4 easy ways to eliminate vacuum cleaner odours

by Brian Beck

Does your vacuum cleaner smell like it was used at the Calgary Stampede rodeo? Take control of the situation, eradicate those foul odours and get your cleaning routine back to normal. [Photo credit: iStock.com/LuckyBusiness]

Spending time on a Saturday morning cleaning the house is bad enough. It’s even worse when you roll the vacuum out of the closet and discover a smell somewhere between stale milk and a used diaper. The good news is there are easy ways to eliminate those foul smells and make your job a little more bearable.

4 easy ways to eliminate vacuum cleaner odours

1. What? I have to replace the bag?

One of the most likely sources of vacuum cleaner odours is the bag. Remember that hair ball next to the litter box you swept up last month? Does the scent of partially digested cat food and matted hair jog your memory? If you haven’t changed your vacuum cleaner’s bag since Expo 67, it might be a good time to do so now.

Be sure to use bags approved by the manufacturer and, if possible, use ones with additional filtration levels to combat those eye-watering odours. So you have a fancy, bag-less model? Debris can still get caught inside the unit, which brings us to the next point.

2. Clean your machine

A little TLC for your trusty household vacuum will keep it running longer and eliminate foul odours. It may seem counterintuitive but, yes, your vacuum cleaner needs to be cleaned, too. Here’s how:

  • Unplug your machine and remove the bag (or empty the dirt container).
  • Dampen a cleaning rag with a little soapy water and wipe down the unit.
  • If you have attachments or removable parts, you can wash them in soapy water. Be careful to follow all manufacturer instructions and do not soak any part permanently connected to the vacuum.
  • If you have a removable canister, wash or wipe it out as well.
  • Remove the bottom face plate and take out the roller brush to address the hair that has wrapped itself around the unit. Use scissors to carefully cut the hair and remove. This can be done without removing the roller brush but it’s easier if you do.
  • If you are feeling ambitious, you can apply a little rubbing alcohol to a cotton pad and disinfect the bottom of the vacuum (the dirtiest part that is in contact with the floor).

Tips: Make sure all parts are completely dry before returning to the vacuum cleaner. If you are having trouble removing the roller brush, try rotating until it slides out.

3. When was the last time you changed your filters?

Filters need to be cleaned or replaced fairly often as they can trap undesirable elements and scents. Be sure to check your manufacturer’s recommendations. It all depends on how frequently your vacuum is used, but you can expect to change or clean your filters every 3 to 12 months. If your unit has washable filters, let them air dry for 24 hours before returning to the vacuum. Keep in mind, filters can wear out, so a replacement might be needed.

4. Scent the air while you clean

Did you know that you can use your vacuum as an air freshener? Various manufacturers have created scent tablets you can drop directly into the bag (or canister) to keep your vacuum smelling good. Just be careful on the scent as you don’t want to irritate a family member who has an aversion to a particular smell, such as lavender.

Tip: You can also drop a bit of cinnamon into the bag, although you want to check again with your family members before using. Cinnamon has an absorbent quality that can help eradicate foul smells.

Don’t let foul odours turn a day of cleaning into a nightmare. If your vacuum cleaner smells, a little cleaning and maintenance will go a long way to combat the problem.

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