Why is My Vacuum Spitting out Dust?

Has your vacuum cleaner been acting up lately? Although all vacuum cleaners will need to be replaced eventually, there’s no need to open up an Amazon tab the moment you spot a problem. A new vacuum cleaner can be an expensive purchase, so you should find out first whether you can fix the problem yourself. If you notice your vacuum cleaner is spitting out dust, for example, there are actually quite a few home fixes you could try.

The reason your vacuum cleaner is spitting out dust could be that the garbage bag is full, damaged, or not even in the machine. Other reasons like clogs and dirty filters could also lead to your vacuum spitting things out instead of sucking them in. Depending on the type of vacuum cleaner you have, you could even have the wrong function switched on. One thing is certain: spitting out dirt is an indication that your vacuum could potentially be broken, but not all is lost.

Whatever the cause might be, trying your hand at diagnosing and fixing the problem yourself is always a good idea. It could be a really easy problem with a five-minute fix that anyone could do! Don’t waste time researching the issue and get to fixing it right away, because if your vacuum is misbehaving, we have the answer to your problems. Keep reading to repair it today.

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Can a Vacuum Blowing out Dust be Dangerous?

While a vacuum blowing out dust could be a signal that the vacuum cleaner is damaged, it probably isn’t connected to any potential danger to yourself. If your vacuum isn’t sucking in dirt and the debris isn’t going where it is meant to go, it’s simply a case of finding out why and fixing it. 

However, if your vacuum cleaner ever blows out burning hot air or smoke, then this is a very real sign of danger! It would most likely mean that your vacuum’s electric motor is overheating and is about to burn out.

This could result (or even have already resulted) in a fire inside of the vacuum cleaner, so if you do notice any extremely hot air or smoke blowing out of any part of your vacuum, you should turn it off immediately and unplug it. It may also be a good idea to pull it outside, but make sure you avoid lifting up the body of the vacuum cleaner. You could hurt yourself if the machine is indeed having issues with its motor.

Reasons Why Your Vacuum Spitting out Dust or Dirt and How to Fix it

Many things contribute and lead up to the moment when your vacuum cleaner stops sucking debris and other stuff in and starts spitting out dirt from the other end instead. From a clogged hose to an overfilled garbage bag, the list is long, but all it takes is a bit of troubleshooting until you know why your vacuum cleaner has failed you. Read on below to diagnose the problem.

1. Clogs in your Vacuum

A common reason that your vacuum may seem to be ‘spitting out dust’ from the front of the machine is due to clogs. If the vacuum is clogged, it will lose suction, and new dust and dirt that the vacuum encounters will likely only be pulled in slightly before getting dropped out again due to the poor suction. 

Clogs can be made of just about anything your vacuum can suck up: dirt, hair, larger objects like paper clips, bobby pins, small bits of jewelry, or even a baby’s sock. They are most likely to occur behind the brush roller, in the vacuum hose, or in the dust cup air duct. In other words, in the vacuum cleaning head (the part you push across the floor), in the long, bendy part, or in the section where the long hose meets the main body of the vacuum. 

How to fix it

To check if there is indeed a clog in any of these places, you’ll need to take your vacuum apart a bit. But don’t worry, these are all things that are designed to pop out and lock back in very easily, so you won’t have any problems. Just in case you do, remember that the vacuum is designed to be taken apart and put together in a certain way. If you find yourself struggling and having to use force, then you’re probably doing something wrong and need to try something else. 

The best way to do things is to have the instructions manual with you if you have one. If you don’t know where your manual is, you can also try searching for the model name and you will likely find a PDF version.

Regardless of whether you’ve located the manual or not, make sure you work slowly and pay attention to what you’re doing. If you’re focused on the movements you’re making when you take something apart, you’re more likely to remember how to put it back together!

Below, we’ll go over the different parts of your vacuum, such as the hose and the nozzle, and find out how to repair them if they’re clogged. Before you get started with any of these, please make sure you unplug your vacuum from its power source.

Fix clogs in the brush roller

Remove the head of the vacuum, or the nozzle if that’s what you’re using, and have a look inside. You may be able to see the clog or see the signs of one lower down. You can also give it a shake to see if you can hear anything rattling around.

If you think something is in there, grab something long and preferably flexible and insert it into the tube. A good example of something to use is a wire hanger. If you’re willing to sacrifice one, just bend it until it turns into a straight pole. However, any long, flexible object will do.

Try to move it around and get rid of the clog by dislodging anything that might be in there, and then turn it upside down and see if it falls out. This may take a good few attempts, so as long as you know there’s stuff in the brush roller, keep trying.

Fix clogs in the vacuum hose

Disconnect it at both ends and have a look inside. You may or may not be able to see anything. If you can’t spot the cause of the clog, try holding the vacuum hose upright and dropping a small item down it like a coin. If it falls all the way down and out the bottom, then the hose must be clear. If you don’t see that coin again, then there’s definitely a clog!

The tube may be quite wide, so you could have a broom or a mop with a handle thin enough to reach down and push out the blockage. You can also try taking the vacuum hose outside and using the garden hose to run water down it and dislodge the blockage.

Fix clogs in the dust cup air duct
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Disconnect the hose where it meets the main body of the vacuum. You’ll need to stick your fingers inside to see if you can feel any blockages, so it’s best to wear rubber gloves. The blockages found inside most vacuum cleaners can be pretty gross, on account of them being accumulations of dirt, debris, and dust!

If you feel anything strange in there, try to grab it and pull it out. If you do get something, it probably won’t all come out in one go, so keep trying until it feels clear. 

If you do find clogs in any of these places, once you’ve removed them you’ll be able to put your vacuum back together and try it out to see if anything has changed and if the suction has improved.

Give the machine a little bit of time to react to the new situation, there may be a few more bits of dust it needs to get out of its system first. If it stops spitting dust after a little while, great job! You’ve fixed your vacuum cleaner! And if not, then don’t worry, we’ve still got more to try!

2. Broken or Overly Full Dust Bags

Another reason your vacuum cleaner might be spitting out dust (this time from the back air duct) is problems with the dust bags. The machine keeps all the debris it finds in a removable bag, sometimes referred to as a garbage bag, in its body. However, if you’re having issues with your vacuum’s suction power, it means that it can’t keep all the air it sucks in.

Instead, there is airflow around the inside of the vacuum that eventually leaves through the air duct at the back of the machine. While it should be blowing air that is clean, sometimes you might find it to be dirty, and there’ll be dust coming out of there as well. This is simply because that dust is not able to go into the vacuum bag. This could happen if the bag is too full, if it is ripped, or if you forgot to put one in completely.

How to fix it

This is simple enough: open up your vacuum cleaner and check the bag. Once again, it’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves, as there might be a lot of debris pouring out of the bag.

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If your vacuum cleaner doesn’t currently have a bag, put one in. If it’s completely full, put in a new one. If it’s ripped or damaged, you can put in a new one or patch it up with some tape. It’s generally better to just replace a broken bag with a new one, though. You can easily find replacement bags on Amazon.

Close your machine back up again and give it a try to see if the clog has been removed and it’s doing better. If it is, go celebrate by giving your house a good thorough vacuuming. If not, keep reading!

3. Clogged Vacuum Filter

Another part of a vacuum that needs to be clear and clean to work properly is the HEPA filter. Much like anything else, these will get dirty over time. The problem here is that not every HEPA filter can be cleaned.

You may have a ‘permanent HEPA filter’ that would end up damaged if you run and rinse it under water in order to clean it. If this is the case, the best you can do is try to tap some dust off it with your hands, or if you happen to have a second vacuum cleaner, try and use that to clear it up a bit.

If you have a HEPA filter that is washable, then you can remove it and rinse it under some water to remove the dirt build-up. Make sure to remove as much as you can, else you’ll end up having to do this again all too soon!

When you’re done, you’ll need to allow the filter to dry for at least 24 hours because putting it back into the vacuum cleaner. Water and vacuum cleaners do not mix at all. If you tried to use your vacuum with a wet filter, the airflow within the vacuum could pick up water particles and take them right to the electric motor. This can have very bad consequences, including shorted motors, fires, and even electric shocks! As such, please do remember to dry the filter thoroughly before replacing it.

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If that doesn’t help you restore air flow to your vacuum, you could always install a new filter instead. Much like other vacuum parts, you can find replacement filters on Amazon.

4. Vacuums on the Wrong Function

If you have a cylinder vacuum, then your machine will actually have a ‘blowing’ function, although there are quite a few people around that don’t know this! You swap between the two functions by connecting the hose to opposite sides of the vacuum. This will make your vacuum switch from suction to blowing.

If you look at the opposite side from where your hose is connected now, you should see another place to connect it. If your vacuum is new, there may be a chance that you set it up the wrong way, or you may have just removed the hose recently and put it back on the wrong end. Either way, it’s worth a try so disconnect that hose and try the other side!

Other types of vacuums may come with a ‘spraying’ option. These are known as combination machines, and they let you toggle between the blowing function and the suction function. If you have a machine like this, it’s worth finding the toggle button and checking whether you’re on the wrong function or not.

If you’ve never seen one of these combination machines, Kenmore makes a good example. At first glance, it’s difficult to tell it apart from a regular vacuum cleaner, so look around and check your vacuum type before you decide to replace it.

5. Problems With the Fan Belt

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The vacuum sucks air into it through the use of a fan, and that fan is connected to an electric motor via a fan belt. However, a single twist in this fan belt can actually cause the fan to turn in the opposite direction and make it so the vacuum is blowing air rather than sucking it up.

Checking if this is the case or not is a little more complicated than the other things we’ve listed so far, so if you feel you’re not up to the job, there’s no need to force yourself. You can always call your local DIY expert or self-appointed neighborhood handyman, or anyone else that will give you a hand!

If you’re going to try it yourself, make sure to fully unplug your vacuum and disconnect power first. If you’re still connected to power when you try to take the vacuum cleaner apart, it could result in an electric shock, so this is crucial.

In order to diagnose problems with the drive belt, you need to turn the vacuum over and find the belt cover on the vacuum cleaner head. Remove the cover and you should be able to see the belt. If you can see that it is twisted, then just use a single twist to turn it back again. This should redirect the air flow and fix your problem. If that didn’t help, a pack of fan belt cover replacements is very cheap, so it’s a smaller expense than getting a whole new vacuum.


There are quite a few reasons why you might find your vacuum spitting out dirt. There can often be a simple answer, especially if you’re having the same problem as one of the problems listed here.

There could be problems with clogging in your roller brush, or a clogged hose, or you may need a new bag to collect the dirt. You also might have dirty filters that you need to clean or replace.

When you find your vacuum spitting out dirt, there’s no need to rush to buy a new vacuum. You may still be able to work out the problem yourself. But you should always be careful because vacuums have an electric motor that could harm you if you play around with it too much.

If at-home fixes don’t work, there are replacements for most parts of a vacuum cleaner, be it the brush roller, the hose, the filter, or the dust bag. Consider the option to replace parts instead of buying a whole new vacuum cleaner.

If you find the problem but don’t feel comfortable fixing it, you can always call in someone that can. That may be a friend or a friend of a friend, or you may need to call a professional that can repair it properly.

We hope that our guide has helped you in fixing the suction issues with your vacuum and that you are able to find and fix your problem quickly and easily!

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