woman is cleaning the vacuum

Whether you use a canister, upright, or cordless vacuum cleaner, regular vacuum cleaning will keep your appliance working at peak performance. If your idea of cleaning a vacuum is changing the bag or dumping the dust bin, we’ve got news. Clogged hoses, dirty filters, and tangled beater bars are inevitable. If you’re not cleaning your vacuum often enough, you’re probably spreading dirt and dust all over your home.

Unfortunately, most appliances that clean, like vacuums and washing machines, aren’t self-cleaning. But when you know how to clean a vacuum cleaner and other appliances like a pro, cleanup is much more manageable. Here’s the best way to tackle vacuum cleaning.

Vacuum Cleaning in 8 Steps

If it’s been longer than you can remember since you cleaned your vacuum, start with these eight steps to get it back in shape. We’ll cover cleaning a vacuum part by part later, but first, let’s clean up a vacuum cleaner from top to bottom.

  1. Cut the Power

As with other electric appliances, always unplug the vacuum before cleaning it. Turn it on and off after unplugging to discharge any electrical buildup.

  1. Dump the Dust

If your vacuum has a disposable bag, remove and discard it. For vacuums that use a plastic canister, remove the bin and dump the contents in the trash. Disassemble as much of the dust cup as possible for easier and more thorough cleaning.

  1. Mix a Cleaning Solution

Fill the kitchen sink half full of hot water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. A detergent with degreasing properties is best because it can help cut through residue and build up.

  1. Wash the Dust Bin

Completely submerge the dust bin and other parts and let them soak for 20 minutes. Use a flexible scrubbing sponge to wash the inside and outside of the container and parts. Rinse all pieces with hot water and let them air dry before using them again.

  1. Freshen the Filters

Most standard vacuum filters are washable, so remove the filter, shake out the debris over the trash can, and head to the sink. Gently wash the filter with hot soapy water and rinse it until the water runs clear. The filter must be completely dry before using it, so remove extra moisture with paper towels and let it air dry.

  1. Wipe Down the Exterior

If you have a can of compressed air, blow dust and dirt out of the exterior crevices before wiping the vacuum. Use a damp microfiber cloth and wipe down the exterior, working from the top down.

  1. Detangle the Beater Bar 

If the undercarriage of your vacuum, also known 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, then remove the brush roll, and slide it out from under the belt. Use scissors (or your fingers) to remove tangled hairs or threads from the brush bar. If the brushes look worn or damaged, consider replacing the beater bar.

  1. Inspect the Vacuum Drive Belt

Wipe down the beater bar drive belt with a damp cloth and check it for proper tension and damage. If you spot cracks or the belt seems too stretchy, replace it with a new drive belt.

Cleaning a vacuum cleaner isn’t much of a challenge when you know how to do it right, is it? Keeping your vacuum cleaner clean is also easier if you add it to your routine cleaning list along with dusting. Like cleaning everything else in your home, regular vacuum cleaning minimizes buildup and grime. But how often should you be cleaning your vacuum?

How Often to Clean a Vacuum Cleaner

Bagless vacuum cleaners with a dust canister or bin should be emptied when the debris level reaches the indicator line if equipped or when full. For optimal results from your vacuum cleaner, dump the dust and dirt after every use. Vacuum bags should be removed and thrown away when the debris reaches the full line.

At least quarterly, give your vacuum cleaner a complete cleaning using the steps above. If you live in a particularly dusty or pollinated area, consider cleaning your vacuum more often if needed. You’ll be amazed at what a little home maintenance can do for the longevity of your carpet-cleaning machine.

To keep your vacuum in top shape, it’s also a good idea to know how to clean individual parts and areas. In between regular vacuum cleaning, clogged hoses, tangled hair and string, and big messes happen, so be prepared with these tips for how to clean a vacuum piece by piece.

How to Clean a Vacuum Hose and Attachments

Knowing how to clean a vacuum hose and attachments is a practical and easy skill to learn. To clear vacuum hoses, detach the hose from the vacuum and head outside. Blow air into one end of the hose to dislodge any clogs. Let the hose soak in hot soapy water in the sink for 20 minutes to loosen buildup. Rinse out all the soapy residue and debris with hot water and let the hose air dry outside.

If your vacuum hose clog is stubborn, use a yardstick or garden hose to dislodge the clog. Take your time and be gentle to avoid puncturing or damaging the hose. Inspect and clean upholstery brushes, crevice tools, and other vacuum attachments. Remove any hair or other tangles, wash, dry, and check for cracks before you put them back in service.

How to Clean a Vacuum Cleaner Dust Bag

Some vacuums feature a washable and reusable dust bag which can get dirty pretty quick. Neglecting a vacuum bag full of dust bunnies can eventually burn out the motor because your vacuum is working harder than it needs to.

Regardless of your vacuum type, run the machine for at least 30 seconds to ensure any dirt in the machine has filtered into the dust bag. Unplug the vacuum, remove the vacuum bag, and place a piece of duct tape over the suction opening. For dirt and residue, gently wash the vacuum cleaner bag with soapy water, rinse, and let air dry. If the bag is machine washable, throw it in the washer instead.

How to Clean a Cordless Vacuum

Cordless vacuums are portable and ultra-convenient and you can keep them clean and vacuuming like new using these tips:

Clear Clogs

To achieve optimal suction, empty the dustbin after each use and check for blockages in hoses and other areas. Use air to blow out clogs or something flexible and blunt to remove stubborn blockages.

Clean Filters

Many cordless vacs come with washable filters. Locate the filter(s), remove them, and shake out debris and dust into the trash. Most dirt can be removed with your kitchen sink sprayer. Spray the filter with hot water until it runs clear, then let the filter air dry before reinstalling it.

Clear Brushes

Depending on the type of portable vacuum you have, you may be able to remove the beater brush. If you can, remove it and cut away any tangles. For beater bars that don’t detach, gently cut the tangles being careful not to damage the brushes.

Now that you’re up to speed on vacuum cleaning, you can count on our handy housekeeping guides for everything else. Whether you clean your vacuum and the rest of your home yourself or want to invest in one of our popular residential cleaning services, we’ve got you covered. Note: the HEPA filtered vacuums we use for our healthy approach to cleaning can capture up to 99.9 percent of pollutants, dirt, and dust!

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