Can You Recycle Vacuum Cleaners? (And Are They Bad For The Environment?)

When Walter Griffith brought to the limelight his Griffith’s Improved Vacuum Apparatus for removing dusts from carpets, it is not likely he considered that there will one day be a debate on whether this genius invention for removing dust will be particles littering the environment. Also known as hoovers, vacuum cleaners have for years since invention been the cleaning heartthrob of every home.

Perfect for cleaning rugs and carpets, without having to go through the rigors of squatting or bending to reach tricky corners, vacuum cleaners have made cleaning the house more of fun than a chore.

Due to the way they generally make life easier they are one of the most purchased household equipment, as far back as 2003 retailers sold about 1.9 million vacuum cleaners in the US alone. In this light, one question that should bother you is how these dirt cleaners end up after their performance declines? Do they get recycled into new equipment (given the different components they comprise and the different materials used to make these components.)? If not, are their components recyclable in separate parts? Are they biodegradable if they cannot be recycled?

These important questions are what we consider in this post. We know you are buzzing up to know the answer, we are also ready to give them to you. So, why don’t you stick around and let’s see piece by piece how these machines that have so far helped with dealing with dirt in our homes do not become dirt to the environment?

Are Vacuum Cleaners Recyclable?

The question of whether vacuum cleaners are recyclable or not is an important one that needs an urgent answer. The reason for this is because of its frequent use among Americans, and the potentials of it causing environmental hazards if incapable of recycling.

Now, to the question of whether or not vacuum cleaners are recyclable, Yes, they can be recycled. However, there is more to this than just an affirmative answer.

One thing about vacuum cleaners is that they are made with different materials. Vacuum cleaners have several plastic, rubber and metal components. Components such as the plastic body casings which serve as canisters or cover the bags, cords, and rubber hoses are all recyclable.

The plastic can be melted and recycled into materials for items such as plastic bottles, rubber slippers, plastic cutlery and many other things that can be fashioned by recycled plastic.

Although individually these materials can be recycled, it would require some separation process before this can be done. Hence, it is important to always confirm with your local recycling station if it has plans for separating vacuum cleaners before recycling. Most times, if a recycling station will not be able to separate the different components of the vacuum cleaners, it won’t list it as one of its acceptable recyclable materials.

In all, vacuum cleaners are recyclable but they would require that the recycling station carefully separates the different materials used in making them. So, whether or not you can toss your vacuum cleaners in the recycling bin would depend on the willingness of your local recycling station to undertake the separation of these different parts.

How To Recycle Vacuum Cleaners?

Fun fact! Vacuum cleaners are here to stay in our households and industries, and they will always be in demand. In this light, it appears that the more vacuum cleaners are produced, the more we will have vacuum cleaners that get broken down, irreparably damaged and thus need somewhere to go after a life of service. This state of things calls for recycling. but then, how do you recycle them? Let’s get to it in a jiffy.

As earlier noted, vacuum cleaners come with different components which are also made from different materials, thus there are large ranges of things that can be recycled in one vacuum cleaners. This means that you need some expertise to be able to properly recycle your vacuum cleaners.

In this light, we would advise that you allow the recycling station to handle it totally. How they recycle them is absolutely in their control, but generally, they first separate the plastic material from the metal and rubber materials in the vacuum cleaner. After this, they take each material to the section they are recycled. For instance, the plastic materials are taken to the plastic section where they are mixed with other plastics for recycling.

On your part, there is not much you can do, particularly if you consider that vacuum cleaners are e-wastes, which need special attention before its component parts are taken apart for recycling. What you have to do if you want to recycle your vacuum cleaners is to check in with your local recycling station or other similar stations that accept vacuum cleaners.

On no occasion should you attempt to recycle your vacuum cleaners or take them apart; they are e-waste and could be dangerous. Besides, if you decide to separate the recyclable parts for recycling, you could inadvertently damage some reusable parts in the process or injure yourself because you are dealing with an electronic appliance that you are likely not familiar with. Hence, let the experts handle them.

Aside from this, scrap yards are also viable options for recycling your vacuum cleaners: usually found in urban, suburban, or heavy industrial area they pay for metallic parts of your vacuum cleaners. Their payment depends on the type of metal, your vacuum is made of and the volume used, to get anything substantial you might however want to add other metallic wastes because scrap yards only accept metals and not plastic.

To recycle your vacuum cleaner, electronic stores are also another option. Some usually provide options to customers to bring in their used, old or damaged electronic products in a bid to reduce the rocketing increase of electronic waste in the environment. They are in the best position to recycle their own products to create new ones

Are Vacuum Cleaners Bad For The Environment?

On the surface, this probably sounds absurd. You are probably wondering if vacuum cleaners, can be a menace to the environment at all with their magic wands clearing away the mayhem after a weekend of partying or children playing around the house. Well, newsflash, they can.

Like every other electrical appliance in the home or for industrial uses, vacuum cleaners are usually tough to dispose of because of the several components they are made of. Particularly, people are usually at a loss of where to really dispose them without constituting toxic waste. This alone has positioned the vacuum cleaners to be a nuisance for the environment.

Vacuums ending in landfills or just improperly disposed take hundreds of years to degrade and technically are not biodegradable. They can cause rust and damage the soil with their metal components. This would reduce the soil nutrients, stunt plant growths and could even contaminate groundwater.

Also, the toxic fumes produced when the metals or plastic components of vacuum cleaners are burned in landfills are harmful to the environment. They are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and over time, pile up in our atmosphere poisoning our soil, and the water we drink and other animals, and the air we breathe in.

Aside from the above, huge amounts of energy are expended in making electrical appliances like vacuum cleaners. Each component is made from materials that require a lot of energy to produce and even more energy to put together a piece of complete equipment. Thus, in making vacuum cleaners we drain a lot of energy resources and even drain more when we refuse to dispose of in a way that would be recyclable.

In all, though vacuum cleaners help us ensure our houses and workplaces are clean, their improper disposal can cause severe harm to our environment.

Can You Put Vacuum Cleaners In Trash Bin?

Usually, the easiest way to get rid of something we do not want littering our house when they are out of use is to put them in the garbage disposal. However, it is necessary to filter through what we really classify as garbage.

Technically, yes, you can take that old faulty vacuum cleaner in the trash and bid it goodbye, but then you would be indirectly welcoming the depletion of the ozone layer, environmental pollution and climate change because of that singular action. Instead of trashing those vacuum cleaners, you can send them to recycling stations for recycling. You can also reach out to the local scrap metal collector to remove the reusable metal materials in the vacuum cleaners.

This way, you are not just putting the old vacuum cleaners to good use, you are also saving the environment for the potential harms that the vacuum cleaners can cause.

How Do You Dispose of A Vacuum Cleaner?

Most vacuum cleaners come with the do not burn, recycle signs, because it is common knowledge that disposing of them improperly can pose a big challenge. But then, there are several options to ensure that your vacuum cleaners end up where it not only conserves resources, but does not add to the environmental problems of the world. Below, we have some of the options you can take advantage of.

1. Send To Electronics Shops

If your vacuum cleaner is broken, you can get repairs in electronic shops instead of disposing of. This would save you costs and also prevent unnecessary disposal. Also, electronic shops can offer recycling options if your vacuum cleaner is beyond repair. This way, you are disposing of your vacuum cleaners and simultaneously saving the environment.

2. Donate Them

You can also donate your vacuum cleaners if it is not broken and you are just tired of it and desire to upgrade to a new one. There are many people and organizations like charities that are in need of your vacuum cleaners; you shouldn’t deny them the use.

3. Send To Scrap Yards

Scrap yards are also places to dispose of your vacuum cleaner metal parts. In that sense you are only giving components made of metals and not the whole vacuum cleaner. The metal scrap yards understand how to break apart the vacuum cleaner, take the metal part and properly dispose of the other materials, either by sending them for recycling or repurposing them for other industrial or personal use. With this, you are still saving the environment from pollution.

4. Recycle Them

We need not beat too much on recycling your vacuum cleaners, you have read about this above. Without a doubt, you can deliver your vacuum cleaner to a recycle center, but then, ensure it’s one that can handle the separation and recycling.


Vacuum cleaners are a very useful part of our lives. They make house cleaning easy and are a huge part of maintaining a welcoming and safe workplace. Even as we buy them and use them, we should take proper care to ensure they what takes out our dirt does not become detrimental to our earth.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.