Giving Your Canister Vacuum a Spring Cleaning

First and foremost, before we get too deep into the topic of how to clean your canister vacuum, there are a few things we should mention. This is just common sense, so if you’ve got plenty of that already, just skip ahead. If not, there’s no shame in your vacuum cleaning game, here are some things to consider before moving forward:


  • Do you still have the instruction booklet for your vacuum? We can give general information here, but the info in the booklet will be useful because it is specific to your model. There may be unique tips or tricks for your vacuum in particular, and we can’t possibly cover every model in this article, so definitely take a peek at your manual. If you don’t have it, just Google the model of your vacuum along with the word “instruction manual” and you’ll be set.
  • The way to clean and maintain your vacuum will also depend on what’s wrong with it, of course, so let’s go over a handful of different things. Your vacuum may not need all of these items to be performed on it, so once again, if that’s you – just skip ahead!
  • You’ll want to unplug your vacuum before getting started, especially before putting any water or cleaning supplies anywhere near it. It’s a good habit to just unplug it any time you aren’t using it, even if you’re just emptying out the canister.

Empty It Out

The first thing to do when you’re cleaning your vacuum is to empty it out, obviously. If you have a bagged vacuum, just pop the bag out and put in a new one. If you have a bagless canister vacuum, you know what to do – just pop off the canister (Or however yours works) and dump it in the trash. Now, with a bagless unit, you’ll have some extra dust and debris in there that you’ll want to wipe away. You’ll want to do that occasionally with your bagged vacuum as well if you see it building up in there, it’s just not as likely to happen as often since the bag holds most of the particles in place.

Deep Clean

Every now and then, you’ll want to take every part off of your vacuum that comes apart, and give it a good wash. 1 part vinegar to 1 part water makes an excellent, affordable cleaning agent. You can put a couple drops of essential oils in there if you don’t want a full-on vinegar smell, but it’s not a big deal.

Grab a cloth, and wipe down the surfaces of your vacuum, pour some of your mixture into the hose (Make sure your hose is just plastic, without any filters or anything in it first. You never know, there are some odd models out there.) If you have a re-useable filter, take that outside and clean it. Your filter or the box it came in will have instructions, it can vary. When unsure, just hit it against something to shake loose the dust, at least.

You can stick some dryer sheets on the end of a broom handle to get up inside the hose, too. All of those little crevices that allow it to be bendy are also a great place for dust and gunk to build up. Think of all the dirt and mess that gets on your floor, little parts of that are always going to stick in the hose, so it’s definitely something you’ll want to clean well.

You can wipe inside of your canister with a paper towel dipped in water + vinegar. Vinegar kills about 99% of bacteria in there, and the other 1%? Those are some bad dudes; you don’t even want to mess around with them.

Giving your canister vacuum cleaner a haircut

For this, you’ll want to turn your vacuum cleaner on its side. Take a look at the beater brush, that’s the spinny part that grabs everything off your floor and shoots it up into the vacuum. Do you see any hairs or threads of fabric stuck in there? Most likely!

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

These strings can get in the way of the brush and cause it not to work as effectively, but worst of all they can get tangled up along the sides of the brush and slow down the brush’s movement. If your vacuum ever starts to smell like burning rubber, it can be because the hair is preventing the beater brush from moving as fast as it should, and causing friction with the rubber belt.

It’s an easy fix, use scissors to cut it away, just be careful that you don’t end up cutting any parts of your brush in the process. This is one of the easiest things you can do to clean and maintain your vacuum that will have the most noticeable results. You’d be surprised how many vacuums get brought into the service shop or thrown away for not working, when all they need is a few minutes of TLC to be as good as new.

If you’re feeling gutsy, you can spray a bit of your vinegar solution on the beater brush while turning it by hand to cover all sides of it, but you have to make absolutely sure that you don’t get any of the vinegar on the rubber belt, as it can cause it to degrade more quickly. If you can see where the belt is, and feel confidant you won’t hit it, it’s good to sanitize the brush since it’s touching every surface of your floor. Also, make sure everything is dry before you use your vacuum again. You don’t need to rinse the vinegar away (Unless it gets on the belt), just make sure it’s totally dry.

A final once-over…

To wrap things up, make sure there aren’t any cracks or holes in your hose. If there are, cover them with a generous serving of tape, electrical works well and usually blends in with the color of the hose (If it’s black, at least.)

Check the cord and make sure there aren’t any holes in the rubber, if so – use your electrical tape once again. This is common, as the cords often bend in awkward ways, get run over, or just wear out over time.

Now you’re all set!