11 Mistakes People Make
When Vacuuming a Pet Home

Published on August 14th, 2020

You take out the vacuum cleaner, plug it in and push it back and forth, right? It's pretty simple. Surely everyone knows how to vacuum?

Nope. Actually, people can make quite a few mistakes when they vacuum their homes. And because dogs and cats that shed add a little extra challenge to keeping your home clean, these mistakes are better avoided when cleaning a home with pets.

If you're a pet owner, then pay attention. These 11 tips will help you keep your home clean even when there is a constant supply of pet hair living with you.

First of all, here are a few signs that can tell you you're not vacuuming correctly:

  • Dark lines at the base of the wall
  •  A musty smell in your home
  • You have allergy symptoms indoors
  • There is a lot of dust and pet hair in your home
  • Your light-colored carpets turn grey
  • The bottoms of your socks become dirty
dog shaking pet hair in the air

If you're not doing a thorough job at vacuuming, the dust and dirt that is left behind slowly builds up and causes your home to look dirtier and older than it actually is. It may even cause your home to have that old house smell.

So what are the mistakes you should avoid if you're a pet owner looking to keep your home clean?

Let's find out.

1. Forgetting to Dust First

First of all, you need to dust all the above-floor surfaces. The dust, dander, and pet hair that has landed on shelves, tabletops, and other areas need to be removed first before vacuuming the floors.

If you have a handheld vacuum, you can easily use it for dusting, and the dirt gets sucked right in. However, if you use an old-fashioned duster, a big part of the dust does not stick to the dusting wand but gets wafted into the air, eventually landing on the floor.

Dust first, then let the dust settle for an hour before vacuuming the floors and carpets. This way, all the dust that has settled will get cleaned up too.

2. Not Clearing up the Clutter

Clearing up all the clutter on the floors will help you reach all the areas that need to be vacuumed. If many things are lying about that you need to go around, a lot of the floor area will be left unvacuumed, and dust and dirt will not get picked up.

You will also make things easier for yourself by minimizing the clutter before you start vacuuming because we all know how annoying it is to pick up things while trying to hold a running vacuum.

3. Not Checking Your Vacuum

Check your vacuum for blockages or other reasons it might not be working properly. The filtration system should be changed and cleaned regularly as should the brush roll bar. If there is a problem with the suction or brush roll, the machine might not pick up dirt and hair as it should, leaving your home dirty.

You should also make sure you have a well-functioning vacuum that can handle pet hair. Not all vacuums are up to the job, and having an old vacuum without a strong suction and functional attachments may not be what you need to keep a pet home clean.

Neato D6 robot vacuum filter

4. Skipping the Edges

Although many vacuums have excellent cleaning heads that vacuum right next to the edge of the wall, the suction is never as strong at the sides of the vacuuming head.

To prevent those black lines at the base of the wall, you should always start your vacuuming session by cleaning the edges first.

The crevice tool is ideal for this, and why not clean the top of the baseboards while you're at it?

5. Forgetting to Vacuum Under the Furniture

All pet owners know that under the bed and furniture is where you will find those huge wads of pet hair and dust. While it may be tempting to let them continue hiding where they can't be seen, don't make that mistake.

All the dust and hair under the furniture will not magically disappear. Instead, it will slowly creep back into the open and get wafted into the air.

6. Not Working in Two Directions

When cleaning the carpets and rugs, it's important to move the vacuum in two directions.

First, vacuum up and down, then go over that same area moving left and right. This will help the brush roll pick up all that dirt and pet hair that has been embedded into the surface.

7. Going too fast!

Many people make the mistake of quickly pushing and pulling the vacuum over the surface. However, instead of making many quick passes, it is advisable to move slowly enough for the brush roll to do its job.

The idea of the sturdy brush bar is to dig into the surface of the carpet to pull up hair, dirt, debris, dander, and dust. To get the best results, the vacuum should be moved across the surface slowly and in two directions. Otherwise, the vacuum will just glide over the carpet without really cleaning it.

Puppy paws on dirty carpet

8. Not Paying Attention to High-traffic Areas

In pet homes, high-traffic areas like the kitchen and hallway can get dirty pretty quickly. Your dog drags in dirt and soil from the backyard, or your cat spills the kitty litter and kibble. Dirty paw prints mark the way for the front door to the living room.

Because you have an extra family member that doesn't know how to wipe its feet and he or she can get pretty messy when eating, your home's high-traffic areas need a little more attention when it's time for your weekly cleanup.

9. Not knowing your attachments

If you want to get the most out of your vacuum, you should definitely know your attachments. Here are a few of the most common tools:

Crevice tool – an excellent choice for cleaning those hard to reach areas, tight spots, and baseboards.

Dusting brush – ideal for dusting delicate objects, tabletops, shelves, vents, and any other above-floor areas.

Upholstery tool – perfect for thoroughly cleaning your upholstered furniture and curtains.

Motorized brush roll – a lifesaver for keeping carpets, furniture, and car seats free of pet hair.

A motorized brush roll tool is the ideal attachment for pet owners to pop on for removing pet air from many surfaces, including carpeted stairs, upholstered furniture, car seats, and other such areas.

The motorized spinning brush will firmly engage the surface and pull up pet hair for the suction to pick up. An attachment like this will help you remove even the most stubborn needle-like hair that has been embedded to the surface.

By knowing when to use each attachment, you can ensure you're not only getting the most out of your expensive vacuum but also keeping your home cleaner.

These tools have been designed by experts to help you out, and you should definitely make use of them every chance you get.

10. Not Emptying the Dirt Cup or Change the Bag

After vacuuming, always check if the dirt cup is full or the dirtbag needs changing. A full cup or bag may decrease the suction and cause your vacuum not to work properly.

And, although you may be anxious to stash that vacuum away as quickly as you can, leaving the pet hair and other dirt to sit inside the vacuum might make the whole appliance smell.

 11. Not sticking to a routine

Lastly, a routine is key to keeping a pet home clean.

Because your pet sheds hair and dander every day, you need to keep up with the pace. If you have a pet that is known as a massive shedder, then you may even need to stick to vacuuming some of the high-traffic areas once a day. Having a portable handheld vacuum or a lightweight stick vacuum will help you out.

But even if your pet doesn't shed that much, we recommend vacuuming your whole home once a week to keep it tidy and fresh.

In most homes, the optimal routine is to

  • use a couple of minutes every day for some upkeep vacuuming with a stick vacuum
  • use a stick vacuum, upright vacuum or canister vacuum for a more thorough cleanup once a week

(And if you want the easy and most comfortable way out, just get a robotic vacuum to do it for you)

Summing up

Vacuuming is often one of the most hated chores, although it's actually pretty quick and easy if you know what you're doing, you don't let the mess build up, and you have the right equipment.

Steering clear of these basic mistakes will make it easier for you to keep your home spotless and free of pet hair. Your dog or cat won't stop shedding, but with our advice, you CAN win the war against dander, pet hair, and nasty pet smells!

Matt Clayton
Matt Clayton
Chief Editor & Founder of PetHairPatrol

Matt is the founder of PetHairPatrol.com and has years of experience helping pet owners keep their homes clean. He's been featured in publications like Reader's Digest, Money, and BestLifeOnline. When this neat freak is not searching for better ways to get rid of pet hair, dander, and other messes pets leave behind, he's usually enjoying outdoors with his two (hairy) Goldens: Ben and Jerry. Read more.

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