How To Get Pet Smell Out Of A Vacuum Cleaner

Pet owners, especially those who own dogs, may notice that after a while their vacuum cleaner beings are too small, a bit too much like their pet. Vacuum cleaners are excellent at sucking up animal hair, to the point that you may forget you have a pet in the house.

On the other hand, because of their high level of cleaning efficiency, they may begin to emit a strong odor of dog or cat smalls.

So what is going on? You may be confused because if your dog does not smell and your vacuum is not broken in any way, what could be causing this smell?

How To Get Pet Smell Out Of A Vacuum Cleaner

Well put simply, when you vacuum your floors, you are picking up a lot of dirt, dust, and pet hair, even more than you may realize. These smells are then trapped in the machine, and eventually, they will build up so much that you can smell them outside the machine as well. 

So how can you stop this from happening? Luckily, there are several cleaning techniques that you can try to prevent this smell from building up in your home or in the vacuum cleaner itself. Read on to find out the best way to keep these machines clean and your home smelling fresh. 

But remember, just like any cleaning tool, your vacuum also needs to be cleaned!

Change Or Wash The HEPA Filter

If you have never changed or washed your vacuum cleaner’s filter before, then this is the very first step you should take when trying to eliminate the smell from the machine. Changing the filter should be done semi-regularly, every few months or so, to ensure that your vacuum performs at its best. 

Depending on your vacuum, you can either change or wash and reuse the filter, but no matter what, you will notice a huge difference in the way the vacuum both smells and cleans after it is done. 

If you have pets, changing the filter is even more important to the health of your vacuum as they can become easily blocked with hair, which is what causes the bad smell.

You may have heard that taking out the HEPA filter improved the performance of the vacuum, but this is a lie. People think this because removing the filter improves the suction power, but as a consequence, the vacuum cannot completely hold in all of the dust and dirt.

As a result, you will be spreading more dirt around your home rather than vacuuming it up, which will only spread smells more.  

Due to its capacity to filter out small dust particles from the air, including allergies, HEPA filters are a blessing in disguise. If you have a vacuum with a HEPA filter, you may discover that the air is substantially cleaner after you have vacuumed than it was before.

If your stinking vacuum has a HEPA filter, consider changing it as soon as possible; it will make a huge difference in the odor.

Wash The Hose

You may not have ever considered washing the hose before. After all, all the dirt gets contained in the bag right? Well, the hose is what picks up the dirt, meaning that it socks up and traps the smells as well. 

If possible, you should remove the hose and wash the inside with warm soapy water, then leave it to completely dry. Make sure that it is dry before attaching it back to the vacuum unit, as water could damage the interior of the machine. 

Do not be tempted to vacuum up some warm water in an attempt to clean the hose, as this will seriously damage the machine to the point that it may not be fixable. You should only ever vacuum wet spills if you are using a wet/dry vacuum.

Put Dryer Sheets Inside The Bag

Place a dryer sheet into the dust bag of your vacuum cleaner before cleaning to improve the fragrance of the vacuum cleaner itself. In addition, you may use some orange peel or a few drops of essential oil on a piece of paper towel to remove the odor. This smell will infuse with your carpets while you are cleaning, taking over, and masking the pet smell that you are trying to get rid of. 

As another cleaning tip, potpourri is another alternative you can use instead of dryer sheets. Adding this to the vacuum bag will make it smell nice, as this smell will then infuse with carpets when you are cleaning.

Change The Bag

Change The Bag

Changing the bags in your vacuum cleaner regularly is one of the most straightforward and effective techniques of reducing the smell of pet hair that leaks out from your vacuum cleaner. Even though they are quite effective at trapping all of the hair and associated odors, they must be changed out before they become entirely saturated.

Change your bag regularly to keep your suction as powerful as possible. As a bonus, any unpleasant odors will not be able to accumulate in your vacuum if you keep changing the bag. With a box of numerous new bags on hand, it’s simple to swap them out fast and efficiently.

If you notice any dust gathering inside the compartment, give the area where the bag is stored a thorough cleaning. This will aid in the elimination of any potential sources of additional odors.

Vacuum Up Baking Soda

Does your puppy love to roll about on the floor to spread its scent around? Then try this cleaning method to get rid of those well-ingrained smells.  

To thoroughly clean the carpet, baking soda should be liberally sprinkled over it and left to settle for a few minutes before being thoroughly vacuumed up. This process is referred to as the “shake and vacuum” procedure. This cleaning method might also be done washing powder if you do not have any baking soda. 

Baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda) has the unusual ability to absorb smells, making it a viable solution for eliminating pet odors from your house.

Non-stop carpet freshening and improved vacuum performance are two of the many advantages of using this cleaning solution. Here is how to do it. 

  1. The dust bag or canister of the vacuum has to be changed or is empty before you start this cleaning task
  2. Get your baking soda and liberally sprinkle it over the surface of your carpets to remove odors.
  3. Allow it to rest for approximately an hour before attempting to hoover it up. The longer you wait the more smells that will be absorbed
  4. Vacuum up the baking soda, doing enough passes over the spot that it all comes up from the carpet
  5. Change the bag in the vacuum again once you have finished

Use Cinnamon Instead

If you enjoy the scent of cinnamon, you’ll enjoy cleaning with this product as well! Cinnamon can be used in place of baking soda, as it can mask any bad smells that may be stuck in your carpet or your vacuum bag. 

It is especially beneficial in the winter months since cinnamon has a unique ability to absorb odors while also imparting a delightful spicy odor that will make your home feel very cozy. With this method, you can either use cinnamon on its own, or mix it in with the baking soda if you do not want the cinnamon smell to be too overwhelming. 

When you vacuum the next time, the delightful spice should saturate the carpet while making your vacuum smell much better as well.

To clean with cinnamon, use the same method that is described above, just substitute the baking soda for the cinnamon itself. 

Clean Out The Brush 

Brush heads without hair will be more successful in capturing and removing hair than brush heads that are all clogged up. Performing some basic routine maintenance on your brush head should be straightforward provided you follow the directions. Check the instructions provided by the manufacturer for your specific vacuum.

How To Clean A Bag Less Vacuum

How To Clean A Bag Less Vacuum

Bag less vacuums are just as easily able to trap and leak smells as bag vacuums, so they need to be cleaned as well. Here are some quick ways that you can eliminate smells in your bag less vacuum. 

Clean The Dustbin

If you use a bag less vacuum, you may not realize that the dustbin may still have some dust caught in it even after you have emptied it. This may result in lingering pet odors, just when you thought you’d finally gotten rid of all the nasty smells.

Using a dampened towel and soapy water, wipe off the interior of the bin, then scrape away at the layer of caked dust that builds after each time you empty the bin. Before reattaching it to your vacuum, be assured that it is thoroughly dry as any internal water can damage the machine. 

Check And Change The Filters

There are a variety of vacuum cleaners available, but no matter which one you buy, their filters can always become clogged with the dust that they are vacuuming up and sifting out. 

If you want to change or clean them, go to your owner’s manual to find out where they are situated and what the best procedure is for cleaning or replacing them.

Depending on the circumstances, filters may be disposable and must be replaced regularly following the manufacturer’s instructions. Other vacuums have washable filters that can be cleaned and reused several times. 

Other Ways To Prevent Your Hoover From Smelling

So we have talked about solutions, but what about preventing bad smells from building up in your vacuum in the first place? When you have pets, this can be pretty difficult, especially if you have many dogs, or your pet sheds a lot of hair. 

Here are two ways to prevent bad smells from building up in your vacuum cleaner. 

Keep Your Pet Well Groomed

How you groom your dog and keep them smelling nice will be determined by the breed you have chosen. Long-haired dogs will need cleaning and grooming much more often than short-haired dogs, so keeping on top of this is vital to prevent both your home and your vacuum from smelling like your pet. You can either do this yourself or take your dog to a groomer. 

An important thing to remember though is that there is such a thing as over-cleaning your dog. Like it would with people, scrubbing a dog’s skin can cause skin irritations, which will make your dog very uncomfortable and itchy. 

If overdone, it can even lead to serious skin conditions and infection. Do your research and find out how often you can safely bathe your pet. 

Consider using dog spray if you are unable to clean your dog as regularly as you would want. This will allow you to keep your dog smelling fresh in between bathing sessions and save money.

Another thing you can do is give your pet a good brush through. Like with bathing, this should not be overdone as it could cause more harm than good. But if your pet is in its shedding season, then brushing out all of the loose hair will stop it from falling out all over the house. This may also mean that you will have to vacuum less in general. 

Don’t Hoover Up Spills

This is not related to pets, but one thing you should never do is use your vacuum to quickly get rid of a spill, no matter what the liquid is. This can cause dampness to build up inside the vacuum, which not only will cause a very bad smell, but may also damage the inside of the machine. 


While some vacuums do a better job resisting smells than others (Dyson comes to mind here) it’s a problem that every vacuum will face at some point. 

If you have noticed that your vacuum is smelling a bit too much like your pet, then there are many ways that you can clean the machine to prevent this from happening. Try any one of the tricks above, and you have a much nicer smelling home and vacuum in no time!