How Often Do I Have to Vacuum Anyway?

Dear Home Ec 101,
How often should you vacuum? I want to know to settle a debate and I’m going to have to vacuum my friend’s place if I’m wrong. And can you tell us WHY I’m right?
I May Be OCD but at Least my Carpet Tracks are Straight

how often to vacuum

Heather says:

Friendly wagers on cleaning rules? Can we be friends?

Do you know my favorite part of living in my new place? Well, aside from being walking distance from some pretty cool restaurants and parks? NO CARPET.

That’s right, you heard me, I no longer have any carpet in my home. I have a couple of mats to catch the dirt the minions track inside and I still let Gertie¹ take care of the floor most of the time. Yes, the human minions sweep, but that is more an exercise of my patience than an effective cleaning endeavor. Time will slowly swing that pendulum -I hope.

Learn more: Should I Dust Or Vacuum First?

I do not miss carpeting and the whole industry guideline to vacuum once per week per person living in the household.  (And if you have a dog over say 20lbs, go ahead and count them as a person, too).

Keep in mind this guideline doesn’t mean you need to move the couch every time you vacuum. Just vacuum the heavily trafficked areas of the home frequently. Probably even more often if you have an infant or toddler, because they will eat dust bunnies.

Why should I have to vacuum frequently?

Vacuuming helps reduce crush damage, you know those areas of the hall where everyone rounds the corner in exactly the same place and it’s obvious by the wear in the carpet? That’s crush damage. Over time, uncrushing the fibers helps. Your vacuum is the tool for the job.

Dirt is sharp and pointy and everyone else stinks at wiping their shoes. You, of course, are perfect in every way and don’t track in a speck of sand or grit. All those other people? Well, the sharp bits of dirt they bring in on their shoes and feet cut the fiber of the carpet, a nick here, a nick there adds up over time.

Oils – of the body and pet kind. Know where Fido likes to lay? It’s probably a lot grungier than the rest of the carpet. Oils from the pet fur transfer to the carpet and the dirt that doesn’t get sucked up by frequent vacuuming sticks to it. Deee-licious. And even your perfect feet sweat.

Learn more: How Do I Keep Long Hair From Clogging The Vacuum?

guide to clean floors

Click the picture for more tips!

And finally we’re back to our good friend, the dust mite. We’ve talked about dust mites in the past, just remember that the skin cells you -and every other living creature in your home- shed drift through the air and lands as part of that layer of dust that eventually coats everything. Vacuuming helps keep that layer of dust from sifting down through the carpet and into the padding where dust mites believe they have died and gone to heaven.

So, do you have to vacuum as often as carpet manufacturers suggest? Nope. You don’t have to. You’re an adult and can make your own decisions.

Submit your questions to

¹Her full name is Dirty Gertie and yes, she is completely anthropomorphised in my imagination. I’m okay with that.


  1. Jen on June 12, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I am curious about the robot vacs as well. The few I’ve seen have been pricey, but love the idea of some little robot disc doing some of the work for me. We have 2 cats and one is a long hair, there are tumbleweeds of hair flying around, drives me crazy.

    • Biev on July 12, 2014 at 9:11 pm

      I have one and it is fantastic. I get allergies when I use a regular vacuum, but not when I’m around the little robot. I got the cheapest model, and it’s been serving me well for about 5 years. It fills up quickly, but this is good because then you have to empty it out every time, which means it never gets stinky and gross. Sometimes it chokes on a cat toy, or pet hair will form a string that gets tangled in the brushes. When that happens it’s easy to take the robot apart, clean the pieces and put it back together. Replacement parts are also cheap. I’ve only had to replace the battery once and it was a piece of cake.

  2. imabug on June 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    when the dogs are blowing their coat, i can vacuum half the living room, look back and it’s like I hadn’t done anything.

    if i manage to vacuum once a week, i’m feeling accomplished 🙂

  3. Ode to Mrs. Katz Cohn on June 11, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    There are 5 of us and a furry friend so according to the carpet manufacturers I should vacuum 6 days a week! I do it once or twice a week and more on the first floor which is hardwood and tile. If I vacuumed 6 days a week the rest of my house would fall apart!

    • Heather Solos on June 11, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Too bad you can’t delegate to the furry friend. I used to call mine the biovac. I am sure there is some point of diminishing returns and practicality, much like the joke about an infinite number of mathmeticians walking into a bar: The first says, “I’ll take one beer” The second says, “I’ll take half a beer” The third says, “I’ll take half of a half of a beer” etc The bartender replies “I hate you.” and pours two beers.

  4. Bev on June 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    We have four cats and then it’s just my husband and myself. One of the cats is a long hair. Several months ago I got my first bag less vacuum, which I swore I would never get and now I get a kick out of how much hair and dirt is in the canister (I empty it almost every time). I vacuum about twice a week but accordingly to the guideline above it sounds like it should be just about everyday and maybe Sundays off : D Fur on the drapes and furniture is what really turns me off so when I start to notice that is when I haul the vacuum out.

    • Heather Solos on June 11, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      I’d say you are pretty close to spot on, unless you have gigantic cats that wander in and out. Dog paws can hold a ridiculous amount of dirt and the really damaging dirt is the dirt from outside -litter box wouldn’t be great, but we’ll pretend that’s contained and not think too hard about that. *erase erase*

  5. on June 11, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I have wood floors with several area rugs. It’s just my husband and I although the grandkids are here frequently. But the biggest problem I have is my 80 pound black lab who sheds enough to make another dog with the hair I sweep up. So I sweep or vacuum nearly every day. If I don’t, it looks pretty awful around here. But it’s like you said, you get to decide how often to vacuum and it should be decided based on what your house needs and what makes you happy. I have to do it daily.

    • Heather Solos on June 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Hairy dogs definitely create a bit of work. I miss my dog, but I do not miss the fur.
      Sweeping happens daily here or the sand the kids track in ends up in my bed which is just annoying. There’s nothing quite like getting ready to turn in at the end of the day and sliding into bed to realize the kids have been visiting and it’s grit city.

  6. Donna on June 11, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I’m not much on housecleaning, and used to vacuum every month or so. After an overnight guest refused to walk barefoot, I was shamed enough to get a robot vacuum (the Neato). Now it’s done every day, and the bin is full (two shedding cats). I love it!

    • Heather Solos on June 11, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      I’ve seen but haven’t tried some other robot vacuums. What kind of carpet do you have? Is it short like berber, My First Apartment(TM), or thick pile?
      I’d love to hear what you think of your brand / model for your flooring 🙂

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