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The best vacuum cleaner is the one that cleans the best, right? As a vacuum’s cleaning power is largely determined by its filter, the type and power of the filtration system becomes the most important factor to consider when either shopping for a vacuum cleaner, or replacing its bags or filters.

Vacuum bags & filters remove dirt, dust, dander, airborne microbes and other allergens that cause breathing difficulties or aggravate respiratory issues, such as asthma.

But poor quality filters, according to a University of Virginia study, can actually add to airborne dust and allergens. That’s why it’s so important to do your research and make the right choice.

In this buying guide we will look at the different types of vacuum bags and vacuum filters available, as well as their features, to help you choose the best filter for your vacuum cleaner. 

Why Choosing the Best Vacuum Filter Is Important

Choosing the best filter or bag for your vacuum cleaner will keep your vacuum operating at its best. The right filter or bag will:

  • Improve the quality of your air and protect you from respiratory infections and allergies that are triggered by dust mites, pet hair, dander, pollen and dust. They trap the contaminants and prevent them from escaping back onto the surfaces. Some filters, such as HEPA filters, can remove 99.97% of particles of 0.3 microns or larger.
  • Eliminate odor and gaseous pollution by bonding the harmful particles to activated charcoal.
  • Increase the lifespan of your vacuum cleaner by preventing clogging and obstruction of airflow which can cause it to malfunction. 

So simply by buying the right vacuum cleaner filter, you can protect your health and save you money!

The Different Types of Vacuum Cleaner

One of the best things about vacuum shopping is that there are so many types of vacuum cleaner to choose from. However, depending on your experience and knowledge you have about vacuums, this can also be the worst thing.

We’ve created a list of the top vacuum cleaner styles so that you can decide which one is best suited for your home.

Bags vs Bagless

Vacuum cleaners are available in two main types - bagged or bagless. They each have their pros and cons, and which one is best for you is strictly a personal preference.

Bagless cleaners deposit the dirt from the intake hose directly into a dirt cup or canister - usually transparent - and make it easier to see when it’s time to empty the vacuum. At that time, the user empties the whole canister into the trash. They utilize filters on the vacuum to help catch additional micro-particles, and keep down the dust and odors.

Vacuums that use bags deposit the dirt into a cloth or paper bag instead of a dirt cup. This bag is discarded when it’s full - the user then replaces it with a new one. The bag itself acts as the first level of filtration as the air that carries the dirt continues to pass through the paper or cloth, leaving the wall particles behind. Not all bagged vacuums use filters, but many do in the interest of better air quality and cleaning.

Beyond the bagged or bagless distinction, vacuum cleaners come in several different styles - one of which is strictly for use in the great outdoors. They each have their special qualities and features that make them perfect for specific situations. 

Upright

Upright style machines are the traditional style of vacuum that is pushed back-and-forth along the floor while being held upright. They offer strong suction, and can be either bagged or bagless. Either way, the dirt is sucked up through the head unit on the floor, and deposited into the dirt cup or bag that is located along the handle. They can use a variety of filters for HEPA style filtration and odor reduction, among others.

Canister

Canister-style vacuums use a different system than the upright style - the main cleaning unit rolls along behind the power head with its rotating brushes. The dirt ends up in the canister, where it can be deposited into a dirt cup, or goes into a bag, depending on the model. They utilize filters in the same way as their upright counterparts - all used to pick up allergens, finer particles, and odors.

Handheld

Handheld vacuums are the smaller models designed for one-handed operation and quick clean-ups. They’re cordless and mostly bagless in operation, but some do require them. They also have replaceable filters for more effective cleaning. Since they can undergo a lot of abuse with their working style, they can need frequent filter changes or cleaning.

Robot Vacuums

Robot vacuums are the newest innovation in vacuum types. These units are cordless, run autonomously, and are designed to be low to the floor and round in shape so that they can get around a room with minimum difficulty. They use dirt cups to collect debris, and have filters to pick up smaller particles. They tend to have smaller dirt cups that require more frequent emptying, and their sometimes daily use suggests the need for regularly scheduled filter changes.

Pool Vacuums

A pool vacuum lives its life underwater, working to clean up miscellaneous debris that can be found in your pool. There are two types of pool vacuums, a manual pool vacuum or an automatic pool vacuum, also known as an automatic pool cleaner. They collect the debris in a mesh bag and/or a fine bag to filter items over 2 microns in diameter. These are emptied manually, and the bags do need replacement, due to the type of debris (sticks, etc) that can be picked up.

What Are the Different Kinds of Vacuum Bags & Filters?

Today's vacuum cleaner market has expanded so much that there's a huge number of different vacuum filters and bags for you to choose from.

Lucky for you, at Think Crucial, we're known for our vacuum filters and vacuum bags which fit a wide range of vacuum brands. So let us break it down for you.

Today's vacuums will use either: 

Disposable Vacuum Bags

Disposable vacuum cleaner bags are made of fine cotton material or paper, and are still very much a part of vacuum cleaner styles. They’re specific to the type and make of vacuum cleaner. They let air pass through while still retaining the dust and dirt inside the bag, provide filtering as they do so, and are removed and discarded when full. Since they do allow the air to pass through them, they often come with a secondary filter to catch the smallest particles.

Reusable/Washable Vacuum Filters 

In addition to being eco-friendly and low maintenance, a washable and reusable filter will save you extra costs on replacement. Buying them in bulk ensures you never run out of filters because you can alternate them between washing and drying. These filters should be washed once every couple of months, and then air-dry them before reusing. This prevents clogging and improves airflow to optimize filtration for total protection from allergens and other toxic airborne particles. However always make sure to read the instructions of the filter that you purchased.

HEPA Filters

HEPA is the short form of High-Efficiency Particulate Air, which is rated as the ultimate filtration system due to its effectiveness in removing 99.995% of harmful airborne particles from 0.3 microns. This makes it suitable for people who are prone to hypersensitive reactions, babies with a weak immune system and patients with respiratory infections. As long as you use it in an airtight vacuum cleaner, you can get rid of almost all pathogens and allergens in your environment.

Vacuum Pre-Filters

Filters have really come a long way since their beginnings back in the early 1900s. Back then, the filters were made of woven cloth, and were nowhere near as efficient as today’s versions. Today, filters that are located in the vacuum before the motor are known as pre-filters, and play a key role in reducing microscopic particles that can cause allergies and other respiratory issues.

Vacuum pre-filters can be made of reusable materials, that can be cleaned, dried, and replaced on the vacuum, or can be disposable.

Why You Should Replace Vacuum Cleaner Filters & Bags Regularly

  • A damaged filter is a dangerous filter. If your filter has been worn out from frequent or long usage, it can leak the trapped contaminants back in the open and expose you to copious amounts of pathogens and other harmful particles.
  • An ineffective filter harms your vacuum cleaner. It can lead to accumulation of trapped debris and dirt which can clog your vacuum cleaner and cause it to malfunction, thus necessitating a costly replacement.
  • Obstruction of airflow will also hike your power bill since your vacuum cleaner has to overwork to circulate the air through the trapped particles.
  • Generally, it is recommended to replace the filter after every 3 to 6 months. However, this will depend on the type of filter, frequency of usage and other needs like health issues. Manufacturers usually indicate the period you can use their filter model before it is due for replacement.
  • Consider buying multi-filter replacement packages.  They tend to be discounted and will serve you for a much longer period. For washable filters, extra sets allow you to continue using the filters as you wash the other set and air dry it.
  • All of the above applies to vacuum bags too. As the bag is the filter, any rips or tears mean dust and contaminants returning and spreading in your home. Likewise, an overfilled vacuum bag will not allow air to flow easily, costing you money in electricity and additional vacuum maintenance.
  • Replace vacuum bags as soon as they are full to ensure the best air quality in your home and the longest life for your vacuum cleaner. Consider buying vacuum bags in bulk, or setting up a regular subscription to automatically have fresh vacuum bags delivered whenever they’re needed.

How to Choose the Right Vacuum Filter 

Choosing the wrong filter which is incapable of removing harmful particles from your home, or which leaks the trapped contaminants back into the atmosphere can expose you to health risks. To avoid this, our buying guide explores the most important features in vacuum cleaner filters. We look deeper into these characteristics and the role they play in a filter.

Your intended filter may have only one feature or a combination of some of the properties listed throughout this article. To choose the right filter, study these properties and select the filter or bag with the features that cater most to your cleaning and health needs.

The Best Vacuum Cleaner Filters

Best Vacuum Filter for Allergy Sufferers

An allergen filter has a higher ability than a regular filter to trap tiny particles from the air, although its filtration capacity is lower than a HEPA filter. A filter designed as an allergen filter provides extra protection from harmful particles.

Best Vacuum Filter for Pet Owners

You want a vacuum filter that is good for both humans and animals so that they can breathe freely throughout your home. There are certain filters that are specifically designated to remove pet hair, pet odor and dander from the air. You will need to wash some of these regularly to ensure optimal operation.

Best Vacuum Filter for Small Spaces 

The best type of vacuums for small spaces has become the robotic models. They can run automatically while the owner is out of the home, cutting down on disruption and noise. Robotic vacs are capable of learning the layout of the room by mapping and remembering it.

The filter and foam combo that is used for robotic vacuums provides just the right amount of filtration in a household that is being regularly swept and maintained by this sort of unit.

Best Vacuum Filter for Pools

Swimming pools benefit from the type of automatic pool cleaner that can not only cover the pool floor and walls thoroughly, but that also uses washable filter bags. Models like the Aquabot have very efficient filtration that removes any particles over 2 microns inside. Their cloth bags allow the user to swap the dirty one out for a clean one while they rinse and launder it. It’s an effective system that many pool owners prefer.

The Best Filter for Your Brand of Vacuum Cleaner

Best Filter for Shark Vacuums

For your Shark Navigator Lift-Away Series vacuum, the Hepa/Foam and Felt Filter Kit provides a complete change-out of all the filters, providing a fresh start for your machine. Each of the filters is included, setting the user up for months and months of effective cleaning with no downtime.

Best Filter for Black & Decker Vacuums

Black & Decker Pivot owners prefer the washable and reusable 4pk Replacement Vacuum Filters set that keeps their vacuum working efficiently by always providing a new filter when needed. Dustbuster loyalists need the reusable Part VF110 Compatible filter that ensures that their suction never fails when they need it for quick jobs.

Best Filter for Dirt Devil Vacuums

The Dirt Devil Replacement F45 Filter Kit fits most Dirt Devil models and provides a complete filter replacement for the vacuum. It fits F45, Pets Canister, and EZ Lite Canister units. The package contains a HEPA-rated canister filter, exhaust filter, & foam filter.

Best Filter for Kenmore Vacuums

Finding replacement bags for your beloved Kenmore vacuum is easy. The 18pk Replacement Paper Bags fits models 5055, 50557 & 50558, and the Crucial Vacuum Allergen Filtration Cleaner Bags  fits the same model, but add an additional level of filtration and allergy protection.

Best Filter for Dyson Vacuums

Dyson owners can easily do a change of all their vacuum’s filters with the Replacement Pre & Post HEPA Style Filter Kit . It’s washable, lasts up to 6 months, and is Dyson DC14 compatible, fitting the All-Floors Bagless Upright and the Animal Cyclone Upright.

Best Filter for Hoover Vacuums

Hoover Platinum owners love the convenience of the 9pk Replacement Q Vacuum Bags. For Windtunnel vacuum users, the 4pk Replacement HEPA Style Filters cover the filtration needs of the bagless models.

Best Filter for Eureka Vacuums

For owners of the Eureka 4236AZ Comfort Clean Upright, 3270 and 4230 bagless models, the 2pk Replacement Filters set provides washable and reusable convenience in replacing their filters. Mighty Mite canister vacuum owners love the value of the 27pk Replacement Style MM Bag.

Best Filter for Bissell Vacuums

Almost all Bissell vacuum owners can use the 4-pack replacement filter set that fits all Bissell Lift-off, Momentum, and  Velocity Series Bagless Upright Vacuums and many more models. It’s an easy-to-replace filter that will greatly extend vacuum cleaner life with regular changes.

Conclusion 

We hope you can now tell the difference between the types of filters and the features or properties of filters.

To choose the best vacuum cleaner filter, you need to consider the type of pollutants to be cleaned, the amount and frequency of cleaning, and your health needs. For instance, a nursery will require a vacuum cleaner filter with HEPA filtration which can trap pathogens and other harmful pathogens to protect the underdeveloped immune system of babies.

Next, you should find out the model number of your vacuum cleaner to match it with compatible filters.

Finally, remember to clean your filter periodically and replace it after the duration recommended by the manufacturer. This will protect your vacuum cleaner from clogging and malfunctioning and keep its performance in top form.

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