5 Things You Should Never Vacuum Up

Your vacuum is an effective tool for removing unwanted debris from your home – from dirt to dust and even pet hair.

A high-powered vacuum can handle a lot, but some substances can cause significant damage. As such, it's essential to check the area you intend to vacuum thoroughly for problematic materials. There are plenty of alternative options for cleaning up these substances.

Eager to protect both your vacuum and yourself? Keep an eye out for the following hazards: 

1. Broken Glass

Broken glass is a pain to clean up. Unfortunately, this particular type of mess cannot go ignored – especially if you miss a piece, both the humans and pets in your home risk getting hurt. No wonder so many people pose the seemingly simple question, “can you vacuum broken glass?”

If you only gain one core takeaway from this reading, it should be as follows – never vacuum broken glass. This can be incredibly dangerous and may cause irreversible harm for your vacuum. Punctured vacuum bags are especially likely, although interior scratches are also an alarming possibility. When in doubt, use a broom and dustpan instead. Take several passes, pausing to pick up stray pieces with a wet paper towel when necessary. 

2. Wet Food

Vacuums are ideal for cleaning small crumbs, but other types of food are more worrisome. Wet food, in particular, can cause major issues, especially if it's vacuumed in large quantities. The food clumps may clog the vacuum, while the moisture will almost assuredly be hard on the motor.

A better solution? Use a mop or towels to handle wet spills. For larger quantities, a wet/dry vacuum may be acceptable. 

3. Fireplace Ashes

There's a lot to love about having a fireplace in your home, but the glow of the fire may be a bit less enticing if you know that it contributes to household messes or vacuum cleaner damage. The ashes that your fireplace produces can be especially difficult to clean. It's easy to see why so many homeowners wonder, “can you vacuum ashes from the fireplace?”

While a few specialty vacuums are equipped to handle fireplace ashes, most standard models simply aren't built for this. If you use the wrong vacuum, your efforts to clean up ashes may have the opposite effect. You'll be at greater risk of inhaling the ashes, thereby irritating your throat and lungs.

4. Coins

A variety of small, heavy objects should be avoided when vacuuming. Coins are among the most likely you'll encounter, as these are surprisingly easy to misplace around your home. The stereotype of coins getting stuck between the couch cushions represents just one example – they may also be found in crevices or under rugs.

Coins will inevitably be hard on your vacuum's motor, no matter where they show up. They are also capable of breaking off pieces within the vacuum. As such, it's worth your while to pick up coins you find on the ground rather than running over them with your vacuum. 

5. Gravel

A hose attachment may be acceptable for picking up the smallest pieces of gravel but should avoid larger chunks. Yes, gravel vacuums are often viewed favorably for cleaning aquariums, but gravel and vacuums should otherwise not come into contact when handling most household cleaning tasks.

The Result

Despite so many substances being off-limits, there is still plenty you can clean with your vacuum. When in doubt, focus on dirt and debris. If it's dry and lacks sharp edges, it will typically be okay to vacuum. Your efforts to clarify what can and cannot be safely vacuumed will ensure that your trusty appliance enjoys a long and productive life.

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