Vacuum cleaner smells: what can you do?

vacuum cleaner smells

With a vacuum cleaner you have the goal to make your house a lot cleaner. But, what if your vacuum cleaner stinks? A smelly vacuum cleaner is a common problem: it can smell like dogs, burnt rubber or even vomit when in use.

Does your vacuum cleaner smells? Then I'm going to help you! In this article I tell you how it is possible that a vacuum cleaner starts to smell, how you can solve this and more importantly: how you can prevent this in the future!

Did you know that choosing the right vacuum cleaner can also play a role in preventing unpleasant odors? Check out our research on the best vacuum cleaner options available to find a model that fits your needs.

How can a vacuum cleaner start to smell?

There are several causes for a vacuum cleaner that smells. For example, the smell can depend on the dirt that you vacuum up: if you often vacuum dog hair, there is a good chance that your vacuum cleaner will smell like dog.

However, poor maintenance of your vacuum cleaner can result in the smell of burnt rubber. And if you don't clean your filters properly, you can have a musty smell. The biggest causes of a vacuum cleaner with a bad smell:

  • The vacuumed up dirt
  • Clogged filters or old filters
  • Worn parts
  • Humidity in the vacuum cleaner
  • Dust container with old dirt

It is good to dwell here on how a vacuum cleaner works. A vacuum cleaner sucks in air, so you can suck up dirt. This air enters the vacuum cleaner, after which the air is filtered on small dust particles.

The filtered air then leaves the vacuum cleaner again. So if there is something smelly somewhere in your vacuum cleaner, it will be spread by the blown out air.

A vacuum cleaner can smell like this

A vacuum cleaner can give off many different smells. The most common smelly vacuum cleaner odors with the cause:

  • Dog, dog poop or wet dog: this can be due to vacuuming dog hair (and dander)
  • Burning rubber: a part of the vacuum cleaner may need to be replaced
  • Vomit: often from sucking up liquids, which can result in rotting dirt in your vacuum cleaner.
  • Burning smell: There may be a worn part.
  • Musty smell: often there is old clogged filters or old dirt in the dust container.
  • Rotten Eggs: This problem can be caused by dirt that is rotting in the dust container.

Like tastes, smells can vary from person to person. The above list is based on experiences within my own network. Have you ever smelled a different scent yourself? Send me a message so I can add to the list.

Solve a smelly vacuum cleaner

You don't have to throw away a vacuum cleaner with a bad smell. There are a number of handy (and very simple) tips to ensure an improvement of the smell. Let's list the best tips.

Vacuuming washing powder

As I just mentioned, what you pick up can affect the smell of the vacuum cleaner. So if we think logically, sucking up something that smells good can be a smart idea! A good and safe tip is to vacuum up washing powder.

Sprinkle a little washing powder on the floor and vacuum it up with the vacuum cleaner. After vacuuming, your whole house will smell like flowers!

Vacuum cleaner deodoriser

There are also special deodorisers for vacuum cleaners. These are available in different shapes. There are scented pearls and scented sticks that you can put in the dust container to ensure a more pleasant scent. This often has the same effect as vacuuming washing powder, but it can be just a bit more powerful.

There are also special deodorisers for vacuum cleaners. These are available in different shapes.

Wash or replace filters

Once you have a smelly vacuum cleaner, it is necessary to wash or replace your filters. The stench has passed these filters anyway. You can often clean a HEPA filter by running it under the tap. If you have a non-washable filter, replace it with a new one.

Avoid a foul-smelling vacuum cleaner

Prevention is better than cure! You can easily prevent a dirty-smelling vacuum cleaner by maintaining your vacuum cleaner a little more. With the checklist below, the chance that your vacuum cleaner will still smell bad in the future is small.

  • Empty more often: by emptying the dust container more often, nothing can rot and cause bad odors. The airflow with a canister vacuum cleaner with bag also remains better and you enjoy better suction power.
  • Wash and replace filters on time: Wash filters at least every two months. Have you washed them before? Then think about replacing them with new filters.
  • Checking the entire vacuum cleaner: it is smart to regularly check your vacuum cleaner for blockages. A thorough cleaning keeps your entire vacuum cleaner clean! In the article ‘How to clean a Dyson vacuum‘ I tell you everything you need to know (also interesting for vacuum cleaners from other brands).
  • Use a different vacuum cleaner for dirt: you can choose to use a different vacuum for specific dirt. For example, if you have a dog, removing pet hair with a different vacuum cleaner than the one you use for your household is a smart solution.

You can easily prevent a dirty-smelling vacuum cleaner by maintaining your vacuum cleaner a little more.

With the above tips you not only prevent a smelly vacuum cleaner: it can also have a positive effect on how long a vacuum cleaner lasts.

Robbert Tigchelaar
Robbert Tigchelaar

Robbert Tigchelaar has made testing vacuum cleaners his life's work. He has dedicated himself to conducting fully independent and valuable tests of vacuum cleaners to provide consumers with honest advice. His expertise in vacuum cleaners has been highlighted in The Washington Post and the Daily Express.

  1. I’m going to do as suggested.

  2. Me too! Gonna try today…

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