How to Clean Carpet Cleaner Brushes

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Is your carpet cleaning brush not working at its best? For short-term relief, you might consider washing it with a soap water solution. But think again!

If there is excess soap in the cleaning mix by mistake, the brush will do more harm than good once it dries out. That’s why we have summarized how to clean carpet cleaning brushes in detail.

How to Clean Carpet Cleaner Brushes

Depending upon what type of carpet you have, there are ‘n’ numbers of carpet cleaning brushes available in the market. From steam-operated machines and vacuums to regular hand-operated brushes. One can pick from a wide variety of brushes as per their likings.

Generally, people prefer using a detergent mix to wash the brushes or the brush attachments. Though the method works out well in most cases, yet it can fail sometimes. The reason is liquid soap.

The liquid soap is sticky and pouring an excess of liquid soap directly on the brush can make the bristles sticky (if not washed thoroughly with warm water).

These sticky bristles then attract more dirt and grime from the surrounding, making your carpet eventually dirtier than before. Hence, it is best to use other cleaning agents like rubbing alcohol or vinegar and powder detergent to wash the brush attachments for better cleaning.

A person cleaning a brown carpet with a carpet cleaner vacuum

Steps to Clean a Machine Operated Carpet Cleaning Brush

As said above, there are a lot of brushes one can use to clean their carpet. If you have a normal-manually operated brush, usually used for dusting, you can skip the first step and continue from step #2.

Step #1: Unplug the Carpet Cleaner and Remove the Brush

While the brush is still attached to the vacuum cleaner, cleaning it is difficult. To begin, remove the vacuum cleaner’s brush. Don’t worry; the procedure is uncomplicated and easy to follow.

Users must twist and pull the hose extension off most vacuum carpet cleaners. Others need you to disconnect the brush by pressing a button.

Step #2: Make Sure the Brush Is Clean

After you’ve removed the brush from the vacuum cleaner, clean it to remove any dirt, filth, bacteria, or debris that has accumulated on the bristles. Fill the bucket with warm water, then add a mild detergent to the warm water.

This will aid in the removal of any debris, filth, or grime that has clung to the bristles. If you’re cleaning your vacuum brush for the first time, you might be astonished at how much dirt comes off.

Make sure the entire brush is submerged in warm water to ensure that all of the brush’s sections are clean. Scrubs the brush bristles gently with another portable brush to remove any tenacious dirt that has gathered.

When you’re finished, wipe down the section that houses the vacuum brush with a moist cloth to remove debris, dust, or grime.

Step #3: Use Diluted Vinegar to Clean the Brush

Wiping the brush with weak vinegar will help remove bacteria from the bristles. Even when the brush is cleaned with soap and warm water, some bacteria can remain.

Diluted vinegar will destroy all bacteria present on the bristles. Because of its potent mycobactericidal effects, vinegar contains acetic acid, which is commonly used.

To avoid harming the brush bristles, mix the vinegar with water. Also, avoid extended contact with vinegar solution on any rubber parts as much as possible, as it may deteriorate the rubber over time.

Step #4: Allow Time for the Brush to Dry

After you’ve finished cleaning, let the brush air dry before reattaching it to the vacuum. This is a critical stage that you should not overlook.

Please let it out in the open air to dry naturally. When left out in the open with a free flow of air, it will dry completely in about 2-3 hours.

When you’re sure the brush is entirely dry, reattach it to the vacuum, and it’ll be ready to use again.

Steps to Clean the Vacuum Cleaner and Its Brush Attachment

Apart from a carpet cleaning machine like a steam cleaner, one can also use a vacuum cleaner of their choice. Most of us usually focus on cleaning the brush attachments from time to time, but that’s not enough.

If the interior of the vacuum isn’t cleaned thoroughly, the germs and minute dirt particles can remain in your carpet, making it unhygienic to use.

Thus, one should wash the brush attachments after every use along with the other detachable parts from time to time, especially the dust bag (if washable).

Step #1: Disassemble the Parts 

Remove any dirt from the dust bag or canister and dispose of it. All washable and replaceable parts, such as filters and attachment attachments, should be removed.

Step #2: Wash the Filters

There is more than one filter in a modern-day vacuum cleaner. To know exactly how many filters are there in your vacuum, refer to the user manual.

To clean the washable filter:

  1. Submerge it in water and scrape it with a toothbrush. If you’re going to use a disinfectant, this is the time to do so.
  2. Let the vacuum filter dry out properly.
  3. Leave it for 24 hours after washing it with normal water. 

To loosen and remove dust and other clumped particles, tap non-washable filters against a surface a couple of times. You can wipe the dirt away using a cloth.

It is better to replace the filter of the vacuum from time to time. However, consult the manual for any advice on this, especially if the HEPA filter is involved.

HEPA filters in vacuum cleaners used in homes may not need to be changed for up to three years. You’ll need to consult the vacuum instructions once more. If your HEPA filter has developed a musty stench, it’s time to replace it.

Step #3: Cleanse the Dust Bag

If your vacuum cleaner has a clean dust bag, then you can jump to the next step. But, if you seek to clean the dust bag properly, we advise you to look in the user manual.

Because most manufacturers do not recommend cleaning dust bags, you may need to replace them.

Step #4: Cleanse the Canister

Now for those of you who have canisters. To begin, empty the canister. You can find instructions for separating the canister from the bigger vacuuming unit in the manual.

After that, scrub the canister with a brush in warm soapy water (combined with a disinfectant). Rinse it in cool water, and air dry it thoroughly, precisely like you would do with the filter.

After detaching the canister, clean the interior of the vacuum using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Downward strokes will ensure that the dirt falls instead of rising.

Then, using compressed air, blow any stubborn or difficult-to-reach trash away. Recheck everything to make sure everything is cleaned. Also, pay attention to flying dirt particles in the room. These are quickly absorbed into your eyes and airways, causing allergic reactions.

Step #5: Clean the Attachments

From hair to threads and other debris, a lot of stuff gets stuck in this portion of the vacuum. Using a pair of scissors or a seam ripper, carefully cut the hair and strings off the bristles.

After you’ve finished trimming, carefully pull the hair and dirt away with your hands. To avoid damaging the bristles, use mild pressure. Wipe away any remaining filth with the toothbrush.

Remove the rotating brush from your vacuum if it can be unscrewed for a thorough cleansing. You can find a small channel (present in most vacuums) under the rotating brush that is easily overlooked.

Step #6: Clean the Bottom

Remove any debris that might be impeding the path. Do you recall that alcohol is one of the best cleaning solutions to clean almost every hard surface? All you need to do is take a cotton pad and gently wipe the bottom of a vacuum cleaner with alcohol. 

Because it is the bottom that comes into contact with the surfaces in your home, we recommend disinfecting it. Alcohol is ideal for this because it disinfects the vacuum and dries quickly.

Don’t forget to check for the broken vacuum drive belt. If so, it’s time to replace it if there are visible signs of aging or cuts.

Step #7: Final Wash

This is a simple procedure. Washable accessories should be dipped in soapy water, scrubbed, and then rinsed in cool water.

If any of the attachments have dirt accumulated on its surface or a clump of hair strands stuck over, cut them off using scissors and try to remove them with the help of a firm bristled brush.

Air dry all of the attachments for at least 24 hours. You can put all of them under a fan and let them dry overnight.

A carpet cleaner with messy brushes on a carpet

Step #8: Dry Before Using

Wipe down the vacuuming unit with the microfiber cloth. If you prefer (and we do), rub a little alcohol on everything simply to make sure it’s clean and disinfected.

Step #9: Assemble All Parts of the Vacuum

It’s time to rebuild the vacuum cleaner and install any new parts after all of the parts have dried. After you’ve finished, give the vacuum a final wash down, and you’re ready to go.


The hazards of using vacuum cleaners are quite alarming. With an increasing number of contaminants across the globe, it is crucial to pay more attention to one’s health and hygiene.

Using a vacuum may seem like a good idea to clean the carpets. Still, a study reveals that vacuums can contribute to an increased number of allergies and bioaerosol emissions in the surrounding environment making situations worse, especially for those prone to allergies.

Hence, one should keep their cleaning units clean and hygienic after every use, especially in the commercial sector (hotels, restaurants, etc.), where a vast crowd come and walk away daily.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.