How to Clean a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner (and Make it Smell Nice)

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How to Clean a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner And Make It Smell Nice

It’s one thing using your Dyson vacuum cleaner; it’s another entirely to keep it clean and fully operational. 

A vacuum cleaner that is not maintained will often end up losing suction and possibly even breaking down.

Not to mention that a lack of cleaning can lead to a truly horrific odour over time (especially if you have pets). 

So, how exactly can you keep your Dyson squeaky clean? Well, I have just the remedy for you, and all you need to do is take a moment to read through my detailed guide.  

How Do You Clean a Dyson Cordless or Handheld?  

Taking the time to thoroughly clean your vacuum is exceptionally important. If you want it to live a long life, and function correctly for years to come, you need to keep it maintained.

I actually sourced a fantastic and detailed video that takes you through every inch of the cleaning process for your cordless Dyson.

This video focuses on the Dyson V6 and V8, but it can also be applied to the V7 and the V10.  

This video takes you through everything, including details on how to clean: 

  • The floor head and brush bar  
  • The dust canister 
  • The shroud  
  • The attachments  
  • The outside of the machine  
  • The filters  
  • The little nooks and crannies 

Can You Wash a Dyson Filter? 

Yes, you can wash a Dyson filter, and it is strongly advised that you do so. The standard Dyson filter can be found in the top of the dust canister, and it slides out effortlessly.

It also has a conical shape, which makes it quite easy to clean. The first thing you should do here is remove any solid debris that is inside it to make the washing process easier.  

Next, turn the tap on in your sink and rinse it under cool water until it is nice and clean. Some people use washing up liquid, but this is not advised as it can hinder the ability to absorb dust and other particles in the future.

Once it has been rinsed out, squeeze the filter to remove excess water and then leave it on the side to dry for at least 24 hours.  

It should be absolutely bone dry before you put it back in the vacuum cleaner. As an additional note, you must check the filter on a monthly basis, and even if it appears clean, it should still be washed.


Not cleaning your filter regularly can lead to a lack of suction, and even the machine breaking down entirely. 

Can You Wash a Dyson HEPA Filter? 

The HEPA filter is usually located near the motor on a Dyson vacuum cleaner, with a solid seal underneath to prevent any dust and debris from getting past and into the actual motor. 

It can be slipped out quite easily, which makes it much simpler to clean. So, the short answer is yes, you can wash your HEPA filter – and you should.  

Once you have removed it, take off any fluff or debris that may be stuck to it (although this is unlikely) and then turn on the tap in your sink.

Allow it to be rinsed under cool running water, and ensure that all of the dust and grime is removed from it. As with the regular filter, you should avoid using soaps and washing up liquid and instead use plain water.  

When you have washed it, leave it to dry for at least 24 hours and ensure that it is thoroughly dry before putting it back in the machine.

Usually, you should check your HEPA filter every six months and wash it. However, I like to inspect mine on a monthly basis to ensure that it is clean and functioning.  

How Do You Clean a Dyson Head? 

When you go to clean your Dyson floorhead, there are only a few simple steps that need to be followed in order to achieve success. Prepare yourselves for the easiest vacuum head cleaning ever: 

Dyson Vacuum Head

#1 Remove the floorhead from the vacuum cleaner. You can do this by clicking the release button, or removing the collar that keeps everything in place.  

#2 Inspect the brush bar, and use a pair of scissors to cut any hairs that have become wrapped around it. You can also gently brush away any debris that has been collected in the head. 

#3 If the brush bar is really clogged and you are struggling, remove the soleplate to get a better look at what’s going on.

You will need to unlock the plate using levers or discs; depending on the model of Dyson vacuum you have. You can even remove the brush bar completely if required.

The newer models allow the bar to be removed from the side on some of the floorheads.  

#4 Removing the brush bar is also a great way to access the roof of the floorhead, and you can use this opportunity to grab a clean cloth and wipe it down from the inside.

This removes small debris and dust, keeping it nice and clean as well as fully operational.  

Why Does My Vacuum Smell Burnt?  

If there is any kind of burning smell coming from your vacuum cleaner, then it is not normal in any way. It is usually something serious, and you should unplug your vacuum cleaner immediately so that you can inspect the problem. Check for the following issues: 

Smoke. If you see smoke, it could be one of three things. The first is that you may have sucked up a lit cigarette that is burning inside the machine.

I know that sounds amusing, but it happens a lot more than you might think. If this is the case, be careful emptying your vacuum and do so right away.  

Smoke could also be from the electric motor, and this tends to be one of the more common causes. If the filter is blocked or the dust canister is full, it causes the machine to start running really hot, and this can lead to it going so far as to start smoking.

Dyson Vacuum Canister

To fix this, clean the filters and empty the canister.  

Finally, it could also be due to the drive belt. This can be found in the head of the machine, and it ensures that the brush bar is able to move freely.

Large pieces of debris that get stuck in the head can end up jamming the drive belt, or it may have slipped out of its grips. The friction caused by either of these things is enough to make the machine smoke alarmingly.  

Hot cable or plug. When you smell burning and go to unplug the vacuum cleaner, take some time to touch the plug and the cable. If they are hot to the touch, it is likely that you have an overworked motor.

You should clean your filters and empty the canister before running it again to see if the smell remains. If it does, it could be one of two things.  

There may be a loose connection within the plug that needs to be tightened in order for it to function safely and correctly. If the plug still gets hot, ensure that there is a tight fit between the plug and the actual socket. 

You can do this by testing the fit in several sockets. If this doesn’t work either, you should seek advice from a licensed electrician.  

Tangled hair in the brush bar. This is a very common cause, especially if you have pets or the people in your home have long hair. When hair gets wrapped around the ends of the brush, it causes friction that then produces a great deal of heat and the associated burning smell.

All you need to do is remove the hair and clean the brush bar to get it all functioning normally again.  

Can You Wash Out the Dyson Canister? 

Yes, you can wash the dust canister out, and it is a very simple process. All you need to do is remove the canister from the main body of the vacuum cleaner and empty it as normal.

Ensure that the canister is completely detached from the shroud before cleaning. Once you have done this, take it to the sink and rinse it out so that any debris is washed away quickly.  

Then, take a cloth or a sponge and pour some washing up liquid onto it. Use it to really scrub the inside and outside of the canister, reaching into corners and clearing out the grime.

You should then thoroughly rinse it, and repeat the process if necessary. When this is done, leave the canister to dry and ensure that it is completely dry before you reattach it.  

For cleaning the shroud, you can use a cloth to wipe away dust that has been caught up in it. If there are any blocked holes, you can use a length of wire or a paperclip to clear them out and ensure proper airflow.  

How to Empty Dyson Cordless Vacuum  

Here is a superb video for emptying the Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners. It features the V8, but they are all essentially the same.  

A quick rundown of the steps taken to clean out the vacuum cleaner easily: 

#1 Ensure the debris does not go past the MAX line.  

#2 Take the body of the machine (handheld) over to the bin and hold it over.  

#3 Lift the release switch at the top, and allow the contents to be emptied into the bin.  

#4 Close the bin and clip it back together.  

Visit Dyson V11 Review to know more about this product.

How to Empty Dyson Upright Vacuum  

Here is a fantastic, and detailed, video guide to show you how you can empty and clean an upright or cylinder Dyson vacuum cleaner.  

A quick rundown of the steps to easy emptying and cleaning: 

#1 Ensure the debris does not reach past the MAX line in the canister.  

#2 Remove the canister from the machine and hold it over the bin. 

#3 Release the lid on the canister and allow the contents to fall into the bin.  

#4 Remove the top and shroud, then grab a clean cloth and wipe the inside of the bin out.  

#5 Put the canister back together, and reattach it to the machine.  

How Do You Deodorize a Dyson Vacuum?

There are a couple of different ways you can deodorize your Dyson vacuum cleaner, and they all work really well for keeping the smell fresh and lovely. 

The first you can try is two drops of eucalyptus oil on each of the filters. That way, when the vacuum is running, they will produce a pleasant smell the whole time.  

You can place a freshener underneath the HEPA filter as well, and this will keep things nice and fresh while you clean.

Washing the interior of the dust canister with white vinegar is also a fantastic way to deodorize the vacuum, and it can even work as a disinfectant.

Deodorize Dyson Vacuum

It really is as simple as white vinegar on the cloth, scrubbing the canister, and then rising it out afterwards.  

How Do You Disinfect Dyson Attachments?  

Disinfecting your attachments is the perfect way to stop the spread of bacteria in your home. I quite like soaking them in white vinegar for around five minutes before rinsing them in warm water and allowing them to dry.

It’s my preferred method, and white vinegar does act as an excellent natural disinfectant.  

You can use harsher chemicals that have a higher percentage for killing bacteria. However, I do feel that these can be a little too harsh on the attachments (especially the brush tools).

While they do a good job, they should be used as infrequently as possible, whereas white vinegar can be used more liberally.  

I have also seen some people use antibacterial wipes, and while these are quite effective, they do leave a sticky residue behind unless you decide to rinse them off with warm water afterwards.  

How to Prevent Your Animal Dyson Smelling?  

What about the smell? It’s no secret that a lot of Dyson vacuum cleaners do end up with a range of different, yet unpleasant, smells.

Here are a couple of great ways to prevent those odours from cropping up in the first place: 

#1 Take a cotton ball and place two drops of the essential oil of your choice onto it. You can then place it in the vacuum cleaner canister so that it removes any smells from your vacuuming experience.  

#2 Place a freshener under the HEPA filter so that any odours are removed when you are running the vacuum cleaner.

You can also, as per the previous section, place some essential oil on the filters to keep the smell fresh.  

#3 Try to avoid sucking up anything damp with your vacuum cleaner, and definitely avoid cat litter; even if it seems clean.

The latter can leave your vacuum smelling foul for months and will need to be washed thoroughly to get rid of it.  

How to Unclog the Dyson Animal? 

There isn’t much more frustrating than a clogged vacuum cleaner, and if this has happened to your Dyson, there are a couple of potential causes.

The first of these, and the most common with pets, is clogged brush bar. Here are the simple steps to fixing the issue: 

#1 Turn off your vacuum cleaner and unplug it from the mains. Then, flip it over so that the base of the main floorhead is both visible and accessible.  

#2 Inspect the brush bar, spinning it to see if it is stuck, but also to determine if there is any loose debris that falls out.

Sometimes, a large clod of dirt can get stuck in the head, or there are so many hairs wrapped around the bar it won’t spin.  

#3 Using a pair of scissors, cut any hairs and fibres that have attached themselves to the bar and pull them away. Spin the bar again to ensure that it is working properly, and you are good to go.

Unclog Dyson Animal

You should also quickly check for any clumps of pet hair behind the bar; I have been caught out there a few times before.  

Sometimes, the little turbo tool gets clogged as well. Due to its smaller size, it can be a little frustrating to try and unclog. However, it is not impossible, as you will see below: 

#1 Take a coin and place it in the yellow circle on the side of the attachment, turning it until it is unlocked. Then, pull the yellow circle out and away, revealing the mini brush bar.  

#2 Slide the mini brush bar out of the head and examine it to see if there are any hairs or debris stuck to it.

You can then use a pair of scissors to remove it from the bar, and shake the head to ensure any loose debris that remains inside is emptied.  

#3 Next slide the mini brush bar back into the attachment. Then, replace the yellow circle and use the coin to lock it back into place. You’re ready to start using the tool normally again.  

You may also find that the hose becomes clogged over time, and this can be frustrating to try and rectify as they are so long. Follow the quick and easy steps below to make an easier job of it: 

#1 Pull the wand away from the hose and detach it. Then, remove the hose from the main body of the vacuum cleaner.  

#2 Wiggle the hose around, tapping it against a hard surface to try and remove any solid debris that has become clogged in the hose, or at least loosen it.

Next, take a long object (like a broom handle) and slide it up the hose. You can use it to push blockages out or to help break them up for easy removal.

Repeat the process until all of the debris has been emptied from the hose.  

#3 Once this is done, you can reattach the hose to the vacuum and the wand before using it as normal.  

Finally, there is the clogged U-bend. While the positioning can be a little awkward, it is also one of the easiest areas to clean in a vacuum. Here are my simple steps: 

#1 Switch off the power and remove the plug from the mains. Then, place the vacuum on its side and access the U-bend cover.

You will be able to find this easily as it is located at the back on the base of the machine and there is a distinct U-shape. The cover flips open at the push of a button.  

#2 Once you have access, you can remove any viable blockages quickly and without hassle; both within the U-bend and the lower hose. 

#3 When you have cleared out all of the offending debris, replace the cover and ensure that it clicks back into place. You are now ready to use your vacuum cleaner as normal again. 

How Do You Get the Musty Smell Out of a Vacuum Filter?  

A musty odour is usually caused by mould or mildew in the filter, and this needs to be taken care of quickly.

It is caused by a combination of moisture and dirt, as well as other nutrients picked up by your vacuum cleaner.

By the time you start smelling the must, the mildew is very much alive and active in your filter. So, how do you get rid of it?  

#1 Remove the filter from your vacuum cleaner and take it outside. This will prevent you from spreading spores around the home; potentially allowing the mildew to grow in new areas.  

#2 Clear the filter, emptying it if needed, and then use the garden hose to rinse it thoroughly and remove any remaining debris.

Clean Dyson Filter

Once this is done, use either white vinegar or a mildew remover mixed with dish soap and water to scrub the filter. This will remove any growth and spores.  

#3 Rinse the filter and repeat the washing process if necessary. Once you have removed the mildew, leave it to dry completely before you place it back in the machine.

When you go to use your vacuum again, the musty odour will be gone.  

How can you prevent mildew from growing and creating that musty smell? The simplest solution is to ensure that you never use your vacuum cleaner to suck up wet messes or moisture.

You should also empty your vacuum canister after every use. I will also note that if there are mould spores in your vacuum, it could be pointing to other mould issues within your home and you should investigate further.  

Where to Put Vacuum Fresheners in the Dyson? 

The best place to put your vacuum fresheners in a Dyson vacuum cleaner is actually under the HEPA filter. 

It is the least obtrusive location, as if you put it in the bin it can get mixed up with the debris as well as cause clogs.

It is also the area where you are most likely to find the source of various odours because of all the allergens and debris that it picks up while you are cleaning.

Most fresheners are very small and slim, so you can just slide them under the HEPA filter effortlessly and without issue.  

How to Get the Dog Smell Out of Your Dyson Vacuum  

Over time, the smell of your dogs (and other pets) starts to waft out of your vacuum cleaner while it is in use.

Even after it is emptied, it remains, and it can be quite unpleasant. However, there is a way to remove this odour, and all it takes is a few quick and easy steps.  

#1 Remove the dust canister and empty it out if you have not done so already. Make sure you get all the hairs and dirt out of it, even if you have to put your hand in there.  

#2 Mix a solution of washing up liquid (half a teaspoon) with a generous amount of warm water in a bucket. Then, grab a cloth and dip it into the water.

Wring it out a little, and begin scrubbing the inside of the dust canister. Make sure you cover both the inside and outside of the bin. Once this is done, rinse it and leave it to dry completely.  

#3 Remove the HEPA filter from your Dyson. If there are visible clumps of hair, pick them off carefully and throw them away.

Clean Dyson Animal

Once this is done, wash the filter under a running stream of cool water from the tap, ensuring all dust and debris is rinsed from it.

Then, leave it to dry thoroughly before putting it back in the machine.  

#4 Take a clean cloth and some white vinegar, undiluted. Dampen the cloth with it, and then use it to wipe off the interior and exterior of the dust canister.

This works to both deodorise and disinfect the area. You can then dry it using another clean cloth.

Once this is done, drip two drops of vanilla extract onto a cotton bud and place in the canister before your next use. This helps to keep it smelling fresh.  

Here's our Dyson Vacuum Repair Guide for the best fixing practices.

To Conclude

Hopefully, this has been able to answer some of your burning questions with regards to how to keep your Dyson vacuum clean

It’s really not a great deal of effort when it comes down to it, and the time it will take is minimal when compared to other cleaning tasks.

Plus, staying on top of things with your Dyson is often the thing that separates you from having to fork out a huge amount of cash on a new model because you neglected the old one.

By taking care of your vacuum, it will last a lot longer.  

What did you think of our Dyson cleaning guide? Did you find our tips and tricks helpful, or are there some that you feel were left out?

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