Your vacuum needs a little TLC every now and again. And no wonder – it will filter through an enormous amount of dust, lint, and other dirt collections in its lifetime. Just like plaque hardening on teeth, this forest of particulates will buildup if the vacuum isn’t given a deep clean once in a while. Not addressing this buildup will increase the demands on your vacuum’s motor and its belt – wearing them down. So you could think of cleaning your vacuum as like giving it regular checkup at the doctors.
Firstly, and perhaps most obvious, read your vacuum’s owner manual – it will give you specific information on your model’s maintenance. As a general rule of thumb, however, you want to clean your vacuum about every 12 to 18 months. Also, even if it is tempting to let your vacuum’s contents reach full capacity, it’s almost as important to practice emptying it often if you want maximum performance long-term. In fact, the performance of your vacuum is roughly parallel to how full it is at the time of use. A good practice is emptying your vacuum when it reaches half to two-thirds of its maximum capacity. This will help to make your vacuum last longer.
Now let’s jump into some specifics…
Why clean every 12 to 18 months?
When you clean your vacuum you are addressing the effect that dust particles, dirt, and lint buildup are having on your vacuum’s bearing housing. It’s not important to go into technical details on what the bearing housing is, but it suffices to say that it’s located on the underside of the vacuum and helps to keep oil from leaking through the shaft. If oil leaks this will lead to increased temperature and hazardous oil vapours – the worst-case scenario is your vacuum catching on fire or even exploding!
Less sensational, an inefficient bearing system will slow down the brush rolls and soften them – in other words, they become less capable and you may notice this in reduced ability to suck up particles from surfaces using that feature. Soft brush rolls will look like they are making contact with the floor surface while your vacuum is sweeping, but in fact, they never do once they become soft! Soft brush rolls can lead to a cut in half of your vacuum’s overall effectiveness – so they need to be replaced.
Needless to say, continued inefficient operation left long enough, can cost you the price of a new vacuum – instead, cleaning and replacing damaged parts every 12-18 months potentially saves you money.
If you have a bag-less vacuum cleaner you may need to clean its filter(s):
– Up to once a week, if you vacuum daily
– And monthly, if you vacuum about once or twice a week
For bagless cleaners, the above is really at the crux of keeping the machine in fantastic working order. It’s important to note that bag-less vacuums are usually far more efficient than their bag counterparts – however, the filters used in bagless models will need to be cleaned frequently as a result. A few models use disposable filters instead of cleanable ones, and those last between 6 to 12 months.
How do I know when it’s time to clean my vacuum?
An obvious visual test, of whether it’s time to clean your vacuum, is if you’ve noticed a reduction in effectiveness – you have to keep going over the same spot for example. But you can also test its efficiency on a carpet. What should happen, with a well-functioning vacuum cleaner, is that its air suction lifts the carpet nap, or fibres, towards its brush roll. After sweeping over the carpet it will appear to stand up, rather than to be flat – which might happen especially if it is often trodden on. Vacuums cause this change by using their brush roll to manipulate air-flow in a way that makes the carpet nap stand correctly so that bits of dirt trapped between it can be properly pulled out. When this doesn’t occur this tells you either the carpet is dead or the vacuum is dying.
How to clean your vacuum
The easiest way is to find your closest vacuum professional servicer, who will decide upon and replace the necessary parts to keep your vacuum working at top effectiveness. If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, and grit, to save even more money just open up your vacuum’s owner’s manual (this should also be online if you’ve misplaced or thrown away the original).
The following advice will depend on what type of vacuum you have (e.g. whether it’s bag-less, in which case many of the new models are even easier to clean and recondition). Bag-less filter vacuums are the norm in the market and you’ll probably need something along the lines of:
- A compressed air canister with dust cloth and screwdriver
- Dish soap – to give every washable part a good dunking
- A new replacement filter if it is older than a year to 18 months
Note: many new vacuums use lifetime filters, which last the life of the vacuum, when not damaged or worn down – other models use disposable filters. You’ll want to tap the filter on a hard surface if cleaning it – this will dislodge hardened grit and dirt lining its surface. Make sure you don’t need your vacuum for a few hours as you’ll want to let the washed parts air dry thoroughly before putting them back together (to avoid electrocution!). Never place parts on a hot surface to try and dry faster.
So that’s it. Check your manual, but 12-18 months is the general norm for cleaning your overall vacuum. With bag-less models, clean the filter each day or week, depending on use frequency. And empty the vacuum once it reaches half to two-thirds way full as a matter of habit. Your vacuum will thank you.