Vacuum Smells Like Vomit – Know The Reasons Why And What To Do

Vacuum Smells Like Vomit

A vacuum smelling like vomit may be due to a clogged filter or bacteria buildup in the machine. To fix it, clean or replace the filter, check for blockages, and use a disinfectant. Regular maintenance helps prevent unpleasant odors.

Vacuum Smells Like Vomit – The Reasons

Dirt AccumulationIf the vacuum has been used excessively without proper and regular cleaning, the accumulated dirt can create a foul smell, similar to vomit, due to decomposition.
Vacuum FilterThe filter acts as the first line of defence against dirt and debris. If the filter is not regularly cleaned or replaced, it can lead to buildup causing a vomit-like smell.
Bag or Bin of VacuumIf the bag or bin of the vacuum cleaner is not emptied regularly, the rotting debris mixed with liquid or humid air can lead to a vomit smell.
Dirt in Vacuum HoseThe vacuum hose can sometimes trap larger debris, which over time, can start to degrade, leading to a foul smell.
Material of the Vacuum CleanerCertain materials in the vacuum cleaner, like plastic or metal, can react with the debris creating an unpleasant smell.
Liquid SpillsIf the vacuum is used to clean liquid spills, especially those of organic nature, and is not suitably cleaned afterwards, it can leave a saturated, unpleasant smell, similar to vomit.
Bacterial AccumulationRotting food particles or organic matter can introduce bacteria into the vacuum cleaner, which can produce methane gas and cause a vomit-like smell.

What Parts Of Your Vacuum Smell Bad And How To Get Rid Of It

There are various reasons why your vacuum smells of vomit. The good thing is that you can fix this problem by yourself. The following tips are worth considering;

Your Vacuum’s Filter

Your tool’s filter is normally one of the main reasons why it smells. After unplugging the machine from the wall, remove the batteries, look for the filter, and replace it. You will then need to look for a wet towel and clean the area around the filter and the tubes before inserting a new one. 

Beater Brush

Sometimes your vacuum will smell of vomit if you used it to clean some. If this is the case, you need to place the vacuum down and remove the brush. You will then either clean or replace it. You can use a damp rag and vinegar to wipe the brush. 

You may also place the beater brush in a bucket containing warm water and add some baking soda to eliminate the bad smell. Splash the brush around to remove all debris and hairs, and be sure to check the beater brush’s belt as it may also be smelling. 

The Hose

Your vacuum tubes that link the canister or bag to the intake could also be the reason for the vomit smell. You will need to remove and soak them in a bathtub full of hot water. Add dish detergent and leave them inside for a while. Take care not to place the whole vacuum or the cord inside the tub but only the plastic hose.

Once the hose soaks, remove it and place it under the sun to dry all day. Like the beater brush, the hose attracts a lot of dirt during cleaning and eventually produces a bad smell.

What Is The Cause Of The Bad Smell From Your Vacuum?

Before you can eliminate foul smells in your vacuum, it is important to understand the cause. The following are the major causes;

Mold Buildup

If you leave your vacuum filters and bags unattended for long, mold is likely to accumulate. Your vacuum has moisture and humidity that is ideal for mold to grow. If you vacuum a moist carpet or liquid spills, particles get inside your machine, and with time they produce a bad smell. 

Pet Hair

Pets like cats and dogs shed their hair which could be the source of smells. Pets’ hair is normally smelly even when outside, and so when cleaned with the device, they take the odor inside. Your pet’s hair is also likely to come into contact with its urine, which will aggravate the problem.

Dust Accumulation

Sometimes dust and other debris get trapped in your machine and eventually cause it to smell bad. Dry food and used coffee grinds contribute to the foul odor when you power your machine. Ensure that you don’t allow a lot of dust to accumulate inside your vacuum, as this will impact its efficiency. 

How To Get Rid Of Bad Smells From Your Vacuum Cleaner

A foul smell from your vacuum cleaner ruins your experience and makes you hate the practice. There are methods you can use to eliminate the odors, including;

Emptying The Dust Bin Or Bag

Some vacuums come with a dust bag while others have a bin. Replacing the bag may go a long way to eliminating the smell. If your machine comes with a bin instead of a bag, you will need to empty it and wash it with soap and hot water. You can also add a little baking soda or vinegar to eliminate any potential mildew. Be sure to wash every angle and corner. 

Clean The Brushes

Ensure that you clean the rotating brushes of your machine to prevent bad odors. Brushes accumulate a lot of residue and dust when cleaning rugs and carpets. Follow these simple steps to clean your brush;

  • Unplug the vacuum 
  • If the brush is detachable, remove it from the floor head connection
  • Cut any hair sticking on the bristles using a pair of scissors. Be sure not to cut the bristles
  • Use water and soap to wash the brush. You can also spray with vinegar and water if the brush is not detachable
  • Allow the brush to air-dry for about twenty-four hours
  • Put back the brush when fully dry

Replace Or Clean The Filters

Your machine’s filters get dusty and dirty over time, and this leads to your vacuum producing a foul smell. If your filter can be washed, you need to get rid of the dust around it and wash it under cold running water until the water becomes clear. Once all the dust is removed, allow the filter to dry for at least 24 hours, then place it back. 

If your filter is not washable, you will need to replace it. To prevent further problems, ensure that you replace your filter every year for regularly used vacuums or every six months for heavily used machines. You should also replace the filter twice per year if you have pets. 

Clean The Hose

Before the dust particles reach the filter, bin, or dust bag, they first pass through the hose. These particles may get stuck inside the tube and clog it. If the particles overstay inside the hose, they will decay and eventually lead to strong smells. Follow these simple steps to clean the hose;

  • Remove the hose and put it on a flat surface.
  • Use a broomstick to remove any debris from the hose. You can also use any other tool with the same shape as a broomstick and push it through to unblock the tube. 
  • Pour some hot water into your sink and add a little bleach and regular dish soap. You may also add vinegar or baking soda instead of bleach.
  • Put the hose inside the sink and move it around to ensure that water runs through it completely.
  • Pour out the water from the sink and place the tube under the tap. Wait for the water to come out through the other end.
  • Dry the hose completely before placing it back on the device. You can do this by hanging the hose in a well-aerated place or over a shower curtain.

How Can You Prevent Your Vacuum From Smelling Bad?

It is possible to prevent your machine from producing bad odors after cleaning. Use the following products to keep the smells at bay;

Use Of Baking Soda

Baking soda is popular for its superior cleaning properties. It is a powdery substance that has the ability to absorb unpleasant smells. You can sprinkle a little of this product into your vacuum through the dust bag. You may also apply some of this powder over the walls of the bin if your device has one. 


Cinnamon is an antibacterial substance that can help prevent the growth of unwanted germs and mold in your vacuum. You can place some powdered cinnamon inside the dust bag or bin to add a pleasant smell to your tool.

Lemongrass Or Thyme

Thyme and lemongrass contain essential oils that are beneficial in fighting mold and adding a pleasant smell. Place a few drops of essential oils in a spray bottle and fill it with water. Add one teaspoon of baking soda, then spray inside the bin or bag. 

Use Commercial Deodorants

You can also use commercial deodorants to add some fragrance to your vacuum. There are different flavors of these deodorants, and you can pick your favorite. Spray inside the bin or bag to prevent any unpleasant odors.

Cleaning Your Device Regularly

Besides using the above products to keep your vacuum smelling pleasant, ensure that you also wash it regularly. You can clean your tool every three to six months, but this will depend on how often you use it. If you have pets around your home, you might want to clean your vacuum after every month. 


A vacuum cleaner is one of the essential devices in a home that you need not lack. It helps keep your home clean and get rid of dirt, debris, and hair that may sometimes stick on the floors and carpets. However, with continued use of this tool, you may sometimes experience a foul smell like that of vomit when you power your device.

This smell is so disgusting, and you will need to do everything possible to remove it. You should clean or replace the filters, clean the beater brush, and also the hose. Using some household products such as vinegar, baking soda, cinnamon, and essential oils will help you regain the freshness of your device and enjoy vacuuming your home.



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