Our Favorite TikTok Follow Just Told Us Her Trick for Eliminating Stinky Smells from a Vacuum

published Oct 1, 2022
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vacuuming dirt
Credit: Joe Lingeman

If I had to pick, I wouldn’t be doing any chores — but the ones I like best are the most immediately gratifying. Vacuuming is the perfect example.

You start out with dust, dirt, and debris on your floor, and as you push the vacuum across the surface, you watch it disappear, particle by particle.

The one thing I don’t adore about this chore? The smells. I don’t know about you, but I have distinct memories of smelling what I can only describe as burning dust when my parents would vacuum the carpet in the ‘90s. Fast forward to now, and I still notice this odd odor sometimes when I’m sucking up cereal or spilled potting soil from my own rugs. 

What, exactly, causes vacuums to smell? Well, it could be a lot of things. The contents of your canister (say, food or drinks you’ve vacuumed) could be getting old and smelly, just like they would in the trash can.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Pet hair can also cause your vacuum to smell musty over time. Emptying out your vacuum regularly is definitely an important part of the equation, but if you’re anything like me, you might be missing a crucial step in your vacuum hygiene routine (yes, that’s a thing now!). 

Our favorite TikTok follow, professional cleaner Vanesa Amaro, recently shared an eye-opening but also surprisingly obvious tip for eliminating unwanted odors when you are vacuuming: Wash the vacuum head. In her TikTok video, she shares that anytime your vacuum smells funky, take it apart and wash it so it doesn’t perpetuate odors. 

While every vacuum is different, the principle is the same: Remove tangled hair and any other debris caught in the roller, then take the head off the vacuum and wash it, inside and out, with soap and water in your sink. Thoroughly rinse the head, and allow it to dry before re-attaching it to your vacuum. 

While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to clean your canister to stave off smells. You can empty it in the garbage can, and wash it in the sink the same way you would your vacuum head. If you’d rather not hand scrub, try removing your top rack and wash it by itself in the dishwasher. Once done, dry the canister, reattach, and voilà! Vacuuming is enjoyable — and odor-free — once again.

How do you keep your vacuum from stinking? Tell us your tips in the comments below.