Our vacuum is gross inside

So I have this Hoover Elite Rewind Bagless Upright (aka HERBU) vacuum, right?

And I’m on Pinterest, right?

Now I know you don’t want to hear this, but I’m going to say it anyway because it needs to be said: Not every household tip on Pinterest works.

Case in point: Pins advocating the use of baking soda to “freshen” up your carpet. Pardon me while I “bah.”


The idea is you sprinkle the baking soda on your carpet, let it sit for a while to absorb any odors, then vacuum it up. Except it doesn’t work. Or at least– it didn’t work for me and my “Bagless design with E-Z Empty Bottom Release Dirt Cup.” Five minutes into vacuuming and my dirt canister and filter were so clogged with the fine powder I’d fed them that it up and turned off. No whirring, no dying down slowly; just on, and then not on.

*shakes fist at Pinterest*

I’ve been using my HERBU for a little over five years now, so naturally I don’t expect it to operate the same way it did when it was new. I have to say, though, that I’m a little disappointed at how entirely overwhelmed it now becomes over the simplest of vacuuming expeditions. These days I can’t even complete the living room in my apartment without having to flip this puppy over and fish out all the carpet fuzz it has sucked up and then not been able to process.

If your HERBU is giving you grief and you’ve stumbled across this page in your search for fixes for our HEPA-filtered friend, the advice I can offer you is limited, but a good place to start:

1) You’ve emptied the canister, right? Okay. Just checking.

2) You’ve removed the filter from inside the yellow plastic thingy, checked it for gunky stuff, and then washed and dried the yellow plastic thingy, right? No? Try that real quick. I’ll wait.

3) Time to check the hose and make sure it’s fully attached to the vacuum and that the open end is “plugged in” all the way. No holes in the hose either, right? Good.

4) Better give the cord a good once-over while you’re at it. If that thing’s shot, man– I vote you go get an entirely new vacuum. Fixing those things is a hassle, and you don’t have time for hassles. You’re too busy reading blogs.

5) It could be that the dirt, carpet fuzz, hair, jewelry, etc. you’ve been sucking up has gotten backed up somewhere between the rotating carpet brush and the collection canister. Time to grab a Phillips head screwdriver and check it out. To do this…

Lay the HERBU on its back and locate the five screws holding the black, plastic shield in place on the bottom of the machine. Unscrew ’em and pop that sucker right off. If you feel like you really need to force it, double check that you’ve removed all the screws; it should come off fairly easily. (Looking at the picture I couldn’t remember where the last two screws were, but I think I have the arrows pointing to the correct spots.)

The under-side of your HERBU minus the black, plastic shield. (Click to embiggen.)

All the disgusting stuff you’ve been sucking up with this thing over the years gets funneled into the dirt canister via the hose opening inside the large orange rectangle (pictured). Empty this as best you can. Because of the proximity of the brush to the hose opening it’s sort of hard to get in there with just your fingers. I used a pair of needle-nose pliers to loosen everything up and pull it all out, but a pencil, a chopstick, or even your screwdriver will do the trick. All told I yanked out a pile of very densely packed vacuum grossness about 8″ across and about 4″ deep. How that thing ever did any work with all that nastiness mucking up the works is beyond me.

The extracted Geaauughh! with my hand for scale.

Once you’ve tried all of the above steps- presuming your HERBU also has a fondness for hording crap and nonsense- give your vacuum another go.

And if these steps didn’t do the trick? God help ya’, honey, ’cause I sure can’t.



  1. I must say, I admire your practical tenacity in determining the source of the problem. A machine that operates without the mysterious workings of electronic black boxes, without any obvious mechanical breakage, should be able to be reinvigorated by judicious analysis. I have always used this method in repairing older automobiles. Only in recent years have I been throughly thwarted by fuzzy logic and sealed electronic systems. I often think that if I ever obtain a “hobby” vehicle, it will be one built during the thirties, forties or fifties simply because most common problems can be remedied by a few hand tools, reasonable caution and a little help from readily available “how to do it guides”. You have provided one of these here and I congratulate you.

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