Why You Should Never Use Your Vacuum To Clean Sticky Surfaces (& What To Do Instead)

Your vacuum is a modern wonder. It can help keep your floors (and even some furniture) spotless and saves so much time you might otherwise spend sweeping. There is a lot of detritus that your vacuum can handle, but a few messes are better left to other cleaning devices — sticky residues or spills, for instance. Your Hoover is ideal for picking up dust, dirt, hair, and even the occasional sock (which should be removed from the vacuum immediately), but these machines aren't meant to suck up wet or sticky substances. Not only could liquids ruin your vacuum, but vacuuming can make a spill worse or harder to clean, too.

It might be tempting just to Hoover up a maple syrup spill or run the hose over that wad of chewing gum that fell on your wood floor, but anything that is considered "sticky" can clog any or all of the important pieces of your machine. Gum, glue, syrup, honey — all of these can stick in the hose, gears, and bag, causing your vacuum to malfunction. If too much of any of these gets pulled into the rotating brushes, they might stop turning, which could burn out the motor.

Get sticky residue off with these tricks instead

Whenever you find a sticky mess on your surfaces, there are several effective ways to remove it without damaging the material beneath. If the stain or spill is on a hard surface, solutions like peanut butter, cooking oil, and rubbing alcohol can be added to the sticky residue and then wiped off with a sponge or clean cloth. Make sure to check if your countertops or other surfaces can handle these solutions, as some materials are sensitive to certain chemicals or ingredients — for example: don't use acidic liquids on granite.

If the mess ends up on your carpets, rather than vacuuming over it, use distilled white vinegar as a soak and allow it to sit on the fibers with the sticky residue. WD-40 can also "unstick" candy on carpeting — all you have to do is use the red nozzle to spray under the stain as best as you can and let it soak up for at least five minutes before scraping or pulling off the residue by hand. For wood surfaces or floors, you can try a vinegar-based solution, but scraping the mess off gently can also remove it. Spraying the area with glass cleaner and using a non-abrasive sponge or cloth will rid wood floors of sticky stains, too. Next time you find a gummy spot, save your vacuum and try one (or all) of these methods to avoid a serious malfunction.