming technique and equipment. Most of the damaging soils, oily or gritty particles collect where there is most usage or foot traffic. These are the areas that require most of the vacuuming. It is far better to vacuum only the heavy traffic areas much more frequently or repeatedly than it is to cover everything or everywhere with a once-over-lightly vacuuming.

Residential carpet and rugs, for example, should vacuumed according to the amount of traffic and abuse they receive. Vacuuming should be done at least once every two weeks, preferably once each week and even twice each week if heavily trafficked or soiled. The best way to remove ground-in soil is to vacuum against the nap of the carpet. It removes soil and helps to improve the carpet's appearance. A light vacuuming would cover the same carpet or upholstery areas with three or four overlapping strokes. A more thorough vacuuming could be six or even eight strokes over the same, heavily soiled areas. Contract or commercial carpet needs to be vacuumed thoroughly at least three to five times per week. In high traffic areas, such as traffic lanes and entrance ways, carpet should be vacuumed nightly.

Well maintained vacuuming equipment helps both in overall soil removal and better long-term appearance. Do not allow the dirt collection bags to become more than one-half full. This greatly reduces suction power and vacuuming efficiency in most machines. Vacuums with cloth bags should be turned inside out at least every third emptying and be swept off. This allows for better breathing of the bag and greater soil pick up. Canister or backpack vacuums are versatile and convenient, but they may not have a beater bar, thus requiring more effort (passes or strokes) than upright vacuums to achieve similar soil removal. Canister vacuums used on carpet should preferably have a separate motor- driven beater bar. We recommend the use of an upright vacuum with beater bar for carpet, and canister type vacuums for upholstery, draperies, blinds, light dusting, and so forth. Commercial pile filters and heavy duty dual motor vacuums are the best machines for portability combined with maximum power and effectiveness in vacuuming carpet.

Some vacuums require that they be adjusted to match the pile heights of the carpet. Higher pile and loosely textured carpet may show shading marks where the vacuum last passed over. For the most even surface appearance after vacuuming, keep the final vacuuming strokes all in the same direction.

Good vacuuming is equally important for upholstery and draperies. There are special accessories and hand tools to vacuum these fabrics. Some machines come with suction- lowering adjustments to keep the fabric from binding or being drawn in the nozzle during vacuuming. Do not let the dust and soil build up. In higher soiling conditions or where there is heavy usage, vacuum every few weeks or more if needed.

You usually cannot vacuum too much, and it is more likely that your furnishings are suffering from insufficient vacuuming. It's the ground-in soil that dulls, discolors and damages your valuable textile furnishings, never the vacuuming. The loose fibers that are vacuumed out of new carpet are normal, and no reason for concern. Remember to vacuum often, vacuum properly, and well. It's worth the effort.

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