How to clean a vacuum

How to clean a vacuum
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you need to know how to clean a vacuum then we’ve got you covered as we’ll be giving you handy hacks for cleaning every part of your machine so it’s in the best possible condition. 

Whether you have one of the best vacuum cleaners on the market, or your trusty machine just needs a bit of TLC, we’ve got all the advice on cleaning every component of your vacuum. 

Staying on top of your vacuum’s maintenance is key for ensuring its performance is the best it can be. If you don’t take the time to clean your vacuum’s filters, for example, the amount of dust and allergens they can hold will be significantly reduced. So, here’s how to clean a vacuum and how often you need to do it. 

How to clean a vacuum: clean the dust cup 

Before you can really get started with deep cleaning your vacuum, you’ll need to make sure the dust cup or bag is empty (although, ideally it’s a good idea to empty it after every clean if you can). 

If you’re using a canister or a stick vacuum with a removable dust cup, take it off the main machine. It’s important to check with the manufacturer’s instructions here so that you don’t damage your vacuum, but if the dust cup is washable, place it in warm soapy water (not boiling hot as this can damage it). Be sure to rinse all the bubbles off after and then leave to dry completely. If your dust cup isn’t suitable for submerging in water, take a clean, dry cloth (microfiber ones work best) and wipe inside the cup.

If you’re using a canister vacuum that has a fabric bag, replace the bag completely. This won’t be necessary every time you empty the dust bag. 

How to clean a vacuum

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to clean a vacuum: wash the filters

Cleaning your vacuum’s filter is important to ensure the machine’s performance is on top form. If the filter is constantly clogged up with dirt, it won’t be able to work as well and it won’t do a good job of trapping allergens either. 

The same applies to washing the filters in your vacuum as it does to washing the dust cup - you’ll need to check the manufacturer’s instructions that are specific to the model of vacuum you own. The instructions should also tell you how to remove the filters from the machine. 

If the vacuum’s filters are suitable for washing, remove them from the machine and run them under the tap for a few minutes to wash away all the dust that’s clogged up. Leave the filter to dry completely - it’s that easy. 

How to clean a vacuum: clean the brush roll  

If you’ve got a pet at home or you just have long hair, the brush roll on your vacuum is likely to need some maintenance. While some vacuums such as the Shark Anti Hair Wrap Flexology Cordless Vacuum Cleaner are designed to prevent hair building up on the brush roll, many will still need you to cut hair away routinely. To do this, you can use scissors or invest in a specialist tool like the Pikk-it, which is available from but not in the US or Australia. 

Whichever tool you use, run it along the bottom of the brush roll and cut away as much hair as you can. 

How to clean a vacuum: clean the hose and attachments 

Just like all the other parts of your vacuum, the attachments will need some attention now and then. If your vacuum has a hose or even a stick tube like many cordless vacuum cleaners have, detach it so that you can give it a good clean. 

First of all, remove any blockages or big lumps of hair that are in the tube. You might be able to do this by simply giving the hose a shake (outside is best) but if that doesn’t work, you can use a radiator brush which you can buy from for $13.99, for £8.99, or for AU$25.24. The long and thin brush should be able to dislodge any blockages for you. 

Vacuum hoses can be washed in soapy water too but ensure all bubbles have been rinsed away and always allow the hose to dry out properly before you re-attach it to the vacuum. 

To finish off your cleaning routine, give the exterior of the vacuum a wipe down with a slightly damp cloth. 

How to clean a vacuum

(Image credit: Getty)

How often should you clean your vacuum?

If you use a stick vacuum, it’s advisable to empty the dust cup after every use but canisters and uprights may be able to go longer periods of time between emptying. You should aim to clean the entire vacuum as we’ve suggested above once a year. Specific areas of your vacuum, however, such as the br

Sophie Bird

Sophie writes about all things appliance-related and is currently the Home Editor at TechRadar's sister site, Top Ten Reviews. When she's not testing coffee machines and appliances, Sophie is thinking of eating delicious food, and asking people what they're having for dinner.