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12 Things You Should Never Clean with a Vacuum Cleaner

Published by: Katherine Frame

Things You Should Never Vacuum

Vacuuming can be a great way to keep your home or apartment clean. 

But while most people know important things that should be vacuumed regularly, some people might not know which objects to avoid or what situations they’re not appropriate for. 

If you want to keep your home clean and know what’s inappropriate to vacuum, continue reading as we explore facts about what “things you should never vacuum.”

1. Loose Change

The vacuum cleaner is not a place for your loose change! There are some vacuums that can pick up coins, but even then there’s no guarantee that it won’t get stuck in the filters or clog up the motor. 

It’s better to sweep up loose change and keep it in a jar or box until you’re ready to bank it at the bank or use it for laundry money. You can also use a coin sorter to make counting and sorting easier.

2. Jewelry

If you want to keep your jewelry sparkling, then use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner instead of a vacuum cleaner. 

The high-speed vibrations of a vacuum can damage the gems or settings on your favorite piece of jewelry. 

This is especially true for delicate pieces like necklaces or bracelets made from precious metals such as gold or platinum.

3. Fabrics

Never vacuum up fabrics like rugs, carpets, bedding and clothing. 


Vacuums have powerful suction that can snag on fabric and pull it into the vacuum cleaner. This can cause the fabric to get tangled around the rotating brushroll or belt, which could damage your vacuum cleaner. 

If you have pets with fur that sheds frequently, it’s best to sweep these areas instead of vacuuming them with your vacuum cleaner.

4. Feathers

When it comes to vacuuming feathers, the rule is simple: Do not do it. Feathers are very small and light, so they will go flying around your house as soon as you turn on the vacuum. 

They’re also very difficult to remove from upholstery and carpeting once they’ve been sucked up. 

Instead of trying to suck them up with a regular vacuum, use a broom or dustpan to pick up any that you see before turning on the machine.

5. Makeup

This is probably one of the most common household items that people vacuum up without thinking twice about it. 

However, makeup can clog up the vacuum and block airflow, which can make your vacuum cleaner overheat and catch fire.

6. Plants

Plants are good for your home because they add color and beauty; however, they’re not good for the inside of your vacuum cleaner due to their sharp leaves and stems. 

You can damage your vacuum by sucking up dirt along with plant debris, which could clog up its motor or blades. 

Plus, if you continue to use your vacuum with plant material stuck inside of it, it could catch on fire, which can be dangerous. This is especially true if you have a bagless vacuum cleaner that uses a filter, since the leaves can get stuck in the filter and prevent airflow.

7. Electrical Cords

You should never vacuum any electrical cords and wires. Vacuum cleaners have a powerful suction that can easily pull electrical cords out of their sockets and cause serious damage to both your vacuum cleaner and the cord itself. 

This can also be dangerous for you if the cord is connected to an electrical outlet or other power source.

8. Cabinets and Furniture

It’s tempting to vacuum those cobwebs and dust bunnies out of your cabinets and furniture, but it can damage the finish on both surfaces. 

Vacuum cleaners can also snag delicate fabrics or snag loose yarns in rugs and upholstery. 

Instead, try using a feather duster or microfiber cloth to gently remove dust from hard surfaces like cabinets or tabletops.

9. Fireplace Ash

Vacuuming fireplace ash is not recommended because it can be extremely messy and dangerous. 

Fireplace ashes can be full of sharp little pieces that can easily break off and lodge themselves in your vacuum’s motor or bag. 

The bottom line is if you want to remove fireplace ash from your carpeting or flooring, use a broom.

10. Construction Dust

This is a big one. Construction dust contains dangerous chemicals like asbestos and lead and can cause serious health problems if inhaled. 

Even if you use a HEPA filter on your vacuum, construction dust will still get through and stick to whatever it touches after vacuuming. 

The best prevention is to just not use the vacuum for this kind of mess — wear masks and gloves when working with construction materials and try cleaning up as soon as possible with wet rags so that particles don’t have time to settle into carpets and furniture.

11. Fragile Items

Fragile items include anything made of glass or china — especially antique glassware and dishes — as well as porcelain figurines, vases and other decorative pieces. 

Even if the item doesn’t break when you vacuum it, the dust from the carpet will settle on your treasures and may cause them to appear duller over time. This is especially true if you have dark-colored furniture — even something as small as a penny can leave an unsightly mark on your prized possession. 

If you must clean fragile items, do so gently with a soft cloth or dust cloth instead of using a vacuum cleaner.

12. Anything Sticky or Wet

If you have spilled something sticky or wet on the floor, don’t use your vacuum cleaner! This will only spread the mess around and make it worse than it was before. 

Instead, mop up as much as you can with towels and then use an old toothbrush or similar device to get at any remaining spots of liquid. 

Afterward, wipe down the area with a cloth dampened with hot water and mild soap solution to remove any remaining dirt or grime from your carpet fibers for best results.

Final Words!

And that’s what you should never vacuum! Vacuuming is important in keeping your house clean and your air quality high, but it helps if you don’t try to vacuum items that shouldn’t be sucked up. 

Learn from the mistakes of others, and avoid wasting your time on unnecessary chores.

FAQs — Things You Should Never Vacuum

Is it OK to vacuum rice?

Absolutely! Vacuuming rice is actually a great way to clean it up quickly and easily. If you don’t have a vacuum, though, you can use any kind of dust buster or shop vac instead. You’ll just need to shake off the loose dirt first before vacuuming.

Is it safe to vacuum hair?

Yes! Vacuuming hair is safe to do, but you should always be careful not to suck up your own hair or other items that can get stuck in the vacuum.

What are the important things to remember when vacuuming?

Always vacuum before cleaning the room. Empty the vacuum canister after every use. Avoid using the same vacuuming path and clean new areas with a fresh, unused nozzle.

What happens if you vacuum everyday?

Vacuuming everyday will cause your carpet and furniture to wear out more quickly, as well as trying to get the same results that you would get if you vacuumed once a week. The best way is to vacuum at least once every two weeks.

How often should a house be vacuumed?

A house should be vacuumed at least once a week to keep dust levels down. Vacuuming a second time in one week is recommended if you have pets or your home has carpeting. Even though you can’t see it, household dirt quickly adds up and build-up can increase traffic patterns on carpets and hardwood floors, as well as make them look dingy.

Can I vacuum sugar?

Yes! You can vacuum sugar, but be sure the space is clear of any inflatables or small items and gently vacuum the sugar from a small distance.

Photo of author

Article by:

Katherine Frame

Katherine Frame is a professional writer and reviewer who worked in higher education for eight years before working on The Hardware Hub. She has written for multiple home magazines and blogs.

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