How to Clean Your Vacuum

How to Clean Your Vacuum
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Photo: Ireshetnikov54 (Shutterstock)

Most of our household appliances—including the ones we use to clean our homes—need some kind of maintenance, and vacuums are no exception. And unfortunately, it involves more than simply emptying the bag or canister when it’s completely full.

Considering all the dirt, dust, and grime that passes through your vacuum each time you use it, it makes sense that even the most modern vacuums need to be cleaned on occasion in order to function properly. Here’s what to know.

How to clean a vacuum

When cleaning a vacuum or any other appliance, it’s best to refer back to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you don’t do anything to make things even worse. Even if you threw the instructions out years ago, you should be able to find them—or a full owner’s manual—with a quick online search.

Today, we’re going to focus on cleaning stick vacuums with a canister (as opposed to those that use bags, or are robots). Here’s a basic overview of what to do:

  1. Disconnect the vacuum from its power source (i.e. unplug it, remove the battery pack, etc)
  1. Empty the canister, then wipe it out with a dry cloth or paper towel
  2. Remove any attachments—including any extenders, like the stick or a flexible tube
  3. Using a pair of scissors, cut the hair, string, and thread caught in the main rotating brush, as well as any attachments with smaller brushes—being careful not to cut the bristles on the brush itself
  4. Use a household brush, an old comb, and/or tweezers to remove hairs and other fibers stuck in or around other attachments
  5. Remove and empty any lint traps or reusable filters in the vacuum
  6. Finish taking the vacuum apart (if you haven’t already), detaching everything from the motorized component
  7. Fill a tub or basin with warm, soapy water (dishwashing liquid works), and wash each piece of the vacuum (without the motor or any electrical components) using sponges, brushes or other cleaning tools as necessary
  8. Rinse each piece in clean, warm water
  9. Set the pieces of the vacuum on a towel for several hours, or as long as it takes for them to air dry completely
  10. Wipe down the vacuum’s exterior, which probably got even dirtier while you cleaned the inside

After that, reassemble your vacuum, and marvel at how much better it works.

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