A pot on the stove

How to Clean a Shark Vacuum and Its Filters

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. Now you need to how to clean a Shark so it keeps performing at top efficiency.

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!


A pot on the stove

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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


Shark Navigator

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


Shark and Dirt

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 (see NOTE above), then rinse well.


A group of items on a table

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.


Shark and Filter

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

If you have a Shark vacuum, you can get accessories for it online at SharkClean.com. Click on “Parts & Accessories.”

As I write, Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe NV360 Upright Vacuum, which comes with  (1) Pet Power Brush, (1) Dusting Brush, (1) 5.5 inch Crevice Tool, is bargain-priced on Amazon. Things change quickly so a word to the wise should be sufficient. 😉


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

A person standing in a kitchen, with Shark Navigator


Original: 12-30-15; Updated 6-23-20

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      • Crabpaws says:

        You need to replace the hose. If your Shark is still under warranty, Shark will send you a new hose and handle free of charge.

    • kfilly says:

      If you are talking about removing a clog, take the hose off the vacuum and gently push a broom handle (or something similar) through the hose to push the clog. To clean the internal part of the hose. Leave end of the hose where it goes into the machine attached so that the hose still has suction through and remove the other end. Turn the machine on. Extend each section of the stretch hose apart starting farthest from the vacuum and working towards the machine.

    • Greg Logan says:

      Great question!!! I would like to know too… I did – thought I had dried – but it sure is ugly in there right now. Ready to go back with bleach/vinegar/tea-tree/baking soda, TSP or whatever the hell else is needed!

    • Blanca says:

      What I use is a telescopic pole duster. I found mine at Home Depot. Im sure other stores like Walmart
      will have them also. I turn on the vacuum and just push the duster up and down. It did remove a lot of the dirt but again, that’s the only way I thought would be best. Maybe someone else can give us another easier method. Good luck Crabpaws, I’ll be looking at me email to hopefully see someone else gives us another idea.

  1. Cyberwizard Productions says:

    yay 🙂 Cleaning that foam filter under the canister was really bugging me. Nothing in my manual, well that I could find, and it needed it. Thank you very much for this post. It looked like a thin sheet of foam glued on. Didn’t realize it was a thick pad that could be removed without tearing it.

    Just wish you’d included photos of the filters and how to remove them. But I got it figured out 🙂

  2. tboofy says:

    Thank you so much! Our Shark had started overheating, and my mom didn’t know what to do. I printed off these instructions, and she washed everything out, and it’s working perfectly now! The article was very timely for us.

  3. Marilyn says:

    I do love my shark lift away but after washing my canister like you suggested I ended up with water in the top of the canister. Mine is different than the one you have showing, mine is completely sealed. I am still trying to get the water out.

    • Nancy Gardner says:

      I wld just take windex & a paper towel to it! Wouldn’t get it too submerged in water. Hope this helps!

  4. Texasgirl says:

    One additional important thing! Check, check, check that receipt before you leave the store! OFTEN I find I was charged the wrong amount, not charged the posted, lesser amount, or charged twice for an item. It means at trip to Customer Service to correct it and get a refund, but this adds up over time!

  5. Janie Dale says:

    I have a complete set of extra filters for my vacuum cleaner. This allows me to clean and dry the hard pieces and immediately insert clean filters. Then I thoroughly clean the dirty set. Living in Oklahoma we have high humidity most of the year, thus taking longer for things to dry. By having the extra set I can allow a couple of weeks to dry all the way through. I want to mention I only dry filter pieces outside for 1 day, only in direct sunlight (naturally killing bacteria) and then place the pieces on an airy shelf to finish drying in the house. They are ready to use for the next cleaning. It also allows the filters to last longer.

    • Amber W. says:

      Hi, can anyone PLZ help me!!? I took my filters out for the first time to wash & forgot how & where they go back in!! & can’t find the owner’s manauel either!! PLZ help me!! Ty!!

      • kfilly says:

        Check YouTube. You can learn anything from that site. Felt filter closet to the motor. Foam filter just above that. HEPA filter where the air exhausts from the vacuum.

      • Mary Hunt says:

        The felt filter goes in first. The foam filter goes on top of the felt. Or think of it this way: Felt is last one out, first one in. Hope that helps!

  6. hey says:

    I purchased the Shark Navigator Lift Away Pro last spring & was very impressed, however it died within a few months. The company did send me a replacement within 2 weeks.

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