How To Clean Lint From a Dyson Animal Triggerhead

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Dyson has been a household name for vacuum cleaners and other home appliances for quite a number of years. Their excellent quality and workmanship shines in examples like the Dyson Animal models in just about all of their vacuum cleaner ranges, where the motorhead is called the Triggerhead.

However, just like any type of roller-based vacuum cleaner, the motorhead tends to get gunked up with lint, hair, and other debris after a while. This can lead to reduced performance, and possible damage, if not taken care of in a timely fashion. Because of this, you should know how to clean the lint from a Dyson Animal Triggerhead.

How To Clean The Lint From A Dyson Animal Triggerhead

The Dyson Animal Triggerhead is a wide housing with a suction driven brush-roll, used on carpeting, rugs, and other non-hard surfaces. The turbine head can be turned on and off by a switch at the handle, allowing for use on hard surfaces, but there are other Dyson heads that work better on hardwood and other similar floors.

The most common version is the Dyson DC39 Triggerhead, which comes standard in the Animal and Multi Floor models of their Dyson Ball vacuums. The action of the brush-roll is caused by the suction force spinning a wheel inside of the cylindrical area above the main floor nozzle. Since it does not have its own motor, this removes a point of failure that often occurs with standard upright vacuums.

The brush roller itself is easily removable, which aids in cleaning both the roller and the entire assembly, but we’ll get into that later.

Cleaning Lint From a Dyson Animal Triggerhead

In order to clean the inside of the motorhead, you will need to get the correct tools together, disassemble it, clean it, then put it back together again. The process looks like it has a lot of steps, but it is really quite easy.

Tools Needed to Clean Lint From a Dyson Animal Triggerhead

The user-friendly design makes it so you will only need some typical household items to do a basic cleaning of a Triggerhead. You don’t even need a screwdriver!

Yellow rag soaked in soapy water

Here is what you will need:

  • A coin or similar thin, stiff object with preferably a rounded edge
  • Scissors, preferably with rounded tips
  • A comb
  • A rag or other clean cloth
  • Soap and water

How to Take Apart a Dyson Animal Triggerhead

  1. Make sure the vacuum cleaner is unplugged.
  2. Remove the Triggerhead assembly from the main barrel. There should be a button you can push to separate the two parts.
  3. Turn the assembly upside down.
  4. Locate the unlock cap on the side. If you would be vacuuming, it would be on the right side of the Triggerhead when you are looking down.
  5. Taking a coin or other rounded, stable edge, unlock the cap by turning it counter-clockwise until it clicks. This is usually about a 45 degree twist.
  6. Remove the cap and place it in a safe place.
  7. Grasp the brush roll from the open end and remove it. If there is a large amount of hair, string, or other debris built up, you may need to pull the brush roll fairly hard and manipulate it a bit back and forth to remove it.

How to Clean a Dyson Animal Triggerhead

  1. Pull off as much lint and hair as you can from the brush roller with your hands.
  2. For hair, string, or anything else that has wrapped around the agitator brush roller, use a pair of scissors to cut them down the middle. This will make removing them much easier.
  3. Work a comb through the roller brush bristles to remove any more lint.
  4. Wash the brush roller in soap and water. Avoid submerging it completely, water may seep into the hollow center. Place it aside to dry.
  5. Wipe the inside of the Triggerhead assembly with a damp cloth, using a small amount of soap if desired.
  6. Wipe down the outside of the Triggerhead assembly.
  7. Be sure to inspect the inside of the top opening of the floor tool for any blockages.
  8. If soap is used, follow it up with a rinse from a different clean cloth using only water.
  9. Be sure all parts are completely dry before reassembling.

How to Reassemble a Dyson Animal Triggerhead

  1. Turn the Triggerhead assembly upside down (with the wide open area facing up).
  2. Find the larger open end of the brush roller.
  3. Slide the agitator brush back through the open end of the assembly with the larger end hole going in first.
  4. Be sure the roller matches up with the knob sticking out from the inside of the Triggerhead, and turn it until they sit together.
  5. If the two ends do not match exactly, remove the brush roll from the Triggerhead, flip it around, and try again.
  6. Turn the brush roller a few times and make sure that it is mating with the Triggerhead correctly.
  7. Place the end cap back on the open side of the Triggerhead, matching up its holes with the brush roller.
  8. Turn the end cap gently until you line up the threads.
  9. Stick the same coin (or another matching device) into the slot of the end cap.
  10. Turn the coin clockwise until the end cap clicks into place.
  11. Plug the vacuum cleaner into a wall socket and test.
  12. Be sure to test the handle switch to be sure that the brush roller starts and stops correctly.
Vacuum cleaning a carpeted floor

Troubleshooting the Dyson Animal Triggerhead

Most of the problems that arise with the Dyson Animal are caused by lint clogging up the Triggerhead, or by hair wrapping around it so much it refuses to spin. The basic cleaning instructions above should help alleviate most of those issues.

Going beyond the basic cleaning, you can also try these troubleshooting steps for your Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Check for Additional Blockage

The Triggerhead is not the only part of a Dyson vacuum cleaner that can become blocked with lint. Use the buttons to separate the different pieces of the vacuum. The entire wand assembly, the hose, the ball assembly, and all of the joints in between can get blocked with lint and debris.

Watch the following video with closed captioning on for instructions on getting to all the areas you should check for blockages:

Remove any lint found with your fingers, or for lint that is very far down a tube, a pair of chopsticks. Do not use any sharp metal objects to try to remove the lint! Scratches on the inside of the vacuum cleaner parts can attract lint, causing buildup that may create new blockages.

For sections of the Animal that do not have any moving parts, an air compressor can blow out any blockages. Be sure to do this outside of the house, and be ready to track down the lint that you blew out. An air compressor has too much force for sections with moving parts, possibly causing damage. Avoid using that tool in one in these situations.

Woman trying to clean the lint from a Dyson Animal Triggerhead

Clean the Canister Filter

The filters on a Dyson Animal vacuum cleaner can be removed and washed. Remove the filter from the canister, and run water through and around it from the sink faucet. Tap it upside down to remove any debris that may have gotten caught in the filter.

Do not use any soap or cleanser, as this may break down the fabric. Feel free to wring it out, as they are made to be fairly sturdy. Continue rinsing and wringing until the water runs clear. 

Wring it one final time to remove any excess water, and let dry for 24 hours in a cool, dry place. Do not place it too close to a heat source, and do not try to use a clothes dryer to speed up the process.

Take Apart the Entire Vacuum Cleaner

While we would not recommend it, it is possible to take apart the entire vacuum. This may help you find out where any additional problems lie, but it may void your warranty. In addition, without properly re-assembling the small areas with moving parts in the Dyson Animal, you may end up with a vacuum cleaner that works worse than it did before you started.

If you still want to disassemble the Dyson Animal, here is a video with a complete breakdown of the DC39

Find a Vacuum Repair Shop

Since vacuum cleaners are a necessity in virtually every home, and we spend a lot of money on them and do not want to have to replace them, vacuum cleaner repair shops are prevalent in virtually every city or town. If all else fails, the professionals that work there will be able to help you get your vacuum cleaner back into working order, as well as offering suggestions to keep it in tip-top shape.


Cleaning lint from your vacuum cleaner is a very important piece of maintenance that can extend the lifespan of your appliance. This is especially true for the Dyson Animal Triggerhead, where the rolling action is based almost entirely on the suction available instead of an independent motor.

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.