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Your Bagless Vacuum Cleaner Smells Bad When Running? [3 Reasons]

If you are wondering why your bagless vacuum cleaner smells bad, this article will discuss the major causes of the odor and give you tips on how to de-stink and deodorize it.

In most cases, the vacuum cleaner bags are responsible for the foul smell that emanates from your machine when it’s running. If you do not empty the bag or fail to deep clean your vacuum regularly, it starts to stink really bad.

My bagless vacuum cleaner smells bad; what do I do?

If your bagless vacuum cleaner smells bad, you must wash and change its filters regularly. If the filters aren’t washable, use an air compressor to unclog any debris and eliminate bad smells. You must also ensure that you clean the vacuum cleaner’s canister often so that the smell of dirt does not linger. 

However, I believe the odor depends on what you vacuum. For instance, the vacuum may smell like a dog if your dog’s hair is causing the clogging or smell like vomit if you vacuumed vomit and failed to clean it.

Why Does My Bagless Vacuum Cleaner Smell Like Feet, Dog or Vomit?

In order to eliminate the feet, vomit or dog-like odor from your vacuum cleaner, you need to first identify the source of the bad smell. Here is a list of some of the possible causes of the odor.

1. Dirty and clogged filters

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Filters are the reason why dust, dirt, and other debris do not escape back into the vacuumed area when the machine is running. They also ensure that your vacuum does not become a health hazard to you or your family.

For this reason, they trap a lot of dust and dirt, which can accumulate over time and cause clogging. If not unclogged, the suction of the vacuum will not be strong enough and it will stink every time you vacuum.

2. Overstayed dirt in the canister

The canister of bagless vacuums is recommended to be emptied when it’s about 75% full.

bagless vacuum cleaner smells like feet, vomit, or dog

Therefore, you should not let the dirt overstay or fill completely above the maximum line as it may start to stink.

Also, some amount of dirt or debris may be released back into the air if the canister is too full and become a health risk.

3. Clogged beater brush

The beater brush is located at the bottom of the vacuum and it is responsible for the fluffy look your carpet gets after vacuuming.

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Since it digs into the carpet fibers to fluff them, dirt and debris may pile up and prevent it from rotating. As a result, a bad smell will usually be released from the piled-up debris when the machine is running.

See also: How to clean a microfiber couch with a carpet shampooer

What to Do When Your Bagless Vacuum Cleaner Smells Bad

1. Clean or change the filters

Some filters are washable while others are not.

If your bagless cleaner has washable filters, you should remove them and wash gently using plain water and then leave them to air dry for about 24 hours.

For filters that are not washable, they can be unclogged by blowing them gently using a leaf blower or air compressor.

With time, filters tend to wear out so they may not filter dust and other debris as expected, which may cause a bad smell. Hence, you may need to change them after every 3 to 12 months.

2. Clean the vacuum’s canister

Once you have emptied the canister, prepare a mixture of water and baking soda. Clean the canister gently but ensure that you reach all corners.

Rinse thoroughly with plain water then wipe with a dry cloth. Leave the canister to air dry for some time before reassembling.

3. Unclog the beater brush

If you notice that the beater brush is clogged and not rotating as it should be, try unclogging it to remove stuck pet hair and other debris using a seam ripper.

Then wash it gently in warm water with baking soda. Baking soda is a natural product that absorbs moisture and traps odor so it will remove all the bad smell from the brush and leaving it smelling fresh.

See also: Reasons why your Bissel Pet Stain Eraser is leaking

How to Make Your Bagless Vacuum Cleaner Smell Better

Do you want to smell a nice and fresh scent whenever your vacuum is running instead of the unbearable odor? Natural products like essential oils and baking soda can help you to achieve this.

1. Using essential oils

Essential oils have different scents such as eucalyptus, lemon, vanilla, strawberry, mint, and orange.

The good thing is that you can choose your favorite scent to ensure your house smells fresh during and after vacuuming. The Rainbow Geniune Assorted fragrances come in a pack of four and you can choose the ones you like for your vacuum.

Put about 6 drops of your desired essential oil in a cloth/paper towel and place it in the filter cavity of your bagless vacuum cleaner. Whenever you use the vacuum, the fresh scent of the oil will be released all over the house.

Alternatively, you can put a few drops of essential oil on the filter to mask any bad odor when vacuuming.

2. Air freshener for bagless vacuum cleaner

This is a simple yet very effective hack to prevent your vacuum from releasing a stuffy smell in the air when in use. You can use granules such as Vac-Yum vacuum granules, which do not break down and are not powdery so they can’t destroy your vacuum.

Pour the granules on the floor then vacuum them up so that they get into the vacuum chamber or canister.

The granules are usually scented and will act as a deodorizer or air freshener every time you vacuum.

Is baking soda bad for your vacuum cleaner?

There is a lot of conflicting information regarding whether or not baking soda is safe for a vacuum cleaner.

Some people recommend pouring a bit on the carpet than vacuuming it so that it gets into the canister or bag to absorb the bad odor.

However, cleaning experts have a different opinion. Despite the ability of baking soda to absorb odor, it can easily damage your vacuum cleaner.

This is based on the fact that the minute particles of the baking soda can get into the electric motor of the vacuum and destroy it, especially if it pile-ups over time.

Moreover, baking soda can clog the filters and affect the ability of the machine to suction properly.

See also: Best vacuum for pet hair and carpet 


Your bagless vacuum cleaner smells bad if its filters are clogged, there is overstayed dirt in the canister, or the beater brush is clogged. So to stop the odor, you need to clean or change the filters, empty and clean the canister regularly and unclog the beater brush. You can also use a vacuum cleaner deodorizer such as adding a few drops of essential oil into the canister or vacuum granules so that fresh scent will be released into the air every time you vacuum.

1 thought on “Your Bagless Vacuum Cleaner Smells Bad When Running? [3 Reasons]”

  1. I did all that is recommended and my Dyson Animal vacuum still stinks of dog. What to do?

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