No matter how whizz-bang you’ve been told your vacuum cleaner’s suction is (bowling ball experiment, I'm thinking of you), some everyday items around the home will always be its undoing.
I should know. As someone who’s allergic to brooms and fantastically lazy about bending down and picking up stuff from my floor when a vacuum cleaner could do it for me, I’ve destroyed a few vacuum cleaners in my time. So, you can learn from my mistakes I thought I'd put together a list of ways in which vacuums have met their demise at my hands.
Whatever you do, don’t suck up these things with your vacuum:
- I know. It’s very tempting to break out the vacuum when you've shattered a glass – all those tiny splinters and hard-to-see shards always spread further than you expect. How many times have you cleaned up a breakage only to get a sliver in your bare foot days or even weeks later? But resist that urge until you check with the appliance manufacturer because not all vacuums can cope with glass shards.
- Home safety 101 – liquids and electricity don’t mix. You could die. And, apart from the fact it could prove horrifically dangerous for you, vacuuming up anything damp (water, milk, wet food included) will damage the motor, seep into filter or bags and encourage mildew, spreading it all around your home and creating a health risk. Plus, it’s likely destroy your vacuum cleaner - stating the obvious!
- Fine dust. This seems counterintuitive – surely, vacuums were specifically designed to clean up fine dust? Yes, but… we're talking here of the kinds of things you might feel compelled to clean up after home renovations, including sanding residue, plaster dust or any other teensy particles. These have the potential to clog your filters and even spew nearly invisible particles back into the air every time you vacuum.
- If you’ve joined the trend for indoor arboretums (a.k.a indoor pot plants everywhere), you'll probably be familiar with the odd "oops I've knocked over another plant onto the carpet." Ditto if, like me, you have moggies that find it fun to test your equilibrium by digging up your indoor bird of paradise plant. Don't vacuum up the spill – it's likely to push the dirt deeper into your carpet. Plus, wet soil (refer to point number two). Try a stiff brush and pan instead.
- Paper shreds. I was surprised at this one, too. Tiny bits of paper seem to find their way across my floors regularly, and I used to revel in vacuuming them up. Until I completely clogged my vacuum one day. It turns out, those bits of paper can ruin your motor, too.
- Note to self: sucking up last night’s leftover ash with a traditional vacuum cleaner is a potential fire hazard. Ash retains its heat for longer than you think and sometimes adding oxygen and other household debris to the mix can reignite it INSIDE YOUR VACUUM CLEANER. Plus, ash is much finer than your average dust particles (refer to point three). For pity’s sake, just don’t do it.