Dirty Job No. 1: Changing or Emptying the Vacuum Bag or Bin

Time it takes: 5 to 10 minutes.

Why it matters: When the bag is more than half full, the vacuum loses suction. The fuller it gets, the harder the machine works. Eventually it could work so hard, the motor will burn out.

Step 1: Run the vacuum for 30 seconds to push any residual dirt in the machine into the bag. Unplug.

Step 2: 

  • If you have a disposable bag: Before pulling out the bag, stick a piece of duct tape over the hole where the bag connects to the vacuum, says Louanna Henning, director of housekeeping at the luxury hotel Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, in Dallas. This will prevent a dust cloud from erupting in your face.
  • If you have a reusable cloth bag or a plastic bin (as on a bagless vacuum): Work outdoors. Put the bag or bin inside a garbage bag and shake out the dust, says Debra Johnson, training manager for the Memphis- based Merry Maids cleaning service. Rinse the bag or bin in hot water before reattaching (or toss the bag in the washing machine, then let it air-dry).

Try to do this: Every month or two if you have kids and/or pets; twice a year otherwise.