Are spiders killed when they’re vacuumed up? Can they crawl out?

A lot of people are scared of spiders. They’d rather vacuum them up and forget about them. Easy-peasy solution. But they might think about the spider inside the bag inside the hoover. Are they dead or dying? Can they survive the violent journey? If they die, is it painful? Most people won’t have those thoughts but some will. But once hoovered the adage: out of sight and out of mind comes to mind! Job done. But is it? And can people do better? I think they can. And a lot of people do, do better. They are sensitive to spiders’ health and welfare. I am one of them. I almost remove them from my home without harming them. It takes a bit of effort.

What happens to spiders when they are vacuumed?
What happens to spiders when they are vacuumed? Image: MikeB

You’ll see a lot of anecdotal stuff on the internet discussing whether spiders are killed when hoovered up. They guess. We can do better and rely on a bit of science to find the answer.

Science answers the question

There is a scientific study from Brazil. It evaluated the “efficacy of vacuum cleaners for the integrated control of brown spiders (I have shortened title). Link:

In short, they found that vacuuming spiders kills them. It depends upon the vacuum cleaner. When they used the standard accessories vacuuming spiders of either sex and of any age including those just hatched destroyed them all. However, when they removed “the plastic plate present at the bottom of the vacuuming tube inside the machine” it found that some spiders survived.

When adult females were kept in a vacuum bag full of dust and debris they survived for 10 days. Young males mostly died as did young individuals of both sexes. The addition of cornstarch to the vacuum bag did not affect the spiders.

That’s the scientific study. It might not be the same for all vacuuming of spiders. Clearly some survive but the mortality rate must be very high. There is an article online on the Better Homes and Garden’s website which discusses this topic.

They referred to expert advice. An industrial design research fellow and former Hoover engineer, Simon Lockrey, said that some vacuum cleaners had internal one-way doors like a trapdoor. There would be no way out for spiders. So, they can’t escape which answers the second question in the title.

A spider expert, Maggie Hardy, was asked whether hoovering would kill a spider and she said that they would be injured. She doesn’t answer the question because I guess she didn’t know. The scientific study answers the question anyway.

Logic really and common sense tells me that spiders will almost always be killed by a vacuum cleaner. If they survive the journey to the bag they will then starve to death or die of thirst. It’ll be a slow death. Can spiders feel pain? Flies can feel pain but what type of pain?

It is likely that spiders don’t feel pain as we know it. But they may feel pain in a different way. You will find lots of anecdotal stuff on the Internet about spiders feeling pain or not. We don’t know. I suspect that they have a process which allows them to detect the equivalent of human pain and respond to it.

Personally, I think we can do better than killing spiders in the home. Just remove them. Put aside your fears of spiders. They are useful creatures around the home because they kill flies for example and other insects. People can learn to not fear spiders or mice or any other animal that they might be frightened off. It’s better not to be frightened of them. Let’s learn to live with them and respect all animals and spiders are animals in my book. But be careful.

Can a common house spider in the UK kill a person?

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.