How Often Should You Really Clean Out Your Vacuum?

As if your list of chores needed another item to add, your vacuum cleaner likely needs some TLC. While you may think they only pick up dust and dirt, vacuums actually cling onto loads of germs and mold. According to Real Simple, a 2008 study showed that 50 percent of common household vacuum cleaners contained fecal matter, every vacuum contained mold and 13 percent even had E. coli bacteria within its brush bristles.

After learning that, cleaning your vacuum may have just jumped up a few spots on your to-do list.

Plus, the emissions into the air are even more unsettling — especially for those suffering from allergies. Researchers noted after a 2013 study, "Our results show that although vacuum operation is typically brief, vacuum emissions can release appreciable quantities of human-derived bacteria. Such emissions could potentially lead to inhalation of infectious or allergenic aerosols." 

The Vacuum Experts contend that the build-up inside your appliance works similarly to plaque build-up on the teeth — the less you clean it, the more quickly it accumulates. All of the gunk and debris can wear down your vacuum's belt and motor as well, making it increasingly difficult to clean effectively. The outlet also notes that, when you don't empty your vacuum regularly, it dampens its ability to pick up lint and dirt. Of course, there's much more to cleaning your vacuum than the basics.

You only need to deep clean your vacuum every year or so

While various parts of your vacuum cleaner need special attention, the full deep clean is only necessary every 12 to 18 months. But, this involves a full-scale disassembly of the device and deep scrub with soap and warm water. Real Simple recommends gathering your materials: dish soap, a cleaning brush, hot water and a repressed air can. Scrub all parts of your vacuum and let them air dry — the can of repressed air comes in handy when you notice pockets of dust and debris trapped in the corners of various parts. You can use it to add a forceful nudge for those hard-to-reach areas.

But, as for the brush bristles, it's best to clean them after every use. Simply take them out, use scissors to cut out any hairs and finish with a disinfecting spray, the outlet suggests. Vacuum Experts recommends cleaning the filters of your vacuum after every use if you use it once a week. For those that only vacuum every other week, you can rinse your filters every month. Real Simple notes that you can also look at your user's manual to see what kind of washing works best for your filters. Empty out your canister every few weeks to optimize your device's performance and minimize the spread of germs — it should be about two-thirds full.  

Keep your space and your vacuum clean — then, notice the difference in its performance and the state of your home!