How to Remove Bad Vacuum Cleaner Smells

by Oct 5, 2020Cleaning

Cleaned your house right now, so what is this smell? Have you been exposed to this problem too often too late? If so, you can first examine your vacuum.

A vacuum cleaner works tirelessly to keep your house clean and smell fresh. Now is the time for you to return. Without proper maintenance, a vacuum can begin to smell bad and defeat the whole purpose of cleaning your home.

So what causes a stinking vacuum? During cleaning, dirt and grime accumulates in the vacuum cleaner. If it is not cleaned for a long time, dirt creates an unpleasant odor that causes the entire vacuum to stink.

If you have noticed a strange odor coming from your vacuum, it is time to clean it up. In this guide, I discuss tips and methods that you can use to clean your vacuum regularly.

Why do vacuum cleaners smell?

Before I talk about cleaning, let’s discuss where the scent comes from. In fact, it is important to know the source unpleasant odors to deal with them.

1.Pet hair

Yes, I know you love your little puppy, but that’s probably why your wake smells bad. Even when it is outside the vacuum, pet hair stinks.

When your vacuum cleaner sucks this hair, the odor builds up over time and becomes sharp in a few days. In addition, pet urine has a role to play in intensifying the odor.

Obviously, you are not vacuuming pet urine directly – unless you have a wet-dry vacuum – but the urine droplets are stuck in pet hair and dirt particles. You may be just vacuuming dirt, but there are traces of pet urine in it that can create a musty odor.


Nothing good ever accompanies mold, whether it’s in your bathroom or the vacuum cleaner. Due to several reasons, mold accumulates in the vacuum filters (1) and dust bags.

After being cleaned for a long time, mold gives off a strong odor which is hard to ignore.

Here’s a tip: Never vacuum a wet rug. As mold thrives in humid environments(2), the fungus is likely to be transferred to your vacuum through the wet blanket.

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The most common cause of foul-smelling vacuum cleaners is excessive dust accumulation. Consider this: When you thoroughly clean your home, the vacuum cleaner collects everything from food crumbs to dust particles.

All these materials are mixed to create one bad smell. Along with causing bad smelland allow dust to collect vacuum filters can also reduce their lifespan.

4.Burned vacuum belt

The vacuum belt allows it rotating brushes to catch dirt, grime and hair. If you do not clean the vacuum cleaner regularly, the belt may be damaged and even break.

Since most vacuum belts are made of rubber, they emit a burning odor when worn or overused.

How to remove bad odor from the vacuum cleaner?

Let’s discuss the most common places where the odor comes from before I move on to cleaning. Although the container is mostly the biggest culprit, is bad smell can also arise from the hose, filters and the brush roller.

What you need

  • Cold water
  • Hot soapy water
  • Toothbrush
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Scissors
  • Dishwashing liquid

Step by step instructions

Unplug the vacuum cleaner before cleaning it or perform any maintenance on it.

1.Cleaning of filters

Most vacuum cleaners have two filters: pre-motor and post-motor. Your vacuum cleaner may be a little different, but the overall design is consistent among all named brands.

The filters perform two functions:

  • They prevent the penetration of harmful dust particles into the vacuum to protect the internal components of the vacuum, such as the engine, from damage.
  • Second, they prevent the recirculation of bad odors inside the room you are cleaning.

First remove the housing from the vacuum cleaner base to loosen the engine to the engine. It has two parts: sponge and case. Both components need to be cleaned a little differently.

For the sponge, rinse it under cold tap water and wring out the excess moisture. Do the same with the filter box and tap it against a rigid surface to remove dust.

Let both dry for up to 24 hours.

Most manufacturers recommend cleaning the filters every three to six months, depending on the frequency of use.

Although they work well with regular cleaning, filters need to be replaced after some time. See your user manual for this information.

Now it’s time to clean the filter after the engine. For the most part, it is present under or near the container in bagless vacuum cleaners. Remove the container and separate the post motor filter from its position.

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Clean it by rinsing under cold water, as you did with the pre-engine filter. Again, for replacement, see the instruction manual that came with the vacuum.

2.Clean the container or dust container

As this is where the dust is stored, it is a likely source of odors. See your vacuum manual to separate the container from the vacuum. In most cases, press a button on the top of the container.

Use warm soapy water to clean the container. If the odor is too strong, it is likely working with pathogenic bacteria. In this case, I suggest using an EPA-registered disinfectant (3)to remove the odor and its root cause.

If you have a vacuum in the bag, replace it vacuum bags as needed to remove unwanted odor.

3.Press the cyclone unit

When you remove the container from the vacuum, the remaining component is the cyclone unit. Remove detached dust from the device by tapping it lightly with your hands.

Use a toothbrush to clean the vent holes and reach deep into the cracks. Now reassemble the cyclone unit with the container and put them back in the vacuum cleaner.

4.Clean the hose

Since the hose is the first part to come in contact with dirt, it is likely to be clogged to the rim and cause unpleasant odors.

Most vacuum cleaners have a lock that you can press to remove the hose from the main body.

Soak the hose in soapy water to get rid of dirt and grime. If it’s too dirty;

  • Make a cleaning solution with a tablespoon dishwashing liquid and two tablespoons of bleach or vinegar.
  • Place the hose in this solution and move it around to ensure that the water reaches all parts of the pipe.
  • Hang the hose on a shower curtain or a raised surface with direct ventilation.
  • Put it back in the vacuum cleaner when it is taken air dryer complete.

5.Wash the utensils

Like the hose, remove the vacuum cleaner accessories and put them in soapy water for cleaning. If they contain metal parts, spray disinfectant on a damp washcloth and wipe them thoroughly.

6.Clean the brush roller

The brush roller comes into direct contact with the carpets, so it collects most hair and dust. If left unattended for a long time, the brush roller can become a major cause a vacuum cleaner smell.

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Remove the brush roller from the vacuum cleaner and use scissors to cut the protruding hair. Then spray it with disinfectant and you are ready to go.

How to prevent bad smells?

Now your vacuum should be squeaky clean. It’s time to give it one fresh scent.

1.Baking soda

While baking powder is primarily popular for its cleaning properties (4), it also has other features. It can effectively absorb bad odors and leave your vacuum cleaners smelling fresh.


When you have finished arranging yourself a hot cup of cinnamon tea, you can use the spice to refresh the vacuum. Cinnamon is a natural antibacterial agent(5) which helps remove unpleasant odors from the vacuum cleaner while keeping it free of pathogens.

3.Essential oils

Essential oil aromatherapy is a common practice in various parts of the world. Why not use the same mechanism to make your vacuum cleaner smell fresh?

Along with making your house smell good, essential oils also has antifungal properties(6). Thus, they keep your family protected from the dangerous effects of mold.

Wash off

If you vacuum your house regularly, it is inevitable that it collects unpleasant odors. However, there is no reason to give up vacuuming.

Before you start cleaning, it is crucial to locate the cause of the odor. Once done, the rest of the process is pretty simple, as stated in this guide.

Without a doubt, regular cleaning can keep odors at bay, but you will also need to replace the vacuum components as needed.

Now it’s time for you to follow these methods and tell me the following:

  • Have you used these funds before?
  • How often do you clean the internal components of the vacuum?
  • Did you find this guide useful?

Leave the answers and your feedback in the comments below.

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About the author

Jeneva Aaron

Jeneva has over many years of passion for home decor and cleaning. She is the founder and CEO of, where she provides honest and objective reviews of the home and cleaning products.

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