Can you reuse vacuum cleaner bags? Experts issue warning to homeowners who think it'll be more eco-friendly

Think twice before reusing your vacuum cleaner bags

Cordless vacuum cleaner leaning against sofa in living room
(Image credit: Getty Images)

No bagged vacuum cleaner would be complete without the bags that collect all of the dust and debris from your home. But if your recent cleaning spree has left it full to the brim and you don't have any spares, you might be wondering: Can you reuse vacuum cleaner bags?

Some of the best vacuum cleaners (and even the best cordless vacuum cleaners) are the bagged kind. Considered to be more hygienic than bagless alternatives, these vacuum cleaners collect everything in a sealed bag that, in theory, can then be thrown away. But there’s no doubt about the fact that this seems like a waste - especially in a world where we’re becoming more and more conscious of our environmental impact.

That’s why we’ve reached out to experts to see if there’s a better - and more eco-friendly - alternative to these single-use vacuum cleaner bags. And we’ve got the low-down on whether you can reuse vacuum cleaner bags or not.

A Miele vacuum cleaner dust bag in a Miele vacuum cleaner

(Image credit: Miele)

Can you reuse vacuum cleaner bags?

You’re probably already familiar with (and a pro at) cleaning your vacuum cleaner, but having a bagged vacuum cleaner comes with an addition: a vacuum cleaner bag. This bag acts in the same way as the cylinder in a bagless vacuum cleaner and simply collects the dust and debris that’s sucked up by the appliance.

In most cases, you shouldn’t reuse vacuum cleaner bags and instead focus on replacing your vacuum cleaner bag with a new one as soon as it’s full. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

Tom Akers, Product Training Manager at Miele GB, explains, ‘Vacuum cleaner bags are typically designed for single-use, therefore emptying them may be impractical and risk exposure to the dust within them.’

This is echoed by Paul Bagwell, Founder and CEO of Halo Appliances, who says that reusing vacuum cleaner bags can have a negative effect on your home and your health. He says, ‘Vacuum bags are designed to trap dust, dirt, and allergens efficiently during cleaning.’

Person emptying a Black + Decker vacuum cleaner dust bag into bin.

(Image credit: Black + Decker)

‘Once the bag is opened, the collected particles are released back into the air, mitigating the hygienic benefits of bagged models vs the negative ‘dust cloud’ experience created by bagless vacuums that can aggravate respiratory issues for individuals sensitive to allergens. For example, ten times more dirt escapes from bagless vacuums when emptying.’

And, while using disposable vacuum cleaner bags may seem like a nuisance, it’s fair to say that opting for a bagged vacuum cleaner over a bagless vacuum cleaner does have its advantages. After all, the Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog Vacuum Cleaner has been crowned Ideal Home’s best vacuum cleaner for suction and earned itself a 4-star review.

Shark vacuum cleaner stood up in kitchen

(Image credit: SharkNinja)

But while it seems as though you can’t reuse vacuum cleaner bags, one look online may have you questioning everything. In fact, one quick search for “reusable” or “washable” vacuum cleaner bags will come up with countless results - including this Spares2go Lifetime Reusable Zip Cloth Dust Bag for Numatic Henry/Hetty Vacuum Cleaner from Amazon.

Ultimately, vacuum cleaner brands don’t advise using such products, and that’s why it’s almost impossible to find a bagged vacuum cleaner with legitimate reusable bags. But if you’re in a bind and don’t have an alternative, you could potentially reuse generic vacuum cleaner bags when cleaned properly - and only temporarily.

Coffee being vacuumed up from rug

(Image credit: Henry)

Of course, it’s also important to understand and question the environmental implications (and not forgetting the added cost) of these single-use vacuum cleaner bags. And although you may want to maintain the health of your home and your family, this is something that needs to be considered.

Thankfully, Tom says, ‘A lot of bags are now designed to be more environmentally friendly, incorporating recycled materials and technology to maximise their usage. However, anyone concerned about the environmental impact may prefer to use a bagless vacuum instead.’

Emily Barron, Cleaning Expert at Property Rescue, advises, ‘To clean a reusable vacuum bag, make sure you empty it and try to remove as much dust and debris as possible. Then, you can either hand wash it with mild soap and warm water or put it into your washing machine on a gentle cycle. It’s important that the bag has completely dried before you use it again - this is to prevent odours and bacteria. So hang it out and leave it to air dry.’

Henry HV160 vacuum cleaner

(Image credit: Numatic Henry)

This shouldn’t be a permanent solution, though. Reusing a vacuum cleaner that’s improperly cleaned can result in loss of suction and affect the inner workings of the appliance itself.

So, if you’ve bought a bagged vacuum cleaner and the manufacturer encourages you to use disposable bags every time it’s full, you should adhere to these instructions to maintain the warranty and the overall working of the vacuum cleaner.

The best bagged vacuum cleaners - our top picks


Is it safe to reuse vacuum bags?

It’s generally not advised to reuse vacuum bags due to the health implications associated with it. The benefit of having a bagged vacuum cleaner is that you can simply throw the bag away without exposing yourself to dust and debris instead.

However, if you’re opening up the vacuum cleaner bag to throw away the contents and then reuse it, you run the risk of inhaling the debris and allowing it back into your house.

Can I reuse Hoover bags?

Hoover vacuum cleaners are extremely popular and famous for their bagged designs. However, the brand does not recommend reusing the Hoover bags as this may affect the suction qualities. Because of this, you should always dispose of Hoover bags as soon as they are full.

So, while you technically can reuse vacuum cleaner bags if you really need to… you probably shouldn’t.

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.