Married Life

How Do You Clean A Vaccum Brush?

This sounds like a silly question but it’s completely valid and one I have found myself asking when I started vacuuming like it’s my full time job. Seriously, god bless the invention of the vacuum and the 100 thousand attachments it comes with. 

First, UNPLUG your vacuum cleaner before performing any maintenance on it. A vacuum cleaner that turns on unexpectedly while you are working on it can injure you. Not to mention it’s extremely frightening! 


Next, if you have a vacuum that has a bag, check the bag regularly and replace it when it is full.  A vacuum cleaner bag that is only 1/3 full may be too full to clean efficiently. Remember that the air must pass through all the collected dust and debris, so a full vacuum cleaner bag means that the machine must work harder, or that it will not clean as well, or both. Look for a line on the bag and feel with your hand to determine about how full it is.

  • If a working vacuum cleaner misses debris on the carpet or leaves behind fuzz where there was none, that’s also a cue to check the bag.

If your vacuum does not have a bag and just a container that you can empty, either remove it to see the level of dirt in it or how full it is. In our case, we are able to see the container without removing anything so that might also apply to as well. 


After doing this, it is time to clean the brushes because I mean the lighter the thing is the easier some tasks become, right? Right. Now look under the machine and locate the brush roll also known as a beater bar (the spinning brush underneath that brushes dirt out of the carpets). Generally, it will be across the front of the bottom. If it is full of hair, thread, or other debris, it is time to clean it.


Do so by removing the bottom plate. This cover may have clips or latches, or it may have a couple of screws holding it in place so do this lovingly and patiently. Don’t lose the screws or anything else. 


Notice the direction that the brush roll goes in as well. Usually, there will be a belt on one side and a corresponding track or space on the brush roll for the belt. This will help you to identify the direction.


Remove the brush roll. Generally, it will pull out of a slot on either end, then slide out from under the belt.


Use scissors or just your fingers to clean the brushes. They don’t need to be spotless, but you should remove any hair or string that is wrapped around the brush. Pay special attention to the ends near the bearings and to the area around where the belt engages. A seam ripper (you can get one at a sewing goods store) works very well to cut the thinnest of hairs and strings wrapped around the brush as well. It’s also my favorite tool for cleaning this part!


I recommend that you clean and lubricate the bearings on the brush roll as well while you are here. Spin the brush roll on its axle with your fingers, to verify that it spins freely. If it doesn’t, you may need to clean out the bearings more thoroughly, lubricate the bearings, replace the bearings, or replace the entire brush roll. Remove any debris around and in the bearings. Before you take the bearings out, notice which way they went so you can put them back in correctly. Remove the cap on the other end. Both caps are usually on one long axle, so you may need to hold the end of the axle still to remove the second cap. Clean and lubricate the bearing on the other end. Replace both bearings in the direction that they were before and replace both end caps.


Replace or clean any filters on the vacuum cleaner. Many newer model vacuums have filters on the exhaust air to catch particles that remain in it. Read your manual to find out if yours has these, and clean or replace them periodically if it does.

  • If the filter is made out of foam or plastic, you may be able to rinse it clean. Make sure it is thoroughly dry before replacing it in the vacuum cleaner (you do not want something to start cooking, burning, or all of the above). 
  • If the filter is made out of paper or fabric, you may be able to shake or pound out the debris between replacements.


Phew your vacuum should be all clean and spotless now! Trouble locating any of the above mentioned parts? Check your owners manual.


If you considering getting a new one or realize from the above that yours needs an upgrade shop my favorites here:

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    March 28, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    haha! you are too cute! this actually is really helpful. I never want to deal with my vacuum and cleaning but this is pushing me to take it out, dust it off, and fire it up!

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