“ Reviews and discussion of different brands of vaccum bag. „
Several years ago when I had a house and a boyfriend at the time who wanted me to be the 'perfect housewife' (one reason we are no longer together!); I became all domesticated and invested in some vacuum bags.
I had seen them on TV and got the gist of the concept- fill with stuff, attach a hoover and suck the air out and hey presto- very flat stuff that you can then slide under the bed or behind a wardrobe or somewhere to create the illusion you have a very tidy house and not much stuff- good for the 'minimalist' house interiors look (do you ever wonder where the minimalist people keep all their stuff?!).
Anyways, I recall I bought them in Argos for about £8 for two quite large bags approx 24 inches x 30 inches. When I opened the packs, I had to read and re-read the diagrammatical instructions several times to get my head around what exactly to do as it was more complicated than i thought. The vacuum bags I bought were quite thick clear plastic but I had to put my stuff in the bag (spare double duvet in one) then kneel on it and roll the open edge of the bag around a 1cm diameter plastic pole then slide the pole and rolled edge into a slightly bugger pole that would create an air tight bag.
This took quite a lot of sitting on the bag and half getting the bag on the pole, then it all going wrong and having to start over. It was frustrating the first few times I used the bags- then I worked out it is easier if you push the outer pole over the smaller pole and snap it onto it, rather than trying to slide it over the top.
Once the pole issue was sorted, the fun part- you unscrew a lid and attach the hoover (Go Henry!) and suck the air out. This only takes about a minute and sure enough, the double duvet that was rammed into the bag to start with was flattened down to approx 3 inches high in the middle. So they did their job and the duvet stayed shrunk in it's vacuum storage under the bed for a good 6 months until we had guests. Opening the pack is easy, you just let the air back in and pull the pole off the end to open the bag.
Overall- in my experience, these did their job. I would recommend buying decent bags if you have a lot of things to store- I find them ideal for shrinking down bulky things that take up a lot of space such as spare duvets and pillows. I haven't tried these on clothing, but would assume they would work fine- just you would need to iron everything when you opened the pack as the shrinking will make everything wrinkled.
~~A NEED TO DE-CLUTTER~~
When my son and his girlfriend finished their student days and came to live with us in the family home, they found they had accumulated lots of belongings in their studio flat. My home couldn't possibly store everything whilst they lived at home.
My son's girlfriend's parents agreed to store much of their belongings. In the lead up to the move my son assured me that they had greatly reduced their possessions by buying and using vacuum storage bags. I hadn't heard of these until this time and didn't really see how they could minimise things that much. But my son told me they had used vacuum bags (his girlfriend calls them 'sucky bags') to store out of season clothes in which they would bring to my house and cuddly toys which his girlfriend is fond of, to her parents' home.
When we move them back home I was surprised that the clothing contents from their flat had been condensed so
~~I'M A SUCKER FOR THESE BAGS~~
In September my youngest child left home to live in her university accommodation and it seemed to make sense now to move the young couple into my daughter's larger room as she wouldn't be in it very much. But this proved to be a gargantuan task. You wouldn't believe the clothes she has accumulated not to mention cuddly toys, make up, jewellery, books...and for a girl who hates to shop! Well, to be fair a lot of her stuff is stage costumes and dressy clothes which she has needed for shows and singing competitions. And she also has a beautiful golden Belle dress (Beauty and the Beast) which was a gift from a relative when she was about eight years old and a Cinderella dress and a Flamenco costume. My husband said I should get rid of them as she is now eighteen years old and of course they won't fit her. This talk sets me off into a panic...Yes, it isn't her...it's me! I admit to being a bit of a hoarder and far too sentimental. I cannot possibly part with certain items.
And so I let my son and his girlfriend convince me to start buying vacuum storage bags in preparation for the big changeover. I purchased vacuum bags from various places and of assorted sizes and makes. Some were fragranced and some were not.
The changeover is not yet complete although the hardest part seems to be done, which I think was sorting through my daughter's clothes. And when I think she has almost as many in her university room-lying on the floor no doubt!
Well, she isn't so sentimental and gave me permission to throw away, re-cycle or give to charity anything that I thought wasn't needed. I did this but couldn't bear to dispose of the costumes and stage outfits. I used a large vacuum bag (60x80cm) to store the fuller type dresses such as her Hairspray outfit along with other costumes. In a smaller bag (60x50cm) I placed the childhood dressing up outfits.
~~A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE~~
It's surprising what can be fitted into these bags. It's recommended that items be placed carefully and to use all space. Items with buttons and zips should be folded so that the zips and sharp, hard items kept to the inside so as not to puncture the bags. I am very careful when placing items in these bags but they do seem to be quite strong. Clothes can be tightly packed but only a little common sense is needed so as not to over pack the bag; you can tell when placing items in if you are overloading. Really, if the bags plastic zip type fastenings will meet easily enough then you haven't over packed it.
Once the bag is sealed it's the time for the fun part (yes I know I need to get out more!) which is sucking the air out of the bag. Any vacuum with a nozzle will do for this. I usually use my small very portable stair cleaning vac for this. There is a hole in the bag fitted with a plastic screw on/off cap. Once this is undone the vacuum hose can be held over this, the vacuum switched on and hey presto...as if by magic everything will shrink before your eyes, and in a matter of seconds. I was very surprised the first time I used a bag to see how much it did actually condense the contents when the air was taken out of it.
Once the bag stops shrinking and air has been extracted then the lid needs to be replaced quickly and screwed back on.
After using bags for clothes I then went on to soft toys. My daughter was always more fond of these type of toy than she was of dolls and she has accumulated many throughout her childhood and teenage years. It isn't as easy to pack these in as it is with clothes due to their inconsistency of shapes but it still doesn't take long to get the hang of it.
When the bags have been vacuumed they aren't uniform in shape as the plastic shrinks and wraps around the shape of its air free contents.
I fear I have become addicted to filling these bags. Strange, I know but when you empty a cupboard of clothes and find a heap full becomes perhaps one bag it feels as if you have done a great job in de-cluttering. I decided to vacuum pack spare bed linen and sleeping bags. I have found storing of spare duvets, summer duvets, (and at the appropriate time winter duvets) pillows and blankets ideal to store in this way.
Not only does this way of storing items condense, therefore freeing up space, but it also keeps all items clean as they are airtight and so free from dust, damp, moths etc.
~~LETTING IN THE AIR~~
When the items are once again needed then the plastic lid on the bag needs to be unscrewed to allow air to seep back into the bag. The clothes, linen or toys will spring back up into their former shape.
Different makes of bags will vary in quality. I have found that some are made of a thicker plastic than others and are less likely to make holes.
I have used so many of these bags in the last few months and have only had one let in air after it had been vacuumed. This bag was one purchased from a pound shop, but that could just be by chance. I will say though that I have been pleased with the bags that I have purchased from Pound stretcher as they seem to be of a strong and of a decent quality plastic.
Sometimes a noise can be heard after vacuuming, sounding as if he bag has a puncture but will probably turn out to be that the bag hasn't been sealed perfectly. This was the case with the bags I used.
Of course the main advantage to using these bags is to condense items so that less space is needed for storage, but these bags also keep items mould free as no moisture can penetrate the bags if they are sealed properly and they then keep contents clean and dust free. Therefore they are ideal to store flat in wardrobes, cupboards, garages, perhaps sheds and as I often do, in under bed storage drawers.
I have used these vacuum storage bags to store spare bed linen, out of season clothes -swimwear, vest tops and shorts etc. which I won't need until my summer holiday.
As they are transparent this makes them ideal to store certain items as it is easy to see what is stored inside.
The thing about these bags which I feel should be improved is the plastic pull along tab which acts as the zip pull. On all the bags I have used I've found this almost useless and it is so fiddly that it seems to work better to push the two sides together and seal manually. This is easy enough if you work slowly and carefully.
Vacuum storage bags can be bought in a variety of scents such as lemon, lavender and rose to name but a few. I don't really mind whether they are perfumed or not as the scent seems to me to be rather faint. It notices more on the removal of items from the bags. If I have stored items such as clothing for a season then when removed I will put them through a quick wash cycle to freshen them up so the perfume will not be necessary but I suppose it may be beneficial in the case of duvets and soft toys.
I have bought most of my vacuum bags from Poundstretcher but have also purchased some from various pound stores. I think that those bought from poundstretcher are of a decent quality for the price paid.
These storage bags seem popular and are on sale at many outlets.
Most pound type shops sell these.
Poundstretcher have a good variety on sale:
*£2.99 for a pack containing two 60x50cm bags
*£6.99 for a pack of 5 bags which Includes 2 Jumbo 100 x 80cm Bags & 3 Small 60 x 50cm Bags
*£3.99 for a jumbo bag 100x 80cm
*£0.99 for one floral fragranced bag 60x80cm
Wilkinsons also sell vacuum storage bags
Vacuum storage bags provide a simple but great and effective idea for creating more room for home storage. I wish I had thought of these first!
I first stumbled upon vacuum bags a good few years ago now, while looking for storage solutions that would work in our tiny rented cottage (I wouldn't stop buying clothes you see). I actually bought my first few on eBay, and they were unbranded. I later got some JML ones, which have lasted a lot better. The idea behind these is simply to remove all the air, compressing whatever you have chosen to store inside. You can see a lot of dramatic before and after pictures concerning these bags but the truth of it is, these do actually work!
You just pack these plastic bags full of clothing, bedding, even pillows and duvets if you wish, seal the bag shut (most seem to have a plastic toggle you pull along, like a ziploc bag) and use your vacuum to remove all the air; there is a circular knob on the front of mine, and the outer section of that turns to open/close it. While it is in the open position I simply put the nozzle of my vacuum over it, switch it on, watch the bag compressing and then quickly screw it shut again once I'm finished.
I have found that my vacuum attachment of my current machine (Vax Swift) doesn't fit into the opening perfectly (though my old Argos value one did), but this doesn't stop it working - the suction is obviously powerful enough even without a closed seal between vacuum and bag, and I would assume this would be the case with any other vacuum with decent suction.
They are just genius things! While in our rented cottage, I was able to easily store so much stuff in the bottom of the wardrobe using these bags, leaving the hanging space for things I was currently using. Since moving back home again, we have a lot more storage space but I seem to have filled the house with animals and all the associated necessary paraphernalia! So I am still using these bags well, for bedding and older clothes that are a bit too small at the mo (groan) but that I'm not quite ready to eBay yet. Even posh handbags that rarely get an outing these days go in the bags.
I have found a few little niggles though, but nothing major. The plastic zip part of my first set would always fall off, and out of 6 bags I only have 1 of the zip bits left! Since you can press the bags closed with your hands, this isn't a huge deal, though it is more effort. In any case, I have also had leaks develop in most of my first set after some (not excessive) use so I have got rid of those. The JML ones I have are much better so far. None of them have developed leaks and are still working really well.
You can get them in a variety of sizes but I have only used the larger ones, as I see little point in small ones. Perhaps packing for a holiday though? But in that case you will probably need a travel iron, as when they compress it's not always even. So even if you take great pains to fold and pack your stuff really nicely, creases will likely be pressed in during storage. Prices will vary with brands, my first set of 6 unbranded from eBay only cost me around £5 delivered. I got 2 huge JML ones for £10 in Asda not too long ago.
I think vacuum storage bags in general are a very nifty idea to make use of cracks and crevices that nothing else will fit in (I've had them behind furniture, in between pieces of furniture, under the sofa or bed, fab!). I have seen budget ones in supermarkets, that work by hand rolling the bags to remove air rather than using a vacuum. They are also a smaller size and softer, more flexible plastic. My partner bought some for Army time away when he was living out of a rucksack, to keep wet and dirty stuff separate from clean and dry. They worked well enough for him but you don't get the air out of them like you do with the vacuum ones, so I wouldn't recommend those for a storage solution.
I would definitely recommend any type of vacuum bags though; they are in the main strong, thick and work really well so long as you ensure you have them sealed properly before sucking out the air. They solved my excess clothing problem in a tiny house and continue to help encourage me to eat better, so I can get into half the stuff I'm storing in them now!