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How to clean and clear a vacuum cleaner hose

Vacuum cleaner not working as it should? We explain how to clear and clean the hose, as well as some top maintenance tips

There comes a time in life when the topic of conversation at dinner parties transitions from the latest trendy bars to the best vacuum cleaners. The discussion over which vacuum cleaner to buy has become so important that I’ve even been part of a WhatsApp group dedicated to the quest.

However, it goes deeper than simply whether you should opt for Shark, Dyson, Miele, Hoover or Vax – it’s also about how to get the most out of your vacuum once you have it and, crucially, how to clean and clear a vacuum cleaner hose if you find you’ve lost your suction. With that in mind, I asked Katya Carman, head of product development at Shark, and Josh Mutlow, a senior engineer at Dyson, to dive into some details of how to clean a vacuum cleaner hose.

Why clean a vacuum cleaner hose?

Vacuum cleaner hoses come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach in terms of design – but, whatever kind you have, they are key to the efficacy of your vacuum cleaner so it’s important to keep them in good condition.

From visible blockages and bad smells to strange noises and reduced performance, there can be many reasons for you to clean a vacuum cleaner hose, but maintaining decent suction typically tops the list.

Katya Carman of Shark says: “All vacuum cleaners are different, each with their own specific care and maintenance needs. It’s likely that your vacuum hose will get a lot of use, and it is likely to get bashed, snagged, blocked or trapped when you’re cleaning.”

She recommends “checking your vacuum’s hose often” and looking out for things like poor suction, and noting that your “vacuum sounding louder or vibrating when operating” is a clear sign that you need to give it some TLC.

READ NEXT: Best handheld vacuum cleaners

How to clear a vacuum cleaner hose

As Carman points out, “vacuums come in all manner of styles, such as upright, corded and cordless” so the best approach to clearing a hose will depend on the kind of model you have. For example, with a bendy hose, you might find it harder to see, let alone clear, clogs or obstructions that would otherwise be visible in a model with a rigid tube.

Vacuum cleaner in a white carpeted living room

She recommends: “If you have an upright vacuum, first remove the handle and check if there is any suction once turned on – if not, there may be an obstruction in the handle or hose. If this section is clear, or if you have a stick vacuum, look through the wand to ensure nothing has become lodged in the pipe. You can also shine a torch into the hose. Finally, check the arm of the floorhead – where you connect the wand – for blockages.” She also stressed to us, “Do not use sharp or metal objects to clear blockages.”

It all sounds simple enough, right? But as Bosch explains: “It’s often easier said than done [to unclog a vacuum cleaner hose] as the vacuum cleaner hose is quite long”.

Bosch recommends you “try to detach it and look through it” and, in line with what Carman from Shark suggests about not using metal or sharp objects, suggests “pushing a broom handle through the hose” as this will “usually clear the clogged vacuum cleaner hose”.

Dyson’s senior engineer, Josh Mutlow, also offered this suggestion: “When cleaning hoses and wands, we recommend first clearing any blockages – something like a chopstick or garden cane, used gently, might be helpful for this.”

Based on our own experience, as well as our experts’ advice, follow these steps to clear a vacuum cleaner’s hose:

1. Remove the arm of your vacuum cleaner – or the floorhead, depending on the type of vacuum cleaner you have – and check your vacuum cleaner’s suction.

2. Detach the hose from your vacuum cleaner.

3. Look for blockages in the hose and/or the wand. Consider laying the hose flat on a table for a better view, and shine a torch down it or hold it up to a window, or other light source, to help identify blockages.

4. Use a broom or mop handle, or a piece of garden cane, gently inserted into the hose or wand, to unclog any obstruction. Avoid using sharp objects.

5. Reattach the hose and check your vacuum’s suction again.

6. If something still isn’t right, check the hose attachments and the socket on the vacuum cleaner for blockages.

READ NEXT: Best cordless vacuum cleaners 

How to clean a vacuum cleaner hose

You shouldn’t just stop at clearing your vacuum cleaner’s hose. To get the most out of your vacuum cleaner, you should also clean the hose.

Katya Carman recommends “referring to the instruction manual which came with your vacuum” for the best results; however, if you’ve lost the manual, she suggests “checking your vacuum manufacturer’s website for recommendations. They may also offer product-specific tips on how to clean your dust cup and filter to help improve performance.”

As a general guide to cleaning a vacuum hose, we broke down Carman’s top tips and added some extra detail to help:

1. Turn off and remove the battery before checking for blockages

Obviously, it depends on what type of vacuum cleaner you have but, if you have a corded model, make sure it is not connected to mains power when you come to clean your hose. Or, if you have a cordless model, make sure it is not charging and remove the wand from the main body of the vacuum cleaner so it is not connected to the battery.

2. Detach the hose from the vacuum pod

Again, this depends on the type of vacuum cleaner you have, but it’s a good idea to detach the hose before you attempt any sort of cleaning. Carman recommends “checking the manual if you’re unsure how to do this”, which makes sense as some are a lot easier to detach than others.

3. Check for visible dirt or clogs

Once you have detached your vacuum cleaner’s hose from your vacuum cleaner, look for any obvious obstructions. This is where our previous tips come in handy, so get that broom handle out and grab a torch to check for blockages.

4. Wash the hose in warm water

It’s always worth checking the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly before using water with your vacuum cleaner, but warm water should wash away any lingering bad smells and get rid of any dust and dirt that has become impacted. You should only use water – Dyson’s user manuals specifically say not to “put any part of your machine in a dishwasher or use detergents, polishes or air fresheners” and the company’s senior engineer, Josh Mutlow, agrees: “The outside can be wiped with a damp cloth, but do not submerge in water.”

5. Dry the hose

It’s important to note that most vacuum cleaners are not designed to deal with water – that’s a mop’s forte – so drying the hose is crucial. As Josh Mutlow says: “Make sure that all parts are left to air dry completely before reassembling.”

It’s often recommended that you wait at least 24 hours before reassembling your vacuum cleaner to ensure all the parts are completely dry, and we also suggest hanging the hose vertically to allow any water to drain out.

6. Reattach the hose

Last, but not least, reattach the hose to the vacuum cleaner and test its suction.

When to replace a vacuum cleaner hose

It’s possible that clearing and cleaning your vacuum hose still fails to solve the problem and, if that’s the case, it might be time to replace your vacuum cleaner hose entirely.

Katya Carman offered us some signs to look for that may suggest it’s time to replace your hose, so check for the following:

  • Cracks, tears or splits in plastic or rubber parts
  • Significant loss of suction or efficiency
  • Increased volume or vibration
  • Frayed, missing or damaged hose components
  • Loose fittings or connectors that can’t be secured tightly
  • Clogs or debris that are unable to be removed from the hose

Carman also told us: “Depending on your vacuum cleaner’s age and manufacturer, you may even be eligible for a free replacement.”

Tips for keeping your vacuum cleaner in good shape

There are many elements to a vacuum cleaner, from the hose to the filter, so there are plenty of things you can do to keep your vacuum cleaner performing well for as long as possible. They aren’t cheap, so you don’t want to have to replace them sooner than you need to, especially if you can get a few more years out of them with just a little care.

We’ve previously covered how to clean a vacuum cleaner and how to clean a vacuum filter if you want some more in-depth advice, but Carman gave us some top tips for maintaining your vacuum cleaner too. Here’s what she suggests:

1. Store your vacuum well after use – making sure hoses and leads aren’t tangled, kinked or bent.

2. Always sweep away large or sharp debris – such as broken glass or nails – before vacuuming as it may damage the floorhead and other parts.

3. Always follow manufacturer safety recommendations for correct usage.

4. Regularly inspect components for signs of wear.

5. Regularly clean the hose, floorhead and nozzles to remove any build-up, allowing them to dry completely before use.

6. Clean or replace filters regularly.

7. Clean the brush bar and replace it if it becomes worn or the bristles start to fall out.

8. Avoid overfilling dust canisters and bags, empty them regularly and after every use.

9. Register for manufacturer or retailer warranties to take advantage of any free replacement parts or servicing they offer.

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