How to Clean Your Vacuum Cleaner: Step-By-Step Guide

By
Jeneva Aaron
Jeneva is the founder and CEO of thehousewire.com where she provides honest and objective reviews on home and cleaning products. She is a cleaning enthusiast. She got inspired to build her own cleaning blog when she realized how cleaning can make an impact on our lives and how a cleaner home can affect a person's mood.
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Updated May 18, 2022

Give your cleaner a good clear out

How to Clean Your Vacuum Cleaner: Step-By-Step Guide

You use your vacuum regularly. But recently it’s not been performing as well. And you’ve realized that although you use it a lot to clean your home, you haven’t cleaned the appliance itself in quite some time!

Giving your vacuum a deep clean and some maintenance will improve its lifespan. You’ll also be able to do your household cleaning more efficiently and in less time as it’ll have its full suction power restored.

Read our step by step guide on how you should clean your vacuum cleaner. We’ll tell you what equipment you’ll need, and how you should carry out each stage. Plus our cleaning tips will make sure that cleaning your vacuum is effortless and safe.

Cleaning Your Vacuum Cleaner

  • Unplug and disassemble the vacuum cleaner
  • Clean and wipe the housing and canister using a brush or microfiber cloth
  • Clean the dirt bin or empty and replace the dirt bag
  • Wash the filter or replace the filter if needed
  • Remove hair and threads tangled around the brush
  • Unclog and wash the hose
  • Reassemble the vacuum cleaner.

How Often Should You Clean A Vacuum?

Vacuum cleaner manufacturers suggest that you clean it “as needed”. And this is exactly true – how often you need to clean it depends on how often you use it.

But as a guide, you should clean your vacuum when one of the following happens:

  • Debris gets tangled in the brush
  • The hose gets clogged
  • Suction power isn’t as good as it was
  • Musty or burnt smells are noticeable.

We also recommend that you give your vacuum cleaner a deep clean once every three months. And we also suggest that you do the following:

  • Change the dust bag when it’s ½ to ⅔ full
  • Clean the brushes and filter monthly if they get very dirty
  • Empty the dust canister each time you use the vacuum, and clean it once a week
  • Look at changing the belt if you’ve lost suction or the brush roll doesn’t turn properly.

What You’ll Need

You might also need these items, depending on how dirty your vacuum is:

Instructions

1. Unplug and Take Apart the Vacuum Cleaner

For corded vacuum cleaners

It’s important to make sure that you unplug it before doing any cleaning or maintenance. This will ensure that you don’t get an electric shock or injury.

For cordless vacuum cleaners

Disconnect this from the charger and remove the battery.

Whatever type you have, you then need to dismantle your vacuum cleaner. This will make it easier for you to clean each part separately. Look at the owner’s manual if you need help with this step.

2. Clean and Wipe the Vacuum Cleaner

This initial clean isn’t necessarily required. But, if your vacuum cleaner has transparent plastic parts, it’ll make them look nicer! And giving your vacuum an overall clean like this will help prevent it from getting clogged in the future and improve your vacuum’s performance.

So if you can see any dust and dirt on the inside of the vacuum, on its housing, and in the canister, clean it now. You can use a cleaning brush or damp cloth, or even compressed air to get into all the crevices if you have some.

If the manufacturer’s instructions say it’s ok, you can also use warm soapy water to give the housing and canister a good cleaning. You must then leave all the parts to air dry completely before using the vacuum cleaner again.

3. Clean the Dust Bin or Empty the Dust Bag

For bagless vacuum cleaners

First, remove the dust bin. Open it over your trash can so that you can empty the dirt and debris straight into the trash. Then clean the dust canister with a damp cloth. Or you can wash it in the sink using cold soapy water.

You shouldn’t use any strong detergents to clean the bin. But, if you want to give it a deeper clean, you can use a mixture of water and white vinegar. This is often used for household cleaning chores. The vinegar removes mold, mildew, and mineral deposits. And it acts as a handy deodorizer.

Next, allow the dust bin to air dry for at least 12 to 24 hours. Once it is completely dry, you can put it back in the vacuum cleaner.

For bagged vacuum cleaners

Replace the vacuum bag when it is about half to two thirds full.

4. Wash or Replace the Filter

Take the filter out of the vacuum. If washable, wash it using cold water only. Keep squeezing it until the water runs clear. You shouldn’t use any detergents or the dishwasher to clean your filter.

Then, leave your filter to air dry completely in a warm place. This should be for around 24 hours. It should then be ok to put the filter back.

Consider replacing the filter with a new one if it’s really damaged. Or some, such as non washable filters or some HEPA filters, might need replacing regularly anyway.

5. Clean and Detangle the Brush

One of the most common issues with many vacuums is hair and bits of debris getting tangled around the roller brush. If this roller or the beater bar gets stuck, your vacuum won’t work properly. Friction can cause the belt to burn and you’ll notice an unpleasant or musty smell.

So it’s important to perform a thorough cleaning of your beater bar or roller brush. First, take the vacuum hose out. At this stage, you might be able to easily clean the tangled mess by gently pulling any threads and hair from the brush bar.

For more deep cleaning, you can remove the rolling brush from the vacuum. This is usually done by pressing a release button. Or on some models, you can use a coin or screwdriver.

Then use scissors to cut away hair and fibers that are tangled around the brush roll. Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe it down. 

If your brush can be washed, immerse in cold water. Or use a damp clean cloth with an all-purpose cleaner to wipe your brush down and remove excessive dirt. Then put the brush bar back onto the vacuum cleaner.

If you see that the belt is damaged, you should replace it. If you’re unsure about how to do this, here’s a tutorial that shows you how.

6. Clear Blockages and Clean the Hose

First, you need to detach the hose. Depending on the model, you might have to take the hose off the handle or a cleaning head, or a dust cup. And some require you to twist the hose off, whereas others have a release button to remove the hose.

Next, use your flashlight to help you check for all blockages. This is where the broom, mop, or old wire hanger will come in handy. Use this to remove anything that’s clogged inside the hose.

If it’s very dirty, we suggest that you also clean the hose now. Clean, cold water should be enough. Or if you want to sanitize the hose, use a vinegar and water mix as we recommended for the dust bin.

Finally, as with all vacuum parts, allow the hose to dry completely for at least 12 to 24 hours. Then put it back on the vacuum cleaner.

7. Put the Vacuum Cleaner back together

Only take this step if you’ve checked that all parts are fully dry. Then, reassemble the vacuum bit by bit. Check the manual if you’re not sure how to do this. Once it is back together again properly, you can use your vacuum again.


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Tips To Keep Your Vacuum Cleaner in Top Shape

Follow our top tips and deep cleaning your vacuum will be a breeze!

  • Always switch off and disconnect your vacuum cleaner from the power socket before you do any cleaning or taking apart. You don’t want to risk any electric shocks or accidents. And for cordless vacuums, disconnect from the charger.
  • Don’t use any air fresheners, harsh detergents or polishes to clean your vacuum. And don’t put the dust bin, filters, or any other part in the dishwasher or washing machine.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to cleaning the filter. Regular cleaning of filters is necessary, but you need to know that you’re doing it right – especially if you have a HEPA filter. You shouldn’t use dish soap or detergents on filters.
  • Don’t put the filter in a tumble dryer, microwave, or over a naked flame to dry it.
  • Also, check whether the filter is washable or not. If it’s not designed to be washed at all, you need to replace the filter.
  • Check with the owner’s manual whether you can wash the dust canister or not. If it doesn’t say that you can clean it, use a dry microfiber cloth to give it a wipe down.
  • Allow all parts to dry completely before reassembling your vacuum cleaner. You need to leave everything for at least 12 to 24 hours before putting the vacuum back together again.
  • Take a look at the belt while you have the vacuum disassembled. You’ll need to replace it if it’s damaged or worn down.

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