vacuum cleaner stinks

A stinky vacuum cleaner doesn't suck. Why? Because the bag is usually full and it takes air flow to create suction.

How to clean a stinky vacuum cleaner

So your vacuum cleaner stinks and you want to get rid of the smell. But how? Maybe a better thought is what makes it stink in the first place. This is one of the most common asked questions in the household cleaning industry.

The reason your vacuum cleaner stinks could be due to any number of reasons. I've listed a few of the most common causes of a stinky vacuum and how you can get rid of the smell.

My Vacuum Cleaner Stinks

So your vacuum stinks. Before you can actually get rid of the odor, you need to know what causes it to stink in the first place.

Here are a few of the culprits that cause you to have a stinky vacuum.

1. Tracked in dirt

2. Wet shoes

3. Cookie crumbs

4. Stinky pets (wet pet hair)

5. Cigarette smoke

6. Dust from ventilation system

7. Dropped food particles (other than cookie crumbs) Can you tell I like cookies?

8. Pet dander

9. Pet pee

If these, along with any number of other contaminants get into your carpet, when you vacuum they collect in the vacuum bag or dust collection canister. As the living cells start to decay, they start to smell. This is why it is so important to change your vacuum bag often. You don't have to wait for it to get full. Simply set a schedule to change it every couple of weeks, depending on how often you vacuum.

How to Get Rid of Stinky Vacuum Cleaner Odor

Now that you understand a few reasons why your vacuum cleaner stinks, how do you get rid of the smell? Can you completely eliminate the odor? Probably not but these tips will help you keep the smell to a minimum.

  • Change the bag often. Even though this seems to be a no brainer, it amazes me how many people won't change the bag until it is nearly bursting at the seams.


  • Use a dryer sheet. Put a dryer sheet behind the exhaust filter. As the air is recirculated back into the room, it will force it across the dryer sheet blowing the fragrance into the air. This is one of the best methods of curing the vacuum cleaner stinks syndrome.


  • Keep it clean. Other than changing the bag on a regular basis, give it a thorough cleaning once each quarter. Clean the bag cavity, brush roller, hoses, everything.


Because a vacuum cleaner is made to suck up dirt and all foreign matter in your carpet, there is no way you can insure it will never smell bad. When stinky stuff gets sucked up into it, things will start to smell bad.

So if your vacuum cleaner stinks, keeping it clean with a regular quarterly deep cleaning is the best way to make sure your vacuum cleaner doesn't smell.

After working in the cleaning industry for over 13 years, this is by far one of the most asked questions I get. The remedy is simple, yet so many don't understand that in order to make something quit stinking, you have to eliminate the source. Simply masking it is not a solution.

I hope this has helped you to understand why your vacuum cleaner stinks and how to resolve the issue. If it has helped, please leave your thoughts and comments in the box below.

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My Vacuum Cleaner Stinks – How Can I Get Rid of the Smell Now?
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