Is There a Way to Reuse Vacuum Bags?

old upright vacuum

You're out of new bags and the one in the vacuum is full. Or the kids and pets find you vacuuming often and you want to avoid the expense of bags, which leaves you with a question: Is there a way to reuse vacuum bags?

The short answer is yes. But it can be a messy job. One thing to consider is ditching the name brand bags and buying generic ones. These are usually available at vacuum stores and some big box stores. This might save you a respectable amount of money. Nonetheless, whether you want to save by reusing, or are forced to, you’ll find that all is not lost.

Step 1 - Prepare

First wear some rubber gloves (surgical gloves work great). Also find a paper filter mask and some safety goggles. Do this outside, preferably near a garbage can.

Step 2 - Empty the Bag

overflowing vacuum bag

Lay out some newspapers and remove the bag from the vacuum. Try to remove the larger clumps of dirt that will likely accumulate at the opening of the bag. The finer dirt and dust particles will have sunk to the bottom of the bag. You won’t need to worry about that, if you plan on a quick, emergency reuse of the bag. Continue to pull the large masses out of the bag and shake it out over the garbage can to allow debris to fall out.

Step 3 - Think Ahead

You can probably get away with emptying the bag three or four times before the bag starts to lose integrity. Remember, you won’t be working with a completely empty bag, so you’ll have to repeat this process again in short order. Eventually, you’ll have to toss the bag out.

For a more thorough cleaning of the bag try the following method.

Step 1 - Tape and Empty

man removing bag from a canister vacuum

Get a strip of duct tape and tape it vertically along the back side of the bag (the opposite side of where the bag opening is) that covers about 2/3 of the bag's length. Cut a slit through the tape and through the bag, taking care not to cut all the way through to the other side of the bag. Leave about an inch or so at either end of the tape uncut. Empty out the bag.

Step 2 - Cover the Slit

Cut another strip of duct tape long enough to cover the slit. Add another inch and fold over the end of the tape onto itself about ½ inch from the end. This will provide for a handy little non-sticking end that will make it easier to pull off. Affix this new strip of tape over the slit.

Step 3 - Reinstall the Bag

Replace the bag in the vacuum. Next time you have to empty the bag, merely peel off the top strip (using the end that has that neat little handle) and empty out the contents. Again, you’ll only be able to reuse the bag a few times, but since you’ll be basically working with a completely empty bag, so the vacuum life of the bag should be about as long as a new one.