Having an advanced air-filtration system, such as a HEPA filter, is becoming a requirement in most vacuum cleaning situations. The filtration system not only protects indoor air quality, it helps protect the health of the user as well.
However, while the health of the worker may be protected during the actual vacuuming process, that may not be the case when it comes time to remove the machine's filter bag. If bag removal is performed incorrectly, a cloud of dust may be released that can eliminate many of the benefits of having an advanced filtration system in the first place.
Because of this, Doug Berjer, Brand Manager with Tornado Industries, manufacturers of vacuum cleaning systems, offers the following tips on removing filter bags that can apply to most types of vacuum cleaners-backpacks, canisters, and uprights:
 • Unplug the machine from the power source before proceeding.
 • Wear gloves during the entire bag removal process.
 • If the machine is a backpack or canister, disconnect the hose.
 • Check whether the manufacturer has provided special removal and insertion instructions; for instance, on some machines, the assembly that holds the filter bag must be pulled up or out in order for the bag to be removed.
 • As an added safety measure, place the bag in a small plastic liner and seal the opening; this helps prevent dust from being released during handling.
 • If the vacuum cleaner has been used to vacuum up rodents or their nesting materials, double bag the filter bag using two plastic liners.
 • Place the bag, now inside one or two sealed plastic liners, in a Dumpster or securely covered trash can that is emptied regularly.

"When to change the filter bag seems to be a bit controversial," adds Berjer. "Some cleaning professionals change them when they are only a third full to help ensure proper suction. In most cases, once the bag is half to two-thirds full it should be replaced."