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What Is the Fear of Vacuum Cleaners?


Updated February 29, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What Is the Fear of Vacuum Cleaners?

Zuigerphobia, or the fear of vacuum cleaners, is most often seen in small children and pets. However, it can also occur in older teens and adults. The fear is generally associated with the loud sounds that a vacuum cleaner makes, but some people are afraid of the appliance itself.


Fear of Loud Noises

Zuigerphobia is often linked to ligyrophobia, sometimes known as phonophobia. Loud noises cause a startle response in virtually everyone, including infants, but over time we generally learn to manage that response. Small children and pets, however, do not have the coping skills needed to successfully manage their startle reactions. Young kids typically outgrow their fears, so phobias are not normally diagnosed in children unless they last longer than six months.

Managing the Fear in Pets and Children

Whether the fear is of the vacuum itself or of the noise that it generates, slightly changing your cleaning routine can help. For pets, try creating a safe place in a room that does not require vacuuming, such as a kitchen or bathroom. A small, dark, comfortable spot shielded from the noise may be all that is required. If this does not help, consult with your veterinarian for other options.

Help your child learn to adapt by allowing her to get comfortable with the vacuum cleaner. Let her play with it while it is unplugged or make up stories that turn it into a fun character. Warn your child just before you plan to vacuum and allow her to make the choice of staying in the room or retreating to another location. If your child's symptoms are particularly severe or cannot be easily consoled, consult with your pediatrician. It is possible for a child to develop a long-lasting phobia that can worsen over time.

Vacuum Cleaner Fears in Adults

A fear of vacuum cleaners is relatively rare in older children and adults. If you or an older child suffers from this fear, seek advice from a trained mental-health professional. Like any phobia, the fear of vacuum cleaners is relatively easy to treat, but an untreated fear may gradually get worse.


American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

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  5. Phobias I-Z
  6. Zuigerphobia - Fear of Vacuum Cleaners

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