How to tackle one of the dirtiest household jobs with ease

Don't make this little guy grumpy by not emptying the filter. Photo courtesy of bestbib&tucker on Flickr.

Nobody wants to clean out the vacuum bag, just like nobody wants to change the oil in their car. But just like your engine, your vacuum is bound to piddle away and leave you on the side of the rug if you refuse to pay it some attention.

Neglecting a vacuum bag or bin full of dust bunnies can eventually burn out the motor. All this due to a less than lovely five minute task.

So here is how to cowboy-up and care for your vacuum’s wherewithal:

  1. Regardless of your vacuum type, run the machine for at least 30 seconds to ensure any dirt in the machine has filtered into the bag and unplug.
  2. For disposable bags: Place a piece of duct tape over the hole where dirt meets the bag. Replace according to your disposable bag’s instructions. Note: According to the Vacuum Dealers Trade Association, always change your bags when half full and never try to empty or reuse them. Emptying and reusing a disposable bag cuts cleaning efficiency by 50 percent or more! The VDTA also suggests avoiding bargain-priced bags as they will cost you in vacuum repairs and devalue your carpet and home furnishings.
  3. For reusable bags or plastic bins:  It’s best to take this project outdoors. Most models make it quite simple to pop the reusable bin or bag out. For bins, simply dump the dirt in a garbage bag and rinse with hot water. Reattach once dry. For reusable bags, shake out the dust in a garbage bag and either rinse with hot water or throw in your washing machine and let air-dry.
  4. For the over-achievers: If the undercarriage of your vacuum, also know as the “brush roll” or “beater bar” is tangled up with hair and other debris, it is time to clean it. Remove the bottom plate (each model has different latches, clips or screws), then remove the brush roll and slide out from under the belt. Use scissors (or your fingers) to remove excess debris. Replace and voila!

You’ll be amazed at what a little home maintenance can do for the longevity of your carpet-cleaning machine. We recommend changing your bag or bin every two months if you have pets or children, and twice a year if not.

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