You know how much I love my Shark vacuum cleaner. And given my inbox where readers can write to me, I know that thousands of you now love your Sharkies, too.  And I love the comments you send in. They make me smile because I know the range of emotions 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 our carpets!

photo credit:

photo credit:

With all of the miles I’ve put on my Sharks 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 don’t think to read until we have a problem. You need to clean your Shark monthly to keep it working at top efficiency. It’s easy.

SIGNS SHARKIE NEEDS A BATH: 1) loss of suction 2) dirt being left behind 3) sounds weird like Sharkie is gasping for air 4) an unpleasant, dirty odor.

ROTATING BRUSH: First unplug the vacuum. Lay it down 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 a pair of scissor to cut through whatever has wound itself around the brush. That makes it easy to release all of that stuff from the brush. You may have to pull and tug a bit, but it will come off.

CANISTER: Of course you are emptying the dirt collection canister on a regular basis, however once a month 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 set it outdoors to air dry.

FILTERS: 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 the 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, which is the last thing you ever want growing inside a vacuum. I set my washed and rinsed filters outdoors to air dry. Let common sense dictate where you place your vacuum parts to dry.

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 I have not experienced this yet. And when they do, you can easily replace them. Just make sure you are purchasing the correct filters for your particular Shark model. I’ve decided to go ahead and get them now to have on hand if and when the time comes.

By the way, 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.

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.