How to  Maintain a Vacuum Cleaner.

The Facts

  • What to expect: Lots of lint, cotton fibres, and a fair degree of horror.
  • Timing: about 25 minutes.
  • Equipment required: Vacuum cleaner, a brush or cleaning cloth,warm water, and man hands.


Filth builds up in your vacuum not unlike scum on the soles of feet when running through the zombie apocalypse, and as such it’s efficiency drops, kind of like choking on a corn cob, no one can function like that!

Now most manufacturers make it so that you can clean blockage points with ease, and in most cases these points are removable for periodic cleaning. We’ll be looking at these to ensure your vacuum cleaner operates at peak efficiency.

As always follow the manufacturers instructions, this Tutorial is a simple guide to help get started on a process you may not have been aware of.

For this Tutorial I’ll be cleaning my own vacuum, an upright Dyson D17, I’ll keep it broad and fairly adaptable for most brands and types.


Filth Collection Chamber

The best place to start is the collection chamber, this may also be a bag in some vacuums. All of the particulate material that the machine sucks up will end up here: dirt, dust, toys, hair, etc.

You’ve probably emptied this before, just dump the contents into a bag or bin, once done you’ll find that some of this chamber will come apart, generally there’s some clips that release flaps or other components. Look for labels that identify access points, as stated manufacturers generally make it so you can clean key components.

Manufacturers websites often have downloadable material to help with this too.


Once open or dismantled (if you’re using a tool you probably shouldn’t be opening or removing it) start cleaning. The mechanical bits should just get a light dusting, in some cases a slightly damp cloth to remove dust particles. The barrel that has no other function than dust collection can usually be cleaned more vigorously, you may even be able to wash it. Be sure to clean in all the crevices and mouldings.

Once it’s clean leave it to dry and air.

Again don’t wet or submerse mechanical components, they’ll stop working if you do that.

Tubing, Bends, and Couplers

If you follow the natural course of vacuumed dirt and dust particles you’ll easily see some components that will come off, usually with  marked clips or diagrams showing how to do it, this is a sure sign that you’re able to remove for cleaning.



Take these bits off can clean as you go being sure to also clean where they’ve been removed from. cleaning in the tubes will help increase airflow and thus suction power.

Vacuum Head

This thing will likely be the most filth ridden thing that you’ve had the good fortune to set your eyes on, you may never have turned this masterpiece of disgusting residue over, but when you do just remember you can never unsee it.


On some models this will come apart and give you access to the motor head or simple moving parts. Be careful with this bit as they are expensive to replace. I use some small scissors to cut away any cotton that’s become tangled around the rotating bits then a damp cloth to mop up the lint grime.

This may take some time, but once done you’ll not recognise the component and it will behave like a brand new cleaning head.




Filters prevent fine particles from escaping the vacuum, these need to be cleaned periodically, my vacuum manufacturer recommends every 3 months. In my experience many of these filters can be washed under cool water and left to dry for around 24 hours.

Do not put wet filters back into the vacuum cleaner, this will cause damage to mechanical and electrical components.


  • Make sure everything is dry before re-assembling.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions with all maintenance.
  • Be gentle and careful with all components.


Once the vacuum has been completely cleaned, dried and resembled you should find it’ll behave like it did when you first bought it. Be sure to do this every month or so and it’ll last you many years.

Many thanks



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