How To Unclog and Clean a Vacuum Hose

How To Unclog and Clean a Vacuum Hose

Does your vacuum spread foul odors when you use it?

I had never had a problem with vacuum cleaner smells until we got our first dog a few years ago. The vacuum started to smell awful, and the house stank after I finished vacuuming

I thought the only solution was to get a new vacuum, but it turned out that all I needed to do was to change the filter (read my post about that here).

But was there anything more than can be done?

It turns out there is.

Overtime, your vacuum hose can get clogged up with dirt particles. This causes loss of suction, and eventually blockage. Smells tend to cling on to dirt and dust. If your home smells after you have finished vacuuming, it is definitely time to give your vacuum hose some attention.

So today, I am going to give you a step-by-step guide on the most effective way to achieve a clean hose.

These instructions will work for both a regular vacuum cleaner hose and a central vacuum hose.

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What causes a vacuum hose to clog?

miele cat and dog vacuum

I have a Miele Cat and Dog vacuum. Fortunately, the hose rarely gets clogged up. However, if I use it for vacuuming things I shouldn’t like garden leaves or building dust, it quickly clogs!

When I bought it, the salesman told me that Miele are the most reliable vacuums he sells. He had only ever had a couple returned, and usually, it was because they had been used for cleaning up building rubble or sucking up water.

Even if you are being very careful, the hose can still get clogged up over time with household dust, human hair, pet hairs, food particles and more.

How to know your vacuum hose is clogged

Usually, you will know pretty soon when your vacuum cleaner hose gets clogged.

Here are some warning signs that your vacuum hose is clogged, or the hose on your central vacuum system needs cleaning:

  • There is a loss of suction. If you emptied the dust and changed the filter, but it still doesn’t pick up, then it could be the hose that is causing it.
  • There is a strange noise. My Miele makes a whistling noise when something is blocked inside.
  • There is a bad smell when you use it. Smells like to linger in dust and dirt.

Before you embark on a deep clean of your vacuum hose, check the outside. Are there any holes or splits? If that is the case, cleaning it will not solve the suction issues. The best thing you can do is to replace that part.

How to clean a vacuum hose

It is pretty easy to clean inside your vacuum hose, All you need are some common household ingredients and a few simple tools.

Things you will need

For a very dirty and smelly vacuum hose, you may want to soak with a dishwasher tablet.

Step 1: Remove the vacuum cleaner hose from the vacuum

removing the hose from vacuum 1
removing the hose from vacuum 1

Don’t attempt to clean the hose in place. Always remove it first, and of course unplug it from the mains.

The method for removal will be different for various models. If you are not certain, check the instruction manual.

Generally, you can twist off the hose from the other parts. Never use force.

Step 2: Unclog the vacuum hose

pushing a broom handle inside the hose

If your vacuum hose is clogged up, the best way to clear it is with something long.

Take a long stick, such as a broom handle, shower curtain rod, or mop, and gently push it up inside the hose. If there is any obstruction there, it should come out easily.

Step 3: Clean the inside of the hose

vacuum hose in soapy water

If all you wanted to do was unclog the hose, you can stop here. But if you have a smelly vacuum, or you still aren’t getting good suction, I recommend cleaning the inside of the hose next.

  1. Fill a sink, washing-up bowl, or a bath with warm water and some dish soap.
    For long hoses, the bath will be the best option.

    Don’t use hot water for this, as the heat could cause damage to the plastic.

    For added cleaning power, add some washing soda crystals or baking soda. These are great at dissolving stubborn grime and releasing dirt. Another thing you can use is a dishwasher tablet.

  2. Submerge.
    Put the hose in the water and submerge it. You want to make sure that water runs inside the full length of the hose, from the end of the hose to the tip.

  3. Leave to soak.
    Leave the hose to soak for a while so that the cleaner can penetrate all the way into the inner folds of the hose.

    As an added step, I recommend doing what this guy does in the video using a dish cloth and a broom handle. If you have a clear vacuum hose that shows all the dirt inside, this will get it looking like new again.
  4. Rinse with clean water.
    Rinse the full length of the hose with some clean water. You can do this by holding it under the tap or replacing the washing water with some clean water.

  5. Optional: Rinse with vinegar.
    If you want to make sure to remove bad odors, like dog smell, I recommend following up with a vinegar rinse.

    Vinegar is naturally antibacterial and will neutralize odors. Pour some distilled white vinegar down the hose. There is no need to rinse again after this. The vinegar smell should dissipate along with any remaining odors.

  6. Dry.
    Make sure the hose is completely dry before you put it back on the vacuum.

    Another thing that I was told never to do when I bought my Miele, was to suck up water. If you don’t let the hose dry properly, that is exactly what you are doing! It can even be dangerous.

    The best thing to do is to shake out the excess water and then hang it over a door. It should dry in about 24 hours.

Step 5: Reassemble

When your vacuum hose is completely dry, attach it back onto the vacuum.

You may want to consult the user manual for your type of vacuum.

For my Miele vacuum, it simply pushes back into place.

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How often should you clean your vacuum hose?

If I am perfectly honest, I have never cleaned my vacuum filter until now!

I really don’t think it is a job you need to put into your diary and carry out religiously each month.

I’ve seen advice online to clean a vacuum hose routinely once per month. But that seems excessive to me.

If I started cleaning ours every month, my family would think I had gone a little mad!

If you can manage to clean your vacuum hose every 6-12 months, pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

If your vacuum is liable to clog, then I would certainly advise regularly checking it.

If it sounds different or isn’t sucking properly, then it is time to inspect it and unclog as per the instructions above. A broom handle is your best friend for that.

Other things you can do to maintain your vacuum cleaner

Check the vacuum filter

If your vacuum is smelly or isn’t sucking optimally, usually it’s the filter that’s causing it.

Vacuum filters are designed to last for about six to twelve months, depending on use. They do an essential job of preventing the dust you have vacuumed up from the floor from being pushed back into the air.

HEPA filters are the best kind because they can filter out very tiny particles, which is vital if you have allergies.

When filters get clogged with dust, the vacuum won’t work efficiently, and it may even start to smell, especially if you have a pet in the house.

You can buy a replacement filters for most types of vacuum. If your vacuum smells like your dog, changing the filter is usually all it takes to fix the problem.

Clean the vacuum head

Make sure there is no hair, string, or cotton wound round the vacuum head roller. This can stop the head from revolving properly and will stop it picking up so well.

Clean the attachments

Wipe each vacuum attachment with a damp cloth or soak them in some warm soapy water. Add some washing soda crystals or baking soda for added cleaning power.

Sparkling Penny

Penny | Sparkling Penny

Penny’s expert cleaning advice has been featured repeatedly by Homes and Gardens Magazine, and also at wikiHow, The Daily Express Newspaper, and Glam Magazine to name a few! was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.

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If your vacuum isn't sucking, it could be time to deep clean the hose.