Bad Vacuum Smell - Causes and Cures For Common Vacuum Odors


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Does your vacuum emit a bad smell that you just can’t seem to get rid of? If so, you’re in good company, vacuum odor problems are among the most common complaints from vacuum owners, particularly those stemming from mildew and pet odors.

Vacuum odor can be caused by any number of factors – high traffic, indoor pets, humidity, even the type of vacuum cleaner you are using, but the most common cause is a poorly maintained vacuum cleaner. So, before you start spending a lot of money on masking agents, begin with some simple vacuum cleaner maintenance.

Basic Maintenance

A full dust bag, or dust bin, will harbor odors and reduce vacuum performance. For bagged vacuums, the bag should be changed when a noticeable drop in performance occurs, or when the bag is 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bagless vacuums should be emptied after each use, even if there’s still room in the dust bin.

All vacuums have filters, some are replacement only, some are washable. Replacement only filters should be changed when either vacuum performance diminishes or when odors are no longer being controlled. Washable filters should be serviced for the same reasons, however, they are designed to be cleaned by the user rather than be replaced. Follow the recommendations in your vacuum cleaner’s owner’s manual for servicing intervals, and replacement or cleaning procedures.

Odor Control Methods

With basic maintenance out of the way, you can now turn to methods of vacuum odor control. The easiest method is to put a drop or two of aromatic oil, essential oil, or citrus oil on the exhaust filter. As air passes through the filter, vacuum odors will be masked and the room air will be pleasantly scented. During the holidays, cinnamon, pine, and tea tree oils will give your home a festive aroma.

For bagged vacuums, there are aromatic vacuum beads that can be added to a new bag before installing in the vacuum cleaner, or you can apply aromatic oils to a cotton ball to slip it inside the bag. Even sprinkling in a bit of potpourri will help.

We DO NOT recommend sprinkling baking soda or deodorizing powders on your carpet to control odors. This is a bad idea for several reasons. No matter how good your vacuum is, it cannot remove all of the powder, leaving behind a residue that attracts dirt and is abrasive, ultimately damaging your carpets. Powders don’t do your vacuum cleaner any favors either, they choke vacuum bags and coat vacuum airways which results in less efficiency and a vacuum prone to clogs. Plus the fine particles in those powders will be thrown into the air each time the carpet is walked on and inhaled by the occupants of the house – you, your children, your pets, your guests … EVERYONE!

The best practices are to use an activated charcoal filter whenever possible, carefully maintain the vacuum bag or dustbin, wash or replace filters regularly, and use a non-powdered scent as needed.

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