How to Clean Your Shark Vacuum in Easy Steps

I'm sure you already know how much I adore my Shark vacuum cleaner. And, based on your letters and comments, I know many of you have Shark vacuums as well. It is critical that you understand how to clean any vacuum, especially a Shark, to ensure that it continues to perform at peak efficiency now and for many years to come.

I enjoy your messages. They make me laugh because I understand the range of emotions that come with using a Shark vacuum for the first time—from awe to embarrassment.

Where did all this dirt and debris come from? I can't believe what's hiding in my carpet.

With all of the miles I've racked up on my numerous Shark vacsmany Shark vacuums I've never had one fail over the years. While the manufacturer claims that Sharks never lose suction, this is based on common sense and cleaning Sharky's canister, filters, rotating brush, and handle hose on a regular basis.


You'll know when it's time when...

Step 1: Take everything apart.

Step 2: Remove any impediments.

Step 3: Clean the canister.

Cleaning the Shark vacuum filter is the fourth step.

Untangle the roller brush in step 5.

Step 6: Clean the handle hose.

Step 7: Put everything back together.


Signs that your Shark vacuum needs to be cleaned

  • Suction loss: It happens A large hairy fuzzball or an old filter that has stopped filtering can clog a vacuum and cut off suction. Suction loss, regardless of the cause, is the first indication that someone needs to be cleaned.
  • Visible dirt that was left behind: A Shark vacuum will never leave a crumbs and debris trail when working at peak performance. If it does, it is clear that it needs to be cleaned.
  • Strange noise: If your Shark sounds like it's gasping for air, you'll know it's bathtime. This is due to the fact that And this can be extremely taxing on the vacuum's motor.
  • Noxious odor: A Shark vacuum should never emit a foul, odorous odor. If it does, consider it a clear indication that this vacuum needs to be cleaned.

Cleaning a Shark vacuum

In the more than 12 years that I've been using Shark vacuums, the company has released an insane number of models. However, in my experience, all Shark vacuums have the same basic parts and operate in the same way.

The instructions that follow are general in nature. The Shark model you have may differ. If you get stuck, leave a comment below or consult your owner's manual.

What you'll require

lukewarm water

dishwashing detergent

cloth for cleaning

a wooden skewer or something similar

the flashlight

a soft brush, such as a bottle brush

a pair of scissors

Step 1: Take everything apart.

Make sure the vacuum is turned off before disassembling it. Don't go overboard here. We're not talking about unscrewing screws or disconnecting wires. Take out the dust canister, foam/felt filters, HEPA filter and cover, and handle hose.

Shark Vac Cleaning Disassemble

Make a note of where the filters are so that you can replace them in the same order. It isn't difficult. Simply pay attention.

Step 2: Look for and remove any impediments.

Examine each and every opening Fuzz, hairballs, and clinging dust are all possibilities. Other items such as a Lego brick or even a sock may be discovered.

Shark Vac Step 3 obstructions

Remove any impediments with your hand or a damp microfiber cloth. I can't get to it. A wooden skewer can be used to fish out or release any strange accumulation.

Step 3: Clean and empty the dirt canister.

Dump whatever is in the dirt canister by opening both ends over a trash can. Now, place the canister in a sink filled with warm, soapy water.

Step 3 cleaning Shark vacuum

Open both ends of the dust canister and immerse it in the warm bath. Scrub the inside of the canister with a long-handled brush or a rag. After rinsing, thoroughly dry it with a good microfiber cloth.

  • MORE: So Disgusting I'm Afraid to Tell You

Cleaning the Shark vacuum filter is the fourth step.

Shark vacuums have an excellent filter system that includes one or two (depending on the model) thick foam filters, as well as a felt filter and a HEPA filter.  

collage of shark vacuum filters

Filters made of foam or felt

Rinse the foam and felt filters in cool, clear water (no soap is recommended by the manufacturer), taking special care not to damage them.

It takes a lot of squeezing and scrubbing to get the foam filter clean. The filter(s) may or may not return to their original white appearance after being thoroughly cleaned and rinsed. But don't be concerned. They will be fine as long as they are not torn, broken, or otherwise disintegrated, even if they remain stained.

NOTE: The manufacturer advises against washing the felt filter. I don't like dirty felt, so I hand wash it carefully and have done so many times with no problems. Do so at your own risk.

HEPA filtration

A HEPA filter is included in most Shark vacuum models. This is located on the machine's lower front, behind the filter grill (door). Pull the door open firmly to reveal the HEPA filter and remove it. Allow the filter to dry completely after thoroughly rinsing it in clear water.

At this point, do not return the filter(s) to the vacuum. They must be completely dry first, or else mildew and mold will grow, which is the last thing you want growing inside a vacuum. Place the still-wet filter(s) on the counter to dry. This may necessitate an overnight stay.

  • MORE: Remembering This Routine Is the Best Way to Vacuum Carpet

Cleaning the rotating brush head is the fifth step.

After that, place the vacuum on the floor to inspect the rotating brush. Place a bag or towel beneath to catch the debris and dirt you're about to release.

Strings, hair, and other materials will most likely be wrapped around the brush. This is typical. I cut through whatever has wrapped itself around the brush with scissors. This makes cleaning up the brush much easier. It may require some pulling and tugging, but it will come off. You want to restore the rotating brush to its original state.

Cleaning the handle hose is the sixth step.

Again, because I am not familiar with all Shark models, please consult your owner's manual before cleaning the vacuum handle hose. You must ensure that your model's hose contains no electrical components. None of my Shark vacuums have ever done this, but let's make sure.

hose handle cleaning collage

A Shark's handle hose is easily detachable. When you do this and look inside, you'll notice it's covered in sticky dust and grime. Getting rid of everything will allow your Sharky to keep running smoothly.

Drop the hose into your sink or tub of soapy water to fill it with water. Reach into the ends with a brush or rag to clean it. Warning Nothing should get stuck, especially in that bendy part.

Allow the hose to soak for a while to loosen the grime in difficult-to-reach areas. Finish by running clean water from a faucet through the hose until the other end is clean and clear. Locate a location where the hose can be hung vertically to dry.

  • MORE: How to Clean an Old, Stained, and Disgusting Carpet

Step 7: Put the vacuum back together.

Reassemble your Shark vacuum once the filters and handle hose are completely dry.  

reassemble collage

First, replace the felt filter. Then, on top of the felt filter, replace the clean foam filter. Replace the HEPA filter, followed by the "grill" cover. Replace the handle hose. Close and secure both ends of the dirt canister.

Enjoy your new, clean Shark Vac.


What is the source of the odor in my vacuum?

Most likely, you are not emptying the dirt canister on a regular basis. Consider what goes inside that dirt canister and becomes trapped in the filters. It's made up of dirt and debris from the outdoors, as well as bits of food and other organic matter. Allowing debris to accumulate in the dirt canister creates a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, as well as the possibility of a stinky situation.

How frequently should I clean the Shark vacuum and filters?

  • After each use, empty the dirt container.
  • Monthly: According to Shark vacuum owner manuals, the foam/felt filters should be cleaned on a monthly basis.
  • Every three months, disassemble the vacuum (as described above), and thoroughly clean the dust canister, brush roll, and hose.
  • Annually: Replace the HEPA filter once a year.

When should I change my Shark vacuum filters?

If you notice the machine losing suction after cleaning the filters mentioned above, your owner's manual will most likely recommend replacing the foam/felt and HEPA filters. That is a clear indication that the filters are no longer effective.

To be safe, and because they are inexpensive, I replace the foam/felt filters annually and the HEPA filter as needed.

Where can I get replacement filters and parts for my Shark products? carries nearly every possible replacement part or accessory for many Shark models, including those that are no longer in production. When it comes to filters, I compare prices at SharkClean to Amazon, where the filters for my Sharks are usually a little cheaper. SharkClean also provides owner manuals for hundreds of models as well as exceptional customer service.

Shark vacuums come in a variety of models. Do you have any suggestions?

You are correct that there are numerous models to choose from. I prefer models with the Lift-Away feature, which makes vacuuming a staircase simple and efficient. And I prefer Shark vacuums from the Navigator line because they maneuver so well.

In 2015, I purchased the vacuum shown in the photo tutorial above. You wouldn't believe how many miles I've put on it; it still looks and works like new.

My current pick is the Shark Navigator Pro Lift-Away. It comes with a number of extras, including a pet power brush and a crevice tool. It is only 13 pounds. 7 lbs , which is yet another reason to love

Updated on 11-16-22

Everyday Cheapskate is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which is an affiliate advertising program that allows us to earn money from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Original: 12-30-15; republished 3-21-22 with updated photos

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