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How to Clean a Smelly or Clogged Vacuum Hose

Written by James Hall |

How to clean a vacuum hose

Does your vacuum’s hose emit an unpleasant odour? Or is the hose clogged? Here’s how to fix these annoying issues.

We’ve dealt with many dirty or clogged vacuum hoses at, so we know how frustrating these problems can be!

Aside from causing bad odours, clogging can reduce your vacuum’s suction and even put more strain on the motor. Fortunately, cleaning the hose is straightforward when you know how.

How Do You Clean Inside a Clogged Vacuum Hose?

  1. Remove the hose from the vacuum cleaner and detach any floorheads or tools.
  2. Check for visible clogs at either end. Then gently use a broom stick to dislodge any clogs (don’t use too much force.)
  3. Rinse the hose with cold water. Then submerge the hose in a few inches of water with washing up liquid.
  4. Re-rinse the hose thoroughly with cold water.
  5. Allow the hose to fully dry for at least 24 hours.

Why Cleaning Your Vacuum’s Hose is Important

Most people don’t regularly clean their vacuum’s hose. This is a mistake, as even a partial clog could have the following effects on you vacuum:

  • Bacteria build-up. Once a clog or dirty patch starts to form inside a hose, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. This is one of the most common causes of bad odours when vacuuming. If you notice a bad odour, you should always give your hose a good clean.
  • Loss of suction. It’s obvious when a vacuum has a major blockage, as the suction will drop to almost nothing. Even a partial blockage can have a negative impact on suction power though.
  • Overworked motor. A blockage can put extra strain on the motor. This may cause damage that reduces the lifespan of your vacuum.

How Often Should You Clean a Hose?

There’s no set time, but it’s a good idea to clean the hose every 1-2 months. While it’s often obvious if the vacuum has clogged, due to the loss of suction and sometimes a bad odour, you shouldn’t wait for this to happen before cleaning the hose.

How to Clean a Clogged Vacuum Hose

Here’s the basic process for cleaning and unclogging a vacuum hose. Keep in mind that some of the steps may vary depending on your vacuum’s make and model, so check the manual before starting.

1. Remove the Hose from the Vacuum Body

Before starting, you should switch off the vacuum and detach the hose from the body. Never clean the hose when it’s still attached to the vacuum, as this could put you at risk of an electric shock.

If you’re not sure how to remove the vacuum, check the manual. Some models need you to unscrew the hose, while others have a clip or button to press.

You shouldn’t have to use force when detaching a vacuum hose. If you feel like you’re forcing the hose to detach it, double-check the manual to see if you’re using the right method.

2. Find Any Blockages

Use a torch to inspect either end of the hose. Can you see any clogs or debris? Is there a build-up of grime along the inner walls?

If you’re sure there’s a blockage but you can’t see it, try gently squeezing along the hose. Once you’ve located a blockage, gently bend and squeeze around it to loosen the clump. Be careful not to use too much force, as this could crack the hose.

Note: The longer the hose, the more difficult it’ll be to clear it. While most clogs in a regular vacuum cleaner are easy to resolve, it may be more difficult if you’re unclogging a long central vacuum hose.

Does My Vacuum Hose Need to be Replaced?

In most cases, a vacuum hose doesn’t need to be replaced just because it’s become clogged or unclean. You’ll need to replace the hose if it has a crack or air leak though.

3. Remove Any Blockages

The easiest way to remove a blockage is to push a thin broom handle through the hose. Even if this doesn’t completely remove a blockage, it should loosen it enough for the vacuum to suck it up when you switch it back on.

As with all the steps on this process, it’s important not to use too much force though. You don’t want to damage the hose walls. You also shouldn’t use anything sharp.

4. Clean Inside The Hose

Now that any large blockages have been removed, the next step is to wash the hose. This helps to remove dirt, grime, and other odorous substances from inside the house.

  • Rinse the inside of the hose with cold water in a sink. This is also a good time to clean patches of dirt on the exterior of the hose.
  • Fill the sink with a few inches of water mixed with washing up liquid. Submerge the hose and gently move it around, so that water gets everywhere inside.
  • If you want to kill bacteria, try pouring a mixture of baking soda, white vinegar (1:4 ratio), and water through the hose. This fizzy mixture can sanitise your hose and eliminate stubborn odours.
  • Drain the sink, then thoroughly rinse the hose again with cold water to get rid of any remaining washing up liquid.

Struggling With Stubborn Dirt?

If there are patches of dirt that aren’t being removed by the washing process above, then you may need to use a gentle brush to dislodge the grime. A long bottle brush can be useful for this.

5. Allow the Hose to Dry

Once you’ve finished cleaning, give the hose a gentle shake off then allow it to fully dry before using it again. This could take 24 hours (or more.) It’s best to hang the hose while it’s drying, to allow any water to drain out.

It’s vital that the hose is completely dry before you reattach it to the vacuum. Never use a vacuum hose that’s even slightly damp, as this will cause more dirt to stick to the insides. Water that’s sucked up by the vacuum could also damage the motor and may even be dangerous.


The method above for cleaning your vacuum hose should remove any blockages and eliminate bad odours. Aside from making your home smell much more pleasant, a clean hose maximises your vacuum’s efficiency and prevents unnecessary strain on the motor.

We hope this article has helped you to unclog and clean your vacuum’s hose. If you have any questions, please use the comments form below.

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