How to Clean a Vacuum to Optimize Performance

Cleaning a vacuum isn't difficult, but it's essential for its performance and longevity.

Published January 30, 2023
Man at home vacuum cleaning

Are you running your vacuum over and over that piece of lint on the carpet, but it's still there? It might be time to clean your vacuum.

Cleaning your vacuum can keep it running smoothly and performing at its best. Get a few tips for cleaning your vacuum. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it!

6 Simple Steps to Deep Clean Your Vacuum

When you notice your trusty Hoover just isn't sucking up the dirt like it used to, it's probably time for a good cleaning. It's going to take a few hours to get the job done, but it's well worth it for your vacuum's overall longevity and performance. You'll need to have the manual available to help you disassemble the vacuum for a thorough cleaning.

Step 1: Empty and Clean the Dirt Container

Before you go touching anything, make sure the vacuum disconnected from power or removed from its charger.

Woman removes garbage from dust filter of vacuum cleaner
  1. If it's a bagged vacuum, remove the bag and throw it away. If it's bagless, remove the cannister and empty it.
  2. Use canned air to blow out any dirt around the intakes to the bag or cannister.
  3. Wash the cannister in hot, soapy water.
  4. Use a toothbrush to scrub any crusted-on areas in the cannister or in the vacuum itself.
  5. Dry everything with a microfiber cloth.
Helpful Hack

It's helpful to take your vacuum outside or into a back room to clean it to avoid getting dust everywhere.

Step 2: Remove Vacuum Attachments

Now that you've gotten rid of all the loose dirt, it's time to break down the vacuum. Avoid any electrical components when cleaning with water.

  1. Disconnect any attachments and take off the hose.
  2. Pull off the beater bar, if possible.
  3. Pull out the filters.

Step 3: Wash or Replace the Vacuum Filter

Vacuums come with a washable or replaceable filter. Look in your manual to see what type your machine has. Typically, vacuums with replaceable filters have a light letting you know it's time for a change. Replacing is as simple as swapping out the old one and throwing it away. If you have a washable one, wash it in warm, soapy water, pat dry with a paper towel, and allow to air-dry for a full 24 hours.

Step 4: Clean and Unclog Hose and Brush

For this step, you'll need the scissors and some warm soapy water in a bucket.

  1. Use the scissors to cut away any notable hair or strings on the vacuum's beater bar and carefully pull them away.
  2. Check the belt (if your vacuum has one) and replace as needed.
  3. Wash the beater bar with the soapy water and towel dry.
  4. Put a microfiber cloth over a broom handle and feed the vacuum's hose carefully over the broom handle until it comes out the other side.
  5. Wipe hose down with a damp, soapy cloth and pat dry.
  6. Clean dust off any other attachments.
  7. Allow everything to dry completely before reassembling.

Step 5: Wipe Down Exterior and Wheels

Everything should be clean but the housing itself. Wipe it down with a damp microfiber cloth, using a toothbrush to loosen any stuck-on dirt. Then, use a cloth to clean the wheels.

Step 6: Reassemble

Allow everything to dry for a few hours. The filter will take about a day. Reassemble everything and put the filter in last.

How to Disinfect a Vacuum

While you only need to deep clean your vacuum every six months or so, you may wish to disinfect it more frequently. To do so, spray a white cloth with hydrogen peroxide and use it to wipe down all vacuum cleaner parts including in the cannister and hose. Allow to dry completely before using the vacuum.

How to Get Rid of Vacuum Odors

Deep cleaning is your first line of defense for vacuum odors. If it still stinks after you've replaced or washed the filter and thoroughly cleaned it out, then you can add a bit of essential oil to the vacuum filter. For a bagged vacuum, you can add it right to the vacuum bag. That way, when you turn it on, it will give off a nice fresh scent. If the smell is more of a burning odor, it could be a mechanical problem that requires professional assessment.

Simple Ways to Clean the Vacuums in Your Home

Your vacuum does a lot of heavy lifting in your home. So, it's going to need a little TLC to make sure it keeps up with your dirt. While you shouldn't have to deep clean your vacuum more than every 6 months or so, let its performance be your guide.

How to Clean a Vacuum to Optimize Performance