Bag-less Versus Backpack Vacuums

Cleaning: Vacuums

A reader writes: “One of our major customers does not allow us to use backpack vacuums so we have converted to bag-less upright units. Any comments?”

A bag-less upright unit has the same productivity issues when compared to a backpack since it takes about four uprights to cover the same amount of area as good backpack. This means that your labor will be higher with the possibility of the same or even poorer results as far as soil removal. If the customer is willing to pay the differential in labor, then certainly comply with their demands. You may find that you will be doing a lot more spot-vacuuming to save time and periodically bring in a canister (or backpack unit) to get edges, ceiling vents, etc. which can reduce your productivity even more. Remember that it is all about total labor expended to get the job done.

My primary concern about bag-less type units is the same as with other uprights or backpacks and that is maintenance. If they are not kept serviced, they become “dust spreaders” that can result in more complaints about dust resulting in more labor to dust and re-dust areas. A commercial bag-less unit can have the same suction issues as any other upright so let’s consider servicing. One area of concern is the belt which must be inspected and replaced on a regular basis. Be sure that it is the correct one for this unit and is installed correctly. Another key maintenance point is what I call the “internal plumbing” which includes one or more dust filters that either have to be replaced (paper) or washed in soap and water to assure they are filtering the dust effectively. The entire unit should be taken apart and washed/rinsed and allowed to dry on a regular basis giving special attention to avoid getting any water around the motor for obvious reasons. Once the unit is dry it can be reassembled and used. It is best to do this type maintenance on a weekend when it is allowed to dry out before use the following week.

Like many other tools it is all about the maintenance.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or