How To Clean Your Bagless Vacuum Cleaner

Updated on September 30, 2022 by Joseph D. Nielson

Table of Contents

closeup vacuum cleaner living room

Work smarter, not harder. It’s a saying that applies at home just as well as it does in the office, and it can save you hours of cleaning and chores.

That’s all well and good, I hear you saying, but what does it actually mean? There are plenty of ways to clean smarter, not harder. It starts with simple rules you already know, like “Work from top to bottom.” There’s another simple rule I live by, too: clean equipment makes life so much easier.

Cleaning equipment like your vacuum cleaner can feel like yet one more task on a long list of chores that need doing, but when you get to work with a fully-functioning, clean vacuum cleaner, you’re going to save yourself hours down the road. You’ll have better suction and carve straight through dust and dirt. Given how bad dust particles can be for allergies and your overall health, you want to make sure your vacuum is working at peak performance.

Not only will a dirty vacuum cleaner make you work harder to clean your home, but it can also stop working altogether. Instead of risking your bagless vacuum cleaner’s lifespan and having to buy an all-new one, take the time to make sure you’re cleaning with well-maintained, efficient equipment.

Let’s walk you through everything you need and how to clean a bagless vacuum cleaner that smells or won’t suck up grime the way it should. If you’re in the market to find a new cordless vacuum or looking to revive the vacuum cleaner you already have, this is what you need to keep it hoovering at maximum efficiency.

Cleaning Supplies

First, let’s talk about all the general cleaning supplies you’re going to need to get the job done. Before you crack open the canister and disassemble the vacuum, make sure you have:

  • Compressed air
  • Dish soap
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Scissors or a utility knife
  • Dryer vent brush
  • A small brush (an old toothbrush will work too!)
  • A mask (to keep the dust out of your lungs)

Once you’ve got these in hand, you’re in business.

Compressed Air

Everyone loves bagless vacuum cleaners because it’s so simple to just dump the canister straight into the garbage. If you remember a time when we all had to wrestle with a dusty vacuum bag that coughed dirt all over the place, you know what a blessing they are. Personally, I like bagless vacuums from Hoover, but no matter what model you have, you want to make sure you can get into the nooks and crannies when it’s time for a deep clean.

Dust and dirt will inevitably build up in those hard-to-reach places in the canister and the hose to clog things up. Here’s how to clean a bagless vacuum canister: take a canister of compressed air to the vacuum canister as well as areas behind the floor brush. Compressed air is the best tool at your disposal for tight areas. You’re looking for the same compressed air that you use to clean out electronics like your laptop.

close up man using vacuum cleaner professional vacuum cleaner

Dish Soap

The good news is that you don’t need any special kind of cleaner for this job. Good old-fashioned dish soap will do the trick. Fill your sink with hot, soapy water, and submerge the disassembled parts of your vacuum to soak before you scrub them thoroughly.

Before you dump everything that will fit into the sink, keep in mind that only plastic parts should go into the water. You also want to make sure everything is 100% dry before you put it back together, or you could have an electrical risk on your hands.

Roller Brush

Skipping tasks like cleaning the roller brush is going to shorten the lifespan of your vacuum and make it harder to keep your home tidy. All kinds of things get caught up and tangled on the roller brush: hair, fibres, pet fur, floss, threads, elastic bands, etc.

The easiest way to tackle the roller brush is to detach it from the rest of the vacuum with a screwdriver. Then, use your scissors to scrape off the nasty build-up that’s slowing it down.

Washable Filter

Depending on the model, there may be one or several filters throughout the vacuum that need to be changed or cleaned. Today, most vacuums use washable filters. Filters should be changed or cleaned every 3 to 6 months, but any time you notice your vacuum slowing down is a good time to check.

Here’s how to clean a bagless vacuum filter:

  • With a foam filter, you should be able to submerge it in soapy water and squeeze all of the accumulated dirt and dust out.
  • Allow it to air dry completely before you put it back in the vacuum.

Once your vacuum has sucked up dust and dirt, the air still has to get out. That’s the hot exhaust that comes out of your vacuum. Before it goes back into your home, it passes through the filter, so it’s important to keep this part clean and functioning.

Robotic Vacuum

Robotic vacuums are incredibly convenient, and they work well as long as they’ve been cared for properly. When you clean your robotic vacuum, there are some extra maintenance things to consider:

  • Check the batteries and/or charging system
  • Make sure the sensor isn’t dirty
  • Check the wheels for hair wrapped around them

Be extra careful when you’re reassembling a robotic vacuum that you’ve just cleaned. Any moisture on the parts can lead to an electrical problem.

Drive Belt

The drive belt can often wear down if you don’t remove hair and threads wrapped around the roller brush. The drive belt can quickly wear out, ultimately snapping or damaging the bearings.

When the drive belt wears down, it can lead to bad smells, such as the odor of burning rubber. If you can smell burning rubber when you run the vacuum, the drive belt is probably the culprit. Depending on the manufacturer, they may even recommend lubricating the bearings.

Keep your drive belt safe by cleaning frequently. It can be both inconvenient and an extra expense to replace the drive belt.

Deep Clean

You can still deep clean those parts that can’t go into the water. This is why you have a microfiber cloth and a toothbrush or other brush for tight spaces. You’ll also want to wash the canister itself after you’ve used compressed air to blow out all the hard-to-reach parts.

As part of a deep clean, don’t forget to wipe dirt and grit off the vacuum wheels, as these can wind up back in the carpet or scratch the floor.

Your vacuum is a powerhouse when it comes to cleaning. If you’re looking to find out how to clean your AC ducts or how to clean your AC coils, a high-quality bagless vacuum cleaner is the place to start, but jobs like these can quickly gunk up the insides of your vacuum.

Vacuum Hoses

The hose is one of the attachments you can take off to clean. Once you remove it from your vacuum cleaner, use a dryer vent brush to clear all the debris out of the tube. One tip for making your life a little easier: you should be able to push the tube together to make it shorter. Be careful not to damage the hose in the process. Any holes will take away from your vacuum cleaner’s performance and probably result in dust spraying all over your home.

Hair Wrapped Around Roller Brush and Wheels

Hair wrapped up in your vacuum can be a real pain. Hair wrapped around the spinning brush will seriously impact your vacuum’s performance and inevitably lead to an early breakdown. The longer the hair, the more likely there’s going to be a problem. The more pets you have in your home, the more important it is that you learn how to deep clean a vacuum.

This is where you break out the scissors or the utility knife. Carefully cut through the hair wrapped around the rotating brush and free it up. Hair can seriously slow down your vacuum and cause it to break.

You also want to check for hair wrapped around the wheels, particularly on robotic vacuums.

FAQ: How to Clean and Sanitize Your Vacuum Cleaner

Keeping your vacuum cleaner clean and sanitized helps it run at optimal performance and extends its useful lifespan.

A cleaner home can also be a healthier home. If you’re dealing with mold allergens, not only does an air purifier help with mold, but regular vacuuming can also keep mold spores out of your home. A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Absolute) filter can reduce mold spore concentration which may build up in carpets or get trapped on the floor.

Find relief and a faster clean when you learn how to clean a bagless vacuum cleaner properly.

How to Disinfect a Vacuum Cleaner

You already know how to handle dirt and dust, but what about bacteria, mold, viruses, and other nasty things your vacuum picks up? Dust can act as a fomite, picking up viruses and bacteria from surfaces and launching them straight back into the air.

If you’re being extra-cautious, use a spray bottle with water mixed with bleach and spray the solution on the parts of the vacuum you’re worried about the next time you disassemble it. It’s not a bad idea to do so after a clean if you’re worried about viral transmission in your home.

How to Clean a Vacuum Cleaner that Smells

Do you find a bad smell lingering in rooms that you’ve just vacuumed? The source is probably coming from inside the vacuum cleaner. There are four common reasons that your vacuum smells bad:

  • Pet hair and dander that has built up inside.
  • Mold accumulation when you haven’t cleaned out your vacuum, or you’ve vacuumed a wet carpet and introduced moisture inside.
  • A burnt belt that will need to be replaced.
  • Other debris pulled during vacuuming, such as food particles that will start to smell if you don’t clean it out.

Empty the canister, wash the parts, and disinfect your vacuum to get the smell out once and for all.

How to Deep Clean a Vacuum

We’ve all been there. You know you have to clean something, but you just don’t have the time or energy to get really in there. That’s fine; we’re only human, after all. But you don’t want to put off a deep clean for too long, or it can have an adverse effect on the health of your home and the performance of your vacuum cleaner.

When you deep clean, make sure you get the hair out of the roller brush, clean those filters, and get rid of any clogs in the tube.

How Often Should You Clean Your Vacuum

If cleaning your bagless vacuum sounds like one of the absolute last things you want to do with your day, I hear you. Everyone loves a clean house, but adding another chore to your To Do List is enough to make you want to climb back into bed. The good news is that you only need to clean your vacuum about once a year.

Of course, if you notice any smells or slowdowns in performance, it’s worth it to take the vacuum apart and see what you can do. Filters should still be changed every 3 to 6 months, and if you have pets, you may want to clear out clogs and hair around the roller brush more frequently.

How to Clean a Vacuum Sponge Filter

There’s no need to be intimidated by a washable vacuum sponge filter. First, brush off all the dust you can. Next, soak it in soapy water and get all of the dirt and dust out of it. Let it dry out completely before you put it back into your vacuum, or else you can wind up with mold and an unpleasant smell.

How to Clean a Vacuum Cleaner Bag

Not everyone uses a bagless vacuum cleaner, and for those still sticking to their bags, I haven’t forgotten you. Before you change or clean the bag, it helps to run the vacuum for about 30 seconds to make sure all of the dust has gone through the system and into the bag. Next, it’s time to head outdoors because this could get messy. Shake out the dust into a garbage bag, then either rinse with hot water or put it in the washing machine. Last but not least, air dry before putting it back.

A clean vacuum cleaner will do you a lot of favors. Keep it tidy and it should keep your job easy.

Joseph and Family
About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!