What All Those Vacuum Attachments Actually Do—Plus How to Use Them for a Cleaner Home
Get the most from your vacuum accessories.
Your vacuum isn't just made for the floors or carpets. This versatile cleaning powerhouse can be used for a variety of household chores, which means you don't need a closet full of cleaning gadgets to tidy your home (especially if you know how to vacuum properly). In fact, the right accessories can help you clean anything from mattresses to refrigerator coils and air vents. Use them to do more work for you, with less elbow grease and effort on your part. Most vacuums come with a standard attachment (like an extension wand or upholstery tool) that will help you get to those hard-to-reach spots, or smaller nooks where crumbs and debris get trapped. Here, we show you how each vacuum attachment works and where it can be used.
In addition to the basic attachments, there are a few you'll want to purchase separately, depending on your cleaning needs. Can't get dust off your ceiling fan without having to climb to the top of a ladder? There's a fan blade duster that makes it easy to reach that high spot without risking a fall. If you're having trouble maneuvering your normal hose attachment around nooks of light fixtures and car-door compartments, invest in a multi-angle brush that will also keep the dust off your blinds and crown molding.
With this information, you can clean more efficiently with just your vacuum. See below for your guide to different vacuum attachments, along with some pro cleaning tips. For full info on each common vacuum attachment, read on.
14 Must-Know Vacuum Attachments (and How to Use Them)
Most vacuums come with these accessories, which can be used for a variety of purposes.
How it works: Standard versions of this sturdy plastic tube add 18 inches to your upright’s hose, so you can reach high fan blades, light fixtures, air vents, door frames, or the top of a tall piece of furniture—no stepladder climbing (or countertop scaling) required. It allows you to keep your arms close to your body, pre- venting strain and fatigue.
Other uses: Dropped coins or jewelry between the couch cushions? Stretch a piece of nylon panty hose over the opening to suck up small items and retrieve them without getting them stuck in the machine.
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How it works: From four to six inches wide, this piece directs a band of suction over upholstery fibers. Red microfiber strips (at the edges of most versions) help draw out lint. You may need to flip the attachment while the vacuum is running to remove debris caught in the strips.
Other uses: Give mattresses and carpeted stairs a once-over with this tool to pick up dust and hair.
How it works: The angled tip helps this 8- to 12-inch-long piece grab debris from tight spots, like baseboard edges and under the front of the oven, the washer, and other appliances.
Other uses: Suction out smaller spots, too. Clear dust from a doorjamb, dirt from a window track, cobwebs from corners, crumbs from car seats, and debris lodged in tufted upholstery.
Pro tip: For a more thorough room cleaning, run the crevice tool along the perimeter before your usual vacuum- ing routine on the rest of the floor.
How it works: Inch-long bristles surround the opening of this tool, providing gentle abrasion to dislodge dust particles from lamp shades, window treatments, baseboards, and window screens without any scratching.
Other uses: Dust air vents and refrigerator coils, chair and table legs, the inset panels of doors and cabinets, and small decorative pieces, like clocks and bookends.
You may have to buy these piece-by-piece from your vacuum manufacturer; pick and choose your favorites.
Fan Blade Duster
How it works: Affix this piece to your extension wand and you can easily reach and surround each fan blade. Start at the fan’s core, then pull the duster toward the end of the blade. The broom head will sweep the bottom while a (removable, machine-washable) microfiber cloth brushes dust from the top. The debris is sucked into the hose via the bristles.
Other uses: Conquer cobwebs in high corners with the same sweep-and-suction method.
How it works: Vacuum wood and tile floors in overlapping rows using this 12-inch-wide floor brush. The soft, half-inch bristles combined with the vacuum’s suction pick up more dirt more quickly than a dust pan and broom can.
Other uses: Run it over low-pile rugs to clean them without the risk of the rug material getting sucked into the machine.
How it works: A curved hose and a pivoting head help this soft-bristled tool maneuver into the challenging nooks of light fixtures, car-door compartments, sliding closet tracks, and more.
Other uses: Capture grime on blinds, baseboards, and out-of-the- way crown molding, too.
How it works: A non-clunky fix for carpeted stairs, this mini motorized tool with a rotating brush roll sucks up dust in seconds, step by step.
Other uses: Clear dirt and dust from other tight spaces, like the floor of a powder room or a small closet.
How it works: Move this eight-inch-wide piece in short strokes, section by section, to pick up lint, dirt, and allergens from a mattress surface.
Other uses: It doubles as an upholstery tool for large pieces of furniture, like sofas and daybeds.
How it works: This four-inch-wide, wedge-shaped tool attaches to the hose of a wet-dry vacuum to provide targeted suction on carpeted car mats. It grabs every last bit of sand or animal crackers.
Other uses: Try it on patio furniture. It’s more precise than hosing, so you’ll get a more nitty-gritty clean.
How it works: This stiff-bristle piece fits over the crevice tool of Miele vacuums and is thin enough to wedge between home radiator fins for fast, effective cleaning. (Once a year is the pros’ recommendation.) If your machine isn’t a Miele, use a bottle brush to dislodge the debris, then suck it up with your vacuum’s dusting tool.
Other uses: Run it over refrigerator coils and vent slats. The bristles make quick work of stubborn buildup.
They may not seem necessary, but these little vacuum gizmos are great for specialized cleaning jobs.
How it works: Clear the grime from keyboards with a micro-dusting accessory set, which includes a 36-inch-long hose, a mini extension wand, two brush tools, and a crevice attachment. Also ideal for the interior of a sewing machine.
How it works: Have a furry friend with lots of hair to spare? Brush your dog with a groom tool. It suctions up fur so the hair doesn’t gunk up your brush—or your sofa.