How to unclog a vacuum hose - the appliance maintenance trick you need to know

Avoid calling in the professionals by learning how to unclog a vacuum hose at home

Image of Vax vacuum being used on a rug
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There is little more frustrating than finally getting around to vacuuming your home, only to find that the hose is clogged and it won't work. So, learning how to unclog a vacuum hose will be an essential part of appliance maintenance knowledge to have in your back pocket. 

Whether you accidentally vacuum up a piece of LEGO, or your pet's hair has created a furball, there are many things that can get clogged in the hose of your machine and cause it to stop performing as it should. You'll want to fix this not only so that you can get right back to your cleaning schedule, but also so that you don't cause any long-term damage that might result in you having to invest in one of the best vacuum cleaners

So exactly how do you unclog a vacuum hose without calling in the professionals? We've asked the experts so you can learn now and fix it later. 

How to unclog a vacuum hose

When buying an expensive home appliance, it's important to know how to keep it running so that it lasts for years to come, and performs as effectively as possible. Knowing how to clean a vacuum cleaner is essential for ensuring that your floors are as clean as possible too, as you don't want to be adding more dirt and dust into the equation. 

So whether you have one of the best cordless vacuum cleaners or a corded model, clogged hoses are a common issue you might face. These five easy-to-follow tips will allow you to fix the problem as quickly as possible. 

Image of Vax vacuum being used on a rug

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

1. Unplug or remove the battery

Image of VAX ONEPWR Blade 4

(Image credit: VAX)

Before you attempt to fix anything on your vacuum, it's important to first disconnect it from any electrical outlets. 

'There are a few easy steps you can take to check for any blockages but first of all, if you are using a corded vacuum, unplug it from the wall,' advises Haylee Bourne, head of product management at VAX.

'For cordless vacuums, remove the battery if your machine allows you to do so.'

2. Remove the hose from the vacuum

The next step is to remove the hose from the vacuum. This way, you can begin to assess whether there are any blockages that are clogging it. 

'Start by checking the joint where the body of the vacuum connects to the floorhead, by disconnecting it if you are able to do so and removing any fluff and debris that may be stuck,' says Haylee. 'If clear, do the same at the other end, or where there is an inlet from the hose into the dust collector. If there is no blockage, the problem may be further down the hose.'

3. Try a trick to see if it's blocked

A simple way of checking for any blockages is by holding the hose up to a source of light to see if you can see daylight through it.

'With a flexible hose, this is more difficult to keep straight, so drop a large coin down one end and see if it comes out the other side,' recommends Garry Brown at PHC Vacuum Service. Once you have established that there is definitely a blockage, you can work to remove it.

Haylee also adds: 'If you cannot see daylight at the other end, then it is blocked and you will need to locate the blockage along the length of the hose to remove it. This can be safely done using a blunt instrument that won’t damage the hose, such as a slender broom handle to gently push through any debris to the end of the hose for removal.'

4. Unclog the vacuum hose

Image of Henry Hoover vacuum in promotional image being used on white carpet

(Image credit: Henry Hoover)

'The best tool we have found to unclog a wand or hose is a bamboo stick commonly found in a garden used as a stake. We use these as they are usually straight and long enough to get all the way through but also aren’t so sharp that they can pierce through the hose,' adds Garry. 

'You can tell that you're up against a blockage if your suction power unexpectedly drops. If this is the case, then check for blockages first in the floorhead and then in the hose. Sometimes a light shake can dislodge anything trapped in the hose itself. Once you're sure there's a blockage, then try to fish out whatever is inside using implements that won't get stuck (and therefore add to your problem!),' advises Ideal Home's Ecommerce Editor, Molly Cleary.

Molly Cleary
Molly Cleary

Our Ecommerce Editor Molly oversees appliance content at Ideal Home, including vacuums and cleaning. Molly is a pro when it comes to writing reviews of appliances she’s tested at home and at our testing facility. She knows exactly how to put a vacuum through its paces, tackling everything from clutter and pet hair to hard floors and carpet, and she's our go-to for how to keep vacuum cleaners in tip-top condition.

5. Check to see if it's fixed

Person emptying a Black + Decker vacuum cleaner dust bag into bin.

(Image credit: Black + Decker)

'Now try the vacuum cleaner. If it still doesn’t work, empty the dirt bin or bag as overfull dirt collectors can reduce suction,' advises Haylee. 'You should also check that the inlet from the vacuum into the dirt collector is not blocked, before correctly reconnecting it.'

'Next, check the filter; these can become clogged with dirt which can affect the suction of your vacuum. To clean, remove and tap out the filter, wash and replace once completely dry.'

'If the suction is only reduced when using an accessory, check that the tool is correctly fitted to your vacuum after removing any blockages.'


How do you know if a vacuum has a clogged hose?

If you're experiencing issues with your vacuum suction - maybe it isn't picking up bigger pieces of debris and you're noticing your floor isn't as clean as it would usually be, it could be the sign of a clogged hose. 

On some devices, you might even get a warning sign flash up on the screen. Some technology knows when there is a blockage in the hose so it will provide a warning so that you can get it fixed as soon as possible and not cause any further damage.  

If you're finding that your vacuum cleaner isn't performing as efficiently, it's also always worth checking that there's not a build-up of pet (or human) hair stuck in the roller. This could be blocking the suction, but it's easy to snip out with a pair of scissors after you've detached the roller from the vacuum.

What are you waiting for? Spotless floors are right around the corner once you put these steps into action. 

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).