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Brush Mechanism Brush Mechanism


  • Failure mode Brushes become clogged with fibres and hair so need to be easily cleaned.
  • Durability feature Good tested design and use of clogging sensors to prevent failure.
  • Cost

Good practices

  • Good practicesDesign for easy cleaning
  • Good practicesBrush can easily be replaced

Bad practices

  • Bad practicesSealed unit with narrow orifices which clog up

Key facts

  • 28% of vacuum cleaners failed to meet customers’ expectation of a 5-year lifetime.
  • Which? surveys show that the most common faults are loss of suction, blocked filters and brushes.

Icon key

  • Failure mode Failure mode
  • Durability features Durability features
  • Cost saving Cost saving
  • Low cost Low cost
  • Cost neutral Cost neutral
  • High cost High cost

Key failure modes

Brushes of both upright and cylinder vacuum cleaners can become clogged with fibres, hair, etc. and if this occurs, they need to be easily cleaned.

Early life

  • Fibres, hair, etc. can wrap around revolving brushes and clog the bristles so that they impair or prevent cleaning. This problem is more common in households with people and pets with long hair.
  • This can occur at any time and users need to be able to remove this material relatively easily, without the use of tools.

Later in lifetime

  • Repeated clogging of revolving brushes can impose strain on bearings causing wear which can cause noise or cause the mechanism to jam.  

Specification for improved performance

The specification below provides the recommended improvements needed to improve product durability. They are ranked from bronze to gold based on the effectiveness of the change in improving durability, with bronze being the minimum and gold being the maximum.

Good design with robust bearings; test new designs

  • Use suitable bearings that will survive expected lifetime. Semi-lubricated sintered metal bearings should be suitable. Some types of plastic bearings may be suitable, but confirm that they meet your  lifetime expectation by testing.

Sensors to indicate blockage / clogging

  • The brush housing needs to be designed in such a way that clogging is uncommon but the brush can easily be removed and cleaned if clogging occurs.
  • Sensors can be used to detect clogged brushes and warn users, but will add significant costs to the cleaner.

Testing to demonstrate performance

  • No standards exist to determine how likely the brush will clog with fibres, etc. and so a test will need to be devised which the cleaner should pass. The test will involve using the cleaner to collect relatively large amounts of hair, which is the worst culprit for causing clogging.
  • Consider providing prototypes to consumer for testing and ask for feedback.

Cost implications

Improved reliability of components can reduce early returns and improve brand reputation which, in turn, can lower business costs and increase long-term sales.

To calculate overall cost savings for your business, use the WRAP cost/benefit analysis tool (currently in draft form and available on request).



Low cost

Good tested design

Ensure new designs do not clog easily by testing, ideally using hair with other dirt.

High cost

Sensors + PCB  with LED indicators 

Clogging sensors.