Yes, You Should Be Vacuuming Your Curtains & Blinds

And mattress—and eight other surprising spots we've been neglecting.

August 27, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten

We've teamed up with Miele to give you smart, savvy tips for spiffing up your home—whether you've got an entire weekend or under an hour to spare. Here, we're sharing a few unexpected spots you should actually be cleaning with your trusty vacuum.

When your dog tracks in dirt on the entryway carpet or you spill a bunch of crumbs on the kitchen floor, what do you do? Pull out the vacuum, of course.

Vacuums provide powerful suction, and while it’s great for pulling up dirt, dust, and pet hair off your floors, that suction can also be used to clear dirt, dust, and pet hair off a lot of other surfaces—especially if you have a vacuum like the Miele Triflex, which offers a variety of configurations and attachments.

Most people think of vacuums predominantly as floor-cleaning machines, but their usefulness actually extends far beyond your carpets, hardwood, and tile. In fact, there are numerous areas in your home that would benefit from a thorough vacuuming, and some of them just might surprise you.

1. Curtains & Blinds

You can keep your curtains looking fresh between washes with the help of your trusty vacuum. I know what you’re probably thinking: “Won’t the fabric get sucked into the hose?” The answer is no, as long as you do it properly. To clean curtains with your vacuum, you’ll want to use the soft-brush attachment, which helps to knock dust and dirt loose, and prevents the fabric from getting sucked up. If your vacuum has the option, you can also turn down the suction power. With blinds, you’ll want to use the same attachment and vacuum horizontally across the slats, not up and down.

2. Those Dusty Fridge Coils

When was the last time you looked behind your fridge? If you haven’t been maintaining the appliance’s toe grill (aka the vent cover) and/or condenser coils, they might be caked with dirt and dust, which forces the unit to work a lot harder to keep its contents cool. Luckily, it’s a breeze to clean both these areas using your vacuum. Depending on how dirty the area is, you may want to start by using a soft-bristle brush to knock dust, pet hair, lint, and dirt off the toe grill and coils. Then, go in with your vacuum that's been outfitted with a crevice attachment, and suck away any lingering grime.

3. The Lint Chamber on Your Dryer

Technically, even if you empty your dryer’s lint filter after every load of laundry (as is recommended), that easy-to-clean compartment doesn’t catch 100 percent of the stray fibers that come off your clothing. To keep your appliance in tip-top shape, it’s important to clean the whole lint chamber on a regular basis, and—you guessed it—that’s where your vacuum comes in handy. With the help of a crevice tool, you can remove all the lint that may have slipped past the filter and gathered inside of the vent.

4. Your Car's Cracks & Crevices

Picture this: You’re snacking on something in the car and a piece slips from your hand, disappearing down into the abyss between your seat and the center console. If you’re anything like me, you swear that you’ll fish it out later—but then you forget.

It’s a hassle to clean out the various nooks and crannies in your car, but once again, your vacuum’s crevice tool can save the day. A cordless vacuum comes in handy here, saving you the trouble of finding an extension cord. Plus, with the help of your vacuum's powerful suction, you can pull that stray treat right back up—and you never know what other forgotten objects you’ll find along the way.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

5. Window & Door Tracks

The tracks of windows and doors frequently become a catchall for dead bugs, pollen, dust, and other debris, and when a summer breeze comes along, it can sweep all this yuck into your home. Luckily, it’s easy to clean out these tracks with the help of your vacuum. Just pop on the brush attachment, crank up the suction, and watch as all that debris disappears. Trust me, it’s very satisfying. While you’re at it, you might as well vacuum down the window or door screen using the brush attachment, too.

6. The Top of Ceiling Fan Blades

If your vacuum has an extension wand, you can use it to clean the dust that accumulates on ceiling fans. You’ll want to (carefully) stand on a chair or stepstool to get high enough to reach, then slowly run the vacuum attachment along each ceiling blade. If you work too quickly, you’ll end up pushing dust all over the room, so be sure to take your time. When you’re done, it’s also a good idea to give the floor a quick once-over to pick up any dust that may have fallen.

7. Mattresses & Pillows

There’s no way to fully wash a mattress, but you can remove dirt, dust mites, and allergens from it using your vacuum. You’ll want to use the upholstery attachment for this task, and the crevice tool can help you get into the seams around the edges. If your mattress is musty or smelly, you can also try sprinkling baking soda over it; let the powder work its magic for an hour or so before vacuuming it up. You can also run the vacuum over any bed pillows that can’t be washed (just don’t forget to remove the cases first!).

8. All the Vents Around Your Home

If you have central air or even window air conditioning units in your home, it’s important to regularly clean the vents. Otherwise, you’ll end up blowing dust around, and that’s certainly not great for allergy-sufferers. Your vacuum makes it easy to clean off vent grates—again, the dust attachment is your friend—and you can also use the crevice attachment to clean inside the ducts, gathering up dirt and allergens that may be hiding in the corners.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

9. Your Trusty Broom

When was the last time you cleaned your broom? Dust, dirt, and hair can all get tangled in a broom’s bristles, and if you don’t clean them off, you’ll probably end up spreading the grime back around your home. However, it’s easy as heck to clean your broom: Using the hose attachment, run your vacuum down the length of the bristles and along the bottom. Just like that, your broom's clean and ready to get back to work.

10. TVs, Computer Towers & Other Home Electronics

If you want your home electronics to live long, happy lives, it’s important to keep their fans and vents free from dust. (Otherwise, the fans will have to work harder to keep the machine cool.) To keep them functioning optimally, use the dust tool on your vacuum to remove gunk from the vents on the back of your TV and computer tower. However, you should only ever vacuum the exterior of electronics—vacuums can generate static electricity, which can be harmful to the inner workings of computers and other gadgets.

For a vacuum that can handle any-size mess, check out our partner Miele's brand-new Triflex Cordless Vacuum—it's got a clever three-in-one design for maximum flexibility and ease, plus up to 2 hours of nonstop cleaning time.

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Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.