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Do Henry Vacuum Cleaners Need Bags?

Written by James Hall |

Do Henry Hoovers need bags?

There’s a lot of confusion online about whether Henry vacuums really need bags – so we’ve decided to clear things up!

Do Henry Vacuums Need Bags?

Yes, you should always use a HepaFlo bag when cleaning with your Henry vacuum cleaner. While a Henry will function when bagless, the lack of a bag makes emptying messier, clogs the pre-motor filter, and may even damage your vacuum’s motor.

Do Henry Vacuums Use a Bag?

Henry is designed to be a bagged vacuum. Using a bag makes the vacuum more effective, hygienic, and long-lasting.

There are several reasons for this:

  • The high-quality HepaFlo bags that are sold for Henry vacuums have a 3-stage filtration system. This captures dust, pet dander, and other allergens before they are released back into the air.
  • By capturing dust and debris in the bag, the Henry’s pre-motor filter is protected. Using the vacuum without a bag will cause the filter to quickly become clogged and damaged. This may reduce performance and mean the filter needs to be replaced sooner.
  • Emptying the vacuum is much less messy when using a bag. The self-sealing tab on HepaFlo bags prevents clouds of dust from escaping (a common issue with bagless vacuums.)
  • The bag also protects the vacuum’s motor from clogging particles. By using a bag, you’re extending Henry’s lifespan.

It’s also worth noting that Numatic – the manufacturers of Henry vacuums – always recommend using a bag. If your vacuum gets damaged due to not using a bag, then this may affect the warranty.

A quick history lesson…

When the first Henry was released, it had a much less powerful motor than the modern version. This meant that the original Henry could be used with or without a bag – and Numatic even used this bagged/bagless design as a selling point.

As the motor power increased, however, the increased airflow picked up far too much dirt, dust, and other debris for the secondary filter to cope. This filter quickly became clogged, leading to reduced performance. The high air flow also made it more likely that dirt made its way into the motor.

It was at this point that Numatic changed their advice to always recommending a bag. The bag acts as an efficient filter that protects the motor and secondary filter, which is why it should always be used. Unfortunately, the decades-old “bagged or bagless” marketing still causes confusion today!

Which Bags Should You Use?

Numatic’s genuine bags are called HepaFlo. These are the recommended bags for Henry vacuums, as they are strong, have a three-stage filtration system, and are designed to fit Hetty, Harry, James, and Henry vacuums. Make sure you check your exact model before buying to ensure you get the right type though.

There are also plenty of unofficial bags available from various third-party suppliers. While these might be a bit cheaper than HepaFlo bags, we think the official bags are worth the money.

Can You Use a Henry Without a Bag?

A Henry vacuum cleaner will function without a bag in an emergency, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

As mentioned above, not using a bag will quickly clog up the primary filter. Aside from meaning you’ll need to replace the filter sooner, the clogging will reduce performance.

Additionally, the motor is much more exposed to whatever you suck up. This could be particularly dangerous if you accidentally suck up a small amount of liquid (which should always be avoided.) A bag provides an extra layer of protection that may save your motor.

Of course, not using a bag saves money and can be more convenient. But it’s often a false saving, as you’re probably shortening the lifespan of your Henry and damaging the filter. If you don’t want to use a bag, then it’s best to buy a model that’s designed to be a bagless vacuum cleaner.

A quick note…

There are people online who claim to have used a Henry for years without a bag. While this may be true, it’s often difficult to know how much damage is being done to the motor and filter. We always recommend using a bag to benefit the motor, filter, and air quality.

How Often Should You Change the Bag?

There is no set time to empty a Henry vacuum bag, as it depends on how often you clean your home.

Most people find that their HepaFlo bag only needs to be emptied every 2-4 weeks. It’s a good idea to empty when the bag reaches 70-80% full, however, as this reduces pressure on the motor and prevents compacted dirt from affecting performance.

Are Henry Bags Re-Usable?

No, standard HepaFlo bags are not re-usable. Once filled, they should be disposed of and replaced with a new bag.

We’ve seen some people recommend cutting open the bag, emptying it into a bin, then taping it up for re-use. This is a bad idea, as the bag’s filtration properties will be greatly reduced. A repaired bag is also much more likely to split as it fills up.

Numatic do sell re-usable bags though. These have a zip to allow you to empty the bag before re-using it. They can also be washed on a gentle cycle, which is important to prevent dirt accumulation.

While a re-usable bag does save money and reduce waste, it also allows allergens to escape during the emptying process. For this reason, we don’t recommend them for people with allergies.


A Henry vacuum will function without a bag, but doing so isn’t recommended.

The bag provides filtration, which maintains air quality, protects the motor, stops the secondary filter from becoming clogged, and maintains the vacuum’s performance. Numatic also advise that the Henry should be used with a bag.

In short, if you want your Henry to provide maximum suction and last a long time, you should always use a bag!

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