Cleaning a Stinky Vacuum

Category Odors
If your vacuum is stinky, it may be necessary to do a deep cleaning of the vacuum to locate the origin of the smell. This is a page about cleaning a stinky vacuum.


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September 30, 2009

I too have had to deal with stinky vacuums and smells in carpeting from cats and dogs. The best thing that I have found was the enzyme odor cleaner at the local Oreck store. The quart is slightly expensive, but you only need 8 oz to each gallon of water and it really makes the smell go away.

Disassemble your vacuum and wash the outer bag by hand then spray it while wet with the enzyme odor cleaner. Then let it air dry. Remove the brush roller and wash and spray it too. Then wipe all parts that you can get to with an all purpose cleaner mixed with the odor cleaner. It works like a charm. The Oreck store will also do it for a price if you do not want to, and they do a really good job.

The odor cleaner also works well on carpets but you have to keep the spot wet for at least 30 minutes to make it work, but if you are cleaning stinky carpets anyway with a steam cleaner put about half the bottle in the clean water part of the carpet cleaner and it works while it slowly dries. Pet odors are gone!


Source: Myself with the help of the local Oreck employee.

By cathy from Wilkes Barre, PA

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

My Hoover upright vacuum cleaner stinks when I use it. I have put in a new bag and I have also used baking soda in the bag thinking that might help, but it hasn't. What's going on with it? Got any ideas on what I can do?

Teresa from Richlands, Va.


January 31, 20080 found this helpful

Sometimes if you have a dog your vacuum will stink, even if the dog does not. I don't know how to fix it, but at least if you have a dog, you know what the source is.

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January 31, 20080 found this helpful

I don't know if you have animals but, if you do it's the animal hair. I had that problem and didn't know what was causing it. One day I mention it to my brother. He said it was the dog hair. He went to Sears and got some deodorant tablets for vacuum cleaners.


I don't remember the name. But believe me it works. No more stinking vacuum. I looked for the package, couldn't find it. I remember the cost was $2.50 for 4 tablets. I'm sure other places must have something like that. Sorry to be so long winded :)

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January 31, 20080 found this helpful

I forgot to tell you that the tablet goes in the bag. Use a tablet with each new bag. Expensive I think, but well worth it.

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January 31, 20080 found this helpful

I have had this problem at a customers house and I would lightly spray the vacuum bag with a air freshener.
This worked good for me.Then when it was time to replace
the bag I had done it with the new bag too.

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By Paula Jo Carr Mebane, NC (Guest Post)
January 31, 20080 found this helpful

Good the smell be from the rubber belt burning on the rotating bristles getting ready to burst? My old vacuum (Kirby) did this before the belt broke and man did it stink BADLY and for quite a long time too!

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By Teresa (Guest Post)
February 1, 20080 found this helpful

I have 2 vacuums that stink, an old Simplicity and an old Kenmore. I have a very hairy dog who sheds profusely.


I'm not ready to pay for a Dyson yet so I am trying to make do with what I have. Thanks for the deodorizer tablet info, I didn't know there was such a thing.

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By anna (Guest Post)
February 27, 20080 found this helpful

My vacuum started smelling like burning rubber, the belt had broken and I had to have a new belt put on the machine. Slowly the smell is going away.

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By Louise the house cleaner. (Guest Post)
March 28, 20080 found this helpful

You Must "COMPLETELY DISASSEMBLE!" Your vacuum every six months and "WASH" every part inside and out with soap water bleach and an old toothbrush, EXCEPT THE MOTOR! Wipe the blades that are part of the motor itself with a damp rag. put some soap water bleach and a small rag into the hoses and plug the ends of hoses with anything!, rubber balls, corks anything to keep the water in and swish, swish, swish, off and on for several hours depending on how dirty your vacume is.



Don't lose the screws down the drain and draw yourself a diagram of how you took it apart if your not sure you can remember how to put it back together. I like clorox cleanup in the spray bottle and a cleaning product called Awesome. I only find awesome at dollar stores and via the internet. BEFORE YOU START CLEAN IT. "UNPLUG YOUR VACUUM!" You can do it! Have fun! Look at it this way, if you don't try to do this, your going to end up throwing it away anyways. So just go for it!

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February 24, 20190 found this helpful

The Dyson vacuum stinks too

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Answer this Question...

I have a Hoover Elite sweeper made for pets (no bag). When I use the sweeper the odor is bad. I have tried carpet powder, baking soda, nothing works! Any ideas?


July 30, 20190 found this helpful

Invest in some Nok-Out. You can get it on amazon.

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July 30, 20190 found this helpful

We had this issue with a different model of Hoover. I took the entire thing apart using a YouTube video and cleaned it and the smell went away. There was "gunk" in various places that was causing the smell.


I found the YouTube videos to be very helpful. I have had to take mine apart three times now--twice because I sucked up things that got jammed, and once because of the smell.

You can just put the make and model in YouTube and sort through the videos until you find one that is clear to you!

Hope this works for you as well as it worked for me!

Post back with an update!!

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July 31, 20190 found this helpful

Thank you!

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July 31, 20190 found this helpful

Will try this, thank you!

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July 31, 20190 found this helpful

Post back with an update! Be sure to keep a cup nearby to hold all the screws!

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Answer this Question...


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

September 30, 2009

My vacuum cleaner bag (Hoover vacuum) smells terrible and stinks up the whole house when I vacuum. I tried several things to freshen it such as, a downy sheet, carpet fresh, a cotton ball soaked with perfume inside the bag, etc. Nothing has worked. I used to store the vacuum in my coat closet but it made the whole closet stink so I've moved it to the garage. I currently change the bag once a month and feel it would be too expensive to change it more often, so I'm asking for any advice to solve my dilemma.



Below are answers shared from 2004 to 2005.

Baking Soda

You might want to actually try to manually empty the contents of the vacuum bag you can pull the contents out with a opened up coat hanger. Also you might want to put baking soda with essential oil mixed in on your carpets before you use your next new vacuum bag. Then when you vacuum it up it will stay in the bag so you get a good smell when you vacuum and again in the bag. Healthfood stores sell some nice scents, I use honeysuckle.

By acraftycat

Scented Sachet Bags

The first thing I do when I change my vacuum bag is open one of those scented sachet bags that people use to scent their linens or dressers and pour some of the contents on the rug. I suck it into the vacuum and every time I use it, it's the first thing I smell. Works great for me.

By Lisa

Clean Your Filter

Look to see if your vacuum has a filter. If it does you need to change it when you change your bag. The filters are what hold the odors. If your filter isn't available at your local mart or vacuum service center then pull out your owners manual. You can order from them or they will give you the name of a service where you can purchase them. Good luck.

By Rhonnie

Don't Fill Your Bag Too Full

Are you aware you should not fill your vacuum cleaner bag fuller than 1/2 full, regardless of the time it takes to fill to that level? Any more than that and it puts extra stress on the motor and will wear out sooner. If it gets full in one month, you will need to change the bag much sooner. The longer you leave the bag in, the more it smells.

By Angellfire

Bagless Vacuum

If you are thinking about replacing your vacuum, you could go with one that does not have a bag. I just got the Hoover Z Vacuum and it has a HEPA filter and a clear canister that you empty after you vacuum. I am astonished at how much it is picks up. There is no smell and it is very quiet. It is an upright that comes with all the tools attached.

By Joni Deiters

Dog Hair

I have the same problem with a stinky vacuum, I am now on my 2nd one, and 2nd new house! I am actually starting to think that possibly the smell is coming from dog hair. The hair may be getting burned into the motor or something. My parents are having trouble with their vacuum all of a sudden and they got a dog about 6 months ago. Anyone else have this problem and have a dog? I've also done all the oils, scents and changing bags. Nothing works!

By Jessica

Stinky Vacuum Bag

I know I had the same problem at one point and I found out it was because I had vacuumed a little bit of cat litter that she had flung outside of her littler box. So if you have a cat and have done that, that might be the problem. Just a thought!

By Mandi

Cleaning Your Vacuum

I took my vacuum outside on a sunny day, threw out the bag and washed the whole thing with the garden hose. I put dishsoap inside the hoses and sprayed them out, washed all the little tools with soap and water and even sprayed down inside the collection areas of the vacuum. The vacuum was wiped dry on the outside and left out in the sun until the inside was dry. It doesn't smell anymore.

By Fern

Cleaning Your Vacuum

Vacuums need to be cleaned out regularly. If it is a bagless vacuum, there is usually a filter that you can remove. Take it outside and wrap it against the garbage can. You can also sometimes wash them in hot soapy water. Look in your manual for places that can be cleaned. It may be clogged with all that dog hair somewhere so it's actually putting dirt back into the room. Also check the brushes, they can also be clogged with hair and it could also be hampering the action of the belt.

This Works!

I had the worst smell coming from my vacuum, and looking back I realize that it was from the tons of dog hair that I had to clean up when we moved to our new house. It smelled like something crawled up in there and died!

I read the ideas on this site and decided to try the essential oil mixed with baking soda. I didn't have essential oil, but I had a very nice scented massage oil, which I'm sure has some essential extracts in it. I mixed it with the baking soda to a dry pasty consistency, sprinkled in onto a rug and vacuumed it up, and no more smell! I was so thrilled that I immediately vacuumed the entire house!

By Gina

Anise Seeds

Anise seeds will do the trick. I poured about 2 tablespoons into a clean Hoover bag. No more stinky vacuuming!


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