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The Single Most Important Thing You Should Clean Today

While we spend a lot of time cleaning and caring for our home environments, most of us don’t give much thought to cleaning the tools we use to clean! That’s why, today, you should give your housecleaning workhorse – AKA your vacuum cleaner – some much-needed maintenance in the form of a good, thorough cleaning.

Every vacuum cleaner, even the most expensive of models, needs some maintenance. After all, how can your vacuum capture all the dirt, mystery crumbs, and tumbleweeds of dog hair around your home if the filter, hoses, and rolling bar are clogged? And if your vacuum’s suction is weaker than it used to be, that’s a major sign it needs some attention ASAP. Ditto if your vacuum shuts off abruptly; many vacuum cleaners these days have a fail-safe feature to protect the parts from overheating due to tangles or clogs. The good news? Most basic vacuum maintenance is straightforward, and advice for more complicated tasks can be readily found on YouTube.

Luckily, cleaning a vacuum doesn’t require any specialized tools or supplies. Here’s what you’ll need to get the job done: 

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Scissors or utility knife: To cut hair and tangles off the beater bar or rolling brush. 
  • Compressed air: To blow away gross build-up out of hard-to-reach places.
  • Small brush: To scrub away grime and build-up. An old toothbrush will do. 
  • Microfiber cloth: To wipe away grime. 
  • Vital Oxide: To clean, disinfect, and deodorize.  
  • Bucket or basin: To soak dusty, grimy water-safe parts. 
  • Flashlight: To help find clogs.
  • Screwdriver: To help take the vacuum apart when necessary. 
  • Work gloves: To keep dust and dirt off your hands. 
  • Mask: To keep dust out of your nose. Cloth or medical masks will work, though respirators are ideal if you have one. 

How Long Does It Take to Clean A Vacuum?

Unless your vacuum has been neglected for a while (don’t worry, we’ve all been there!), it shouldn’t take more than 10 to 30 minutes for a basic tune-up, plus about 24 hours of drying time if you rinse any parts. Remember, never reinstall wet or damp parts back into your vacuum cleaner. 

How Often Should a Vacuum Be Cleaned? 

Generally, bagless vacuums should be emptied when the debris level reaches the top of the canister or after every use. Keep bagless vacuums fresh by wiping out the inside of the canister at least once a month with a cloth dampened with Vital Oxide

In the case of bagged vacuums, remember to remove and discard bags when the captured debris reaches the indicated full line. 

For vacuums with HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, always refer to your manual for the suggested replacement frequency. 

Whether you have a canister, upright, or hand-held vacuum, it should be cleaned regularly for optimum performance. At least monthly, or more often if you share your home with pets, or if you have allergies, asthma, or another respiratory condition, take a few minutes to check the hose and rolling brush for any problems, wash out the dust canister, change or wash the filters, and wipe down the outside to remove dust and grime buildup.

Without further ado, here’s how to go about giving your vacuum some TLC: 

Pro Tip As You Work: Clean Up Dust and Grime

While you’re maintaining your vacuum, keep your can of compressed air, old toothbrush, and cleaning cloth (dampened with Vital Oxide) within reach that you can easily air-blast, scrub, or damp-wipe any buildup you find inside. 

Step 1: Unplug the Vacuum 

When you’re ready to clean, unplug your vacuum or remove it from its charging station. If you’re able, plan to tackle this chore outside so you won’t have to worry about spreading dust around your home. 

Step 2: Empty the Canister (or Replace the Bag)

For bagless vacuums, empty the container and disassemble as many parts of the cup as you can for easier cleaning. If your vacuum has a disposable bag, remove it and throw it away.

Refer to your vacuum’s instruction manual for help. If you can’t find your manual, you can contact the manufacturer directly or search for instructions online. 

Step 3: Mix a Cleaning Solution & Soak the Dust Canister

Fill a bucket or sink with hot water and add Vital Oxide to the water. Vital Oxide cuts through grease and grime and will help loosen any residue in the dust canister. Completely submerge the canister for at least 10 minutes. Use an old toothbrush and a microfiber cloth to clean the inside and outside of the bin. Rinse well with hot water under the sink, spray liberally with Vital Oxide, and allow to air-dry. 

Warning: Do not submerge any non-washable or electrical components in water. Refer to your device’s manual or contact the manufacturer directly if you aren't sure. 

Step 4: Wash or Replace the Filter 

Dirty filters clogged with dust can cause a vacuum to lose its suction. Most vacuum cleaners available on the market today come equipped with sponge-like, washable filters. Start by removing the filter from the vacuum and shaking it out over a garbage can. Then, rinse the filter under the sink to flush out as much dirt and dust as possible. Gently press out excess water with paper towels, and spray liberally with Vital Oxide to sanitize and deodorize. Lay the filter flat to dry, and allow up to 24 hours for drying before reinstalling into the vacuum.

If your vacuum has a disposable filter, simply remove it, discard it, and replace it with a new filter.  

Always refer to your specific device’s manual when it comes to cleaning or replacing filters, as the instructions can vary wildly. Also, keep in mind that some vacuums only have a single filter, like most robot vacuums and the ever-popular Dyson cordless stick vacuums. In contrast, others (like the Shark Navigator Lift-Away series, for example) may have multiple filters in different parts of the vacuum. Be sure to find and clean them all! 

Step 5: Detangle the Brush Bar

If anyone in your household has hair (or fur) longer than a couple of inches, it’s likely that some of it is currently wrapped around your vacuum’s spinning brush. Thread, floss, long carpet fibers and other string-like debris can also get tangled. In some cases, tangles can stop the brush roll from spinning freely, leading to damaged bearings, snapped drive belts, and expensive repairs. 

To keep your vacuum in good repair, grab your scissors (or a utility knife) and carefully cut away the tangled debris. Just be sure to watch your fingers and make sure not to snip any of the vacuum’s bristles.  

Step 6: Wipe Down the Vacuum Housing

Use a microfiber cloth dampened with Vital Oxide to wipe down the outside of your vacuum thoroughly. Keep your compressed air handy to blow any dust out of hard-to-reach crevices. 

Step 7: Wash the Hose & Attachments 

If your vacuum has a suction hose, it will definitely trap dust inside! If the hose is detachable, submerge it in a solution of hot water and Vital Oxide for at least 10 minutes. Rinse the hose thoroughly with hot water, spray liberally with Vital Oxide, and hang up to air dry before reattaching. 

While you’re at it, inspect and clean any attachments you regularly use, for instance, the upholstery brush, crevice tool, and extension wand for dust, tangled hair, and clogs. 

Step 8: Reassemble

Once everything is clean and dry, it’s time to put your vacuum back together! Set a reminder on your phone or calendar to deep clean your vacuum again in another few months. Happy cleaning!

Have questions about cleaning or reducing allergens inside your home? We have answers! The Ecology Works has been helping folks with asthma and allergies since 1993. We can help you select the products you need to live a better, allergen-free life. Check out our Instagram for more allergen-reducing tips. Need more help? Please feel free to Contact Us or message us on Facebook. No question is too small! We're here to help.
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