To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

How to clean a vacuum cleaner: Keep your appliance spick-and-span with our expert tips

How to clean a vacuum cleaner, Lady cleaning out her vacuum dust filter

All vacuum cleaners require some maintenance to perform properly – here’s everything you need to know about keeping yours in order

Knowing how to clean your vacuum cleaner is something that many of us aren’t clear on. While most of us might be familiar with how to empty a vacuum cleaner, giving it a thorough clean is another matter entirely.

Vacuum cleaners collect all manner of dust and debris, including pet hair, food crumbs and the mud and muck you’ve walked in from the street, so it’s no surprise that they can get a bit grotty if they’re not regularly maintained. Dirty dust canisters, hoses and vacuum cleaner bags can be a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to an unhygienic and poorly functioning vacuum. Our troubleshooters ‘Why does my vacuum smell?’ and ‘Why is my vacuum cleaner noisy?’ go into more detail on this.

The good news is, it’s very easy to clean your vacuum cleaner once you know how. From removing tangled hair from rotating brushes to rinsing filters and avoiding accidental dust explosions, there are several things you can do to ensure your vacuum cleaner is clean, fresh, and functional.

Read on for our handy guide on how to clean your vacuum cleaner without making even more mess.

How to clean your vacuum cleaner

Why do vacuum cleaners need cleaning?

While cleaning your vacuum cleaner may not be top of your to-do list, neglecting this essential job will ultimately leave you with a host of problems with your appliance. A vacuum cleaner that is too full, dirty or blocked cannot circulate air properly which can lead to a range of unpleasant, not to mention potentially expensive, problems.

How often should you clean your vacuum cleaner?

You should generally aim to empty your vacuum cleaner when the dust cylinder or bag is around 75% full to keep it functioning well while cleaning, but you should also give the appliance a full clean around once a month, though this will depend on your household. Vacuum cleaners in homes with pet hair or messy young children, or even just those that are expected to tackle high-traffic areas may need to be cleaned more frequently.

How do you empty a vacuum cleaner?

Always start by disconnecting the appliance from any power source. You may wish to empty your vacuum cleaner outside, particularly if it is a bagless model. Remove the dust-collecting cylinder and place it low into the bin before opening it to release the waste. If your vacuum cleaner uses a bag, you can reduce any wayward dust by holding a damp cloth over the hole connecting the bag to the hose. Place the used bag in the bin, or empty it and wipe it clean, ready for reinsertion after the vacuum has been cleaned.

READ NEXT: Best cordless vacuums

How to clean a vacuum cleaner step-by-step:

  1. Inspect the floorhead of the appliance and remove any hair, fluff and lint from the rollers and brush bar. You can cut any trapped hair away using scissors but take care not to cut any bristles. If your vacuum has a joint to the body that you can disconnect from the floorhead then do so and check nothing is stuck inside.
  2. Remove all wands and tubes from the appliance and check you can see straight through. Dislodge any obstructions using a long, blunt object.
  3. Wipe inside the dust cavity using a cloth and some warm, soapy water. If they are very dirty, you can wash removable canisters, along with any attachments, by soaking them in warm, soapy water. If your appliance has reusable or washable bags, you can give this a wipe clean.
  4. Check to see if your filter is washable (some are disposable and will need to be replaced instead of washed). Remove and tap the filter to discard any loose dust, then wash in warm, soapy water.
  5. Wipe the exterior of the vacuum’s body with an antibacterial wipe or cloth.
  6. Leave all parts to air dry in a well-ventilated place for 24 hours until completely dry before reassembling.

READ NEXT: Best Shark vacuums

Read more