Why Does My Vacuum Smell? Here’s What You Need to Know

Ah, the smell of a clean home. It is one of life’s simple pleasures. But when you pull out your vacuum cleaner to give it a go, only to be hit with an unfavorable odor, it can take some of the joy out of housework. So, why does my Vacuum Smell?

What happens if your vacuum cleaner has a bad smell? Can I get rid of this smell?

Yes, you can.

Let’s find out why your vacuum might be smelling and how to easily determine the source of this unwanted smell.

So if you’ve been wondering why your vacuum smells and how you can make it better, stay tuned!

We’ll walk through troubleshooting bad smells in both traditional bagged and bagless vacuums so you can keep your home smelling fresh and clean.

What are The Possible Causes of Vacuum Smells?

Is your vacuum giving off a bad smell? It’s not just a nuisance; it could be a sign that something is wrong.

Let’s dive into the possible causes and what you can do to eliminate the unpleasant odor in no time.

The two main culprits are either dirt clogs or worn-out filters.

If you haven’t used your vacuum for a while, then chances are, the dust has slowly been accumulating and could be blocking the airflow, which could cause that unwanted smell you have noticed.  

And for most cases, you will find the wall mount garage vacuum attracting more dust, it offers us an easy way to store it, but we also need to give it some love by regularly cleaning it.

In this case, you only need to clean the vacuum well, and replacement parts may not even be necessary!

On the other hand, if your filter has seen better days, it’ll also be causing some smelly smells.

That’s because its job is to trap dirt, dust and hair from going back into the air – but when it gets clogged up with trapped particles, those same particles rot and cause an even worse smell.

If you think this might be the problem, replace the filter to keep, things smelling fresh!

Why Vacuum Bags Can Cause an Odor

Vacuum bags can be a major source of vacuum odors, as they can harbor musty smells and mildew that get released when you turn on your vacuum.

And in most cases, this happens if you don’t empty the bag after every cleaning session.

Even though the bag may look clean on the outside, the unseen debris inside can give rise to an unpleasant smell.

That’s why it’s important to regularly remove, empty, and replace your vacuum bag—especially when it is two-thirds full.

This will prevent odors from building up over time and make sure your vacuum stays smelling fresh for many uses to come.

If you haven’t replaced your vacuum bag in a while, remove the old one and see its condition.

For mildew or a musty smell inside you might need to do a little more than just empty out the contents. It’s best to throw away the old bag and get a new one that won’t leak any funky odors during use.

How to Maintain a Clean Vacuum Bag

Most vacuums have a bag that needs to be changed whenever it gets full.

But did you know that even a clean bag can cause your vacuum to smell? It’s true! So this is how you can easily maintain your vacuum bag.

Empty the Vacuum Bag Regularly

The most important thing you can do is empty your vacuum bag regularly, especially if it’s a cloth bag.

Cloth bags tend to trap a lot of dust, which then gets circulated around the room when you vacuum, leading to foul smells! So make sure to empty the bag as often as possible.

Clean Out Your Vacuum Filter Regularly

Your vacuum filter should also be cleaned regularly.

Vacuum filters get clogged up with dust and dirt over time, making them less effective and possibly leading to bad odors.

So make sure you clean out your filter occasionally to help keep your vacuum smelling fresh!

Replace Your Vacuum Bag Every 3 Months

Finally, remember to replace the entire bag every three months or so because they tend to wear out.

If you don’t replace them regularly, they won’t be able to effectively trap dirt and dust – leading to an unpleasant smell in your home.

What to Do if Your Bagless Vacuum Smells

If your bagless vacuum smells terrible, there are a few things you can do.

Here are some tips and tricks to get rid of the odor:

Regular Maintenance

Regularly cleaning and maintaining your vacuum cleaner is vital to avoid odors.

Empty the dust bin or replace the filter after each use, and make sure that cords, hoses, and attachments are free from dirt, dust, pet hair, etc.

Cleaning these parts will also help your vacuum run more efficiently.

Disinfectant Wipes

Regularly wiping down the outside of your vacuum with disinfectant wipes can help keep it clean and smelling fresh.

Wipe down parts you can access without opening the machine, like cord reels and baseboards.

Deep Cleaning

Sometimes vacuuming isn’t enough — if you want to get rid of odors in a bagless vacuum, you must do a deep cleaning.

To deep clean your machines:

Unplug it

Take off any removable accessories

Wash all removable parts with warm water (or throw them in the dishwasher)

Wipe down the outside using a damp cloth or disinfectant wipes

Let all the parts dry completely before putting them back together

This is an intensive process, but your deep cleaning efforts will be rewarded – with a cleaner-smelling machine in no time!

How To Clean Vacuum Filter Components for Odors

It’s time to consider cleaning your vacuum filter components if your vacuum smells funky.

Several components can accumulate dust and debris over time and must be regularly cleaned to prevent any odors from accumulating.


One of the components that need regular maintenance is the pre-filter.

This component can be found in most vacuums, as it filters out large particles of dust, dirt and debris before they enter the motor.

When this filter becomes clogged, it can cause an unpleasant odor in your vacuum.

Make sure you check it periodically – depending on the type of pre-filter; you may need to replace or clean it with some warm soapy water every few months.

Primary Filter

Another component you want to take a look at is the primary filter.

This component is responsible for filtering out smaller debris.

It should also be replaced or cleaned periodically – typically every six months or so – depending on how often you use your vacuum.

If this filter isn’t replaced or cleaned often enough, it can become clogged and lead to an unpleasant odor from the vacuum.

Vacuum Bag/Canister

The last step is examining the canister or vacuum bag. If a nasty whiff suddenly hits you, then it is definitely time to replace it.

You should empty the bag/canister regularly and ensure nothing is stuck inside.

If these components have been neglected for too long, then you might have an issue with mold buildup, which could be causing bad odors – this will require proper.

Strategies I Use to Reduce and Eliminate Vacuum Odors

If you’re ready to take your vacuum’s smell level to 0, there are some strategies you should try.

Clean or replace filters

Your vacuum’s filters can be clogged with dust, dirt and other particles, and this can cause it to smell.

Try giving the filter a good cleaning or replacing it with a new one to reduce the odors. Doing this regularly (at least once every few months) can help prevent any musty odors from forming in the first place.

Empty canister or dustbin

The dust bin of your vacuum should also be emptied regularly to prevent bad smells from building up. Some vacuums even have an indicator light that will alert you when it’s time for an emptying! Alternatively, you can buy a reusable filter bag instead of a disposable one to reduce waste and save money in the long run.

Use odor-eliminating products

Finally, if you’re still having problems with bad smells, consider using an odor-eliminating product such as baking soda or lemon juice to help deodorize your vacuum.

Both substances absorb odors and are safe inside the device, so you don’t have to worry about harming your vacuum or yourself!

Just ensure you follow instructions carefully and avoid using too much of either product simultaneously.


No one wants their vacuum cleaner to smell like a dirty litter box, so knowing why your vacuum might emit an unpleasant smell and how to fix it is essential.

There are a few common causes of vacuum odors, including dust and dirt buildup, clogged filters, and motor issues.

Your vacuum cleaner may also smell if the bag or canister is full, if pet hair is stuck in the brush, or if there’s a damp or mildew smell coming from the hose or vent.

Regular maintenance and cleaning of your vacuum can keep it in top shape and prevent smells from occurring.

Change the bag and filter regularly, clean the brush and dust cup, and check for clogs.

Good maintenance habits go a long way in keeping your vacuum smelling fresh.

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