How To Clean Your Bissell Bagless Vacuum

The other day I was vacuuming my daughter’s room when I noticed that my trusty Bissell Lift-Off Pet Vacuum was no longer suctioning up her dropped Cheerios. It was actually flinging them across the room with every sweep. It dawned on me then that it has been some time (a few years, in fact!) that I’ve actually performed any other recommended maintenance on my vacuum besides emptying the dust bin regularly. Clearly, it was time to show a little TLC to the big dusty thing.

Bissell Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet Vacuum

My dusty yet trusty Bissell Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet Vacuum

And so for me, spring cleaning 2014 began with cleaning and servicing my number one cleaning tool. Here’s how I did it.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

First, you’ll need to gather up a few supplies and tools to have handy. You’ll need:

  • Your Bissell vacuum’s owner’s manual for reference
  • Dust cloth
  • A can of compressed air for dusting
  • Dish soap (and you might want to empty your sink)
  • A screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • New filter for your vacuum
  • Elbow grease

Step 2: Break Down Your Vacuum

To get started, you’ll want to remove all the washable and replaceable parts of your Bissell vacuum. On my model and most other Bissell uprights, that includes the dust bin, the secondary cyclone piece above the dust bin, all attachment accessories, the pre-motor filter, and HEPA post-motor filter.

Bissell vacuum parts

All of the easily removable parts from my vacuum

Step 3: Wash parts and let them air dry.

Next, you’ll want to dunk every part that can be washed (consult your owner’s manual for this very important info) into a sink of soapy water. Fortunately, my vacuum’s dust bin, secondary cyclone, extension wands, and pre-motor filter can all be washed with soap and water. The remaining parts should only be wiped clean with a dust cloth. Your vacuum’s HEPA filter needs to be replaced completely every 6 months (oops, I will have to remember that!). Also, you’ll want to leave time to allow the parts to air dry before you put them back on the vacuum.

vacuum parts in sink

These parts got a much-needed bath!

Step 4: Dust the inside compartments of the vacuum.

One downside of owning a bag-less vacuum is that the dust bin isn’t sealed, and that means the inner compartments of the vacuum can get pretty dusty. I’ve found that an old-fashioned dust cloth just won’t cut it to clean these tight compartments. The best way to clean them is to give them a good blast with a can of compressed air. I should also note that this step obviously involves lots of flying dust that can trigger your allergies and settle on any furniture nearby. So I took my vacuum outside for dusting and did my best not to breathe in the path of all the flying particles. It worked pretty well. Try to make this step quick, however. That can of air gets cold after a while!

can of compressed air

Best to be quick with this step. Your hand will be freezing after a while!

Step 5: Remove the rotating floor brush and clean.

For this step, you’ll need your screwdriver to unscrew the compartment that holds the rotating floor brush. Once you’ve removed it, you’ll probably be looking at something like this.


Pretty, huh? Just look at all that hair and fuzz!

To clean the rotating brush, get your scissors and start cutting. My brush had strands of hair wound so tightly around it, I had trouble getting it all off. Scissors did the trick. You can clean lint and debris from the bristles of the brush just by giving it a good hard tap or pulling them off with your fingers. This is also a good time to inspect your vacuum’s drive belt for wear and tear, cuts, or stressed areas. If you see any damage, it’s time to replace it. Most big-box stores sell replacement drive belts for all major vacuum brands and they’re a breeze to replace.

All clean! Isn't it pretty?

All clean! Isn’t it pretty?

Step 6: Check the air passageway for clogs before re-assembling the floor brush.

Behind your Bissell’s floor brush is a small circular air passageway. This passageway is the main suction path for dirt and debris as you vacuum your floors. To ensure your vacuum works properly, this airway should always be free of obstructions. You’ll also want to check the vacuum hose for obstructions and remove any debris that may be stuck. It was during this step that I discovered the reason my vacuum wasn’t sucking up all those Cheerios. I found a pretty severe clog that would likely have led to my vacuum overheating if I had left it untouched. I pulled all of this out the airway.

Dirt and debris

This was a pretty big clog. Dirt and debris just kept on coming out.

Step 7: Reassemble your vacuum, pop in a new HEPA filter, and be on your way!

After all the vacuum parts you washed have dried completely, you can re-assemble your vacuum and install a new HEPA post-motor filter. This time, I wrote the date on the side of my filter so I’d remember to change it every 6 months. Remember, this filter is what helps prevent allergens from being exhausted back into your home, so it’s pretty important for your indoor air quality – especially now that it’s spring allergy season. Once you’ve re-assembled your vacuum, give the outer housing a good wipe-down, and you are good to go. Time to clean!

Look how clean and shiny my vacuum is! And it works like new.

Look how clean and shiny my vacuum is! And it works like new.

Regular cleaning and maintenance on your Bissell vacuum (any vacuum, for that matter) keeps it running efficiently, suctioning dirt and debris well, and can even lengthen its operating life. In general, you should plan to deep clean all vacuum parts every 6 months to a year, depending on how much you use your vacuum. For a little insurance, get in the habit of inspecting major parts like the rotating brush, drive belt, and hose regularly to avoid major malfunctions. (Vacuum repair can be costly!) Visit our Vacuum Knowledge Center for more tips on vacuum maintenance.

Happy Spring….cleaning!

How often do you clean your vacuum? Have any favorite cleaning tips or tricks to share? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your feedback in the comments below.

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  1. rechargeable compressed air can

    Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but
    after checking through some of the post I realized it’s
    new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  2. Katherine

    This was a very helpful blog! I was able to fix my overly loud and whiny vacuum that was probably on the verge of overheating. I doubt it had had a deep cleaning in years…

  3. Eva Russell

    Good Article!! It is important that every vacuum cleaner owner knows the basics of its maintenance. This is a good tutorial for everyone. Some retailers help ignorant customers with such maintenance jobs.

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