Previously in this series, we reviewed what a water vacuum cleaner is, what it is not, and what to take into consideration when purchasing a vacuum. In the second part of this series, we discuss using vacuum bags with a water vacuum cleaner.
Using A Filter Bag With A Water Vacuum Cleaner
Perhaps you have a water vacuum itself – or perhaps you are using a wet+dry water vacuum. No matter which vacuum you are using, the question is, “can I, or should I, use a filter bag with my water vacuum cleaner?‘
Let us begin by saying that using a filter bag can never hurt. In order for your vacuum to function, there has to be air flow. In fact, air flows up the hose and pulls the water with it; thus, even a water vacuum has air that flows through it. If you are working with anything even remotely hazardous, even in slurry form, we recommend a filter bag.
So – can it be done? Yes, it can, and it can be done well. On the left is a Dustless Wunderbag, a universal pre-filter that can hold up to 40 lbs of water and debris without tearing. Let’s check out a few other types of bags.
Four Major Types Of Filter Bags
If you go on Amazon you will find a plethora of filtration bags. Many may claim to work with a water vacuum cleaner, but we will explain to you what is safe to use, and what is not. First, the three types of bags:
Before we dive into the analysis, some bags are a combination of paper, plastic, and/or cloth. However, the majority are not.
Let’s get this one out of the way – paper bags will fail when used with water. Naturally, paper is thin and while it may work well in dry environments, it will utterly fall apart when it comes in contact with water.
Plastic is very much the opposite – it isn’t going to fall apart. Plastic bags are going to capture everything – but depending on your usage, there are a few things you need to take into consideration.
If you are just going for containment and not filtration, plastic bags are great for lighter material. This makes it difficult to use in a water vacuum cleaner (imagine hauling a bag full of water).
If you are going for filtration, be careful. Plastic bags alone are not porous, so they will stop all air flow. Thus, if you are going for a plastic bag, make sure it is semi-porous. As long as a plastic vacuum bag is semi-porous, it will work great for dry material because it can capture particles down to the micrometer.
This is where filtration bags shine – particularly when using a water vacuum cleaner or wet+dry vacuum. There are a few reasons why cloth bags are superior to paper:
- Water friendly
Cloth bags are all about strength. The weave of the individual fibers combined together provides an extremely strong bag that is not prone to ripping like paper and plastic bags are.
The two cons to cloth bags: they are more expensive and they also don’t have the filtration power of other bags – because a weave is not as ‘tight’ for capturing particles as the micro-pores in plastic. This leads us into why we think hybrid bags are the overall best vacuum bags for both wet and dry work.
When using a water vacuum cleaner, we absolutely recommend the hybrid bag. A hybrid bag uses a combination of at least two of the previous types of bag: paper, plastic, and cloth. The reason that hybrid bags work so well, particularly with water, is because they use cloth for strength and plastic for filtration (most don’t utilize any paper).
Hybrid bags are safe to use with water vacuums and wet+dry vacuums. This is because they have the strength to hold water when you take the bag out of the vacuum. Additionally, they have small enough pores to drain water but still retain particles.
The Dustless Wunderbag
Our Wunderbag is a hybrid cloth and plastic bag. It has five layers of alternating cloth and plastic for both strength and filtration. It is so strong it can carry 40 pounds of water without ripping. Naturally, we recommend the Wunderbag because we have tested it in and out and find that it is extremely effective. The tight cloth and plastic media can actually capture particles as small as 0.5 micrometers – nearly HEPA! To learn more about the Wunderbag, click here.