‘Safe’ ingredients to clean your vacuum and banish odours

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Vacuums are used for more than just cleaning floors, with everything from sofas to windowsills easy to blitz with handy attachments. Over time, foul odours and bacteria can build up in the vacuum bag, making it hard to clean your home at all. While removing this build-up of dirt and grime is a very unpleasant job, there are a few simple tricks you can use to make it easier. Cleaning experts have shared how to do it using everyday items like baking soda and citrus peels.

Vacuum canisters and bags quickly fill up with dust, dirt and hair after each use – not to mention a host of unpleasant germs.

Leaving this residue to gather over time can not only cause blockages and even break your vacuum, but also result in foul odours filling your home as you use it.

According to Robbert Tigchelaar, founder of Vacuumtester.com, the smell of wet dogs, vomit, rotten eggs, or a musty scent are all common signs of a dirty appliance – all of which are easy to prevent.

He said: “You don’t have to throw away a vacuum cleaner with a bad smell. There are several handy (and very simple) tips to ensure an improvement of the smell.”

How to clean a vacuum canister

Before targeting nasty odours emanating from your vacuum, always start by emptying the canister. Shake the loose particles into a rubbish bag and use a blunt knife or stick to lift out clumps of dirt and hair.

Use a dry cloth to wipe out the empty container until it is visibly clean. Once the container is empty, you can start removing those invisible odours.


The easiest way to balance out unwanted scents lurking in your appliance is to vacuum up neutral or fragranced particles.

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Baking soda is known for its natural odour-neutralising abilities and is safe to use in small amounts.

Sprinkle a light dusting of baking soda over carpets and vacuum after 10 minutes to clean your home while freshening up your appliance.

Robbert added: “A good and safe tip is to vacuum up washing powder.

“Sprinkle a little washing powder on the floor and vacuum it up. After vacuuming, your whole house will smell like flowers!”

Dryer sheets

As well as vacuuming fresh-smelling ingredients, cleansing fragrances can be placed directly inside the appliance.

Scented tumble dryer sheets are ideal for use inside an empty bag or canister before vacuuming and will release the scent as you clean.

Citrus peel

Fresh orange or lemon peel also works well inside the vacuum. Larger strips are best though you will need to replace them regularly to avoid rotting.

Wash filters

If you are still experiencing bad smells even after cleaning the canister, the filter may be the problem.

Robbert explained that filters should be washed every two months to keep them sanitary.

He said: “You can often clean a HEPA filter by running it under the tap. If you have a non-washable filter, replace it with a new one.”

Doing this regualrly will not only prevent foul odours but also extend the lifespan of your vacuum cleaner.

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