Are we vacuuming all wrong? Leading experts reveal how to get best results

See why we shouldn't vacuum in straight lines or push too fast...

Is there really a best way to vacuum carpets? It's a household cleaning task we undertake frequently, but rarely think  how best to do it.

Are you the slow and considered type or do you nip round in no time as fast as you can? And does the speed and way in which we vacuum actually affect the results?

Speaking of best: Best vacuum cleaners – upright and cylinder models, updated for 2024

It's a question, as it turns out, that we ask Google more than you'd think.

Last week saw high numbers of us asking, 'should you push a vacuum slow or fast?'.

So we've put it to the experts at Dyson and Hoover to get some clearer answers...

What is the best way to vacuum carpets?

person using red vacuum cleaner

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Bill Kingston)

Results from vacuuming slow

'On carpets it’s best to use a vac with a rotating brush bar. Going slowly allows you to get the maximum benefit from the rotating bristles and get the dust up' comments Catrin Davies, senior product manager at Hoover SDA.

‘Vacuum more slowly to give the machine more time to remove the dirt, especially the ground-in dirt and debris and hidden dust,’ advises a Dyson engineer.

Going on to explain, 'In general, dust particles are ‘stuck’ to the floor surface, and the machine needs to apply a force to them for a certain time in order to dislodge them.'

'The force is supplied by the airflow from the machine, as well as the brush bar and cleaner head. The force can be increased by changing to higher suction settings, whereas the ‘time’ can be increased either by moving slower or completing more passes over an area.'

Get a great deal on the right vacuum cleaner

Shark Anti Hair Wrap Cordless Vacuum Cleaner [IZ201UK]: Was £349.99, Now £229

Shark Anti Hair Wrap Cordless Vacuum Cleaner [IZ201UK]: Was £349.99, Now £229

Save £150 of this Mrs Hinch favourite. The vacuum battery allows for 40 minutes run-time. It will glide over hard floors and carpets with the twin tech floorhead. While the Anti Hair Wrap technology means you won't get in a tangle next time your vacuum. Transforms into a easy to use handheld vacuum too, for cleaning the car and upholstery.

Dyson V8 Absolute Extra Cordless Vacuum Cleaner: Was £399.99, Now £299.99, Argos

Dyson V8 Absolute Extra Cordless Vacuum Cleaner: Was £399.99, Now £299.99, Argos

It's the Rolls Royce of cordless vacuum cleaners, and on most household's wishlist as its £100 off. But you best act fast, we don't think it will hang around for long. The vacuum has a 40-minute run-time, with fade-free suction and direct drive technology to deep clean carpets and hard floors.

Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 Pet Vacuum Cleaner: was £259, now £199, John Lewis

Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 Pet Vacuum Cleaner: was £259, now £199, John Lewis

The lightweight, detachable handheld is perfect for stairs, pet hair removal, cars, and upholstery cleaning. The cleaning wand is easy to elevate into those hard to reach areas, yet flexible enough to reach all those awkward spots – up high, down low, or in-between.

person holding wireless vacuum cleaner

(Image credit: Dyson)

Results from vacuuming fast

'On hard floors, moving faster is fine,' says Caitlin. 'Cordless vacuums are ideally suited to whizzing round at high speed. Going fast means you won’t worry as much about the battery running out. It’s handy to choose a vac with LED nozzle lights that show up the dust.'

The Dyson expert advices, 'Choose the right machine for your floor type and home size. Different machines will perform differently depending on the surface they’re used on. Owners will always need to balance the performance they want with the time it will take to get an optimum clean.'

Basically meaning Some machines will be engineered with hard floors in mind, and therefore not best suited for use on thick pile carpets, for example.

hoovers green vacuum cleaner

(Image credit: Hoover)

Results from the direction of vacuuming

‘Our machines are designed to pick up dirt and dust the first time around, and we believe it’s not efficient or productive to go over the same piece of carpet many times. Our research suggests that going over the same area more than two times gives minimal increase' explains the Dyson engineer.

'It’s important to move in different directions, not just backwards and forwards, to thoroughly agitate the carpet piles' explains Caitrin on behalf of Hoover.

Related: Why you should never clean the floor with a mop and bucket

We'll leave you with a top tip from the Dyson expert, ‘Vacuum ‘little and often’ to stop dirt building up and getting trodden into your floor.’

Will you be rethinking how you vacuum?


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.