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How to Dispose of an Old Vacuum Cleaner

by Judy Nguyen

As all things have an end, so do vacuum cleaners. We've seen it; an old vacuum cleaner collecting dust in the attic or left by the trash dumpster along with used mattresses and shelves, possibly by college students moving back home for the summer. 

How long does it take for the earth to decompose a vacuum cleaner?

Unfortunately, the answer will take more than a few generations to find out!

landfill site

Does It Still Work?

Before you decide what to do with your old vacuum, the first question you would ask yourself should be, "Does it still work?".

Many new models of vacuums are created and sold every year. You may want the latest and greatest in vacuums, or find that it simply does not fit your needs any longer. Other times you may be simply tired of having it. 

Be ecologically responsible in this! If it works, simply pass it to a friend who may appreciate the gesture, or place an ad on your local newspaper to pocket a few dollars. You could even post a flyer to college students who may have forgotten to take their vacuums with them. Even better, donate it to your local charity or thrift store. You are simply recycling the vacuum this way.

Broken? What to Do?!

Some people figure that spending $100 on a vacuum does not warrant investing $50 more to get it repaired. I would like to ask readers, "How does spending $300 on a brand new vacuum save any more money than getting your old one repaired?" 

First, you could try to repair the unit yourself by replacing filters and/or belts. You could also check many online how-to manuals and call the manufacturer for tips. Too time-consuming, you say? It's not going to take as long as waiting for your vacuum to decompose in your landfill!

Another option, as discussed above, is to get it repaired. There are specialty vacuum stores that offer to repair your vacuum. And who knows? Perhaps they might offer a discount on the next vacuum you purchase from them. Also, you can freely just give them the vacuum for spare parts. It's just as equally eco-friendly as giving the vacuum to charities.

many different vacuum cleaners

Places to Go

Before you begin recycling your vacuum, be on the lookout for curbside donations! The charity will list accepted items and all you need to do is leave the donated goods on your curbside for pickup. If you do not have a curbside charity, you might have to do some quick research. Check out these comprehensive websites that can help you start living a little bit more ecologically savvy:

  • Earth  911: A website that allows you to search various recycling centers, including places where you could recycle used household chemicals, paper, and metal!

  • The Thrift Shopper: A thrift store directory that lists all of your local Goodwill stores, St. Vincent DePaul charities, and much more.

  • Local Religious Institution: Most churches, mosques, and synagogues will accept your donations. If you are part of a religious community, feel free to ask your clergy if they accept vacuum cleaner donations.

Number One Maintenance

The easiest way to avoid a broken vacuum cleaner is to practice vacuum cleaner maintenance. You also should store the manual in a secure and remembered area so that you can address mechanical problems should they occur. Also, many manufacturers now save paper by having a .pdf file of their manual.

If you are computer literate and have a scanner on hand, you may scan your manual and recycle it later to save energy and effort in finding it in the future. Plus you are saving a few trees in that process.

If you are still lost, there are also a plethora of information online about fixing certain vacuums. With a bit of research, you will find that there are also hotlines and emails you can call. Know your vacuum's model and brand at all times. If it is not obviously written on the unit itself, or if you are afraid that your vacuum's label will fade, marking the vacuum will not harm it!

High Quality Vacuums

If you live in a home or can foresee yourself needing a vacuum for several years, it does not hurt to invest in high quality vacuums. Several brands are cheaply manufactured and not expected to last more than a few years. However, with higher quality vacuums made from high grade materials, you can not only prolong the life of your vacuum but enjoy a mighty investment.

Although these vacuums may seem pricey at first glance, remember that most of these manufacturers expect you to repair and maintain your vacuum. They may not seem stylish with the latest gadgets, but their quality is unrivalled. Many of these high quality vacuums have lasted 10 years or more, as opposed to spending $200 each two years to replace it.

Enjoy a Greener Clean

Remember to access your vacuum and maintain it properly to extend its life. 

If you have given up on your vacuum, or if it gives up on you, try the ideas above to keep them out of landfills! 

Enjoy a greener environment by keeping vacuum cleaners away from the dumpsters!


Judy Nguyen is a copy editor from Vacuum Home, an online site that specializes in vacuum cleaners and vacuuming systems. She is currently involved in environmental communities and hopes to make a better world with one eco-conscious thought at a time.

Although some of the information contained in the above article appertains to those living in the USA a great deal of the general information would be applicable wherever you are located.

When buying a new vacuum cleaner it is imperative that you choose the right type, make and model for your particular needs.  Before you make a final decision on whether that much sought after Dyson vacuum cleaner is right for you or whether there is something more suitable available take a look at our articles on 'How to get the best vacuum cleaner for your needs' and 'Which Vacuum Cleaner is best for me?'.



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