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When you’re busy vacuuming your house, you’re probably not giving much thought to what’s going on inside the machine.
However, a vacuum filter is an integral part of these sucking devices that they rely on to work.
As designs have changed over the years and new ways have emerged to filter the air, these important parts now look and operate a lot different from what we once knew.
So, do all vacuum cleaners have filters inside and do they need them?
The answer is yes, because, in order for a vacuum to work efficiently, it must be able to filter the air from the microscopic particles that are sucked up with the larger debris when you vacuum. Without a filter of some kind, whatever was collected by the vacuum would make its way to the motor, exhaust system and back out of the vacuum again, so they’re an essential mechanism.
With that in mind, it’s important to note that not all vacuums have the same filters and some even have multiple filtration systems operating at once.
A filter can have a lot of impact on the efficiency of a vacuum so getting a basic understanding of how they operate and what benefits they have for the overall machine is crucial to learning how a vacuum cleaner works.
How Does a Vacuum Cleaner Filter Work?
Vacuums come in many different types and designs, but all of them feature a filter of some sort.
The way these filtration systems work might be slightly different on each model, and there could be more than one in place, but at their most basic they perform the same task.
As you vacuum the floor, the machine is busy pulling air inside of it which contains dirt, debris, and small particles that can’t be seen.
The air that the vacuum pulls in must be exhausted out again, but because we don’t want the dirt to come back out with it, the filter’s job is to trap whatever isn’t air and keep it stored inside.
There are many types of filter media and depending on the type, whether it’s cloth, paper, foam, plastic or something else, it features tiny holes that let the air go through while trapping the debris.
Once these filters become too clogged up with dirt after many uses, the air will be unable to come through and you’ll lose suction power on your vacuum.
For this reason, filters should be changed regularly or cleaned out to keep them working at their best.
Does a Canister Vacuum Have a Filter?
Canister vacuums are one of the most common types of household vacuum cleaners and they feature a filter, but often of varying types.
These vacuums can be either bagged or bagless, and depending on which category they fall into, they’re likely to have a filter that suits that specific style of machine.
Bagged vacuums of higher quality usually have three separate filtration systems in place.
These include the bag itself, a chamber filter, and a separate filter for the motor.
They come in different materials like cloth or stainless steel, and each has its own job.
The exhaust filter is responsible for pushing clean air back out into our environment and the motor filter will protect the parts inside of the vacuum.
A bagless canister vacuum is made a little differently but still has filters in place.
Because there’s no bag which usually has its own filter, they use cyclonic action to move the dirt and air around that’s been trapped.
These filters rely on additional filter to prevent the dust and dirt from coming out of the vacuum’s exhaust, and they’re usually HEPA filters or those that are capable of collecting microscopic particles.
Can a Vacuum Filter Prevent Allergies?
People who suffer from asthma or allergies may want extra protection when it comes to their vacuum due to the large number of unseen particles that they can spread around.
Vacuuming can disturb the pollen, dust mite feces, pet hair, and mold spores which are especially damaging to people who suffer from allergies, so the right filter is required.
HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air filters, are a relatively new feature that vacuum filters offer.
These filters are used in addition to a standard vacuum cleaner filter to help purify the air and they’re capable of trapping up to 99.97% particles as small as 1/5000 of a pinhead.
This means the usual allergens that can cause a reaction won’t be exhausted back out as you clean but will stay safely on board with your filter.
Those with allergies might also want to consider switching to a bagged vacuum cleaner because of the amount of dust and debris that can be expelled as you clean out a bagless machine.
They usually feature a sliding mechanism that closes the bag completely before you throw it out, so there’s no risk of anything making its way back into the air.
How Often Do I Have to Change My Vacuum Filter?
In order for a filter to do its job efficiently, it needs to be kept clean and in good working order.
Over time, filters get clogged with the debris that they’ve collected and without being emptied and cleaned, they will no longer be able to pull clean air through them.
As a general rule, you should be replacing or cleaning the filter out completely every six months as a minimum, both in the chamber and the exhaust.
Those with pets or people who vacuum more frequently than once a week will probably have to do this more often.
You can generally tell when the filter needs to be cleaned because of a loss of suction coming from the vacuum.
Vacuums with HEPA filters will require additional attention and they run on a different cleaning schedule.
Generally, a vacuum used for domestic purposes won’t need to have its HEPA filter changed for a few years so they’re safe to leave for a while.
However, if you notice that yours is getting a musty smell or looking worse for wear, it’s best to change it to be sure.
The filter of a vacuum is one of the most important parts and it has a lot of effect on the efficiency of the machine and how well it’s able to clean your house.
We’ve answered some commonly asked questions about filters and their role within the vacuum to help you understand their importance.
Can I Use a Vacuum Without a Filter?
If you’re planning on cleaning your house and notice that the filter hasn’t been replaced, it’s not recommended to attempt using the vacuum.
Without a filter in place, your vacuum will expel the dirt and debris that you cleaned up back into the room and make the air polluted with particles of dust, or push this debris into the motor.
Never attempt to use a vacuum without its filter system in place, and wait until it’s been cleaned and reinstalled before you turn it on.
Can I Clean a Vacuum Filter in the Washing Machine?
Some vacuums come with filters made of cloth that are suitable to put in the washing machine, but it’s generally recommended to handwash them.
Check the specific recommendations that come with your vacuum and filters to determine the best method for cleaning them that won’t cause damage.