How to Unclog Your Vacuum Cleaner: Remove Blockages Easily


You’ve plugged the vacuum cleaner in and are about to go about your daily cleaning tasks, but all of a sudden you’re met with a complete lack of suction. It’s irritating, frustrating, and it can be hard to determine what the problem is. 

You might be pleased to know that most of the time it’s likely due to a clog in the machine as opposed to something sinister. 

On the plus side, clogs are actually fairly simple to deal with. While there are several different places where your machine could be clogged, the process of removing each and getting your vacuum back to normal is effortless. 

In fact, to make things really easy for you, we have compiled the ultimate guide to unclogging your vacuum cleaner.

How to Tell if Your Vacuum Cleaner is Clogged

Before you actually get to unclog your vacuum cleaner, you need to first be able to tell if this is actually the issue you’re facing. Plus, it helps to know the warning signs so that you are prepared for the future.

Here’s a quick look at the symptoms:

  • Loss of suction
  • Whistling sound
  • Brush bar not spinning
  • Rattling in machine
  • The machine won’t turn on

There are multiple areas of your vacuum cleaner that could be clogged. The most common of these is the hose, which can get clogged with dirt and solid lumps quite easily. The filter is also easily blocked, especially if you forget to wash and maintain it regularly. 

How to Unclog Your Vacuum Cleaner

It’s finally time to take a look at the different ways you can unclog your vacuum cleaner. In this section, we go through each of the possible clogs in your machine so that you can find the best and most effective method for getting your machine back in working order.

Before You Unclog the Vacuum

You must never unclog your vacuum cleaner when it is plugged into the mains as this can risk an electric shock. Switch the vacuum off, unplug it, and leave it to cool down for a minute before you get started on unclogging it. 

The vacuum cleaner should also come apart easily and with minimal effort. If you find yourself needing to twist and pull, step back and reconsider what you’re doing. Try it a different way because if it is resisting then you run the risk of damaging your vacuum cleaner.

The Hose

This is the most common form of blockage, but it’s thankfully the easiest one to fix as well. All you really need is a broom handle or a bent clothes hanger to push the clog out. 

You can also remove the hose from the vacuum cleaner and rinse it in the sink if you want to get rid of dirt and gunk that is building up inside to prevent future blockages.

How_To_Clean_Bagless_Vacuum_Filter_Hose (1) [] (2) []

The Hose Connection

Disconnect the hose from the vacuum cleaner. At the point where the hose connects to the main body, put your fingers inside and pull out any hair or clogs that might be in there. This is commonplace for clogs to be, especially if you have pets and there is a lot of dog hair.

The Floorhead

Another possible place for a blockage to occur is in the underside of the cleaner head (or the bottom of an upright vacuum cleaner). 

When checking this part, make sure that the band which drives the beater roller is still in its proper place. To unclog this part, you can use a stick or a bent wire to force the dirt out.

The brush bar can also become clogged with hair, and this wraps around it – preventing it from spinning while you clean. Unclogging this is easy. All you need to do is flip the floorhead over and use a pair of scissors to cut the hair and debris off the bar.

The Bag Connection

Disconnect the bag from the vacuum cleaner. It is highly likely that the blockage is located just right below the bag connection. When that is the case, these clumps of dirt can be easily pulled out from the opening without much effort. 

The space is large enough that you can really get your fingers in there and pull old gunk out.

The Filter

This is another common blockage, usually caused by neglecting to clean or replace them. They should be washed once a month, keeping them fresh and removing dust. Cleaning them is very simple, just remove it from the machine and rinse it under cool running water. 

Make sure you are gentle and wash it until all the grime and debris is gone. Then, leave it on the side until it is completely dry before putting it back in the vacuum cleaner. We actually have a great guide on washing your vacuum filter that you can take a look at.

How_to_wash_your_Dyson_V11_vacuum_s_filters [] (1) [] (1)


What Causes a Vacuum Cleaner to Lose Suction?

There are several things that can cause a vacuum cleaner to lose suction, one of which is a blockage in the machine. However, it can also be the result of the vacuum bag being full, a broken belt, or a faulty gasket.

How Do I Prevent Blockages?

The easiest way to prevent your vacuum cleaner from getting blocked or clogged is to clean and maintain it on a regular basis. Keep the filter clean, the hose unblocked, and ensure that the bin is wiped down and emptied on a regular basis.

Which Materials Clog Vacuum Cleaners?

Usually, hair is the most common cause of vacuum cleaner clogs. This is because it gets wrapped around the brush bar and prevents it from moving and working correctly. Similarly, household items like socks often get stuck in the hose and will prevent airflow. Even dust can cause a clog in the filter – it’s all about regular care and maintenance. 

Why is My Vacuum Spitting Stuff Back Out?

Interestingly, this is also caused by a clog in the machine. If the clog is in the floorhead and continues to build up, it will be agitated by the floorhead and the roller will start spitting up dust and debris as you try to vacuum your floor.

How Long Should My Vacuum Last?

The average lifespan of a vacuum cleaner is approximately eight years. If you take good care of your vacuum cleaner, you should expect it to last at least this long – if not longer.

Final Thoughts

While vacuum cleaners may look a lot different on the outside, internally they are all pretty similar. When you are suffering from a clog, it can feel like it will be a great deal of effort, but the reality is that the process is a lot easier than you may have initially thought. 

The key thing is that you take the time to go through the process carefully to ensure that you are taking it apart and putting it back together correctly. Remember to be gentle and never use force to fix a blockage as you could make the problem worse. 

Similarly, if you find that it is too difficult to do yourself, there is no shame in asking a professional for help and guidance. If you cannot fix your vacuum then why not look at our guide for recycling your vacuum. Protection Status