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You know vacuums are good for floors and in between couch cushions, but there are so many more ways you could be using your vacuum in your home.

Whether you prefer the portability of handheld vacuums, the power of upright vacuums, the maneuverability of stick vacuums or the convenience of robot vacuums, this guide is likely to have something for you.

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser upright vacuum brushroll

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser upright vacuum – advanced brushroll

1. Under Your Appliances

Be sure to get a compact handheld vacuum (like this Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip, with an extendable nose) or an upright vacuum with an extension wand under your appliances (like the Shark Rocket), paying special attention to the areas around the filters, compressors, or other small parts.

If you can, it is a good general cleaning practice to clean under large appliances at least once a year to avoid dust and dirt build-up. As a check list, be sure to hit the:

  • refrigerator
  • stovetop / oven
  • washer
  • dryer

Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip handheld components

The Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip’s long nose (#4 annotation) is great for reaching under hard to reach spaces.

2. Baseboards

Attach a soft brush nozzle to your vacuum and slowly run it along the baseboard for a quick clean. Ideally, this should be done once every six months.

If you prefer cordless, the Shark Pet Perfect 2 handheld offers nice portability. However, if you just want raw cleaning performance, the Miele Compact C1 is a great choice. Both vacuums (in addition to many others we’ve tested) offer a quality dusting brush attachment.

For stuck on dirt, you may need to use a damp washcloth as well. For scuffs and marks that won’t come off, try using the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

3. Light Fixtures

Using an extension hose for an upright vacuum, you can easily clean light fixtures overhead. Depending on the style of fixture, you may need a hard nozzle or soft dusting brush nozzle. Be sure to vacuum the inside and the outside for the best clean.

Light fixtures should be vacuumed once every six months.

How to vacuum light fixtures

How to vacuum light fixtures

4. Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are also a breeding ground for dirt, dust, and debris in the home. Even if used regularly, ceiling fans can accumulate dust.

Most ceiling fans should be vacuumed once a month, maybe even more depending on use and the level of dust in your home.

RELATEDWhat is dust made of? (It’s more interesting than it sounds!)

For an extended reach, check out the Shark Navigator Pro upright vacuum cleaner, which has a 30″ flexible hose and rigid extension wand attachment.

upright vacuum reviews

Upright Vacuum Reviews

Upright vacuums are versatile and powerful machines that are useful for most home vacuuming needs. For the scoop on the best upright vacuums, be sure to check out our full upright vacuum guide here.

5. Dryer

A dirty dryer is not only a waste of energy, but it could also be a serious fire hazard. The inside of a dryer can also build up quite a bit of dust, lint, and textile fibers.

To keep your dryer running efficiently, and to prevent it from overheating, be sure to vacuum it regularly. You’ll want to pay attention to the inside of the dryer, the lint trap, and the exhaust that vents outside. Vacuum out any excess debris and be sure to service regularly to avoid potential fire hazards.

6. Blinds

For wooden blinds, use the soft dusting brush attachment, if your vacuum has one. For best results, vacuum horizontally with the blinds closed. Then open the blinds and close the opposite direction to vacuum the other side. Blinds should be vacuumed once a month to maintain a clean home. 

7. Bookshelves

For many, bookshelves may be used for decor or accent pieces. Whether you’re an avid reader or an HGTV junkie, bookshelves collect dust and a lot of it.

Be sure to vacuum the items on the bookshelf as well as the shelf itself. Again, I would recommend a soft dusting brush attachment for this as well and you may want to vacuum this area once every couple months.

Cleaning dusty bookshelves

Bookcases and bookshelves can attract lots of dust and are easy to forget

8. Wooden Furniture

Vacuuming wooden furniture and quick and easy with a soft dusting brush attachment. Be sure to vacuum along the grain of the wood and go slowly to avoid any scratches.

handheld vacuum reviews

Handheld Vacuum Reviews

Handheld vacuums are lightweight and portable. They can be used in the home, in the car, and many are even cordless. For the best handheld vacuums, swing by our handheld vacuum review page, where we put them to the test and compare similar models.

9. Sofa

Using a handheld vacuum to clean a sofa is great for surface debris on the cushion or buried deep in the crevice. If you can, remove all of the cushions and vacuum both sides.

If you’re trying to vacuum up pet hair, consider using the Shark Pet Perfect II handheld or the ultra-compact Bissell Pet Hair Eraser.

Vacuuming dirty couch

Use the vacuum to clean out the crevices and underneath the couch

10. Accent Pillows

Vacuuming your sofa may seem like a no-brainer, but the accent pillows can get just as dirty. A handheld vacuum or upright vacuum with hose attachment should get the job done and leave your pillows looking fluffy and fresh.

11. Stairs

You can use an upright, canister, stick, or handheld vacuum to clean the stairs. When tackling the stairs, be sure to vacuum the riser (vertical part), the treat (horizontal part) and the spindles (sticks that support the railing) and railing.

Depending on what your stairs and rails are made of you may want to use a combination of soft dusting brush and hard nozzle. Most homeowners need to vacuum their stairs at least once every 6 months. 

Shark Navigator Pro vacuuming stairs in canister mode

Shark Navigator Pro – 2 in 1 vacuum, can be used in canister mode or upright

12. Cabinetry

Although it may sound strange, vacuuming cabinet faces and interiors of cabinets is a great way to get dust out of the nooks and grooves of the cabinet. Again, depending on the exact configuration of your cabinets, you will likely want to use the soft dusting brush. You can also use a hard brush with extension nozzle to vacuum debris from the tops of cabinets.

The Black & Decker 20V Pivot is great for the tops of cabinets, as it can pivot its head to a 90° angle, allowing you to reach on top a little bit easier.

13. Under the Bed

When vacuuming under the bed, robot vacuums take the crown here. Due largely to their sleeker profile, these little guys can easily sneak under the bed unnoticed and clean virtually any mess that is there. Many robot vacuums are less than 4″ tall.

Most robot vacuums are small enough that they can easily fit and clean under your bed frame

Most robot vacuums are small enough that they can easily fit and clean under your bed frame

Some top models that we have reviewed include: Roomba 960, Bobsweep PetHair, or iLife A4s robot vacuum.

robot vacuum reviews

Robot Vacuum Reviews

For the run-down on the most popular robot vacuums, check out our full robot vacuum reviews page. This guide will take you step by step through each review. Our review process analyzes everything from design and features, to cleaning performance, maintenance schedule, and more.

14. Lamp Shades

Vacuuming the inside and outside of a lamp shade helps prevent dust from accumulating. Dust is especially visible when the light hits it so lamps are prone to make your home look especially dirty. For a cleaner home, vacuum your lamp shades once every couple months. 

15. Vent Covers

The vent covers, on the floor or on the wall, are excellent places for dust to hide and collect. Vacuuming out this area at least once every six months will help to keep air flowing and avoid blockage.

You may also want to vacuum the vent cover for your air intake unit as well. Keeping this clean may help your home air filters to last longer.

Clean dusty and dirty vent covers

16. Fireplaces

Whether you use it frequently or not, a fireplace is one area that can definitely benefit from a cleaning at least every six months or so (could be more frequent depending on use). If you’ve got a gas fireplace, you can quickly vacuum away any dust or debris using a hard nozzle attachment.

For wood-burning fireplaces, you’ll need to regularly vacuum up the soot and ash from firewood to keep it clean. Before vacuuming a wood fireplace, it’s a good idea to remove the larger volume of debris with an ash bucket and shovel.

17. Electronics

Electronics like computer towers, monitors, televisions, DVD or Blu-Ray players, keyboards, or other devices, may all benefit from a quick vacuum with a soft dusting brush.

Dust and debris can accumulate in the small crevices of electronics and creates a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. For an extra level of clean, you can also wipe down appliances with a vinegar and water solution for a homemade cleaning approach.

Cleaning dust from electronics

Electronics gather and show lots of dust and dirt. Using the soft bristle brush is quick and easy to keep them looking great.

18. Pet Beds

If you have pets, it’s no surprise that pet beds can really stink. If your bed does not have a removable cover that you can wash, vacuuming it is the next best thing.

You can use a handheld with brushroll, an upright with upholstery attachment, or even a stick vacuum to tackle pet beds. Depending on your vacuum’s suction, you may need to hold the bed down in some places. Be sure to get in the corners and crevices. If possible, pet beds should be cleaned weekly.

Dyson Animal Compact – Maneuverability

19. Curtains & Drapes

For many people, you hang your drapes once and then never think another thing about them. While it’s true, they don’t need to be vacuumed as often as blinds, vacuuming or washing your curtains helps to limit dust and germs from spreading throughout your home.

20. Screen Doors

Whether it is on a front door or a back pack porch, a screen door can capture a lot of debris, allergens, and other unwanted things from the outside. Vacuuming out a screen keeps your door looking pristine and ready for visitors.

21. Dog Hair

Last on the list, but possibly one of the most important in some homes, you can use a vacuum to clean dog hair from virtually any surface in your home. For more details on the best vacuum for your furry friend, check out this guide on How to Remove Dog Hair.

House cleaning with a dog

Pet hair may shed, but it doesn’t have to be everywhere! Proactive vacuuming can help keep dog and pet hair at bay.

Are there other secret dirty areas that we missed? Tell us in the comments below!