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When Should I Change My Industrial Vacuum Cleaner Filter?

Posted on July 5, 2017

We’re often asked the question, “How do I know its time to change my vacuum cleaner filter?”

Fortunately, Nilfisk Industrial Vacuum Cleaners require very little maintenance and upkeep. If you use the vacuum properly and change the filters regularly, your Nilfisk vacuum should last you many years.

Here are some general tips to follow:

Paper bag

UZ964 high filtration dust bagsIf your vacuum is equipped with a paper bag as the first stage of filtration, you should change the bag whenever it gets about 2/3 to 3/4 full. A completely full bag could burst.

You can normally tell your bag is full by visually inspecting it. You might also sense a slight drop in suction from your vacuum. You may also want to change the bag if you’ve picked up something “smelly.” Pet owners across the U.S. have learned the hard way that if you collect pet fur and don’t change the full bag, your vacuum will smell like pet fur.

Tip: To get rid of smells, vacuum up about a cup of baking soda!

Note: Paper bags often only apply to our Nilfisk branded professional HEPA vacuums like the GD 10 Back, GD 930, and GM 80, but these filters can also be included in specially equipped larger systems.


GM80 microfilterThe microfilter, which filters the air before it passes through the motor and HEPA or ULPA filter, should be changed about every 3 months or when discoloration is noticeable. The filter depicted here is found in our popular GM80 line of vacuums. It can be washed two to three times with a mild detergent (such as Woolite®) and air dried in the sun (not in a regular dryer, as that will cause excessive shrinkage).

Main filter

Nilfisk CFM main filterThis filter is probably the most important filter of any vacuum, as it’s the first major line of defense in cleaning the working air stream. Our main filters (normally made of cotton or polyester) come in various shapes and sizes.

Depending on the application, it can be washed two to three times with a mild detergent, like Woolite. Again, we recommend air drying this filter in the sun, not in the dryer.

A good rule of thumb is to replace the main filter every 3 to 5 years or when you see vacuum performance drop to an unacceptable level. To extend the life of the vacuum, our Nilfisk machines (small and large) might be equipped with filter cleaning systems (manual filter shaker and/or automatic filter cleaning systems) that allow the operator to easily shake the filter free of caked on dust, without having to open the vacuum.

Follow the Instruction for Use manual included with the vacuum for proper filter maintenance.

HEPA filter

Nilfisk UZ934 HEPA FilterWe typically suggest replacing the HEPA filter after 1,000 hours of use. Of course, it all depends on the application. If you use your vacuum 24 hours a day, the HEPA filter will need to replaced sooner (after 1 year at most), but if you only use it for 15 minutes a day, the life of the HEPA will be much longer (could last a few years).

All Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums feature multistage filtration, so each level of filtration protects the next level. If you’re diligent about replacing your paper bags and microfilters, you’ll easily extend the life of the larger, more expensive filters…and the life of the vacuum.

Please remember that the above are just guidelines and that filter replacement intervals can differ from application to application. Until you know how much the vacuum is being used, it’s best to check the filters often in the beginning and then establish a more normal routine.

Nilfisk vacuum cleaners are used in hundreds of applications, everything from home cleaning, to laboratories, food manufacturing facilities, and coal power plants. We’ve seen clean and we’ve seen the downright dirty!

Don’t forget you can also purchase many of your replacement filters on our website.

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