By Kim Cook
---- — NEW YORK — Housekeeping, drudgery? Not to us members of the unofficial “clean club.”
You know if you belong: You enthusiastically discuss your favorite cleaning tools, staying loyal to equipment and techniques that have served you well over the years. You understand the difference between a crevice tool and an upholstery nozzle. Vacuuming? You see it as an art.
But what if you don’t love to clean? Well, chances are you still need to suck it up. Here are some tips on methods and machines to help make the chore of vacuuming less of a challenge:
Kit Selzer, senior editor at Better Homes & Gardens magazine, says you shouldn’t begin cleaning by vacuuming.
“Vacuum after you’ve dusted. Pick up every possible thing from the floor, and move dining chairs and side tables out of the way so you have as much open space as possible,” she says.
Professional house cleaners call this “top down cleaning” — you start at the top of the room, so particulates settle. Tackle ceiling corners, window treatments, furniture and finally the floors.
Selzer also suggests keeping the attachments — crevice tools and small brushes — handy as you get started.
“They’re invaluable for getting dust, dirt and pet hair while you already have the vacuum out. Use the crevice tool in corners and along the baseboards, the upholstery brush on anything made of fabric, and the dusting brush on blinds, books and lampshades,” she advises.
How often should you vacuum? Frequently, especially in high-traffic areas. It keeps dirt from getting ground in and keeps carpet fibers from getting matted. Selzer says vacuuming once a week is good for the average carpet.
n Small rugs act like mini mops, gathering up a lot of debris. Take them outdoors if possible for a good shake before vacuuming. If you can’t do that, vacuum the rug thoroughly on both sides, roll it up and put it aside until the floor’s been dealt with.
n For big rugs, the Dalton, Ga.,-based Carpet and Rug Institute recommends slow, overlapping motions front to back. Start from the center of the rug and move out to the edges to prevent fraying. Don’t go over one spot too many times; make three or four passes. Shaw Floors, makers of carpet, wood, tile and laminate flooring, has advice on their website, www.shawfloors.com : Use a rotating brush or comb beater brush attachment to agitate and loosen deep dirt. But thick wool pile rugs, shags and cabled weaves can get fuzzy or tangled with this brush, so stick to the suction-only attachment for them.
n Change the direction of your vacuum passes frequently.
n For bare floors, use a good, soft brush to protect the floor. Brushes will harden over time so need to be replaced.
n Replace your machine when it no longer sucks like it used to. But make sure it’s not just suffering from a clogged hose, filter or intake. Resist the fun of slurping up coins or small objects, as they can jam up the hose or, worse, the motor.