How Do I Keep Long Hair from Clogging the Vacuum?

Dear Home-Ec 101,
Okay so the long hair isn’t exactly clogging the vacuum, it’s all over the brush thingy and doesn’t work as well. What can I do to stop this from happening, it’s a pain in the butt.
Lovin’ my Locks

keep long hair from clogging the vacuum

Heather says

I feel your long-haired pain. It’s obnoxious and if you have more than one long-haired person in a home it adds up very quickly.

There are a couple of routes you can take prevention and regular maintenance of the vacuum itself. Please realize that prevention doesn’t negate the need for regular maintenance, it simply reduces how often you’ll have to take those steps.


1. Brush / comb your hair often and thoroughly, but only in one area of the house that is preferably not carpeted. Yes, you’ll need to sweep / Swiffer this  floor after each time. If you don’t, the strands of hair that are now on the floor will get tracked onto the carpet.

2. Invest in a rubber rake of course you’ll actually have to use it for there to be any effect. Pre-raking the floor can only be described as a which-chore-do-I-hate-more option. Would I rather rake the floor before vacuuming or take the vacuum apart?

3. Ponytails and braids are your friend, they keep shedding hair more or less in place until you’re performing option #1.

I know, none of these are ideal, it’s just part of the “Responsibility of having long hair” <—that should be read in the  most disapproving maternal tone your imagination can provide.

Regular maintenance of your vacuum:

If the beater bar / brush bar of your vacuum is clogged with long hair it can’t perform its job. The brush’s job is to separate and agitate the carpet strands and throw the bits of dirt / debris toward the suction power of the vacuum. If two-thirds of the bristles are clogged with hair, it’s not going to do a very good job and you’re mostly wasting your time and energy running the appliance over the carpeting.

Depending on your vacuum you’ll probably need a screwdriver and a box cutter or seam ripper. (I’ve seen the seam ripper suggested, but I have really thick hair that would probably reply, “Stop it, that tickles,” if I attempted to use one.)

Unplug your vacuum and get comfortable with it on the floor. You may want to do this over an old sheet or section of newspaper.

If possible, use the screw driver to remove the bottom plate from the vacuum and then use the box cutter or seam ripper to carefully cut the hair off of the roller. You will want to cut away from yourself. (Please grip the roller bar below the box cutter, I am not responsible for your stitches and / or emergency room bill.) Try not to cut the bristles off of the bar, either. You should be able to slide the blade between the rows of bristles to get rid of the hair. The same goes for the belt holding the bar in place, please do not cut toward the belt, it won’t end well.

Reassemble the vacuum, throw away the hair, and marvel at the renewed efficiency of your vacuum.

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  1. Meggie Marie on October 31, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Very helpful, thanks! Yesterday I realized my vacuum was just not working. I had to take it apart and he-hair it. Ughc the responsibility of having long hair.

    • Heather Solos on November 3, 2015 at 6:50 am

      It is absolutely one of my least favorite chores. Hang in there.

  2. margy on July 21, 2015 at 2:15 am

    I usually go outdoors ( balcony or something ) to brush and only do the styling part indoors. The responsibility of having long hair is directly reflected in my vacuum system that I got from the Vacmasters of Toronto. The professionals replaced the brush twice by now. I’m glad that I’d opted their service. These tips are really helpful. Thanks for sharing them here.

  3. Anna on June 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

    I don’t even bother with a stick-type cleaner. If I comb my hair in the bathroom, I can bend down, sweep my hand across the floor once or twice, and grab a majority of the hair.

    • Heather Solos on June 13, 2014 at 10:52 am

      As long as most of it gets picked up, it’ll work 🙂 Some people get creeped out by hair, much like teeth get me. /shudder

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