Anyone Who Owns a Vacuum Needs This Simple $5 Tool

published Jan 28, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

It’s a little meta, but cleaning your cleaning tools is an important part of keeping your homemaking life humming.

For example, imagine how your bathroom-cleaning momentum would come to a screeching halt if you discovered you were out of your favorite tub and tile cleaner. And you won’t be so amped to handle the living room once you realize that your usually-trusty vacuum is struggling to suck, and the brush is being taken over by a swarm of hair.

When it comes to the vacuum, this $5 tool—smaller than the average pen—saves the day: a seam ripper. (And if you’re one of those people who finds satisfaction in cleaning hair balls out of a drain, this vacuum maintenance task will be fun for you, too.)

How it Works

When a vacuum cleaner’s roller brush doesn’t seem to be picking up effectively (or stops rolling altogether), the culprit is quite often a mess of hair strands that get tangled up around the brush. If that’s the case, it’s easy to diagnose: You’ll see layers of hair looped around the roll, sometimes even nearly to the depth of the roller’s bristles.

Unrolling the hair is impossible, and using scissors is clunky (and therefore a safety hazard). But a seam ripper—like the kind tailors and seamsters use—is just the thing you need. It slices deftly through the hair, allowing you to easily pull it out from the brush, along with the dust and other dirt that’s gotten wrapped up with it.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How to Remove Hair from Your Vacuum Roller Brush with a Seam Ripper

It’s really simple once you have this affordable tool in hand.

  1. Unplug your vacuum cleaner, and have a trash bin handy. If you’re allergic to dust, you may want to wear a mask.
  2. Detach the roller brush if you can, and hold it firmly flat in your lap. If you can’t detach it, position the vacuum cleaner in such a way that you can still hold the roller brush securely in your lap.
  3. With a firm grip on the brush, use the seam ripper to tear through the hair, away from your body, section by section. Make sure to go all the way through the layers, with several sweeps of the seam ripper if necessary, until you reach all the way down to the roller.
  4. Grasp one cut end of the hair and pull it to dislodge it from the brush, tossing the clumps of dirt and hair into the trash.

One more tip: This cheap hack becomes a whole lot more affordable if you already have a seam ripper at home, so check your sewing kit!