How to remove a clog from your vacuum

Make a hook to get you out of a jam.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
2 min read
Alina Bradford

One of my first jobs was a janitor at a school district. As a janitor, I had to learn how to vacuum properly and one of the first things I learned is that you should never vacuum up anything larger than a dime (pet hair is fine). Anything larger can clog up the inner workings of the vacuum. Well, mistakes happen and those little cloggers can still get sucked up. If your cheap vacuum has run into a problem, here is a simple way to unclog it.

Find the clog

First, you need to know where the clog is located. Unplug the vacuum. Remove the hose, hold the end up to a light and see if you can see the light through the hose. If not, it's probably clogged.

If the problem isn't the hose, try turning the vacuum over and examining the hole right behind the brush. If it isn't clogged there is one more place to look. Look down the hole where the hose connects to the rest of the vacuum. This hole is connected to the hole by the brush.

Removing a clog

Now that you've located the clog, it's time to remove it.

  1. Grab a wire hanger and straighten it out.
  2. Use a pair of pliers to make one end of the hanger into a hook shape.
  3. Put the end of the hook into the hole where the vacuum where the clog is located.
  4. Push the hook down until it won't go any further. In some cases the hook will go all the way through and push the clog out the other side.
  5. If the hook stops, wiggle it around and pull it out a few times. The hook will catch on debris and pull the clog out a little at a time.
  6. Once you can push the hook all the way through, the clog has been completely removed and you can go back to vacuuming.