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vacuuming soilPhoto: Getty Images

Vacuuming is by far my most dreaded task -- the moving of the furniture, clearing of surfaces -- and then there's all the dog hair to contend with (and the dog, whose arch nemesis is the vacuum cleaner).

But once I have that vacuum in hand, I've been known to suction whatever's in my path. I admit, I've vacuumed quite a few items that I now regret having sucked up in my haste.

So I've compiled a list of five items you should never run your vacuum over. (No, not even if you "didn't see it.")

1. Soil
Not only can soil stain carpets and/or rugs, but wet soil can become embedded in the surface itself, causing a bigger mess to clean up later. Instead, try this tip for cleaning up wet soil from your carpet: Using a butter knife, scrape the mess from surface of your carpet directly into a dustpan or other collection device.

cereal on floorGrab a broom and a mop for this mess -- not a vacuum! Photo: Getty Images

2. Fresh food
Feeding time with the baby got out of hand this morning, and you now have a floor full of milk-soaked Cheerios. Sure, it may seem smart to vacuum the mess, but chances are, that milk won't smell fantastic when caught in your HEPA container eight days later.

3. Lipstick
I know, I know. Who would vacuum their lipstick? I did, once. By accident, of course, but the repercussions were enough to ensure I never do the same again. Cosmetics are known to smear and melt, and they'll do the same in your vacuum, causing anything else you vacuum immediately afterward to miraculously turn the same bright shade of your new Revlon lipstick hue.

4. Paperclips
Everyone's vacuumed a paperclip or two in their lifetime, right? Like loose hardware, paperclips are a death trap of for your vacuum and should always be picked up by hand.

5. Loose hardware
Nails, tacks and screws can severely damage your vacuum's motor. A good rule of thumb? Avoid vacuuming any area of the garage. Instead, tackle that area with a simple broom and dustpan.

Keep metal items out of your vacuum. Photo: jupiterimages

Long story short? Your vacuum isn't a trash can -- use it wisely!

  • melissa

    don't forget about the vaccuum hair cutter, what a disaster!

  • Elaine Amancio

    Also don't use that pretty smelling power they sell for rugs, your vacumn will not last long, powder will distroy the motor.

  • sHARON

    You forgot to mention the cat.

  • Claireplunkett98

    i wonder how many people will read this comment. Maybe I'll be famous!!

  • debby

    Don't vacuum cat liter up. I used to, not anymore. That smell just won't go away no matter what you try, new bags, cleaner filters, spray, etc., used the vacuum in other rooms and thought was fresh enough. NOT!
    Sticks in the carpet and all over the house. I ended up getting a new vacuum because of my feline error. But I still have my wonderful friend.
    Only now, I sweep up the little parts that get scattered and totally don't vacuum it.
    Great day to all,

  • Jane

    Spray cans of air just whirl around the dust in your computer's innards and is a big waste of money, just like bottled water. A vacuum cleaner "cleans" it, sucks the dust out, doesn't whirl it around. Ask your local geek squad.

  • Kayonphone

    There are other objects important to avoid when vacuuming as they can cause problems in your machine or injury to yourself, other people and animals nearby.

    1) Don't ever vacuum up magazines, not even older ones that nobody wants to read anymore. This can cause painful paper cuts on your arms and legs and other exposed areas of your body.

    2) This rule goes for newspapers as well. Especially wet ones, Vacuuming wet newspapers can often cause electrical shock leaving you black and white and read all over.

    3) Shoes. Don't ever think no one will notice. They will.

    4) Remote controls. If you've upgrade to HD and don't need your old remote anymore, resist the urge to vacuum it up and consider recycling instead.

    5) Canned goods past their expiration dates. If they're heavy, they can be used during hard freezes to hold protective sheets and blankets down over fragile outdoor foliage. Store them in a well ventilated closet to avoid maggots chewing through the tin.

    Remember, the best rule to follow: If you don't recognize it, or if you can't catch it, or if it won't answer to 'hey, you,' don't vacuum it.

  • Oleg.K

    you shouldn't use vacuum to clean the printer toner also

  • 88 Comments / 5 Pages

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