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Smelly Vacuum Cleaner? Why it Happens And How To Fix it

Smelly Vacuum Cleaner? Why it Happens And How To Fix it

If you’ve ever had a smelly vacuum cleaner, you know how unpleasant it can be. Not only is it embarrassing to have guests over and have them smell your vacuum, but it can also be a health hazard. 

There are a few reasons why vacuums can start to smell, and luckily, there are also a few ways to fix the problem. 

And we are going to talk about them in today’s guide.

Common causes of smelly vacuum cleaners

Dirty filters

Dirty filters are one of the main causes of vacuum cleaners smelling bad. When the filter gets full of dirt, dust and hair, it can start to smell. 

And the smell will get worse over time, and eventually, your vacuum cleaner will start to stink.

To avoid this, you should clean your vacuum cleaner’s filter regularly. 

Depending on how often you use your vacuum, you may need to clean it once a week or once a month. To clean the filter, simply remove it from the vacuum and wash it with soap and water. 

You should also replace the filter every few months to ensure that your vacuum is always working properly.

Overloaded canister

If you’ve ever noticed your vacuum cleaner smells bad, it might be because the canister is overloaded. The canister is where the dirt and dust from your vacuum cleaner are collected. If it’s too full, it can cause your vacuum to smell.

To avoid this, empty your canister regularly. 

You should also clean it out with soap and water to get rid of any build-up of dirt and dust. 

If you have a bagless vacuum, make sure to clean the filter as well. A dirty filter can also cause your vacuum to smell bad as we mentioned earlier.

Pet hair and dander

If you have a pet, chances are your vacuum cleaner smells. Pet hair and dander can start to smell over time, and when you vacuum them up, the odors get trapped inside your vacuum cleaner. 

Urine from pets can also add an extra stench to the mix. 

Even if you don’t vacuum up pet urine directly, the liquid can stick to pet hair and dust. Then, once vacuumed, the combination of dried urine and pet hair creates a recipe for musty smells.

Spilled food or drinks

Spilled food or drinks can cause your vacuum cleaner to smell because they can rot and produce mold, which emits an unpleasant odor. 

Additionally, if not cleaned up promptly, spilled food or drink can attract insects, rodents, and other pests that also contribute to the bad smell.

Mold or mildew

Mold and mildew are two of the other most common household problems that can make your vacuum cleaner smelly. Both are caused by moisture, and both can be difficult to remove.

Mold is a type of fungus that grows in moist environments. It can cause allergic reactions in some people, and it can also damage your vacuum cleaner if left unchecked. 

To remove mold, use a vinegar solution or bleach to kill the spores. You may also need to replace your vacuum cleaner’s filter if it becomes clogged with mold spores.

Mildew is another type of fungus that thrives in moist environments. Unlike mold, mildew is usually not harmful to your health. 

However, it can still damage your vacuum cleaner if left unchecked. To remove mildew, use a bleach solution or vinegar solution to kill the spores.

Poor maintenance

If you don’t want your vacuum to stink, you need to make sure you’re maintaining it properly. 

If you don’t clean the canister or change the bag regularly, dust and dirt will build up and start to stink. 

Additionally, if you don’t empty the canister after each use, dirt and dust will start to accumulate and will eventually start to smell as well. 

How to fix a smelly vacuum cleaner

If your vacuum cleaner smells bad, there are a few things you can do to fix the problem. 

First, check the bag or canister to see if it needs to be emptied or replaced. If the bag is full, it can cause the vacuum to smell bad. Empty it out and see if that fixes the problem. 

If the bag is not full, then check the brushes and roller. Sometimes dirt and debris can get stuck on these parts of the vacuum and cause it to smell bad. 

Clean them off with a brush or cloth and see if that fixes the problem. If not, then you may need to replace these parts.

Tips for preventing smelly vacuum cleaners

a). Use artificial scent enhancers

You can find these at your local store. They come in different scents and you only need a few drops to keep your vacuum smelling fresh.

b). Keep the bag or canister clean

Empty it after each use and give it a quick rinse with soap and water. If you have a reusable bag, be sure to wash it regularly as well.

c). Use baking soda on carpets before vacuuming

Baking soda is great for absorbing odors. Just sprinkle some on your carpet, wait 15 minutes, then vacuum it up.

d). Avoid using perfumed cleaners

These can leave behind a strong scent that will quickly make your vacuum smell bad. Instead, opt for unscented or lightly scented cleaners.

e). Store your vacuum in a cool, dry place

This will help prevent the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause bad odors.

f). Regular mainteinance

Be sure to clean your vacuum regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will help prevent any build-up of dirt and debris that can cause bad odors.


Smelly vacuum cleaners are not only unpleasant but can also be a sign of a serious problem. If your vacuum cleaner smells bad, be sure to check for blockages and clean the filters regularly.

By taking these simple steps, you can keep your vacuum cleaner smelling fresh and working properly.


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Keisha Cole
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