How to Make a Shop-Vac Smell Better and Lovely

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What is that stinky and funky odor coming from your Shop-Vac? You’ve cleaned the filter frequently but it still smells like a wet dog. Is there a way to make your Shop-Vac smell better?

To make your Shop-Vac smell better, remove the filter and suck up a cleaning solution made of 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar, and 0.25 parts hydrogen peroxide. The cleaning solution will remove the dirt and grime from the hose and attachments, leaving your Shop-Vac smelling better.

In this article, you will learn a simple way on how to make a Shop-Vac smell better. The best part about this method is that it is 100% all-natural with no harmful chemicals involved. Let’s get started.

How to Make a Shop-Vac Smell Better 

In order to make your Shop-Vac smell better, we are going to suck up a homemade cleaning solution through the hose and the attachments. The cleaning solution will remove the dirt and grime that cause the funky odor.

To get started, you will need:

5-Gallon Bucket

White Distilled Vinegar

Hydrogen Peroxide

You will also need some fresh water along with the ingredients above. 

The best part about this cleaning method is that it’s 100% natural. Vinegar is made up of 5-8 percent acetic acid, and it works as a natural deodorizer that neutralizes alkaline odors. On the other hand, hydrogen peroxide has the potential to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, and mold spores.

This method will work ONLY on a carpet cleaner or a wet/dry vacuum, also known as a Shop-Vac. Please do not do this cleaning method on a household vacuum cleaner because it is not designed to pick up water. Once you have everything ready, let’s move on to the steps on how to make your Shop-Vac smell better:

1. Take out the filter and clean it

The first thing you would want to do is to take out the filter. Ideally, you don’t want to deodorize your Shop-Vac (by sucking up the cleaning solution) with the filter still intact. You don’t want the filter to become wet.

Instead, take out the filter and clean it separately. Tap it gently against a hard surface and blow the ridges with low-pressure compressed air (keep the air pressure below 50 PSI). Cleaning the filter is simple, but if you want to learn more on how to clean the Shop-Vac filter, you can read this article.

2. Empty the Shop-Vac canister

Once the filter has been removed, you want to empty the Shop-Vac canister. This step is pretty straightforward. Take the Shop-Vac canister and empty the contents into a trash bag. Use a pressure washer to clean the canister and wipe the sides clean before you move forward with the next step.

3. Mix the homemade cleaning solution (deodorizer)

Next, you need to mix the homemade cleaning solution into the 5-gallon bucket. Pour approximately 3 gallons of water into the bucket, 1 gallon of white distilled vinegar, and about 30 fluid ounces of hydrogen peroxide. That’s it, your homemade deodorizer is ready to make your Shop-Vac smell better.

Make sure the amount of cleaning solution is about ⅓ of your Shop-Vac’s capacity. My Shop-Vac has a 15-gallon container so I use 5-gallons of cleaning solution. If your Shop-Vac is smaller, use less cleaning solution.

4. Start sucking up the cleaning solution with the Shop-Vac

Once the cleaning solution is ready, turn your Shop-Vac on and suck up the cleaning solution. The idea is to clean the inside of the hose and the attachments with the cleaning solution, removing the grit and grime.

Be sure to interchange between all the attachments. If your Shop-Vac has 4 attachments, divide the cleaning solution into 4 parts for each attachment. Suck the cleaning solution with the Shop-Vac until it’s empty.

5. Clear out the Shop-Vac canister

Once you’ve emptied the entire bucket of cleaning solution into the Shop-Vac, turn the machine off and take a look at what’s inside the canister. You’ll notice a dirty and cloudy residue sitting atop the liquid.

Folks, that’s all the dust, dirt, grit, and grime that have been lingering inside the hose and the attachments. No wonder your Shop-Vac has been stinky and producing a funky odor. Empty the contents completely.

6. Suck up fresh water with your Shop-Vac

The final step is to repeat the process using fresh water. Fill the 5-gallon bucket with fresh water and suck it with your Shop-Vac. The idea is to rinse the residual cleaning solution from the hose and attachments.

If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, this step is key. Having the smell of vinegar is a good thing but if you can’t stand it, don’t worry. The smell of vinegar will be faint but within 24 to 48 hours it will dissipate.

After running clean water through your Shop-Vac, leave the hose, attachments, and filter out to air dry for at least 12 hours. Ideally, you should dry them for 24 hours. Reassemble your Shop-Vac and you’re good to go.

How Often Should You Deodorize Your Shop-Vac?

You should deodorize your Shop-Vac once every 2 to 4 weeks, depending on what you use it for and how often you use it. The funky odor usually comes from the filter, the hose, and the attachments.


And there you have it, the simple guide on how to make your Shop-Vac smell better. What most people don’t realize is that the funky odor and stink is coming from the hose and attachments. By running a homemade cleaning solution through your Shop-Vac, you will deodorize it and make it smell nice!

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