Water in vacuum: can you still save him?

accidentally vacuumed water with dyson
Oops, I accidently vacuumed water with a Dyson V10 © Vacuumtester
In short: If you have accidentally vacuumed a small amount of water, it is very important to switch off the vacuum immediately. Take all parts apart and let them dry. Provide the vacuum cleaner with a new vacuum cleaner bag and provide a new vacuum cleaner filter if the filters are not washable.

While you are vacuuming the bathroom, you find out that you have accidentally sucked up water. Oops! It's a common problem. And yes, it is a problem because a normal vacuum cleaner is not made for vacuuming water.

Don't worry: often small amounts of water do not cause major problems. Did water accidentally get into the vacuum cleaner? I'll tell you everything you need to know to save your vacuum cleaner.

Water in the vacuum cleaner is a common problem

Oops! Water has entered the vacuum cleaner. Don't panic: you are not the first to accidentally suck up liquids with a vacuum cleaner.

Every now and then I get messages from people who have sucked up water with their vacuum cleaner. Often in the following situations:

  • Vacuuming the bathroom
  • Vacuuming around pet waterers
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Vacuuming while the floor has just been mopped
  • Cleaning up broken drinking glasses
  • Vacuuming around plants that have just been watered

Have you experienced a different situation yourself? Please let me know so I can add to the list!

What if water got into the vacuum cleaner?

When you have sucked up water, the vacuum cleaner does not have to be broken right away. It often depends on the amount of water whether your vacuum cleaner can still be saved.

Have you continued after vacuuming water until the vacuum is not sucking anymore? Then it probably broke. It is therefore always important to stop immediately when accidentally aspirating liquids.

Let your vacuum cleaner dry thoroughly

Did you turn off your vacuum cleaner immediately after water has entered it? Well done! It is very important to let it dry thoroughly before using it again.

If you start vacuuming again too soon, the water can reach mechanical parts, after which the vacuum cleaner can irreparably break. Small amounts can also cause a vacuum that smells or a clogged vacuum cleaner hose.

Follow the steps below to dry your vacuum cleaner properly:

  1. Unclip the various vacuum cleaner parts (from suction brush to dust container/dust bag)
  2. Remove the filters* from the vacuum cleaner (check the manual for where they are)
  3. Place all loose parts on an old newspaper in a warm environment
  4. Leave the vacuum cleaner open after you have removed the dust bag/dust container and the filters
  5. Let everything dry well and use a hair dryer where possible, don't do this in a hurry

* If you have picked up a liquid other than water, it is strongly recommended to wash the filters immediately before drying. Don't worry, you can often clean a HEPA filter under the tap.

Replace the vacuum cleaner bag and non-washable filters

There is a good chance that the water has already entered the dust container. To prevent further damage to the vacuum cleaner, it is very important to renew the vacuum cleaner bag. No new vacuum cleaner bags at home? View a wide range of universal vacuum cleaner bags here.

In addition, it is also very important to check the filters of the vacuum cleaner. Not all (HEPA) filters are washable and can withstand water. It is therefore important to replace non-washable filters. When buying a new filter, it is important to check whether it is suitable for your vacuum cleaner. This is often brand dependent.

Vacuum cleaner brandView
AEG View filters
Philips View filters
Bosch View filters
Miele View filters
Dyson* View filters
Numatic View filters

* Have you accidentally vacuumed water with a Dyson vacuum cleaner, for example a Dyson V7 or Dyson V10? I have written an extensive guide on cleaning a Dyson HEPA filter. It is suitable for all Dyson stick vacuums.

Often, a vacuum cleaner is beyond repair

When the motor of a vacuum cleaner gets wet, it can become irreparably damaged. Especially if you have turned on the vacuum cleaner and a short circuit occurs. You can try not using the vacuum cleaner for a while and allow it to dry thoroughly. If this doesn't work, we can still assist you in choosing a suitable replacement. On our best vacuum cleaner page, you will find research on the vacuums that performed best in our tests.

In summary: by stopping vacuuming immediately after vacuuming up water, you can save your vacuum cleaner. It is important to let the parts of the vacuum cleaner dry well, to provide a new vacuum cleaner bag and a new vacuum cleaner filter. Do not test the vacuum cleaner again until it is completely dry.

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. Well.. I was using a Bissell. It doesn’t have bags and was/is a really great vacuum. I thought maybe because it didn’t use a bag that it could suck up water. I was already having trouble with the shampooer I was using not picking up water and I kinda panicked. The Bissell was picking up water better then the shampooer and worked fine for a little while and then started sputtering like a car that is having trouble starting. Anyways it stopped working. I have it in the sun and I’m hoping it will be ok!

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