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.