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Learn Your Tools
Learning what are and how to use the various attachments for your vacuum can maximize its efficiency.
A rotating brush used with canister vacuums. Also known as a power or turbo brush, it stirs debris from the bottom of pile carpeting so the suction can whisk it away.
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The Upholstery Tool
This small, flat head removes dust from furniture and mattresses, which should be vacuumed thoroughly every three months.
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The Rug/Floor Attachment
This nozzle, which is often smooth with no brushes, comes with some canister vacuums. Use it instead of the beater bar on delicate carpets, such as antiques.
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The Crevice Tool
Use this narrow nozzle for tight areas, such as next to and under the refrigerator and other large appliances and along baseboards. This tool will also draw out dust from hard-to-reach heating vents and between the flanges of a radiator.
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Martha Stewart and Shaw Industries vice president Scott Sandlin talk about carpet care, from vacuuming to professional cleaning.
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The Floor-Brush Attachment
This is best for wood floors; the rectangular opening prevents scratching. It is also used for wide stair treads and for brick, stone, and tile flooring.
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The Dust-Brush Tool
With its soft brush edge, this attachment is ideal for windowsills, shelves, and chair legs; it picks up dust without scratching. It is also the tool to use on the slats of window blinds.
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For most carpets, use the beater bar. For delicate materials or constructions, use the "floor" setting or a rug/floor attachment.
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On Hard Floors
Use a floor brush or the "floor" setting. Hard floors can be swept instead of vacuumed for quick, daily cleanups.
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Upright and canister vacuums can be difficult to maneuver on stairs. A stick vacuum or a handheld vacuum with a motorized beater-bar attachment are more convenient.
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On Walls and Ceilings
Start with the ceiling and work your way down by vacuuming with the dust-brush tool; add an additional pipe section to extend the length so you can reach. Vacuuming flocked and fabric wallpaper is important, since they collect dust easily.
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On Windowsills and Bookshelves
Use the dust-brush tool or the crevice tool to reach into a tight spot.
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On Upholstered Furniture and Beds
Use the upholstery tool on fabric furniture and mattresses, or the crevice tool to reach into tight spots. Reduce suction when cleaning delicate fabrics. Use the dust-brush tool on leather furniture.
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On Baseboards, Curtains, and Blinds
For baseboards, use the dust-brush tool. On curtains, reduce suction and use the upholstery tool, working from the top down. For blinds, close them so they lie flat, and use the dust-brush tool. Then reverse them so they close the other way, and repeat.
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On Vents in Floors, Walls, and Ceilings
Use the dust-brush tool or the crevice tool, which is handy for cleaning between the flanges of a radiator.
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