A good, properly maintained vacuum can last 20 years. Follow our tips for the right preventive treatment, excerpted from "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook."
Clean the Attachments
Make sure the vacuum cleaner is unplugged before cleaning it. Once a month, use a damp cloth and mild detergent to wipe off any dirt from the casing, hoses, and attachments. After each use, vacuum the rug/floor attachment with the crevice tool or hose before putting away the machine.
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When blockages occur, unplug the unit and inspect the wand, hose, and beater bar, as well as the intake and exhaust ports to ensure that they are free of obstructions.
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If the roller on the beater bar gets wound tightly with threads or clogged with fibers, cut them away with scissors or a seam ripper. Again, ensure the unit is unplugged before removing any obstruction.
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Check the Vacuum Bags
Empty or change vacuum bags every week or as often as needed. Air travels through the bag, and as it fills, airflow and suction are significantly reduced. Do not trust a bag-full indicator light. Check the bag frequently and do not let it get more than three-quarters full.
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Use a Bag to Empty the Bags
Change and empty cloth bags outdoors, or inside a large garbage bag if you must do it indoors. To minimize the spread of dust, you can place the vacuum bag inside of a large garbage bag, then hold the garbage bag closed with one hand while you shake the vacuum bag clean with your other hand.
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If your vacuum has a bin, empty it and then rinse it with plain water only (never add detergent) and dry it thoroughly before replacing it. The inner cyclone, shroud, and cone should never get damp or wet. To remove lint buildup on the shroud, clean it with a dry cloth or brush.
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If your vacuum uses a replaceable paper filter, check it every week when you check the bag. Many filters can be rinsed clean, dried, and reused. A filter that is torn or very dirty should be replaced. A blocked filter will also prevent the free flow of air through the vacuum. Never use the vacuum without the filter. For HEPA filters, follow the manufacturer's instructions.
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Replace the Motor Belt
When you notice that you need to go over the same area two or three times, it may be because the motor's belt has stretched. With most models, you can replace it yourself by buying a new belt from your vacuum's manufacturer and following the instructions on the package.
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To maintain the belt, wipe it with a paper towel or cloth. Because it could shrink, the belt should never be near water. Always store your vacuum in a temperate place so the belt doesn't become brittle and crack.
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Once every two to three years, take your vacuum to a dealership or reliable repair shop for a professional cleaning and to have damaged parts replaced.
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