How to Clean Your Vacuum Cleaner and Filters
So you push your vacuum around the house once a day and shove it back into a dark cupboard when you’re done. Ever stopped to consider what punishment that vacuum is getting, and what it’s doing to the performance.
Think about the amount of distance that poor thing gets dragged across. Wouldn’t you start to flag? And to think; you’ve never even considered giving it a clean, have you?
Modern vacuum cleaners are advanced pieces of kit, and manufacturers claim that their machines suffer no loss of suction.
But wait! That claim is only backed up if you read and understand the warranty, and instruction manual, because in most, it’s there in black and white. You have keep it regularly cleaned. Your warranty depends on it!
They maintain good suction, if you maintain the machine. Simple really!
So it’s Time to Clean Your Vacuum Cleaner and Filter:
But before we do, there are tell-tale signs that your vacuum cleaner needs some love.
Let’s look at the signs:
- Unpleasant smells
- Loss of suction
- Not picking up dirt
- Strange noises coming from the machine
We’ve all been there, pushing a vacuum around the floor, noticing a trail of debris on the carpet and cursing the machine.
There are four main areas to look at:
1. Cleaning the Rotating Brush:
First, you have to make sure that the vacuum is unplugged. Once you’ve done this, lay the cleaner on its back to reveal the underside of the rotating brush. With a pair of scissors, try and snip away any tangled hairs or strands of fabric. Often, this is the cause of the vacuum not performing and the simplest way to remedy it.
If you still have debris wound around the brush, you may have to unscrew the housing plate and unhook the drive belt. This allows the rotating brush to unclip and be removed. By removing it, you stand a better chance of getting at all the blockages and tangled strands.
Once the rotating brush is clear of dirt, reverse the process of unclipping and replace it back into the vacuum.
Make sure that you correctly attach the drive belt to the rotating brush or you’ll have further problems with performance.
When you are satisfied that all is as it should be, screw back the housing to lock everything in position. As one final check, roll the rotating brush in your hands to see if it moves freely and there aren’t any blockages.
Happy so far? Okay, let’s move onto:
2. Cleaning the Dust Canister:
It is important that the canister remains as clean as possible, because this is the area where all that dust collects, and if not kept regularly maintained, dirt can spill into the machine.
It’s also a good idea to empty the canister regularly, say every other day, or certainly when you see the chamber at least half full. Again, if debris is left to gather in the canister, spillage can occur to other parts of the vacuum, ruining the performance.
To empty, simply tap the detached canister on the side of the bin until all the loose debris and hair falls away.
Because the canister unclips from the main body of the machine, and now that it’s empty, it’s a wise move to wash the canister in warm soapy water. Try to do this at least once a month. It’s a good tip to use dishwasher soap, as it’s kinder and less abrasive. This will remove any stubborn dust that has become ingrained in the contours of the canister. You can use a soft brush to help get the soap in hard to reach places.
Important note: Never place the canister back in the machine when wet. Water and electrics don’t mix, and mold loves damp surfaces! Always make sure the canister is completely dry.
Most modern vacuum cleaners have secondary filters, made from plastic. Once you've removed the dust canister and put it in a bowl of warm water to rinse, you can do the same with the filter.
Be careful, because some models have additional filters made from foam. Check to see if yours is such a model, because most manufacturers don't recommend washing the foam filter. It has a tendency to perish, reducing its life. The best way to clean this filter is to tap it out into the trash in a well ventilated area. When you're satisfied that the foam is no longer stained with debris, place it to one side.
Depending on whether your model has two or three filters, slide them out one by one, and remember the order that you removed them. Get the order wrong putting them back, and the machine may not function.
Once removed, the plastic filter can be soaked in warm soapy water until all the staining and debris has been washed away.
When you are satisfied, squeeze any excess water away, and leave somewhere dry, preferably outside, so that the air can circulate around it.
It's important that the filter is bone dry, because you wouldn't want mold spores, or mildew to grow on the filter, contaminating the surface and the Shark vacuum cleaner. That negates the purpose of the filter in the first place, and it's the last thing you want!
When you are sure that it is dry, place it back in the vacuum cleaner, along with the foam filter, in the order you removed them, and clip the canister in place.
4. Cleaning the HEPA Filter:
The HEPA filter is usually located at the base of the dirt canister, where it clicks into the machine. Carefully remove the HEPA filter and tap excess debris from the surface into the trash. Again, do this is a ventilated area. Your HEPA filter will be covered in contaminants, and there’s no point collecting them on the filter if you’re going to breathe them in when cleaning it.
Some models come with a replacement set of HEPA filters, so it’s a good idea, while you have the soiled filters out, to replace them with the new ones. If not, it is a good idea to buy some spares. This means you don’t have to wait for the old ones to dry, and you prolong the life of both sets of HEPA filters by rotating their use.
Now you’ll need to wash the HEPA filters in warm soapy water (again, a less abrasive detergent is preferred, like dishwasher soap), and make sure that you remove most of the staining from the surface of the filter.
Don’t worry if there is still some discoloration, that’s normal. After all, it’s sure to suffer some wear and tear!
Make sure that the HEPA filter is given plenty of time to dry. HEPA filters take a lot longer than foam filters to dry. Also, ensure that before you place the filter back in the vacuum, the filter is totally dry. Mold and mildew won’t help the HEPA do its job, and may be the cause of poor air being released via the exhaust port of the vacuum.
Because you’ve already replaced the HEPA filter with the spare on, when you are satisfied that the filter is clean and dry, store it somewhere appropriate, ready for when you do this all again in another month’s time
Some Handy Tips:
- Always make sure you have spares:
As we’ve already touched on; some manufacturers often supply spare HEPA filters with their machines, but they don’t supply all the spares. Felt filters are prone to perishing, especially if you clean them regularly, so get some authorized spares and keep them in the cupboard. Do the same for the foam rubber filters too.
And talking of spares; keep a spare drive belt in the cupboard as well. Anything that’s perishable and considered subject to fair wear and tear, you should think about keeping a spare.
- Use Non-Abrasive Detergent:
Many non-abrasive detergents contain antimicrobial agents, designed to disinfect, killing bacteria and germs more effectively than abrasive cleaners.
That’s great if you want to prolong the life of your HEPA filters.
- Clean Your Vacuum and Filters Once a Month:
Regular cleaning of the vacuum is part of the manual. The warranty could be invalid if it’s found that it wasn’t regularly cleaned. That’s why we recommend a thorough clean at least once a month.
If you follow these simple steps, it should be enough to keep your vacuum working efficiently for years to come.