What You Should Know About Vacuum Cleaner Smells

Almost all of us own a vacuum cleaner with the sole purpose of using it to keep our environment cleaner, more hygienic, and smelling fresh. It’s amazing how much a thorough vacuuming can freshen up your entire home. Once you’re finished vacuuming, a sense of relief washes over you because you know that your environment is in a much cleaner state than it was just a few moments ago.

However, when your vacuum cleaner doesn’t work as properly as it should, you might come across some strange smells originating from your precious vacuum cleaner. Having a home smell worse after you’ve just vacuumed is counterproductive, not to mention flat out gross!

Regardless of what smell you’re smelling, something isn’t right!

A vacuum cleaner should leave your home smelling better than before, or at least provide some sense of neutrality in the overall odor of your home after a thorough cleaning.

Let’s take a look at what could be the potential problem behind why your vacuum cleaner smells so bad.

Problem: My Vacuum Cleaner Smells like Burning Rubber!

This is a common problem that many vacuum owners have experienced at one point in their lives. You might have been vacuuming and gradually notice the smell of burnt rubber or at least something that resembles it. Sometimes you notice it immediately, while other times you might notice it only after a certain amount of time.

Regardless of when or how it occurs, nobody likes to deal with any type of burnt odor!

Imagine vacuuming before friends or family come over and you realize that your entire house smells like a tire factory! Let’s explore several different reasons as to why your vacuum cleaner smells like burnt or burning rubber.

3 Reasons Why Your Vacuum Cleaner Smells like Burning Rubber:

Reason #1: Vacuum Cleaner Belt

Vacuum Cleaner Belt

Typically, when your vacuum cleaner smells like burning or burnt rubber, it’s indicative of a problem with the vacuum cleaner belt.

Although burning rubber smell doesn’t always mean that the problem lies with the belt, it’s certainly a very common reason. However, rule out some potential reasons by following a simple list to narrow down your specific problem with your vacuum cleaner.

Does Your Vacuum Cleaner Use A Belt Or Is It Beltless?

If your vacuum cleaner does use a belt, and there’s a very good chance that the problem is indeed with the vacuum cleaner belt. If you suspect the vacuum belt is the problem, there are a few reasons listed below as to why the belt might be the problem. Here are the most common:

  • Age of vacuum cleaner and belt
  • Obstruction located anywhere near or on the belts?
  • Belt is misaligned

If you happen to be using an older vacuum cleaner or have not replaced the belt ever, then this could easily be one of the reasons why your vacuum cleaner smells bad.

Try a new belt if you see any warning signs indicative of a bad belt.

Not all vacuum cleaners use a belt. If your vacuum cleaner does not use a belt at all, you can rule out this potential reason for it smelling like rubber.

Reason #2: Vacuum Cleaner Brush Roll

Vacuum Brush Roll

Another reason why your vacuum cleaner might smell like burnt rubber is a potential issue with the brush roll.

If the brush roll is obstructed by some object or hair or is misaligned, then you might start to smell something similar to burnt rubber or some other burning smell or odor.

If you happen to have lots of pets and you haven’t visually inspected the brush roll in quite some time, there might be hair or some other debris that might be causing a clogging issue that is directly impacting the brush roll. Make sure you check out the brush roll and verify that it’s indeed spinning properly or does not get stuck.

Reason #3: Clogging/Other Stuck Debris

Although this reason is a lot less common than the other two, it still certainly is a possibility as to why your vacuum cleaner has a burning smell.

If you are a pet owner or vacuum frequently, there could be some object or debris that’s stuck in between the belt and the roller brush. Although rare and relatively uncommon, there could still be a possibility that you recently vacuumed something that might be causing the burning odor issue that you’re having.

Problem #2: My Vacuum Cleaner Smells like Dog!

This is yet again another common issue for anyone who happens to be a pet owner to some furry friends. Your vacuum cleaner might smell like dog hair or dog fur, and that’s pretty much the last kind of smell you’ll want when trying to clean your home.

If you’re wondering why your vacuum cleaner smells like a dog, there are few steps to take to isolate the problem so that you can get your home smelling back to… Well, not dog!

My Vacuum Smells Like Dog

4 Reasons Why Your Vacuum Cleaner Smells like Dog:

Reason #1 – Dirty Canister Or Vacuum Bag

The most common reason why you might experience dog smell during vacuuming is the possibility that you’re carrying the odor around with you. If you are using a canister vacuum that contains a bag, switch out the bag and see if the smell dissipates.

If you have a bagless vacuum, ensure that the dustbin is clean and does not contain any debris. You can use a little dish detergent and soak the dustbin if need be. Some vacuum cleaners caution against cleaning the dustbin. Some can only be cleaned with a damp cloth, while others can be completely submerged in water. Check with your manufacturer 1st. Him

Ensure that any filters or other parts are not attached or otherwise damaged.

Reason #2 – You Don’t Have A HEPA Vacuum Or A Vacuum Cleaner With Adequate Filtration

If you’re using an older vacuum or one that specifically did not contain a HEPA certified filter, this could also be another reason why your vacuum might smell like your pets. You may be vacuuming and not efficiently capturing pet hair, odors, and other debris that are pulled up from your carpet or floor. If these are not being filtered, then you’re simply moving around the dander when you vacuum.

If you happen to notice that your vacuum cleaner visibly blows light objects away such as dust, there’s a good chance that it’s also displacing and moving around all of the dog hair and debris embedded deep in your carpets or floors.

Consider purchasing a new vacuum cleaner that is HEPA certified.

Reason #3 – Dirty Or Old HEPA Filter

You may already own a vacuum cleaner that contains a HEPA filter or active filter. Not all vacuum cleaners have lifetime filters; many few do.

Many filters only have a limited lifespan usually lasting about 2-3 months.

This is especially true if you have a bagless vacuum cleaner. Just because you might not have to worry about a bag filling up with pet hair doesn’t mean that you are clear and free of that problem. If you have a bagless vacuum cleaner that smells like dog, the same rules apply.

Some filters are washable. There is a chance that your filter could simply be dirty and the only solution you’ll need to pursue is giving a thorough cleaning. Lookup your vacuum model and double-check to ensure that your filters are indeed washable. Filters that are not washable will be ruined once wet, so make sure you verify that information before you go ahead and start cleaning.

Here’s an informative video on cleaning HEPA filters for some Shark vacuums:

Reason #4 – Dog Hair Or Fur Stuck Near Brush Roll Or Somewhere Else

Certain vacuum cleaners will be designed more intuitively than others, just like with every other product out there. If you have a vacuum that can detach for handheld suction, the portion where the vacuum connects to the main base may have fur embedded somewhere inside of it.

Some vacuum cleaners may never have any problems with pet hair piling up or getting stuck somewhere where it should pass through. If there’s any dog there stuck throughout any portion of the vacuum cleaner, it can be a reason contributing to that nasty dog vacuum smell.

Ensure that all attachments, accessories, and any other portion of the vacuum that you normally use are free of any dog hair or fur.

The easiest way to find out why your vacuum cleaner smells like your furry friends is simply by process of elimination.

Start by eliminating the most common culprits such as the filter, bag, or canister and go down the list from there. Eventually, you should be able to narrow down the problem so that you can once again experience a fresh-smelling home after a long and arduous vacuuming session.

Long story short – if your vacuum cleaner smells, it’s time for some manual inspection!

It doesn’t matter if your vacuum cleaner smells like your pets, whether that be your dogs, cats, and so on. It doesn’t matter if your vacuum cleaner smells like feet, vomit, or anything else disgusting you might describe.

Start by ruling out the most simple solutions.

If you have a bagless vacuum cleaner, you still have to worry about the filter, canister, brush roll, attachments, as well as any portion of the vacuum cleaner that might have debris pass through it. Depending on your vacuum model, this could either be a 1-minute fix, or a very long and strenuous disassembly of at least a portion of your beloved vacuum.

In most cases, the solution is way easier than you might think.

Now that you have an idea of the reasons why your vacuum cleaner can smell so bad, why not address that and provide some additional tips that will help your home smell inviting and pleasant to everyone?

Easy and Effortless Tips on How You Can Make Your Vacuum Smell Better:

Now that you know how to get rid of your gross vacuum cleaner smell, we’ve at least established a baseline for minimal home freshness!

We can do more than that though, so let’s find out how you can make your home smell flat-out better during and after you clean.

Freshen Up Your Home While Vacuuming

Tip #1 – Don’t Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is any homeowner’s friend for those who are looking for a multitude of uses regarding cleanliness.

Baking soda has plenty of uses, but you should never use baking soda on your carpets as it can cause risk of damage to your vacuum cleaner, carpets, and won’t address the main reason why your carpets smell.

You would be better off using Lysol, or some other deodorizing spray if you wanted to achieve similar results.

If you have one particularly smelly area of your home, spray some Lysol or other deodorizer, wait 5 to 10 minutes, and then vacuum. This is at least a better short-term way to freshen up your home that doesn’t involve damaging your vacuum cleaner or carpets.

Tip #2 – Essential Oils Are Great for a Fresh Smelling Vacuum Cleaner

Simply place a few drops of essential oil in either your vacuum cleaner bag if you have a bagged vacuum, and once again, do the same in your canister/dirt cup if you have a bagless vacuum. Choose your favorite essential oils and place a few drops in before your next cleaning session!

Optionally, you can add them to a small cotton ball instead.

Tip #3 – Regularly Change Your Filter Or Bag

Above all else and every other recommendation, this is the easiest path you can choose to keep a fresh smelling vacuum cleaner and home. If your vacuum cleaner takes bags, make sure bags are changed regularly and are not full.

The same can be said for any filters that need to be replaced. Ensure that you don’t overuse any past their lifespan. Not all filters are washable either. Many are very fragile need to be handled with care so keep all these factors in mind next time you swap out your filter or clean it.

Tip #4 – Throw in a Dryer Sheet

A simply, quick, and cheap solution that most people can pull off in a few seconds, simply toss a dryer sheet into your vacuum bag or canister before a cleaning. A little dryer sheet goes a long way!

Considering dryer sheets are excellent at absorbing moisture, it makes perfect sense why you should use them, especially if you have pets!

Cinnamon is Great for Freshining Up Your Home While Vacuuming

Tip #5 – Freshen up with Some Cinnamon

Cinnamon has tons of variety of uses. 1 of those includes making a room smell better. Believe it or not, cinnamon has been used for centuries for tons of different purposes involving smells. Not only is it a great insect repellent, but it can also be used to freshen up your home. Cinnamon is versatile, cheap, and can be found from just about anywhere.

Simply place about a little under 1/2 teaspoon into your vacuum bag or dirt cup before you vacuum. You’d be surprised at how different everything smells after you use cinnamon!

In Conclusion – Smell Ya Later (Hopefully, Better than Before)!

Regular maintenance and upkeep of your vacuum cleaner are some of the easiest ways to prevent your vacuum cleaner from smelling bad. In fact, using fresh filters and bags is half of the entire battle!

Not only that, but regular maintenance keeps your vacuum working and is necessary to keep a long lifespan.

Of course, the conditions and odors of my home will be completely different than yours. Non-pet owners might not have to worry about a majority of issues associated with foul-smelling vacuum cleaners.

If you do happen to own a pet, then you’re well aware of how much upkeep and dedication they require: especially when it comes to both your cleanliness and theirs.

Sometimes, the solution for a smelly vacuum cleaner is way easier than we might expect. Other times, you’ll be scratching your head trying to figure out what’s wrong.

Your type of vacuum, model, and quality of both your filter/bags can directly impact how well your vacuum cleaner is able to handle filtration.

It doesn’t matter if it’s time for a new vacuum belt or you’re simply overdue for a filter change, whatever the reason, we hope you’re much more well-equipped to handle your smelly vacuum cleaner or home!

Laura Smith is an author and philanthropist; runs several trust funds and teaches people in different forums the importance of developing actionable solutions, to help in the conservation of energy while limiting environmental degradation. She is passionate about everything tech and has written different reviews on a myriad of electrical gadgets. Technology and environmental degradation are a major challenge around the globe today, and many companies produce gadgets without a guideline on how to dispose of, after they have served their purpose. Laura has thus dedicated her life to finding eco-friendly solutions in the disposition of electrical gadgets in the middle of technological advancements.

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