Vacuum cleaners are one of man’s greatest inventions, in my opinion. I really dislike sweeping, so I love being able to use my vacuum to clean both my carpets and my hard floors. But like any machine, vacuums need to be cleaned and maintained regularly for them to work properly. If you’re not maintaining your vacuum, you may actually be spreading dirt around rather than cleaning it up!
Fortunately, you don’t need to be an appliance repair specialist to keep your vacuum working well. Just by following a few simple steps, your vacuum cleaner should serve you well for years to come. (Oh, and I’m sure this is obvious, but you can never be too careful – always unplug your vacuum before cleaning or servicing!)
How To Clean And Maintain Your Vacuum
Step 1 – Empty and Clean the Dust Cup
The dust/dirt collection cup should be emptied regularly, before it gets full. If you operate the vacuum when the dust cup is full, you’re forcing the vacuum to work harder than it should, which could lead to damage. It only takes a second to empty, so it’s best to just get into the habit of emptying the cup before you put it back in the closet after each use.
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In addition to regularly emptying the cup, you should also give it a thorough cleaning once a month or so. Just give it a good wash inside and out with warm, soapy water. Let it dry completely before replacing it.
Step 2 – Replace or Wash the Filters
Most vacuum cleaners have one or more filters that need to be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. The filters are there to keep dust and dirt inside the vacuum. If the vacuum filters get clogged up, you may just be spreading dust and dirt around your home, rather than sucking it up. So don’t neglect those filters!
If your vacuum has a squishy foam filter, those can usually be washed by hand and reused again. This should be done once every couple of months. Let it air dry, but make sure it is COMPLETELY dry before replacing it. Forcing dusty air through a still-damp filter can encourage the growth of mold and mildew, and it will make your vacuum smell unpleasantly musty while you’re using it (unfortunately I’m speaking from personal experience here!)
Many modern vacuums also have a cartridge-style HEPA filter, usually made of special pleated paper or similar materials. These filters generally cannot be washed, and should be replaced about twice per year.
Check the owner’s manual for your vacuum for full details how and when to clean or replace your vacuum’s filters. If you don’t have the owner’s manual handy, most vacuum manufacturers make them available to download on their website. (A quick Google search of your vacuum’s make and model should point you in the right direction!)
Step 3 – Inspect Brushes, Belts, and Hoses
The brush on the bottom of your vacuum can pick up hair, string, and all sorts of other things over time. If it gets too clogged up, it won’t be able to pick up dirt and dust as effectively, so it’s important to keep it clean. The secret to easily cleaning your vacuum’s brush is to use a seam ripper. Run a seam ripper through the hair tangled around the brush, and then you’ll be able to pull it out much more easily.
While you’re addressing the brush, inspect the belt that turns the brush. If the belt is feels loose or is tearing or breaking at all, it should be replaced. You can find replacement belts online pretty easily, and they’re very inexpensive.
You should also take a look at your vacuum’s hose to make sure that there’s nothing clogging it up. If you can remove it from the vacuum, that will make the job a lot easier.
Step 4 – Wipe It Down
Once the brushes, belts, hoses, and filters have been inspected and/or cleaned, the last step is to clean up the outside of the vacuum. Take a clean, damp microfiber cloth and wipe down the exterior of your vacuum. Make sure to pay special attention to places where different pieces connect, so that the vacuum is able to create a tight seal when you’re using it.
Rubbing alcohol is a great thing to keep on hand when you’re cleaning your vacuum, too. Saturate a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol, and use the cotton ball to wipe down the bottom of your vacuum.
This will disinfect that area, so that you aren’t accidentally dragging bacteria from room to room. You can also use rubbing alcohol to buff out any scuff marks on the outside of your vacuum.
Following these steps regularly should mean a long and productive life for your vacuum. But if you ever run into an issue that you’re not sure you can fix on your own, call your local vacuum repair shop. Most issues can be fixed quickly and inexpensively.
And if you’re looking to upgrade to a new vacuum, following the steps above can be a great way to clean your old one up before a garage or yard sale. Your vacuum will be much more valuable to potential buyers if it looks clean and well cared for.