How to clean a Shark vacuum cleaner — filter, canister and brush head

Give your machine some love and learn how to clean a Shark vacuum

Shark vacuum in kitchen on left, woman vacuuming couch on right
(Image credit: Shark)

Learning how to clean a Shark vacuum can help with a multitude of issues. From losing power or suction to smelling a little funky, most technical problems can be fixed once you've cleaned out your household appliance.

Even the best models need cleaning and some light maintenance from time to time. And just because this brand is a Real Homes fave... it doesn't mean that its machines are invincible. 

So we've asked the experts to share a tutorial on maintaining the best Shark vacuums, which includes everything from cleansing the canister and how to clean a Shark vacuum filter so you can give your machine some extra TLC.

How to clean a shark vacuum

"With all of the miles I’ve put on my numerous Shark vacs over the years, I’ve never had one fail. And while the manufacturer boasts that Sharks never lose suction, that is predicated on common sense and regularly cleaning Shark’s canister, filters, rotating brush, and handle hose," says Mary Hunt, founder of blog.

  1. Disconnect your shark cleaner from the power outlet.
  2. Remove and empty the dust cup. Wipe clean with a dry cloth.
  3. Remove the handle of your vacuum and check each section for blockages.
  4. Wash the filters, the brush-roller, and bristles and let air dry for up to 24 hours.
  5. Unclog the hose using a wire hanger or stick. Reassemble your vacuum.

"Turn your vacuum over and clean the brush head from hairs and threads, use scissors and cut these out and if the roller comes out remove this give it a clean, and put it back when fully dry," says cleaning expert and content creator, Lynsey Crombie.

"Check the hose for any blockages, blast it with a hairdryer to get out any dust and debris, and if there are any blockages use a wire coat hanger to pull the blockage out."

Vacuuming carpet with Shark vacuum

(Image credit: Shark)

How to clean a Shark vacuum filter

To clean foam and felt filters, simply tap off loose dirt, then rinse them with clean water. Only use water — do not use soap. Always let the filters air dry completely for 24 hours before reinserting them. You can also tap loose dirt off filters between washes as needed.

To clean a post-motor filter, remove it from the vacuum — you may also need to remove the filter from a frame, depending on your model. Handwash with water and allow to air dry completely before reinserting into the frame and returning to the vacuum.

If you do need to replace a filter, the SharkNinja site has a handy tool where you can enter your model number and the site will direct you to the correct parts and accessories for your vacuum specification.

How to clean Shark vacuum brush rolls

Floorheads with one brush roll: Detach the floorhead from your vacuum and remove any debris from the bristles. Some models have a removable section of the base for access to the brush-roll – check your instruction booklet for details. Carefully use scissors within the brush-roll groove to cut away any string, hair, or debris wrapped around the brush roll.

DuoClean floorheads: DuoClean floorheads have two brush-rolls — a bristle brush-roll and a soft front roller. To clean the bristle brush roll, remove the cover using the guide in your instruction booklet — remove any debris and clear away any dirt or blockages. To clean the soft front roller, simply tap off any loose debris, use a dry towel to wipe the brush roll clean, and remove any debris caught in the teeth behind the brush roll. Hand wash if needed, using only water, and let it air dry completely for at least 24 hours before reinserting.

Shark vacuum on stairs

(Image credit: Shark)

How to clean a Shark vacuum hose

After detaching your hose completely from the vacuum, inspect the inside of it for blockages. Lay the hose flat and check all openings for clogs or clumps. You can also use a flashlight to help you see any obstructions inside of your hose.

Use a wire hanger (cheap ones like these hangers from Amazon will do) broomstick handle, or any other stick that fits the length of your entire vacuum hose to remove the clogs.

You may need to rinse out the hose if it's particularly dirty. Just leave it to air dry for at least 24 hours before reattaching it and using your vacuum.

Removing hair from a Shark vacuum brush roll

You will need:

How to:

  1. If you suddenly notice that your vacuum cleaner isn’t picking up like it usually does, switch it off and take a quick look at the underside of the brush roll. The chances are it has become jammed with hair and string. 
  2. To get your cleaner back up and running in seconds, simply cut through the blockages with a box cutter.

Deodorizing your vacuum with spices

Whether your vacuum has sucked up old food, or you've swept up something smelly that your pet has brought in, there's a whole load of reasons why your vacuum might smell a little... pungent.

Purging the odor couldn't be easier with one pantry spice and will make your Shark vacuum smell like sweet baked goods. Dollar for dollar, it's also cheaper than any other chemical product and naturally removes the stench, so is perfect for busy households with young families and pets.

You will need:

  • Ground cinnamon — this Amazon-own brand can also be used for baking and breakfast oats

How to:

  • Add a teaspoon of cinnamon powder to the bag or cylinder of your vacuum cleaner to leave a stunning aroma wherever you clean. If you don’t like cinnamon, vanilla powder (also available on Amazon) works just as well. Just be expected to pay significantly more for this premium product, and, avoid cheaper alternatives that contain dextrose (a type of powdered sugar) which may attract pests!

Deodorizing with dryer sheets

As well as making your freshly-dried washing smell good on laundry day, the humble tumble dryer sheet can also be used to clean a Shark vacuum. What's more, it'll also make your carpets and the surrounding air smell great.

You will need:

How to:

  1. Place the scented tumble dryer sheet inside the vacuum cleaner’s bag or cylinder.
  2. Go about your cleaning as normal, and let the cleaner do the hard work of freshening up your home.

Emptying Shark vacuum in trash

(Image credit: Shark)

When to clean a Shark vacuum

If your Shark vacuum needs to cleaned, there will be some tell-tale signs:

  • Loss of suction: It happens. A big fat hairy fuzzball or a venerable filter that’s stopped filtering can clog a vacuum and cut off suction. Whatever the cause, a loss of suction is the first sign that someone needs a good cleaning.
  • Visible dirt left behind: When working at peak performance, a Shark vacuum will never leave behind a trail of crumbs and debris. If it does, that’s a clear indication it needs to be cleaned.
  • Weird sound: You’ll know it’s bath time for sure if your Shark sounds like it is gasping for air. That’s because it is. And that can be very hard on the vacuum’s motor.
  • Unpleasant odor: A Shark vacuum should never give off a stinky, dirty odor. If it does, consider that a clear sign this vacuum is overdue for a good cleaning.

How often should you clean a Shark vacuum?

Lynsey recommends cleaning regularly. "To keep your vacuum in good working order, try to get into the habit of emptying out the canister after every use and then monthly add your vacuum cleaner to your to-do list, rinse the dirt collector canister with warm soapy water, and then pull out any of the washable filters and rinse under the tap and leave to dry fully before putting back."

How to check for blockages

Shark's product team advises that you can check for blockages in the floorhead, wand, hose, and airways.

"If you have an upright vacuum, first remove the handle and check if there is any suction once turned on – if not, there may be an obstruction in the handle or hose. If this section is clear, or if you have a stick vacuum, look through the wand to ensure nothing has become lodged in the pipe. You can also shine a torch into the hose. Finally, check the arm of the floorhead – where you connect the wand – for blockages."

Christina Chrysostomou
Former acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the former acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.