You know by now just how much I love my Shark vacuum cleaner. And given my readers' letters and comments, I know that many of you have Sharkies, too.
I love your messages. They make me smile because I understand the range of emotions that come from using a Shark vacuum for the first time — from amazement to flat-out embarrassment.
Where on Earth did all of this dirt and debris come from? I can't believe what's been lurking in my carpet!
With all of the miles I've put on my numerous Shark vacs over the years, I've never had one fail. And while the manufacturer boasts that Sharks never lose suction, that is predicated on regularly cleaning their canister, filters and rotating brush.
It's right there in the owner manual, which most of us don't think to read until we have a problem. You need to clean your Shark every three months to keep it working at top efficiency — more often with heavy use. It's easy.
Signs that Sharkie needs a bath:
— Loss of suction.
— Dirt being left behind.
— Sounds weird, like Sharkie is gasping for air.
— An unpleasant, dirty odor.
Of course, you are emptying the dirt collection canister on a regular basis. However, once every three months (more often with heavy use), you need to do more than that. You need to wash it with soap and water, opening it from both ends if your model has that feature.
I do this in a sink that I've filled with warm, soapy water. I have a long-handled bottle brush I use to get into all of the crevices. The canister has no electrical connections, so submerging it in water is not a problem.
Once cleaned and rinsed, I open both ends and allow it to air-dry.
Once the canister is removed, you will see one or more filters made of foam rubber and, depending on your model, additional filters made of felt. Remove these, taking careful note of the order in which you do so you can replace them in proper order. It's not difficult.
Be prepared for a dirty situation on your hands if you are not cleaning these filters regularly.
I take them to a sink of warm, soapy (blue Dawn) water and give them a good and thorough bath. I wash both the foam and felt filters, being especially careful to not damage those made of felt.
(NOTE: The manufacturer does not recommend washing the felt filter. I carefully hand-wash and have done so many times with no problem. Do this at your own risk.)
Once cleaned and rinsed, the filter(s) may or may not return to their new white appearance. But don't worry. As long as they are not torn, broken or otherwise disintegrated, they'll be just fine, even if they remain stained.
Do not return the filter(s) to the vacuum at this point. They must be completely dry first. Otherwise prepare for mildew and mold — the last thing you ever want growing inside a vacuum.
When everything is clean and dry, replace the filters and canister. Sharkie will be so happy he'll return the favor with an even more exceptional cleaning job the next time you vacuum.
Filters will eventually wear out, and you can easily replace them. Just make sure you are purchasing the correct filters for your particular Shark model.
Next, lay the vacuum on the floor so you can see the rotating brush. You may want to place a bag or towel underneath to catch the debris and dirt you're about to release.
More than likely you will see strings, hair and other material wrapped around the brush. This is normal.
I use scissors to cut through whatever has wound itself around the brush. That makes it easy to clean up the brush. You may have to pull and tug a bit, but it will come off.
My Shark model of choice remains the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright. It comes with a hard-flooring separate attachment (awesome), and the lift-away feature makes it so easy to vacuum stairs.
You can find helpful photos showing how to clean your Shark vacuum at www.everydaycheapskate.com/cleanshark .
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary a Question," or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.