9 Ways to Get Your Vacuum to Stop Smelling Like a Dog

Having clean floors is great, but vacuuming might not be how you want to spend your time. And if your vacuum cleaner smells like a dog, vacuuming might be a chore you’d really rather avoid. Here are nine ways to keep up with your vacuum maintenance and make this task less unpleasant.

Causes of vacuum cleaner odors

There are four primary culprits of vacuum cleaner odors. They are pet hair, mold, a burned belt, and too much dirt, Oh So Spotless reports. Pet hair, dander, and any attached urine all smell outside the vacuum and continue to smell once inside. Also, vacuuming a carpet that’s damp with any fluid can introduce mold growth inside the machine’s bag or filter.

If hair is caught in the bristles, preventing the vacuum belt from rotating properly, there can be a burned rubber smell. Also, dirt and crumbs can carry their own smells, particularly from certain foods.

5 ways to prevent your vacuum cleaner from smelling like a dog

Here are a few products that can help prevent odors from forming:

  1. Baking soda. Add several teaspoons of baking soda to the dust bag or dust bin. Baking soda can also be sprinkled on the carpet before vacuuming.
  2. Essential oils. Add approximately 30 drops of an essential oil like lemongrass or thyme to a 32-ounce spray bottle filled with water and a teaspoon of baking soda, Oh So Spotless suggests. Spray only a few squirts inside the dust bag or dust bin.
  3. Fragrant spices or herbs. Periodically sprinkle half a tablespoon of powdered cinnamon or lemon verbena in the dust bag or dust bin. If you’re vacuuming darker-colored carpets, just sprinkle the herbs or spices on the carpet before vacuuming, CLEAN Choice Cleaning & Restoration says.
  4. Fabric softener sheets. Put a fabric softener sheet inside the dust bag or dust bin or in the interior compartment. Using the vacuum releases the smell from the sheet.
  5. Commercial deodorants. Commercial deodorants come in a variety of scents, and you can add one tablet or tablespoon to the dust bag or dust bin.

4 ways to clear the smell from a stinky machine


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If your vacuum is already smelly, luckily, there are ways to remedy the problem. Cleaning can help fix a stinky machine, and it can also prevent smells from forming in the first place. Schedule a good cleaning every three to six months.

  1. Replace the dust bag or clean the dust bin. If your vacuum cleaner has a dust bag, first try replacing it with a new one. If your vacuum has a dust bin, remove it and wash it thoroughly with hot water, soap, and a bit of white vinegar or baking soda, Oh So Spotless suggests.
  2. Wash or replace the filter. If your vacuum has a washable filter, wipe around it and rinse the filter with cold water until the water is clear. This might take more than five minutes. Let the filter dry for 24 hours before returning it to the vacuum. If your vacuum has a replaceable filter, replace it every six to 12 months. If you own pets, you’ll likely need to replace the filter every six months.
  3. Clean the brushes. It’s a good idea to clean the vacuum cleaner’s brushes once or twice a year, especially if you have carpets, Oh So Spotless says. To do this, unplug the vacuum. Then use scissors to carefully cut any hair that’s stuck in the bristles. If the brush can be removed from the floor head attachment, wash it with soap and water. If the brush isn’t removable, spray it with a water-and-vinegar solution. Let the brush dry for 24 hours before using it.
  4. Wash out the hose. An easily forgotten source of odor is the hose. Debris can get stuck there and begin to smell. To clean the hose: First, remove it from the vacuum, and push a broom handle through it to clear any large debris. Then fill a sink about four inches full of hot water. Add one tablespoon of dish soap and two tablespoons of either bleach or baking soda and vinegar. Put the hose in the sink and swish it around to clean inside it. Then empty the sink, and run clean water through the hose to rinse it out. Hang the hose over a shower curtain rod and dry it for 48 hours before reattaching it.

With a little extra effort, these tips can get rid of odors keep your vacuum smelling fresh. Once it no longer smells like a dog, consider professionally cleaning your carpets too.