How to Clean Your Vacuum Cleaner via Clean Mama

Note:  Always follow the instructions that come with your vacuum cleaner, this blog post is merely a guide. Pictured and used in this post and in my home is the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal+Allergy vacuum cleaner. I love it and wholeheartedly recommend it! The cinetic technology eliminates the need to replace filters, so that makes it much easier to clean and maintain.

Cleaning a vacuum cleaner seems more complicated than it actually is. A couple tools and 15 minutes and you’ll have a clean and like new vacuum cleaner. Try this simple step-by-step and you’ll most likely notice that your vacuum works better and runs more smoothly. Do this little routine monthly and you’ll be extending the life of your vacuum cleaner.

Tools for Cleaning a Vacuum Cleaner via Clean Mama

Here’s what you need:

  • garbage bag
  • old scissors or seam ripper
  • cotton pads
  • rubbing alcohol
  • water source (I use the utility sink in the mud room)
  • cleaning cloth or paper towels


Step 1:  Empty the canister in a garbage bag or remove and dispose of vacuum cleaner bag – I recommend doing this outside or in your garage – the weather was not cooperating with me so these pictures were captured in my kitchen.

Empty Canister in a Garbage Bag via Clean mama

Step 2:  Take everything apart that can be taken apart to ensure you get everything cleaned properly.

Take Everything Apart via Clean Mama

Step 3:  Use a scissors or seam ripper to carefully cut hair/string/yarn/whatever is tangled up in the beater bar of your vacuum cleaner.

Use a Scissors to Cut Anything that's Tangled in the Beater Bar via Clean Mama

Step 4:  Apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton pad and then rub that on the bottom of the vacuum cleaner to disinfect it. This will dry instantly and disinfect your vacuum. If this sounds a little extreme, it’s important to disinfect the bottom of the vacuum cleaner because that travels all over your house and is most likely the dirtiest part of the vacuum cleaner (next to what’s inside the canister or bag). If you still aren’t convinced, here’s a true vacuum cleaner story to convince you. When I was teaching I had a student (and her whole family) that kept getting the stomach flu every week. This went on for over a month. Their doctor finally figured out what was happening. Someone had gotten sick on the carpet and it had been cleaned, but every time they vacuumed the germs got stirred up and they kept re-infecting themselves. Soooo…that’s why I thoroughly clean my vacuum cleaner.

Wipe Bottom of Vacuum Cleaner with Rubbing Alcohol via Clean Mama

Step 5:  If you can wash or wipe out a canister, wash or wipe it. Make sure it’s completely dry before you return it to the vacuum cleaner. Take the time to wipe and clean the seals as well.

Wash Canister via Clean Mama

Step 6:  Completely wipe down the entire vacuum cleaner with a damp microfiber cloth. You add a little spritz of your favorite all-purpose cleaner to the cloth to give it a little extra cleaning oomph if you’d like.

Dry Thoroughly Via Clean Mama

Step 7:  Change or clean any filters following the manufacturer’s directions. Most filters can be washed/rinsed out, but make sure that it’s completely dry before returning it to your machine. Mold can grow in the machine and you don’t want that.

Step 8:  Over the top tip – If you have any scuff marks from your woodwork, you can quickly remove scuff marks with rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad. This is great if for any reason you want your vacuum cleaner to look like new – great idea for a garage sale spruce up. You can apply this tip other places too – have a paint scuff on your car door (not a scratch or dent, a scuff), put a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad and you’ll see the scuff disappear.

Remove Scuff Marks via Clean Mama

So what do you think? When was the last time you cleaned your vacuum cleaner? Ready to give your vacuum cleaner a deep cleaning?

How to Clean Your Vacuum Cleaner Infographic via Clean Mama

Looking for more DIY posts? Check these out!