Dustbag Performance and Filtration Efficiency

When it comes to cleaning performance, there is a tendency to look primarily at the power of the suction motor and the amount of bristles on the brush roll. While these are important considerations, the quality and size of the bag are very important factors as well. The quality of the bag's filter media affects both its ability to retain the fine dust and allergens and its ability to allow air to easily flow through it. As mentioned below, the size of the bag will affect how easily the air flows through it as well. A good quality bag is a very important vacuum cleaner component. Care should be taken to always replace it with an equally high quality bag so good vacuum cleaner performance is maintained.

While there are still a number of standard vacuum cleaner bags being manufactured, the vacuum cleaner industry has developed a number of high filtration bags designed specifically for those with dust related sensitivities. We also recommended these for use in most vacuums with motors rated at 10 amp or more. Most high filtration bags consist of multiple layers of special filter media to increase the filtering efficiency. Vacuum cleaner manufacturers often give these bags special names like HiClean (Miele), Filteraire and Premium (Eureka), Allergen Filtration (Hoover), MicroFresh and HEPA Type (Royal), and Micron Bags (Panasonic). Some manufacturers of generic bag are even getting into the act by producing very high filtration bags like the Micro-Lined bags by Dust Vacuum Corp (DVC) and Filtrete Bags by 3M Filtration Products.

Determining the actual filtration efficiency of bags can quickly become a frustrating experience. While some manufacturers give complete specifications, many simply express it in terms of particle size or efficiency percentage only. Phrases like "retains dust down to 0.1 micron (micrometer) in size" can be quite misleading since the actual percentage retained at that size may be quite low. Some manufacturers even state a percentage on the same package as the down to phrase but that still does not indicate the actual efficiency percentage at the stated particle size. For those who suffer from dust related sensitivies we recommend using a high filtration bag coupled with a Certified HEPA exhaust filter in a completely sealed system. To learn more about this configuration, see Filtration Efficiency - HEPA, ULPA, etc.

For the purpose of comparing how various companies rate their high filtration bags, the following quotes from their bag packages or literature are listed:

  • Miele HiClean Bags - "First and foremost, the unique new material which composes HiClean bags has made significant progress in the quality of filtration: Thanks to its intricate web of three-ply random-spun polymer fibers, far more tiny particles and allergens are retained than with conventional paper bags. This alone accounts for a reduction in dust emissions from the bag of up to 50%, based on levels which were already extremely low."
  • Eureka Premium (Filteraire) Bags - "The Micron Filter System retains up to 100% of dust mites, grass and ragweed pollen plus particles 15 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Filteraire® bags filter 5 times better than standard dust bags."
  • Hoover Filtrete™ HEPA Bags - "Traps 99.97% of all particles down to 0.3 microns. The Filtrete™ HEPA Bag has a triple layer of material that traps many allergens, such as dust mites and their eggs, ragweed and common grass pollens."
  • Hoover Allergen Filtration (MicroFiltration) Bags - "Traps 99% of particles down to 5 microns! Filters a wide range of airborne particles including many pollens, spores, other allergens and dust mites. Ideal for many with dust related or allergic discomforts. Electrostatically charged liner enhances the capture of extremely fine particles."
  • Royal & Dirt Devil MicroFresh Bags - "Ideal for allergy suffers. Cleans the air so it's over 99% particle free. Electrostatically charged fibers retain dust and pollen down to 0.1 micron in size."
  • Royal HEPA Type Bags - "Lined with Electrostatically charged fibers. Fine dust and pollen particles are trapped to keep the air returning to your room 99.9% "Fresh". Ideal for Allergy Suffers. HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particle Arrestance and describes a special type of extended surface, deep bedded, randomly positioned fibrous material media." Note: HEPA Type bags and filters may not meet the stringent HEPA specification.
  • Panasonic Micron Bags - "Total Efficiency of 99.9% at five microns. Can even trap some particles as small as 0.1 microns."
  • Sharp Twin Ply Microfiltration Bag - "The highly efficient Twin Ply microfiltration bag traps over 99% of dust and dirt down to 5 microns. Twin Ply's electrostatically charged fibers capture fine dust particles for enhanced air filtration and cleaner air in your home."
  • Kirby Micro Magic HEPA Filtration - "Certified HEPA Filtration - Removes 99.97% of household dust, pollen, mites and other particles down to 0.3 microns and 99.5% down to 0.1 microns."
  • Oreck Celoc HypoAllergenic Bags - "Traps 99.9% of particles down to three microns."
  • DVC Micro-Lined Bags (generic) - "Captures Microscopic Particles, Germs, and Bacteria as small as 0.1 Micron. 99.7% Filtration."
  • 3M Filtrete Bags (generic) - "Filtrete media traps more problem particles like dust, pet dander, mold and bacteria than any other bag. 95% Efficiency at 0.3 Micron Particle Size."

The quality of the bag can have a significant impact on the air flow through the system. While the bag's filter media must be able to stop the fine dust and allergens, it should present the least amount of resistance to air flow that is possible. The total resistance of the bag is inversely proportional to the total area of the filter media. In other words, doubling the area of a bag's surface will cut the total resistance to air flow in half. Therefore, if two different size bags are constructed of the same quality filter media, the larger one will enhance the cleaning performance by making it easier for the air to flow. Well constructed high filtration bags not only filter better but often enhance the air flow since the multi-layer construction reduces clogging of the minute openings (pores) through which the air passes.

Genuine vs. Generic bags

Generic drugs are closely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration to assure that a very high standard is maintained. In the vacuum cleaner industry there are numerous generic bags, filters, belts and brushes available but there are no official high standards to which they must adhere. While generic bags can be high quality, some fall far short when it comes to performance and durability. There are significant variances in the construction and quality of filter media used in making disposable bags and filters. Some filter media doesn't allow the air to flow easily through it so cleaning performance is reduced, especially as the bag fills. Others are simply not strong enough to prevent being ruptured, creating quite a mess in the bag chamber. When considering the purchase of a generic bag instead of one marketed by the vacuum manufacturer you often can't tell if it will enable the best performance that your vacuum can deliver.

Since Ristenbatt Vacuum understands how very important it is to use good quality bags, we tend to recommend those distributed by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM or Genuine) of the vacuum cleaner so you can be confident that you are receiving a good quality bag. These are often marked with the manufacturer's logo and typically contain phrases like "Genuine Miele", "Genuine Hoover" or "Genuine Eureka Product". Phrases like "Genuine Filter Paper" and "To Fit Hoover" tend to indicate that the bags are not distributed by the vacuum's manufacturer.

Ristenbatt Vacuum sells only Genuine (OEM) bags for use in the new cleaners we sell. Some dealers offer Generic bags free or as an option with a new vacuum purchase. While this offer may seem good, you should be aware of a potential problem. The use of generic bags usually voids manufacturer's warranties!

A high quality bag is very important but it isn't the only critical performance factor. Other important performance aspects of the vacuum cleaner system are the Effects of Brushing Action, the Air Flow through the System, the Filtration Efficiency - HEPA, Micron, etc. and the Power of the Suction Motor.

When choosing a vacuum cleaner, you also want to learn about Identifying Durable Designs & Construction and how to Match Your Tasks and Cleaning Style. A knowledgeable sales person at Ristenbatt Vacuum Cleaner Service can help you determine which vacuum cleaner system will work the best for you in your particular cleaning situation. All of them are also skilled technicians who are very knowledgeable about vacuum cleaners, both inside and out. They will be happy to talk with you regarding your various vacuum cleaner needs, preferences and desires.

Next Vacuum Performance Aspect: Power of the Vacuum Cleaner Suction Motor

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