You know by now just how much I love my Shark vacuum cleaner. And given my readers’ letters and comments, I know that many of you have Sharkies, too.

I love your messages. They make me smile because I understand the range of emotions that come from using a Shark vacuum for the first time—from amazement to flat out embarrassment.

Where on earth did all of this dirt and debris come from? I can’t believe what’s been lurking in my carpet!

Tips on how to clean Shark vacuum filters

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 regularly cleaning Sharkie’s canister, filters, and rotating brush.

It’s right there in the owner manual, which most of us don’t think to read until we have a problem. You need to clean your Shark every three months to keep it working at top efficiency—more often with heavy use. It’s easy.

Signs Sharkie needs a bath

  • loss of suction
  • dirt being left behind
  • sounds weird like Sharkie is gasping for air
  • an unpleasant, dirty odor


Of course, you are emptying the dirt collection canister on a regular basis. However, once every three months (more often with heavy use) you need to do more than that. You need to wash it with soap and water, opening it from both ends if your model has that feature.

I do this in a sink that I’ve filled with warm, soapy water. I have a long-handled bottle brush I use to get into all of the crevices. The canister has no electrical connections so submersing it in water is not a problem.

Once cleaned and rinsed, I open both ends and allow it to air dry.


Once the canister is removed you will see one or more filters made of foam rubber and depending on your model, additional filters made of felt. Remove these taking careful note of the order in which you do this, so you can replace them in proper order. It’s not difficult.

Just pay attention. Be prepared for a dirty situation on your hands if you are not cleaning these filters regularly.

I take them to a sink of warm soapy (blue Dawn) water and give them a good and thorough bath—I wash both the foam and felt filters, being especially careful to not damage those made of felt.

(NOTE: The manufacturer does not recommend washing the felt filter. For the record, I don’t like dirty felt, so I carefully hand wash and have done so many times with no problem. Do this at your own risk.)

Once cleaned and rinsed, the filter(s) may or may not return to their new white appearance. But don’t worry. As long as they are not torn, broken or otherwise disintegrated, they’ll be just fine, even if they remain stained.

Do not return the filter(s) to the vacuum at this point. They must be completely dry first or prepare for mildew and mold—the last thing you ever want growing inside a vacuum.

When everything is clean and dry, replace the filters and canister.  Sharkie will be so happy, he’ll return the favor with an even more exceptional job of cleaning the next time you vacuum.

By the way, filters will eventually wear out, although so far I have not experienced this. And when they do, you can easily replace them. Just make sure you are purchasing the correct filters for your particular Shark model.

MY FIRST SHARK: So Disgusting I’m Embarrassed to Tell

Rotating brush

Next, lay the vacuum on the floor so you can see the rotating brush. You may want to place a bag or towel underneath to catch the debris and dirt you’re about to release.

More than likely you will see strings, hair, and other material wrapped around the brush. This is normal.

I use scissors to cut through whatever has wound itself around the brush. That makes it easy to clean up the brush. You may have to pull and tug a bit, but it will come off.

My Shark model of choice remains the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright. It comes with a hard flooring separate attachment (awesome) and the lift-away feature makes it so easy to vacuum stairs.


Photo Tutorial

Taking a Shark Vac Apart to Clean

1. Shark Navigator Pro LiftAway. 2. Remove dirt canister. 3. Remove the foam filter. 4. Remove the felt filter.


5. & 6. Open both ends of dirt canister and wash in warm soapy water. 7. Wash the foam filter; and the felt filter as needed, then rinse well.


8. Leave the canister and filters in a place that they can dry thoroughly. 9. With scissors cut away all of the wound on threads, hair and other debris from the roller. 10. Keep working at it until the roller is totally clean.


11. Once completely dry, replace felt filter first. 12. Next, replace the clean foam filter. 13. Close both ends of the canister. 14. Lock canister into place and enjoy your nice clean, fresh Shark Vac!

Original: 12-30-15;
Revised & Updated 3-20-19


Check out this super helpful video demonstrating how to clean a Shark vacuum:

Man sitting on floor taking a Shark vacuum apart to clean itPhoto credit:  

Question: Which is your favorite Shark vacuum and did you know you were supposed to clean it from time to time? Don’t worry … you’re not the only one.

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