Why Does My Vacuum Smell Like Feet? Common Reasons

The use of vacuums makes the task of cleaning your carpets much simpler. On the other hand, if you don’t keep up with their maintenance, they can mutate into foul-smelling monsters that destroy the air quality in your home. This can happen if you don’t keep up with their upkeep.

There’s a good chance you’re wondering, “Why does my vacuum smell like feet?”

Examine the vacuum for obstructions or mould that might be the source of the foul smell. 

There’s a good chance your vacuum is to blame if you’ve done all your power to eliminate the odour but still can’t find the source. Continue reading this article if you are interested in learning how to bring back the vacuum’s natural scent.

Why Does My Vacuum Smell Like Feet

Why Does My Vacuum Smell Like Feet? 

Identifying the origins of vacuum odours allows you to choose the most effective solution for the present and future. The following are some of the most frequent reasons for an unpleasant vacuum smell:

Oil and Food Waste: When food and drink remnants are vacuumed, they deteriorate and create a putrid odour that you can detect throughout the house. Oil accumulates on moving parts like the floor head and the hose and can even cause them to become clogged.

Sad as it is to admit, the stench from your vacuum cleaner is most likely due to hair from your pet. Regularly vacuuming up pet hair and dander, both naturally odorous, might cause your vacuum to have a musty odour. The odour would be considerably worse if you caught Fido’s urine in the pet fur.

There could be mould buildup if you’ve never cleaned up any food spills and have never had a pet, yet your vacuum still has a foul odour. When you vacuum a wet carpet or another damp surface, mould begins to form in the vacuum.

To turn the vacuum cleaner’s motor, every model uses a rubber belt that can catch fire if overheated. Brushes that aren’t regularly cleaned and maintained can be damaged by pet hair and dirt, which can wear down the rubber drive belt. 

What to Do If Your Vacuum Has a Bad Odor

Now that you know what could be causing the vacuum’s unpleasant smell, try these solutions:

Empty the Trash Receptacle or Swap Out the Garbage Bag

Most of the grime sucked up by a vacuum is stored in dirtbags or dust canisters. If you wait until the canister is full before emptying it or changing the dirtbag, the debris in your vacuum will degrade and produce a terrible stench. 

It’s time to clear out the dust canister and replace the dirtbag in your vacuum cleaner if it’s been a while since you’ve done either.

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To avoid the issue from arising again, you should empty it regularly. This is especially important for bagged vacuum cleaners, whose dirtbags have pores that can clog with dirt over time, releasing unpleasant odours.

It’s best to stick with the authentic brand or manufacturer’s recommendation when shopping for a new set of dirtbags since these items will typically be of higher quality and may even include extra purification layers to keep odours at bay.

You should wash the canister of a bagless vacuum cleaner with a solution of mild detergent and water to remove any lingering odours. If you want to prevent moisture-related issues like mould, let it dry completely before reattaching it.

It’s essential to have a look at the filters.

The filter in your vacuum does the dirty work of capturing dust, grime, and even the tiniest dirt particles to protect the motor. This means they get dirty quickly and, if nothing is done, can give your vacuum an unpleasant odour. 

Consequently, if the vacuum still smells after being emptied, the filter may be the source of the problem. Check the user guide to find out if your item can be cleaned. If it is not washable, throw it away and buy new ones; if it is, give it a good scrub with some mild detergent. 

During this time, you should reread the handbook to ensure you aren’t about to do something that could break it.

Observe the Brush Papers

When cleaning, dust, grime, and other particles frequently make direct contact with brush rolls. This debris can build up over time, making the vacuum smell and become ineffective. If you’ve tried everything to eliminate the odour from your vacuum, but nothing has helped, try inverting the machine and inspecting the brush rolls.

Remove any tangled or trapped material with a seam ripper or scissors. Use a mixture of water, vinegar, baking soda, or disinfectant to spray the area and eliminate the smell and the obstruction. It’s a good idea to examine the other attachments while you’re at it, and if they appear dirty or blocked, wash them in warm water with a light detergent solution.

Check the Suction Cleaner for Blockage

So, you’ve tried emptying the dust canister/dirtbag, cleaning the filters, and inspecting the brush, but the vacuum still smells musty. Please don’t give up hope quite yet; a clog in the machine likely is to blame. Vacuumed material, such as food particles, pet hair, and other particles, can get stuck in the intake valves and cause a clog and a foul odour.

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Sometimes, the hose can grow smelly because of food particles lodged and decayed inside. If you clean up the buildup, your vacuum could continue working altogether.

Before you give up and throw away your vacuum cleaner in disgust, be sure there is no obstruction. Suction testing is the quickest and easiest way to check for clogged intake valves, but you can also remove the vacuum brush and use a flashlight. 

Here are three easy ways to clear the hose if that’s where the clog is coming from.

Initially, it must be detached.

You can loosen the buildup by pouring one litre of hot water down the hose tube and into a sink.

Mix two teaspoons of vinegar (or baking soda) with a light cleaning detergent, and then immerse your hose into the resulting cleaning solution. You should shift it around such that all areas are protected.

Before returning it, please rinse it in running water and let it dry thoroughly.

Cleaning Your Vacuum to Eliminate Odors

A thorough knowledge of the source of a foul odour is essential for successfully eliminating it.

The vacuum’s been giving out an awful odour, but following the steps above should help. However, if you take precautions, you won’t have to worry about unpleasant odours developing in your vacuum in the first place. Here’s the procedure:

Use of Baking Soda

Because of its versatility as a cleaning agent and its ability to neutralise unpleasant odours, baking soda is a staple in kitchens. Deodorise your vacuum by mixing baking soda with warm water and wiping off the components. Sprinkle some baking soda on the carpet about half an hour before you vacuum, and make that a regular part of your cleaning regimen.

Try Cinnamon

Cinnamon can neutralise odours. It has a delightful aroma. Simply sprinkling cinnamon in your vacuum’s dust canister, known as the dirtbag, will help keep odours at bay and provide a pleasant aroma as you clean. You can sprinkle them on carpets before vacuuming.

You can also use a lemon or orange peel to mask and prevent the vacuum’s stench. Insert it into the filter slot.

Aromatherapy Essential Oils

Essential oils, including cinnamon and citrus peels, mask unpleasant odours and leave a pleasant one. What’s so great about it? Aromas like lavender, lemongrass, and thyme are just a few of the many available. 

Using a 20-ounce spray bottle (use as much or as little essential oil as you choose, it’s your home), spritz the dust canister or the dirtbag lightly every time you empty or change it.

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Guide on Taking Care of Your Vacuum Cleaner

Regular maintenance prevents issues like unpleasant odours and keeps your vacuum running smoothly. When it comes to upkeep, consider the following advice:

Inspect for Obstruction

Inspect the vacuum’s hose, exhaust, filter, and other internal components regularly for obstructions. Avoid unpleasant odours and possible harm to the vacuum by spotting obstacles early.

It Needs Regular Cleaning,

Generally speaking, dirt is the root of most hiccups when using a vacuum cleaner. A blocked filter, for instance, is the result of neglecting to clean or replace it for some time. Therefore, it’s essential to maintain your vacuum cleaner by giving it a good cleaning regularly. 

You should take it apart once a month and clean the parts with a moist towel and a mild detergent solution. Remove any debris that may have become lodged in the roller brush and ensure that the filters are clean. 

Make sure to clean it up while it’s unplugged from power.

Guarantee a Moisture-Free Environment for Your Inventory

Mould grows on a vacuum cleaner, leading to musty odours and belt damage if the machine gets wet. Always ensure your vacuum is stored in a dry area to avoid any issues.


It’s a typical issue; as you can see, it’s simple to solve using things you probably already have lying around the house. The only time this is not the case is if the vacuum belt has been burned; in this instance, it is best to have a professional replace the belt. Use the above maintenance procedures to avoid unpleasant odours and maximize the efficiency of your vacuum.

Robert Smith
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Robert Smith

Robert Smith is a technology lover and loves to write about laptops, monitors, printers, tablets, Apple products and anything that's related to computers and games. He is passionate enough that he maintains this blog regarding tech updates on a daily basis.