Can a Vacuum Cleaner Explode? (See the EXPLOSIVE Facts Here!)

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By CleanersWithLove

Vacuum cleaners can be unpredictable. And it can be nerve-racking once it begins to smell like it’s burning. So, it’s normal to wonder if can a vacuum cleaner explode.

Generally, vacuum cleaners can catch on fire, and when left alone for too long, they can explode. But this is rare, and if it occurs, manufacturers often recall vacuums that caught on fire to improve them. And if you use and maintain your vacuum cleaner well, there’s no need to worry about it exploding.

But to better prepare yourself, here’s all you must know about vacuums and explosions:

Can a Vacuum Cleaner Explode?

Although rare, a vacuum cleaner can explode. And through the many causes, the most common one is vacuuming ignition sources. These combustible materials range from cigarette butts to matches!

Cigarette butts or matches can start to glow when they hit the airflow generated by the inbuilt fan in the vacuum cleaner. And when overexposed, they can ignite and cause an explosion once hitting the vacuum’s dirty chambers.

Generally, shop vacuums are more prone to exploding than household models. After all, they often consist of tons of plastic, and businesses use them to suction everything. And yes, that includes combustible particles!

But as uncommon as these explosions are, there’s a high chance your vacuum can catch on fire. And even if most models have thermal fuses or circuit breakers to stop fires, they don’t always work. Hence, fires can start, damaging the cleaning machine and putting you at risk!

They won’t catch on fire or explode if you use them within the manufacturer’s instructions. And most vacuums haven’t caused harm to users so far.

So, as long as you care for your vacuum cleaner well, there’s no need to worry about it exploding or catching on fire.

Warning Signs Your Vacuum Cleaner might Explode!

❗The “Smell” of Burning

There are many reasons why a vacuum cleaner can begin to smell like it’s burning. When this happens, unplug the cleaning machine ASAP. And once unplugged, check if something got tangled in its rotary brush. 

It’s common for human hair or pet dander to bundle up and get tangled around your vacuum’s rotary brush. And this causes friction between the hair or fur and the brush’s bearings, producing a burning smell.

So, once you get a whiff of something “burning,” turn off your vacuum and remove all tangled hair from its brush. Only then can you use the cleaning machine again!


Like any electrical appliance, vacuum cleaners can get hot too! After all, they have a motor like your car, and we all know how it can get hot after use. But even if overheating can happen among vacuums, it’s not normal! 

Our definition of “overheating” varies and won’t be the same for all vacuum cleaners. When this happens, please turn off the cleaning machine and let it cool down before vacuuming again.


Smoking is one of the deadliest signs your vacuum cleaner may explode. But when this happens, don’t begin to panic about buying a new vacuum! After all, smoking can come from many things. And these include a worn-out belt, a blocked brush roller, or a burned-out motor.

Vacuum belts, especially, are prone to smoking as they continually rotate. And when your vacuum cleaner runs for extended periods, the belt can get damaged or slip out of its place. Luckily, this common issue has an easy fix, and all you must do is replace the belt!

Meanwhile, when your vacuum’s brush gets clogged and halts from rolling, it can burn out the belt, producing smoke. And this is also another easy and cheap fix, where you only need to clean the clogged brush!

Moreover, a clogged vacuum motor can also emit smoke as it tries to burn off the dust gathered inside. Another clogging issue that can cause a vacuum to begin smoking is a dirty and blocked filter. Clogged filters can lead to overheating, but you can quickly address it with a thorough clean!

But if you’re dealing with a burned-out vacuum cleaner, it’s better to replace it ASAP.

5 Ways a Vacuum Cleaner Can Explode

can a vacuum cleaner explode (infographic)

? Ungrounded Vacuum Hoses and Body

Most vacuum cleaners, whether designed for home or industrial use, consist of a lot of plastic. When the debris travels through plastic tubes and spins around the vacuum’s body, they often make extensive amounts of static electricity. 

Since they aren’t grounded, the excess static electricity can disperse, causing an explosion. And these can either explode inside the vacuum cleaner’s body or the dust-laden air outside.

So, you can see how crucial it is to get explosion-proof vacuum cleaners for your safety. They’re bonded and grounded, preventing static discharges.

? Damaged DC Motor

Another explosive hazard vacuum cleaners create within their motors. They often use brushed DC motors, which can become problematic once they wear down. After all, their contacts can spark each time you turn them on. And these trapped sparks inside the housing can cause an explosion within the vacuum.

Luckily, these sparks aren’t as dangerous to the user. But placing the vacuum cleaner amidst a potent dust cloud can lead to a massive explosion. 

Be preemptive with your vacuum cleaners and find one to stop motor sparking. These can occur either through compressed air or a specialized motor.

? Dust Clouds

Vacuum cleaners spin the gathered debris in a tiny tornado within their bodies. And this action often causes heavy dust to fall to the bottom, where it accumulates. The air sucked into the vacuum cleaner blows out through the exhaust port. Sometimes, the air blown out from the machine can be potent enough to disturb the dust gathered. 

As a result, the dust becomes airborne, creating a massive dust cloud prone to exploding!

When encountering a dust cloud, be sure you ventilate the area well and don’t do anything drastic. After all, you can make hazardous dust conditions worse than they already are! You can trace several dust explosions back to one event that caused accumulated dust to disperse into an explosive cloud.

? Not Filtering Small Particles

Most vacuum cleaners can’t deal with fine particles consisting of combustibles. And many aren’t powerful enough to collect all loose debris, leaving behind enough dust to create a hazard. 

Moreover, many vacuum cleaners don’t use top-quality filters that can handle even the tiniest combustible dust particles. They might be fantastic at sucking up larger dust, but they can’t take the smaller particles, which can create a dust cloud. And we all know what these clouds can do! 

?Inadequate Cleaning and Maintenance

Vacuums can quickly fill up and get clogged, especially in dust-heavy areas. Once they begin filling with debris, they’ll suction power decreases, causing the machine to overheat! So, never try cleaning extensive amounts of combustibles all at once. It would be best if you emptied the vacuum cleaner now and then while cleaning the filter often.

But you can also make your life more manageable by investing in vacuum cleaners designed not to clog or lose suction when they fill up. Or at least get a vacuum that doesn’t need as much cleaning and maintenance as conventional models.

How to Prevent Your Vacuum Cleaner from Exploding?

✔️ Practice Proper Storage 

Store your vacuum cleaners and other electrical appliances in a safe storage area. Generally, placing them in isolated places or at least areas with less traffic is ideal. But remember not to put the vacuums in a space filled with dust and dirt as it can cause an explosion! 

So, choose the shed or closet as convenient as it is to store your vacuum in the garage or basement.

✔️ Be Cautious Around Combustibles and Liquid Flammables

If you’re using water-based cleaning products alongside your vacuum cleaner, ensure you don’t get any of them on your carpets or upholstery. Aside from that, keep an eye out for aerosols, spray paint, or other liquid flammables. These can cause fire and potentially explode your vacuum cleaner.

✔️ Never Vacuum Wet Floors

Never vacuum your floors while it’s wet, regardless of their material. You risk getting the cleaning machine and its component wet if you do. So, dry your carpets, wooden floors, or tiles before you begin vacuuming to prevent the device from catching on fire. Or worse, explode!

✔️ Never Place Your Vacuum Cleaners Nearby Electrical Outlets

I recommend placing your vacuums at least 3 feet away from electrical outlets. After all, you wouldn’t want to touch your vacuum’s power cord or attachments and have it catch fire! And if possible, try using extension cords instead of your electrical wall outlets. 

✔️ Go Explosion-Proof

Most vacuum cleaners work by spinning gathered debris in a small tornado. As a result, a dense pile of dust accumulates at the bottom of the cleaning machine. And this worsens as the vacuum disperses it out of its exhaust port. When this happens, the dust spreads throughout the air, contacting the ignition sources and causing an explosion.

So, to avoid disaster, invest in an explosion-proof vacuum! They have all the built-in safety features needed to reduce the risk of the machine catching on fire and exploding. And some also have anti-static accessories that can ignite at any minute!

Aside from that, explosion-proof vacuum cleaners also have ground motors, non-sparking filters, and inner chambers. Also, when choosing a vacuum, ensure it operates via electric or air. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can a vacuum cleaner catch on fire?

A: Vacuum cleaners can spark and catch fire, but only when they have damaged circuit boards. But these instances are rare, and one famous manufacturer stated they only received two reports of their vacuums catching on fire between the model’s release in 2019 and 2020. 

Q: What are the dangers associated with using a vacuum cleaner?

A: Faulty vacuum cleaners are at risk of catching on fire. Moreover, debris made of combustible materials can cause it to explode. Aside from that, they can also irritate the user’s eyes and nose, causing lung issues. And some debris can also be toxic to inhale. 

Q: What can make a vacuum cleaner explosion-proof?

A: You should equip your vacuum cleaner with fine filters for superior power and safety. These ensure the collected particles get suctioned through your vacuum well. And they inhibit the movement of combustible materials in the air, preventing explosions.

Q: Why does my vacuum cleaner smell like it’s burning?

A: Your vacuum might be overheating caused by a clogged exhaust filter if it smells like it’s burning. The blockage causes the motor to malfunction, preventing it from cooling down. So, double-check the vacuum’s exhaust filter if it’s beginning to smell burnt. Generally, you can find that on top or back of the cleaning machine, where the exhaust air blows out. 

Q: Is it possible for a vacuum cleaner to overheat?

A: When overexposed to conditions other than what’s intended, your vacuum cleaner can overheat. And this can force it to malfunction and fail, rendering it useless.

Final Words

Can a vacuum cleaner explode? Although rare, vacuums can catch on fire and explode. And the cause behind such explosions isn’t always manufacturing errors. So you must ensure you’re only using the right things and aren’t sucking up combustible items! Only then you’ll be able to get the most out of the cleaning machine before replacing it.

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