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How to Fix a Smelly Vacuum - Bagged

There are a variety of reasons that could lead to a smelly vacuum cleaner, in this article we have highlighted the 3 main culprits and what could be the sole causes.

The video provided alongside this article gives you tips on how to keep your cleaner smelling fresh along with showing how to replace the bag and the filters on a Vax 6131 cylinder vacuum.

Everything discussed in this article will work for most makes of bagged cylinder vacuums.

Safety First! Please make sure your appliance is switched off before beginning any maintenance work.

This video shows an example on how to remove or replace the part on a typical machine, some models may be different but the procedure should be similar.


The most common cause as to why your vacuum cleaner may be emitting a foul odour could be because of a full bag. To help prevent smells and possible bacteria - it is advised, if of course your machine is a cylinder cleaner to spray some disinfectant cleaner and allowing to dry before fitting a new bag.

You can also use scented tablets or capsules, these are placed in to the bag and will help keep the odours at bay. Products like our very own eucalyptus vacuum air freshener which can be sprinkled on your carpet and vacuumed up. This will help leave a great fresh eucalyptus fragrance when you use your vacuum.


Just like bags - filters regardless of the pre or post motor filter can become clogged from dirt and dust particles if not regularly cleaned. Manufacturers have begun to design their pre motor filters to be washable.

Identified by a tap icon these can be rinsed under warm water and left to dry - if your filters are not washable you can try to remove as much of the muck as possible or simply replace the filter. Most manufacturers recommend to replace the filter every 6 months - luckily we have a huge selection on vacuum cleaner filters for a large variety of vacuum brands.

  Tools and Attachments

Tool and attachments also suffer from being ground zero for a smelly vacuum cleaner. If blocked by debris the hose can lead to unwanted odours, we recommend, if plastic to soak the hose in warm soapy water overnight.

The same can be done with your other tools, of course only do this if they are plastic as the water will ruin the metal. Therefore if you tools contain metal it is worth spraying them with a cleaner and giving them a good wipe down.

If you cleaner has a roller brush then you would need to remove it and cut away any trapped hair or carpet fibres otherwise the belt or motor could fail leading to what could have been simple maintenance to a motor or belt repair.

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