Does Your Vacuum STINK? How to fix a smelly vacuum

How to fix a smelly vacuum

The floors are sparkling and the house looks clean. However, there’s still an unpleasant odor lingering around. Think you need to clean the second time around?

Hold your horses!

There has to be an easier way to find that smelly source.

Assuming that you’ve already taken care of the garbage and there are no hidden spots for you to clean, then there is a good chance that the odor comes from a cleaning tool.

Perhaps your vacuum cleaner?

You see, keeping your living space nice and clean is a normal routine, but not everyone thinks about cleaning the machine that does it all.

Vacuum cleaners remove dirt from your home. If not cleaned properly, that dirt accumulates, producing an unpleasant odor as you are using the machine. Read More: How to Unclog a Vacuum Cleaner?

Fortunately, a stinky vacuum cleaner can smell fresh again. Here’s a guide on how to fix a smelly vacuum.

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How To Fix A Smelly Vacuum: 4Methods To Try

How to fix a smelly vacuum

1) Emptying the Dust Bin or Bag

If your vacuum cleaner comes with a dust bag, then there’s a high chance that it could be the source of that unpleasant smell. Remove the bin or bag and empty its content into the garbage.

Then wash it thoroughly with soap and hot water. We highly recommend that you add a small amount of baking soda or white vinegar in order to kill potential fungus and mildew. Make sure that every angle and corner is washed.

Let it sit to dry before you put it back and use the vacuum cleaner again.

2) Replacing or Cleaning The Filters

Over time, the vacuum cleaner filter starts to get dusty and dirty which causes odor. If you have a washable filter, simply remove the filter from the machine and rinse it under cold water. You can rinse the filter until the water runs clear.

You should know that even clean-looking filters can accumulate an impressive amount of dirt and dust. So, do not be surprised if this process takes a few minutes. After that, you can air-dry the filter for the whole day before placing it back to the machine.

Now, if the filter is not washable, then it might be time for you to replace it. In general, vacuum filters need to be replaced at least once a year. If you own pets or heavily use the vacuum cleaner, then it should be checked and replaced every 6 months.

2) Washing The Hose

The vacuum hose is another main culprit when it comes to smelly vacuum cleaners. This is because it is one of the first places that dust and dirt pass through before reaching the filter, dust bin, or bag.

In addition, small particles can often get stuck within the inner tube layer, which causes the hose to be clogged. Over time these clogging causes decay and create a strong unpleasant smell.

Fortunately, cleaning a hose is rather simple.

First, you need to detach the vacuum hose and take it outside. In order to remove any clogging, you can use the stick of a broom, a straightened coat hanger, or any other straight tools. Push through until the blockage inside is released.

After removing the blockage, pour at least 4 inches of hot water into a sink. Add 1 tablespoon of regular dish soap and 2 tablespoons of bleach, vinegar, or baking soda. Place the hose in the sink.

Move the tube and make sure that the water runs through and over the entire area of the tube. You can also use a stick with fabric at the end to clean the inside of the hose.

After that, place the hose under the tap and allow water to run through the hose. Allow it to dry before attaching it back to the vacuum cleaner.

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4) Checking the Brushes

The rotating brushes should be maintained and cleared at least 1 – 2 times a year, whether it starts to smell or not. Brushes are often used to clean rugs and carpets; thus, they can accumulate a large amount of dust and dirt on their own.

And if you have naughty pets in the house, you might be using the vacuum cleaner to clean off residues of their accidents, further causing that unpleasant odor on the brushes.

Thus, having a quick look under the floor head attachment can be helpful. First, make sure that the vacuum cleaner is unplugged. If the brush is removable, you can detach it from the floor head attachment. Using a

pair of scissors, cut and remove any hair stuck within the bristles. Just be careful not to cut the bristles.

Once you removed every strand of hair, you can now wash the brush with soap and water. Or if it is not removable, you can just spray vinegar and water.

Air-dry the brush for a few hours or place it back only when fully dried.

Preventing The Bad Odors From Coming Back

Now that you know how to fix a smelly vacuum, it is time to learn how to keep it smelling fresh.

Baking Soda

Probably the most common household cleaning item used, baking soda can absorb any unpleasant odor. And you can use it to keep your vacuum cleaner smelling nice and fresh. Just sprinkle a few teaspoons of baking soda inside the dust bag or bin.


If you would like to use a spice from your kitchen, then cinnamon is a great idea. Sprinkle half a tablespoon of cinnamon powder inside your dust bag or bin.

Essential Oils

You can also add essential oils to keep your vacuum smelling nice and fresh. Thyme or lemongrass are beneficial since they are also great at fighting molds. You can add at least 30 drops of essential oils to a 32 ounces spray bottle then fill it with water and a teaspoon of baking soda.

Spray this solution to the inside of the bin or bag. Don’t dampen the area too much.

Regular Cleaning

Whether you are sprinkling baking soda or commercial deodorants on your vacuum cleaner, cleaning it should not be optional.

Regular cleaning is the most effective method on how to fix a smelly vacuum. Depending on how often you use the vacuum cleaner, it is recommended that you thoroughly clean it every 3 – 6 months. Now, if you have a pet, then you need to clean your vacuum cleaner every other month.

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