Cause of Smelly Vacuum Cleaner Bags

Written by lee weal
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Cause of Smelly Vacuum Cleaner Bags
Vacuum cleaners can introduce odours into your home. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Homeowners use vacuum cleaners to keep their homes clean and fresh smelling. Sometimes, however, a vacuum cleaner bag produces a bad smell of its own. Several reasons account for why odours may be emanating from a vacuum cleaner bag, but there are many things you can do to eliminate those smells.

Food Odors

Avoid using your vacuum cleaner to pick up food and liquids in the kitchen. Dark and damp places like the inside of a vacuum bag are the perfect environment for mould growth. Even the smallest amount of food left in a vacuum cleaner bag for an extended period will eventually become mouldy and smelly.

Infrequent Emptying

In addition to food, a vacuum cleaner picks up other organic matter, such as pet hair, dust and insects. Many people do not empty the vacuum cleaner bag until it is full, which allows an accumulation of organic matter to remain in the bag emitting odours. Empty the bag more frequently, especially if you have cleaned up something with a bad odour.


Even after the bag is emptied, small particles of its contents are lining the inside of the bag. If your vacuum cleaner bag is washable, throw it in the washing machine and let it air dry. Disconnect the hoses, brushes and attachments, rinse them off and allow them to air dry. Clean the rollers of pet hair and dust periodically. Clean the filter or replace it with a new one. To replace a bad smell with a more pleasant one, use the vacuum to clean up pleasant-smelling substances like ground cinnamon or coffee grounds. Baking soda is a natural deodoriser. Pour a little baking soda into the vacuum cleaner bag or vacuum it up from the floor to help neutralise odour. Alternatively, sprinkle carpet deodoriser into the bag or throw in a few pleasant-smelling dryer sheets.


Aside from the usual offensive odours, the smell of burning rubber or an electrical smell when the vacuum cleaner is running is a sign of trouble. It could be a simple fix such as a belt that needs replacing or it could be an indication of a more serious problem. Review your manual or consult a qualified technician for solutions.

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