cleaning dust collector dust bags

How to Clean Dust Collector Filter Bags

Cleaning dust collector filter bags is necessary for the dust collector’s continued working efficiency in capturing dust particles and pollutants to keep your business premises clean.

When looking for information on how to clean dust collector filter bags, you may be overwhelmed by the many options, most of which may not apply to you, depending on the type of dust collector filters you use.

We will look at different dust collector cleaning methods so you can pick the one most suitable for you based on the type of filter you use.

Quick Questions Before Starting

Below are quick questions to shed some light on what it takes to clean a dust collector filter bag successfully.

How Difficult Is It to Clean Dust Collector Filter Bags?

The simplicity or complexity of cleaning a dust collector filter bag will depend on the type of equipment and filter bag you use.

For example, if you have a baghouse, it will be a bit tricky to clean the bag filters even with some degree of automation because the system uses several filter bags.

A single bag–or even a few bags–is easier to clean if you use a smaller commercial machine such as a sander in a commercial woodworking workshop.

How Long Does It Take to Clean Dust Collector Filter Bags?

It only takes a few hours to successfully clean and dry a detachable dust collector filter bag where washing is done with water.

If you are cleaning filter bags in a more complex dust collection system like a baghouse, cleaning one bag will take a few minutes using most techniques.

However, if you must take out the bags for individual cleaning, the process will take longer. You have to factor in the time required to remove the bags safely, clean them all, and replace them in the system.

How Much Does It Cost to Clean Dust Collector Filter Bags?

The cost of cleaning filters will vary. It depends on the number of filter bags you want to clean, the resources you must buy, and whether you do the cleaning yourself or outsource to an industrial air filter cleaning company.

The cost can be anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred.

Items Needed to Clean Dust Collector Filter Bags

In a fully-fledged baghouse dust collection system, you won’t need to use anything outside the system because it already has a built-in cleaning mechanism.

However, you might want to take out each bag for individual cleaning.

If you have a simpler industrial machine, like a sander connected to a dust collector, you have to do the cleaning manually. You’ll require the following items:

  • Protective equipment such as a respirator or dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Vacuum/leaf blower/compressed air machine/exhaust fan/air hose
  • Cleaning buckets for filter bags that require hand washing
  • Industrial washing machine (or home-style washing machine for just a few bags)
  • Light laundry detergent

When Should I Clean My Industrial Dust Collector Filter Bags?

dust collector dust bags

You should clean dust collector filter bags once every six months. You can do it quarterly if you use the bags intensely or annually if you use the bags sparingly.

The following are some checkpoints to know when it’s time to clean your commercial air filters:

  • When the filters are too clogged with dust cake or debris
  • When there is high differential pressure or a pressure drop in a baghouse
  • When dust starts bleeding out of the filter bags (reduced filtration efficiency)
  • When there is system failure caused by too much dust cake and pressure drop in the baghouse

How Many Times Should Filter Bags be Cleaned Before Replacing?

Most filters can be cleaned with water about eight times before replacing. Most filter bags retain up to 90 percent of their original filtration efficiency after 6-8 washings with water.

If you are only cleaning the bags mechanically by shaking or blowing off the dust, you can use them for a longer time before they require replacement, provided blinding doesn’t happen.

Below is a quick overview of the number of reuses possible for different types of filter bags:

  • 12-24 times for most polyester bags
  • 3-6 times for Nomex filter bags (such as those used in asphalt industries)

How to Clean Dust Collector Filter Bags

Now that you know the basics of cleaning air filters, let’s dive into the specific methods of cleaning different types of filter bags.

How to Clean Baghouse Dust Collector Filter Bags

baghouse filter setup

In a fully-fledged industrial setup, you won’t have to worry about baghouse filter cleaning because the cleaning system is automated. The system initiates cleaning once there is a pressure drop.

Baghouses are differentiated by the cleaning method used for each system. Unless you must take out the filter bags, here’s how to clean different types of baghouse filter bags.

How to Clean Reverse Pulse / Pulse Jet Baghouse Filter Bags

Pulse jet baghouse filter bags are cleaned by running a short stream of compressed air down the external length of the bags.

The airstream dislodges the dust cake and causes the particles to drop into the hopper for easy collection and disposal.

How to Clean Filter Bags in a Sonic Baghouse

A baghouse with sonic cleaning ability uses sonic horns that produce low-frequency, high-intensity sound waves that break the adhesion between dust particles and the filter media, causing the particles to fall off the media.

How to Clean Reverse Air Baghouse Filter Bags

Reverse air baghouse filter bags can clean continuously or simultaneously. Even when cleaning starts in one compartment, the others continue cleaning the incoming stream of dirty air.

The filter bags are cleaned when a reverse air current flows down from the top of the baghouse to initiate a decline in air pressure that partially causes the bags to deflate.

The deflation causes the caked dust outside the filters to crack and drop into the hopper.

How to Clean Mechanical Shaker Baghouse Filter Bags

The filter bags in a mechanical shaker baghouse are cleaned when the filter cages at the top shake and dislodge the dust particles, which fall into the hopper.

A shaker baghouse can clean both intermittently and continuously. If it is small, a pressure drop will stop filtration for cleaning to begin.

What if You Must Remove the Filter Bags?

If you must remove baghouse filter bags for washing with water, you can generally follow the steps below.

  • Hold the bag from a high point and firmly tap or hit it all over with a stick to dislodge the loose dust cake.
  • Use a leaf blower/dry compressed air stream/exhaust fan/air hose/vacuum to blow off the remaining loose dust particles.

To reduce wear and tear on the bag, especially when using compressed air, use a pressure rate of about 60-80 psi while holding the nozzle a few inches away from the filter.

If you can find a flat nozzle, use it. It covers more area faster and is gentler on the filter.

  • Wash the filter bag in water with a light laundry detergent, preferably in an industrial laundry machine on the gentle cycle.
  • Spin the bag to remove excess moisture.
  • Hang the filter in a high-temperature room or outdoors in nice weather for complete drying.

How to Clean Dust Collector Filter Bags for Small Commercial Machines / Blue Collar Workshops

dust on small commercial machines

Perhaps yours is a small commercial or industrial facility with only a few machines that use a filter bag dust collector to keep the air and facility free of pollutants like sawdust or welding fumes.

If that’s the case, cleaning your filter bags will mostly be manual.

Filter Materials that Can be Cleaned Using Water

You can clean the following filter bag media materials using water:

Here’s how you can clean filter bags made of the above materials.

How to Clean Woven Cotton Filter Bags

You can clean a woven cotton filter bag by hand washing it with cold water, in the same way, cotton clothes are washed by hand. Avoid tumble drying. Dry the bag in minimal heat.

Cotton filter bags are no longer popular because they usually shrink when washed. You might want to replace all your cotton filter bags with polyester bags.

How to Clean Polyester Filter Bags

You can wash polyester filter bags in an industrial air filter cleaning machine once you detach them from the baghouse or other workshop machine.

Use warm water to wash polyester bags.

How to Clean Polypropylene Filter Bags

Wash Polypropylene filter bags by hand in a bucket or tub using mildly hot water. Avoid using water that’s too hot as it may cause the material to melt.

Dry the bags naturally without using any machines.

How to Clean Acrylic Filter Bags

You can clean acrylic filter bags using a washing machine with cold, warm, or room-temperature water.

How to Clean High-Efficiency Felted Filter Bags

High-efficiency felt filter bags should be cleaned by hand using room-temperature water and a low-impact detergent.

How to Clean Fiberglass Filter Bags

Washing fibreglass filter bags with water is not recommended unless you must do it.

How to Clean Nylon Filter Bags

Nylon filter bags can be cold-washed on a gentle cycle in a washing machine. Avoid cleaning nylon bags alongside other items in the same machine to avoid tearing through entanglement or getting stuck in corners.

Safety Considerations When Cleaning Industrial Dust Collector Filter Bags

worker cleaning dust while wearing mask

The main purpose of dust collectors is to keep the air and the environment at large clean and safe for humans. It would defeat this purpose to clean dust collector filter bags without observing the safety considerations below.

  • Wearing protective equipment like a dust mask or respirator during removal of the filter bags from the collector and even when cleaning them.
  • Cleaning the filter bags in a well-ventilated place: It’s advisable to clean the bags outside where there is plenty of fresh air. If you must clean them inside, ensure the facility’s ventilation is working well.
  • Using water only and not solvents: Some filter bags may have a thin coat for enhanced performance and durability. Washing them with solvents may ruin the coating.
  • Following the manufacturer’s instructions on industrial air filter cleaning.

Anything Else to Consider When Cleaning Dust Collector Filter Bags?

It might seem counterintuitive, but you shouldn’t clean your filter bags too well! The efficiency of filter bags initially relies on the thin film of dust on the surface of the filters to intercept particulate matter.

When you clean the filters excessively, you remove the thin dust film and leave the pores fully open, making it easy for fine particulate matter like fumes to pass through unfiltered. A little dust cake is actually better than none.

Also, blinding may occur after repeated use. Blinding is where the pores on the filter media get fully blocked and can no longer filter dust or pollutants.

When blinding happens, even washing the filter bags won’t help because you would easily ruin them in the process of aggressive cleaning.

When to Hire a Filter Cleaning Company

Now you know how to clean dust collector filter bags. But you won’t always have the time or supplies, making it necessary to hire an industrial filter cleaning company to help you.

At Robinson’s Filter Solutions, we can help you clean all your dust collector filter bags professionally in situ or detached from the baghouse or other machine you have connected with the filter bags. Reach out to us today for more information and to get a quote.