Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head Maintenance

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head


This article advises how to perform Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head Maintenance. This can involve removing the Brushbars to remove items that have got wrapped around them and removing the Soleplate for access  so dirt can be cleaned out. In extreme cases the Motor Housing can be opened so that dirt can be sucked out of it too.

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
Cleaner Head Motor Safety Cut-out Reset Button

The Cleaner Head, with its rotating Brushbar, is a very hard working part of the DC18. All the dirt picked up from carpets and floors has to pass through it and some items can get entangled with the rotating Brushbar. If anything is picked up that jams the Brushbar and stops it rotating it will place an extra load on the motor and the safety cut-out will operate. After the jammed Brushbar has been fixed the Safety Cut-out Reset Button should be pressed to reset the cut-out. The Safety Cut-out Reset button is on the top of the motor housing with a RESET label pointing to it.

Some items that get picked up can damage the Cleaner Head. Examples of problematic items are:

  • long hairs;
  • sewing cotton;
  • string;
  • shoelaces;
  • ribbons;
  • jewellery chains.
Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
A Damaged Brushbar (Soleplate Removed)

“I recently found part of a shoelace wrapped around the end of the Brushbar a few days after my wife had found one of her trainers with a shortened lace. Before I found it she had complained to me that the DC18 was not working as it should.

The hardened end of the lace had jammed in the Cleaner Head and stopped rotating with the Brushbar. The lace was still wrapped around it and the friction caused had melted the Brushbar tube and put a very nice 4mm groove in it. This nearly severed the tube into two parts.” – Helpful Colin

Fortunately the Drive Belt (presumed to be toothed) connecting the motor to the layshaft is well protected by a black plastic cover. This also encases the Layshaft. The cover is firmly bolted to the Motor forming part of the Brushbar Motor Assembly. Cleaners that have exposed un-toothed drive belts often go faulty when ingested dirt wedges between the drive belt and the brushbar at the point where the belt wraps around the brushbar. If those brushbars jam the motor continues to rotate melting the drive belt with the pulley’s friction.

Diagrammatic Breakdown of a Dyson Slim DC18

Here is a very clear diagrammatic breakdown of the parts of a DC18. I have named parts in my description to conform with it.

Removing and Re-attaching A Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head

1. How The Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head Is Attached To The DC18 Body

The Cleaner Head plugs into a socket on the Swivel of the Yoke Assembly. The socket has two parts:

  1. for the airway in the centre of the Swivel;
  2. for the electrical connection to the Brushbar Motor Assembly.

The Cleaner Head Sockets can be seen in the picture below:

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
Yoke Showing Cleaner Head Sockets

The sockets are mounted on a Swivel. The Swivel allows the body of the DC18 to lean sideways while the Cleaner Head remains flat on the floor.

NOTE: It isn’t necessary to remove the Cleaner Head in order to remove the Brushbar and clean it, but it makes the job easier because the Cleaner Head is more manageable on its own.

Below is a picture of the rear of the Cleaner Head after it has been detached from the Yoke showing the electrical plug wired to the motor and the motor cut-out reset button:

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
Cleaner Head Rear View

2. Removing The Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head From The Yoke Swivel

The Cleaner Head is locked onto the Swivel by two Swivel Catches. The Cleaner Head is removed from the Swivel on the Yoke by gripping the Brushbar Motor Cover Assembly upper part (socket shroud) and pulling it away from the Yoke while  simultaneously squeezing the two Swivel Catches at the side by their indentations. If done in the upright position the DC18 body must be supported with the other hand or by another person to stop it falling over. Not the easiest of tasks for anyone with small or weak hands.

NOTE: For the DC18 to remain freestanding the Cleaner Head must be attached. So after the Cleaner Head is removed it can be leant into a corner with the wheels chocked or laid down on the floor.

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
The Swivel Catches holding the Cleaner Head in place.
Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
Squeezing The Swivel Catches to release the Cleaner Head and gripping it to pull it off.

Laying the cleaner on the floor with the wheels down and the Cleaner Head uppermost is the best way for one person to remove the Cleaner Head. The picture below shows it in this position and highlights one of the two Swivel Catches in the engaged (locked) position, i.e. engaged with the Swivel’s flange.

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
DC18 lying down for ease of Cleaner Head removal.

The next picture shows just how much the Swivel Catches can be withdrawn from the Cleaner Head’s shroud when the indented ends are depressed. They pivot in the middle and come out by a ¼ inch to disengage the Swivel’s flange and unlock the Cleaner Head from the Swivel.  They are normally held in the engaged (locked) position by unseen springs.

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
A Swivel Catch pressed in against its spring to move it into the released position.

If the Swivel Catches won’t move when pressing the indentations try pushing the Cleaner Head further onto the Swivel. That action should relieve the pressure where the catches engage the flange and consequently reduce the friction between them allowing them to move easily.

In the next picture the electric socket is shown together with the retaining flange, built onto the Swivel, behind which the Swivel Catch tips rest. It is this engagement which prevents the Cleaner Head from coming off the Swivel.

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
The Swivel with the Cleaner Head removed.

Without the locking effect of the Swivel Catches the Cleaner Head would only be held onto the swivel by the friction of the plastic parts and the pins of the electric plug used to connect power to the rotating brush motor. Once unlocked the Cleaner Head can be pulled upwards and off the Swivel.

3. Using The Flexible Wand With The Cleaner Head Removed

With the DC18 leaning into a corner, and with the wheels chocked, it can be used with the Flexible Wand, and attachable tools, while the Cleaner Head is disconnected. The undercarriage must be set in the position it would be in if the DC18 was in a freestanding upright position. This is to set the air valve so that air will be drawn through the Flexible Wand.

“Preparing the DC18 in this way enables the Flexible Wand to be used to vacuum the dirt from the Cleaner Head parts as they are dismantled.” — HC

CAUTION: The exhaust airway from the HEPA Filter must not be obstructed. The exhaust can be hot from the heat generated in the main electric motor so take care of what it blows onto.

4. Lubrication Of Plastic Parts

Generally plastic parts don’t need lubrication because they are considered to be self lubricating. That means:

  • initially they are smooth and without much friction;
  • after some wear small amounts of plastic dust act like minute ball bearings and roll between the parts.

However small particles of grit can get embedded in a plastic surface and have a very abrasive nature. They wear the parts more and add friction which prevents easy movement. It may therefore be appropriate in some cases to add an inert lubricant in the form of petroleum jelly, silicon grease or wax polish. Mineral oils can soften plastics so they are not advised. Very little is required and after application any surplus should be wiped off. Unfortunately grease can help to prevent binding initially, but can collect more dirt over time. So once greased those parts need cleaning and re-greasing as time passes.

I am suggesting, here, that a little lubricant might help the Swivel Catches to be pressed in if it is applied to the back of the flange. Avoid getting grease on electrical plug and socket pins. It can be an insulator.

5. Re-attaching The Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head

Re-attaching the Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head involves aligning the Brushbar Airway Connector on the Cleaner Head with the Brushbar Airway Socket on the Yoke and just pushing it onto the Swivel. The Swivel Catches don’t have to be touched. They will move into the disengaged position without assistance and then click home into the engaged (locked) position when the Cleaner Head is pushed on far enough.

NOTE: When re-attaching the Cleaner Head it is important to ensure correct engagement of the spring loaded Gimbal Lock Pin with a notch in the Cleaner Head shroud covering the Swivel. (see the diagram above). This catch is used to keep the DC18 in the upright position when freestanding. Without it the DC18 can flop over sideways. In use it moves out of the way when the DC18 is tilted over sideways.

Disassembling A Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head

Whether the Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head is removed or not it can be taken apart in four stages by:

  1. Detaching both End Cap Assemblies to access the Brushbars by the user;
  2. Disengaging both Brushbars from the Motor Assembly Layshaft by the user;
  3. Removing the Soleplate Assembly for better access by a technician;
  4. Removing the Motor Housing Cover and cleaning inside the housing by a qualified electrician.

Below are the four stages in detail.

1. Detaching Both End Cap Assemblies To Access The Brushbars

NOTE: This process is designed to be done by the user of the DC18.

The End Cap Assemblies provide the outer bearings for the Brushbars. Each has a Turnbuckle locking it in place which takes the form of a large slotted screw head designed for turning with a large coin. In the UK a 50 pence coin is most suitable. See images left & right.

NOTE: Most screwdrivers would damage the plastic and mangle the slot because they are not likely to be as large and as good a fit as a coin.

The Turnbuckles have a shaft with a T-bar on the end. The screw head must be turned anticlockwise Anticlockwise through 90º so that the T-bar can align with a slot in the transparent plastic of the Brush Housing. When so aligned the turnbuckle end of the End-caps can be rotated up and forward between 45º and 90º until the End-caps are disengaged from the Cleaner Head’s retaining flanges. The End Cap Assemblies can then be pulled off along the axis of the Brushbar. See images below.

Rotating an End Cap Assembly and pulling it off

2. Disengaging Both Brushbars From The Motor Assembly Layshaft

NOTE: This process is designed to be done by the user of the DC18.

The motor drives the Brushbars via a drive belt which transfers power from the motor to a Layshaft contained in a black plastic housing mounted off-centre inside the transparent Brush Housing. The Layshaft has flats ground on it to engage the inner ends of the Brushbars and so communicate the torque. The inner ends of the Brushbars also get their bearing from the Layshaft. The bearings for the outer ends are built onto the End-caps. With the End-caps removed take hold of the outer ends of the brush bars and pull them out or tilt the Cleaner Head to tip them out.

Below is the Cleaner Head with the Soleplate removed and the Brushbars and Layshaft  Housing fully exposed.

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
The Cleaner Head Underside With The Soleplate Removed

See the Layshaft  and Brushbars separated below.

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
The Layshaft resting in the Brush Housing
Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
The two Brushbars

Once out the Brushbars can be cleaned with a flexible wand tool to remove any dust. Anything wrapped around the Brushbar should either be unwound, or in the case of hairs, cut off with scissors or a knife.

SAFETY NOTE: If threading a knife under the hairs cut them by pushing the knife away from your body NOT up towards your face.

3. Removing The Soleplate Assembly To Access The Brush Housing

NOTE: This process is designed to be done by a technician.

NOTE: There is potential for damaging the Clip on the Soleplate with this process.

Althought the Brushbars can be removed without first removing the Soleplate, removing the latter first gives better access to the Brushbars and the Motor Assembly Layshaft.

The Soleplate is fixed to the bottom of the Cleaner Head with 5 x [Philips No.2 x 15mm] self tapping screws and a moulded plastic clip. Remove all the screws first then attend to the clip. It is this clip which has the potential to break (but mine appears to be very tough).

The positions of the screws and the clip are shown in the image below.

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
The Soleplate Removed From The Underside of The Cleaner Head

The picture below shows how the clip can be released:

  1. First remove the Long Brushbar as described in sections 1 and 2 above. This gives access to the clip.
  2. Pull the Clip forward using either a very strong fingernail or prise it using a long screwdriver with a thin blade, as shown below, so that it will move past the protrusion over which it sits.
Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
Releasing The Clip With The Aid of A Flat Blade Screwdriver

PHOTOGRAPHER’S NOTE: The screwdriver was held in place by an elastic band while photographing.

4. Removing the Motor Housing Cover and Cleaning Inside The Housing

NOTE: This process is designed to be done by an electrician else damage to electrical components may go unnoticed.

NOTE: There is potential for damaging the Clip on the Motor Housing Cover.

After a few years of use dust can accumulate in the Motor Housing. Dust in there can reduce the  flow of the air cooling the motor and is best sucked out after the cover is removed.

The Motor Housing Cover is held in place by 2 x [T15 x 15mm] screws and a clip similar to the one holding the Soleplate. It is this clip which has the potential to break (but mine appears to be very tough). Unfortunately the clip cannot be accessed from within and prised apart with a screwdiver like the Soleplate Clip, but if the edge held down by the screws is lifted it angles the clip until it releases. Once open you can see that the clip engages in the same location as the Soleplate Clip.

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
Motor Housing Cover
Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
Open Motor Housing

Re-assembling A Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head

Re-assembling a Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head is basically the reverse of the dismantling process.

1. Replacing The Motor Housing Cover

NOTE: This process is designed to be done by an electrician else damage to electrical components may go unnoticed.

If the Motor Housing Cover has been removed you will find a Soleplate Seal attached to it. When the cover is replaced be careful to locate the ends of the seal in the groove it came out of on the edge of the Brush Housing.

2. Inserting the Brushbars

NOTE: This process is designed to be done by the user of the DC18.

If the Soleplate has been removed then it is easier to replace the Brushbars and End Cap Assemblies. The Layshaft flat sides can easily be aligned with the shape of the hole in the end of each Brushbar.

If the Soleplate is in place each Brushbar must be dropped into the Cleaner Head from the end and rotated until it engages with the Layshaft. Fortunately the large openings in the Soleplate allow the Layshaft to be viewd while the brushbars are coupled to it.

A little light oil can be applied to the sintered bronze bearings mounted in the End Cap Assemblies. The bearings, being sintered, should soak it up. The bearings then have to be aligned with and pushed onto the Brushbar Axles.


  • Some plastics can be harmed (softened) by mineral oils.
  • Oxidation can change the quality of natural oils over time.
  • Do not apply any oil to the Layshaft.

3. Re-attaching The End Cap Assemblies

NOTE: This process is designed to be done by the user of the DC18 while the Soleplate is attached. If not attached it should be done by the technician who will re-attach the soleplate.

Below is an image of the the Cleaner Head upside down with an End Cap Assembly and Soleplate removed. Refer to this while engaging the End Cap Assembly.

NOTE: The End Cap Assemblies can be engaged while the Soleplate is attached.

Note the flanges [A] and [D] moulded onto the transparent top of the Cleaner Head and see how they engage the protrusions at [C] and [F] on the End-cap to stop it being pulled off.

Now engage the End-cap with the transparent plastic of the Cleaner Head so that [A] is placed adjacent to the open space [B] and [D] is placed adjacent to [E]. Rotate the End-cap so that [A] slides around from [B] to [C] and [D] slides around from [E] to [F]. Make sure the T-bar of the turnbuckle passes through the slot in the transparent cover and turn the turnbuckle clockwise with a suitable coin.

Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head
End Cap Assembly removed and ready to be re-attached.

4. Attaching The Soleplate

NOTE: This process is designed to be done by a technician.

Ensure that all the grooves around the edge of the Soleplate and the area it fits to on the underside of the Cleaner Head are free from dirt or it won’t fit together. Check that the rubber seals along the two long edges of the Soleplate are fitted in position for the Soleplate to bed onto.

With the Cleaning Head upside down lay the Soleplate in place, align the catch and click it into position. Then replace the 5 x [Philips No.2 x 15mm] self tapping screws.

Author: Helpful Colin

I have a background in telecommunications and a fascination with all things scientific and technical - from physics to electronics, and computing to DIY.

20 thoughts on “Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head Maintenance”

    1. Hi Larry,
      I just removed my cleaner head and the socket housing cover from the swivel so I could have a good look at how it is assembled. I have to conclude that the swivel must push onto the tube projecting from the front of the yoke and click into position when assembled in the factory. I cannot see any way to dismantle it without breaking the swivel. If I knew how the parts were shaped where they are coupled together I might be able to decide if something could be poked between them to hold back the catch. There seems to be more of a gap at the back than the front. I’m sorry the news is not good.

  1. Hello Colin- I have carefully followed your advise on how to remove the cleaner head and no success. It is stuck. My hands are not weak! I pressed the indentations of two catches while pulling and no go! Any advice short of taking it to the Best Buy repair center?

    1. Hi Joanna,
      Try laying the cleaner down so that the wheels are on the floor and the cleaner head is up in the air. When you press the catches in they should rock on a fulcrum in the middle of their length and the other end should come out by a 1/4 of an inch. They should spring back into position when you let go. If you can’t push them in try pushing the cleaner head further on to relieve friction on the catches. Only when both catches are in the release position will the cleaner head come off. If it won’t come off with both catches released then it must be jammed on with dirt, grit or some part broken and it might then have to be prised off. I have just taken some photos and I will try and use them to improve my post on the subject later today and let you know when I have completed it.

    1. Hi Joanna,
      I have modified my post to give a better description of removing the Cleaning Head and replacing it and I have covered the possible lubrication of some parts. This includes three new pictures of the catches and Swivel. I hope this is helpful.
      Good luck.

  2. Hi Colin: I hope you can help here. My roller bar starts and stops as I am using my DC18. There is nothing caught in the roller bar. It just stops and starts rotating as I am pushing it round. I noticed that It depends on the angle of the tilting the body of the vacumn when I am using it. If it is closer to the upright position it works. The more “horizontal-like” it gets (but not too horizontal) it stops. It just stops rotating as I am pushing it round.

    I really, really love this vacumn its not too heavy and it cleans up a lot of fine particles, and I am hoping this can be fixed. The left swivel catch is missing one of the prongs so I have it taped with duct tape. This seemed to work for a while. I am not sure if that is the problem though. Thanks in advance for your advice.

    1. Hi Marlene,

      I’m sorry to hear your worried about losing the use of your Dyson, but I think the problem can be fixed.

      There is an electric switch which detects if the DC18 is in the upright position or at a working angle like it would be when you’re pushing it around. See my post Dyson Slim DC18 Undercarriage Repair and the section Dyson Slim DC18 Undercarriage Replacement Process item 4. On one side of the undercarriage there is a Micro-switch which senses when the cleaner is locked in the upright position. This shows the switch. Now the switch gets worked by a few levers so they may not be functioning correctly due to dirt or a breakage. Also there are flexible wires feeding the switch and the socket that the Cleaner Head plugs into. These wires may have in intermittent break in them due to them being flexed during normal usage.

      Unless you are familiar with fixing electro-mechanical devices you need a local vacuum cleaner expert or electrician to take a look. If he/she says they don’t know anything about Dyson’s show them my blog and they can find out all about them. If there doesn’t seem to be a mechanical problem they might need a test meter to check the continuity of the wires, switch and socket while moving the DC18 up and down to localize the fault. Getting access to the parts to do the tests may be difficult but not unsurmountable to a good electrician.

      I wish you luck. Some replacement parts are available.

  3. Hi
    I have a DC18 which operates fine in the upright position through the wand however when in the down position there is no suction through the brush head but still suction through the pipe! Is there some sort of valve that should divert the air flow that is not working? I have cleaned out machine but the swivel clips appear damaged and one has come off but I am struggling to get brush head off – could there be a blockage in this section?

    Thank you for any help you can give


  4. Hi, can you help me please i have recently took apartmy dc18 slim to clean and on reassembly of the brush head i have a random spring and one of the end capps is very loose( pushes in and out) and the brush head is now quite loud?
    Any ideas?

    1. Hi Richard,
      Is it a coil spring like those in ball-point pens or some other sort? Could it have been vacuumed up rubbish that fell out when you dismantled it and nothing to do with this Dyson?
      Please run through my blog again and check all references to springs in text and pictures.
      You can send pictures of your spring to helpful.colin@btinternet.com.
      Please dismantle parts of the brush bar and check the rotating brushes are fitted correctly and that they correctly engage with the endcaps.

  5. Hi,
    I’ve bought a reconditioned DC18 and the long brush bar has stopped spinning properly, it looks to me like the bar Isn’t engaging properly with the central spindle and hence the spindle is just spinning inside the bar without actually spinning up the bar itself, I just wondered is this is known weakness of that model and is there a fix or does it require a new part, love the vacuum otherwise, any help gratefully received I am very frustrated !!

    1. Hi John,

      Sorry to hear you have a problem.

      I suspect you will find the motor spindle is spinning inside the drive belt or the drive belt is snapped. If the motor is spinning inside the drive-belt then the heat generated may already have damaged the rubber belt. Can you smell burning rubber?

      If you remove the brush-bar end caps and then take the brush-bars out you will be able to see the Layshaft and check if it is being rotated by the motor. You will also be able to see if the holes in the ends of the brush-bars are damaged (rounded off). I hope that when you take them out you find they are in someway jammed with dirt or something wrapped around them. If that is so then cleaning may resolve the problem, but the belt may still have been damaged. Go to ‘Disassembling A Dyson Slim DC18 Cleaner Head’ sections 2 to 4.

      Good luck.

      Regards, Colin.

  6. I have a DC18, the brush bar stops after about 1 minute. It then occasionally runs then stops, if I switch off for 5 minutes I can get it running again for 1 minute. Connection to the motor are good, doesn’t look like the brushes are easily removed. Do you think I need a whole motor assembly?

    1. Hi Glen,
      I don’t understand why you say the brushes are not easily removed. The DC18 as I know it is described in my blog with photographs showing how to remove the brushes. It’s necessary to remove brushes from time to time just to clean them of things such as cotton threads or string that get wrapped around them and to replace the drive belt which can wear out.
      Please try again to remove the brushes and check to see if the drive belt is damaged or they are clogged with dirt.
      Regards, Colin.

  7. Hi Colin

    My DC18’s swivel catches have both come off and are not to be seen, my Dad seems to think they have a spring with them but when I have searched for the part online it doesn’t seem to show a spring? are you able to confirm for me?

    Many thanks

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.