Third-party bags can be cheap and easy to find, but how do you choose the right one for your vacuum? And are there any downsides to using them?
If bags for your vacuum cleaner are hard to find or your model has been discontinued, third-party bags are a great option. They’re cheap and often easier to find than genuine branded ones.
Third-party vacuum cleaner bags aren’t made by the manufacturer of your vacuum cleaner. While they look similar to branded bags, they won’t be identical.
Third-party bag manufacturers often sell various bags that can fit most popular vacuum cleaners. The bags can be found at most appliance and vacuum cleaner retailers, hardware stores and supermarkets. While third-party bags are similar to branded ones in design, they can be constructed from different materials (such as cardboard fittings instead of plastic). Check your vacuum cleaner manual to see if there are materials that should be avoided for your model, such as paper.
A store selling vacuum cleaners isn’t required to sell its branded accessories, such as bags. When brands (such as Nilfisk) or particular models are no longer sold here, finding genuine bags can be hard and third-party ones might be your only option.
Third-party bags are also often cheaper than branded ones. For example, the Miele Complete C3 Family All-rounder bags sold at Harvey Norman cost $6.75 per bag, while the Menalux brand bags, compatible with the same machine, are $3.25 cheaper.
Don’t assume you’re compromising by buying third-party bags, they still need to be of decent quality and fit for purpose. You can often pick up bags with filters, including HEPA.
The easiest way is to go to the third-party bag manufacturer’s website, where most let you enter your vacuum cleaner or bag model name. It tells you whether the manufacturer has bags that will fit and which ones, otherwise it’s stated which models a bag should be compatible with.
If you’re in store, then the bag’s packaging will often also list the brands and models they’re compatible with.
If the bag or website doesn’t list your exact model as being compatible, then make sure to check that the bag looks like your branded one.
A fault caused by using a third-party bag won’t be covered by your vacuum cleaner’s warranty. However, the third-party bag manufacturer has obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) that should cover you.
The CGA still applies to any fault with the vacuum cleaner that wasn’t caused by using a third-party bag. In this case, the retailer and manufacturer must fulfil their obligations. For example, if the vacuum cleaner head breaks one year after buying it, no matter what bag you use, you are covered by the CGA .
An ill-fitting bag can let dust into your machine and damage the motor. Make sure the bag fits well and that it’s the correct size – a bag that’s too big or small or a different thickness from the branded one can affect suction. Check for excess dust in the compartment after the first use, as this is a sign of an ill-fitting bag. If packaging for the third-party bag claims it’ll fit your vacuum and it doesn’t, you are covered by both the Fair Trading Act and the CGA.
Don’t empty and reuse a vacuum cleaner bag. Bags often act as a filter, so the material of a used bag will be full of dust, and vacuuming with a reused bag is like cleaning with a full filter. This this puts excess strain on the motor and can result in poor suction. It can also push more dust into the air and is unhygienic.