Jesus Christ, who knew vacuum shopping could be so darn complicated?
August 14, 2010 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Owners of bagged vacuum cleaners, how often do you find yourself changing the bag?

I've been researching vacuum cleaners and I've finally settled on one, but the fact that it uses expensive bags ($5 per bag plus shipping. very hard to find in stores) has me on the fence. My previous vacuums have all been bagless and they needed emptying twice per use, which makes me think a bag would need to be replaced once a month at the very least. Some people say they can get five months out of theirs, but as an owner of long haired dogs, I like to vacuum daily.

(I think) I love this vacuum. It has great reviews (Consumer Reports and Amazon), I like the tools, and I feel it would be as good as a Dyson (which had always been my dream vac). I'm just not sure how often I would go through these bags, even if I were to re-use them. I can't help but wonder if I would be better off spending the extra $200 now for the Dyson..

So I guess my main question is, how often would I really need to change a vacuum bag?
posted by Sufi to Home & Garden (20 answers total)
Response by poster: I should probably add: I chose the Hoover because it will probably have a decently long life and it comes with a 6 year warranty. I was wanting to get away from the one year vacuums while still paying no more than $400 new.
posted by Sufi at 11:31 AM on August 14, 2010

I know you have decided on one, but if you want to avoid bags, Dyson makes great vacuum cleaners within your $400 budget. With the model we have, I press a button to pull out the catch cylinder, hold it over an open garbage can, and then press the button again for the trapdoor to slide out. Pretty painless.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:52 AM on August 14, 2010

I have a Miele canister vacuum and the bags work out to $5 each. The bags last about 2 months, the same as the similar-sized bags I used to use in a Bissell canister vac. We have thin rugs, bare floors, and no pets. The 8-room house is vacuumed twice a week.

The expensive bags are worth it only because the vacuum is perfect for our needs and is well-built. Is there any way you can try out the Hoover before you buy?

Please check your me-mail.
posted by wryly at 12:02 PM on August 14, 2010

I have a labrador retriever. I also have two kids. I change the bags about every 10-14 days on my Hoover Windtunnel.
posted by Ostara at 12:04 PM on August 14, 2010

I have two huge, long-haired dogs, a lot of company visiting regularly, and a daughter who has a lot of crumb dropping little friends over on a regular basis. Our house is probably about as high traffic as you can get without having a major highway running through the living room.

My vacuum is an ancient Kenmore and I use it every single day at least once, sometimes more if things get dropped or the dogs track in dirt. My house is about 1400 sq. feet and there is carpet (man I can't wait to get rid of the carpet) in five rooms and two hallways. I also vacuum the furniture off every day and the drapes maybe once a week.

I change the bag about once a month, maybe 6 weeks at the most. I think we're probably messier than a lot of people and I'm a bit of a cleaning fanatic because my dogs are very hairy and I hate having their fur all over everything. Really, as much as I use the damn thing, it doesn't seem like I change the bag that much. Maybe we just make small sized dirt?

But also, I can buy generic bags for mine now and they're easier to find in town and I haven't noticed any difference. Does anyone make a knock-off bag for the vacuum? It might be cheaper that way, too.
posted by howrobotsaremade at 12:10 PM on August 14, 2010

I love my Dyson, and I got a refurbished one for $200 that has lasted 4 years thus far and through a cat and dog that shed like mad. I highly recommend a Dyson, at whatever price level.
posted by questionsandanchors at 12:40 PM on August 14, 2010

Dyson FTW. The animal hair one is great.
posted by k8t at 12:57 PM on August 14, 2010

I chose my vacuum cleaners to minimize high frequency noise, so I guess it's no surprise I ended up with a Fairfax S-1 from the 50s, which has a heavier, quieter, lower RPM (induction!) motor than anything contemporary I'm aware of.

I have a Filter Queen and a Filter King waiting impatiently in the wings, but it will be a bitter, dusty day when I have to give up my beloved Fairfax.

I guess I'd better get out there and buy my lifetime supply of paper disk filters before they stop making them, if they haven't already.
posted by jamjam at 1:14 PM on August 14, 2010

If price is your main consideration for not buying the Dyson, you can get refurbished models on Overstock for about $350 (for the ball model). They regularly have 20%+ off sales and $2 shipping.

I was in the same boat as you and saved up for the ball Dyson and couldn't be happier. It's a bit heavier than the Windtunnel but it's been awesome so far.
posted by barnone at 1:18 PM on August 14, 2010

I have an Oreck. I recently ran out of bags and went to the Oreck store for bags and they were like $8.00 a bag. Um, no way. So, as I was figuring out to do, I was wandering in Target and lo and behold! they had bags to fit Orecks! And they were quite inexpensive. They weren't made by Oreck but were instead a "knock off" made by some other company. They work fine.

So, checking Target might be an option. Stock up on them if/when you do find them!
posted by Sassyfras at 1:51 PM on August 14, 2010

Best answer: Let's say you have to change the bag once a month. That seems to be average from this thread, and from my own experience with my old bag-full vacuum.

The bags are $5 each, I'll leave aside shipping just to make the calculations easier.

The next question is, how long will you have this vacuum? How many months before the cost of the bags equals the cost of the Dyson?

At $5/bag, after 3 years 4 months, this vacuum will cost the same as the Dyson.

Barring "I need a shiny new thing," most people seem to buy a vacuum cleaner every 10 years. You would definitely have the Dyson for a lot longer than 3.3 years!

So for the next 7 years, the vacuum you're looking at will cost more than the Dyson.

If you keep this vacuum for 10 years, it will cost you $600 in bags alone. That's assuming that the bag cost remains stable - they do tend to get more expensive with time.

If there's any way you can swing the extra $200 for the Dyson right now, it will DEFINITELY be worth it in the long run, financially speaking.
posted by ErikaB at 2:02 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

As someone who suffers from dust allergies, just a thought about bags vs. no bags. You have to dump that canister out and dust flies everywhere. I am praying for the day when my "no bag" model dies.
posted by littleflowers at 2:43 PM on August 14, 2010

Confession: I hava previously dug out dust/hair/whatever from the vacuum bag from our communal vacuum, because the landlord hasn't (and should have) provided spares.

I just chucked the crap in the trash.
posted by djgh at 2:49 PM on August 14, 2010

we change the bag in our Oreck when it develops that nasty wet-dust smell. (We don't deliberately vacuum wet surfaces, but sometimes it just happens!) It's a drag when that smell develops and the very capacious bag is only a quarter full.
posted by BostonTerrier at 3:23 PM on August 14, 2010

Are you sure you can't get a cloth bag? Bit of a pain to empty, but no ongoing costs.
posted by bingoes at 3:46 PM on August 14, 2010

Hmmm, I change the bag in my extremely ancient Electrolux every single time I vacuum. Granted, that's only once a week in a household of three big dogs (I am a lazy slob) but still, it gets pretty full each time and I toss it. It works a lot better on a bag that's less than half full. The other thing to keep in mind with vacuums and pets is that fleas can climb right out of the vacuum cleaner and get back to their flea agendas with no trouble. So I take out the bag immediately after vacuuming and duct tape over the top, thus trapping the fleas and whatever other critters might have been vacuumed, then toss. Of course, my bags cost about a dollar each. If they were $5 I would probably not be so free with them.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:59 PM on August 14, 2010

Our upstairs vacuum is a Dyson, and we love it. For the basement, I have keep an old vacuum. We use the space less, but still end up changing the bag every two weeks or so.

My advice would be to go with the bagless model. One less thing to take up time, effort and brain space, with the added bonus of saving you money over time.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 5:20 PM on August 14, 2010

littleflowers makes an excellent point about allergy sufferers. Bagless models just release all the dust/allergy particles right back into the house when you empty the container. We went back to a bagged cleaner from bagless & have much fewer allergy issues. We change the bag about every 2 weeks. There are 2 of us here with 2 cats & 2 dogs, & we vacuum at least twice a week.

One other note about Dyson: we tried one for about 6 months, & aside from the re-release of dust upon emptying the container, the front was too tall to fit under the toe kick on our cabinets. That was a deal breaker, as that area is a collection zone for crumbs & fur. We ended up giving it away.
posted by yoga at 5:34 PM on August 14, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks guys, this was all very helpful. I'm still not sure what I'm going to buy, but it would definitely be a bagless, or a bagged with very common/cheap bags that could be stockpiled.
posted by Sufi at 8:34 PM on August 14, 2010

Just a counter point, we have a 1500 square foot house almost all carpet and only change the kenmore canister bag every 4-5 months (no kids or pets).
posted by saradarlin at 8:41 AM on August 15, 2010

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