Knowing how to clean a vacuum cleaner will protect your investment in both your machine as well as your flooring. A clean machine works better, so you’ll be saving yourself time, too.

How To Clean A Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuuming is one of my least favorite household chores. I hate everything about it: the noise, the armful of attachments that never stay put, and the hassle of trying to wrap the stupid cord before I put the thing away — in a circle or a figure-8? It seems to change every stinking time.

I most of those problems when I ditched my clunky old Kirby in favor of my newest vacuum. I love how that thing puts its own cord away.

Unfortunately, they’ve yet to invent a vacuum cleaner that cleans itself. Until then, it’s a good idea to do the following things before each use.


1. Check the brushes: Thread, hair and other items often get tangled in the rolling brush at the base of your vacuum. This brush is what lifts dirt and debris from your carpet. If it can’t spin properly, it can’t clean properly. Tease the threads loose or use small scissors to snip and remove them.

2. Inspect the belts: Over time, a vacuum cleaner’s belts can become worn or stretched out. When this happens, the machine won’t function properly. Give yours a quick peek regularly and replace loose or worn belts as needed.

3. Check the hoses. In addition to looking for holes or fraying spots, make sure your hoses are free of debris. I’ve often found tissues, and once even some gum, in my vacuum hose. Rather than letting those gum up your vacuum’s motor (pardon the pun), you should make sure the hoses are intact and empty before each use.


1. Empty it. If your vacuum has a bag, replace it when it’s half-full. Empty models with dust bins after each use. No matter what the manufacturer says, a full bag or dust bin does cut suction.

3. Wipe your vacuum. Given their job, it’s not surprising that a lot of dirt and dust collects on a vacuum, including their wheels. Keep yours dust-free with a soft cloth after each use.


1. Wash the dust, crevice and upholstery attachments at least once a month to avoid greasy dirt buildup. If your hoses are made of plastic, give them a quick rinse in the sink or tub monthly, too, then hang them outside to dry. Vacuums with dust containers need occasional washing, too, as do their plastic gaskets.

2. Clean the filters. Many “bagless” vacuums still require regular replacement of internal dust and HEPA filters. Using dirty filters runs a risk of overheating your machine and reduces its cleaning efficiency, too. Check your manufacturer’s instructions and replace yours accordingly.

Remember: never vacuum up coins, small toys, sharp items or larger pieces of debris. These can damage the interior mechanisms of your vacuum, bending the blades and ruining the motor.