How To Use Trash Bags In Shop Vacuum [Easy & Cheap]

So, you’re thinking about using a trash bag in your shop vacuum? Cool idea, but there’s a little trick to it. Just popping the trash bag in there as is, well, that’s not going to cut it. If you try it without tweaking things a bit, you’ll find the suction goes kaput in just a few seconds – not ideal, right?

Here’s the scoop: the key is balancing the pressure. You see, you need the pressure inside the bag to match up with the pressure outside. If they’re not playing nice and equal, the bag will just collapse, and poof, your shop vacuum just throws in the towel. So, a bit of DIY adjustment is needed to make sure everything works smoothly.

How To Use Trash Bags In Shop Vac

Here are the steps to take to use a trash bag inside your shop vacuum.

1. Remove The Top

Remove the top of the shop vacuum to show the canister.

If the shop vacuum cleaner is full, you need to empty it.

2. Place Bag In And Make A Hole

Place the trash bag into the canister of your shop vacuum.

Poke a hole into the side of the trash bag where the hose of the shop vacuum comes into the canister.

I used a screwdriver, but you can use your finger if you’d like.

3. Tape Off The Hose

Slide the trash bag hole over the hose fitting on the inside of the shop vacuum, then use tape to seal it.

I use blue painter’s tape, as it’s easy to remove later and cheap to get.

It’s important you tape and seal it off, as you don’t want the air to escape to the outside the trash bag, or it will stop it from working.

4. Remove As Much Air Around The Bag As You Can

When the trash bag is taped to the hose, the next thing you need to do is have the trash bag sit as flush as you can against the walls of the canister.

Remove as much air as you can between the bag and the canister walls, as this will help keep the bag from touching the filter and stopping it from working.

Have some of the trash bag hanging off the outside of the shop vacuum when you put the lid back on. This will help with the suction and keep the bag from collapsing.

The Best Ones

I use 33 gallon trash bags that are labeled heavy duty or often called outdoor trash bags. You may have to play with different sizes to find the one that best works for your shop vacuum’s canister capacity.

The Lawn & Leaf Drawstring Trash Bags (Amazon Link Ad) will also work.

You want to stick to the heavy-duty or reinforced trash bags, as you often pick up all kinds of sharp and odd objects in your shop vacuum. Even the most expensive of these trash bags are still cheaper than a shop vacuum bag, and you get more of them too. 

They’re Cheap!

A shop vacuum is used to pick up all kinds of things, and having a bag to help you empty them is super helpful.

The problem is that these vacuum bags are expensive, and sometimes a project needs a lot of bags.

One project I do is clean my gutters with my shop vacuum.

I go through a bunch of debris, and it really dirties my shop vacuum. I use my shop vacuum to clean my car and my home, and keeping it clean is important to me.

It’s also quicker, too.

If you don’t have a bag, you need a place to dump the shop vacuum canister, and if it’s a big project you may overfill your home curbside trash can. With bags, you can seal each one of them up and when you’re done with the big project, you can take them all to the convenience center without clogging up your main trash bin.

I even know a few exterminators who do this to suck up dead bugs and mice, so it’s a biohazard problem for them that is easily solved.



Hello, I'm Lee from ""! Launched in 2016, my site addresses the online information gap about "robot vacuums" and "vacuum cleaners," areas where I have hands-on experience. Got questions about a post or topic? Feel free to comment or contact me (contact)!

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