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For those who own a Miele vacuum cleaner, the "HyClean," disposable bags are the latest in Miele's attempt to offer consumers who may have allergies optimum peace of mind when it comes to trapping dust and odours. I really must apologise that this is a long review but its hard to get past the scientifics when reviewing premium quality consumables to keep vacuums and their components lasting longer.
In the early 1990's when Miele had a compact line up of cylinder vacuums they had simultaneously launched the self sealing disposable paper dust bag that meant owners did not have to face the seeping dirt once bags were taken out of the vacuum cleaner. Along with Sebo, both German companies have pride in offering consumers a cleaner way of life even though it means having to buy bags for dust disposal. Since the 1990's Miele have launched quite a few different styles of dust bag and its latest march on health benefits and peace of mind comes calling in the name of the "HyClean," series of high filtration dust bags.
Similar to Sebo in terms of general long term build quality and multi-filtration levels, there's a lot to be said when both Sebo and Miele meet hospital grade requirements and national testing before it even gets seals of approval from other countries like the British Allergy Approval Seal (another ironic thought that Dyson models get these when they're bagless!). Coupled with extra layers of paper filtration, Miele upped the ante for health benefits by launching a synthetic disposable bag that copes better with odours whilst acting as a secondary filter to the main exhaust hospital graded filters that Miele offer as options or are equipped as standard on specific vacuum cleaners such as their famous and very popular "Cat and Dog," model. Previous Miele vacuums that have 1200 watts or less will not be able to use the synthetic bags although Miele's original paper dust bags are still available; used in current vacuums that have 1700 watts or more means that the paper properties are liable to tear because of the strength of the brutal suction on demand. The later synthetic bags are however British Allergy Approved as well as meeting S Class/HEPA standards and as such they are ideal for keeping pet hair odour (a known pongy substance thanks to oils and dirt trapped in the hair) back as well as general traffic dust encountered in the home. I couldn't really care less about the British Seal of whatever because at the end of the day I know my nose and I care for my family members without worry to endanger their lungs even though some members do this alone with particular bad habits like smoking! The synthetic bags are also environmentally friendly and last longer than the original paper bags; a fact that Electrolux found when copying Miele by producing synthetic bags for their budget Powerlite Upright vacuum cleaners. I currently go through one Miele bag either two months or three months depending on the amount of dirt that gets picked up.
Unlike other companies who produce paper pleated HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) cartridges and thin secondary filters, Miele have studied filtration from hospital grade tests to their own laboratory findings; not only are Miele a domestic customer for household appliances, they also supply commercial grade disinfectors and professional medical glassware disinfectors to many health professionals including hospitals and dentists, citing optimum cleanliness and hygiene for all. This suggests to me that they know a thing or two about cleanliness. Therefore the standards behind HEPA (and to cut a long story short, here) have come direct from hospital air quality tests even though HEPA filters were traditionally invented for use in Atomic applications.
The launch of the next generation disposable bags were introduced late last year, known as the "HyClean" branding rather than the previous "IntensiveClean," title and its launch also coincided with Miele's first European upright vacuum cleaner, the S7. For many Miele vacuum cleaner owners, most owners won't know the differences until it comes to using the new style bags and for a time I was slow to pick up on the idea of "HyClean", taken from experience that the IntensiveClean range is still one of the best on the market for optimum hygiene and bopping the idea of escaping dusty smells on the head, or your nose!
The differences between both Synthetic bags are not obvious from the moment you take them out of the pack; both "IntensiveClean," and "HyClean," have very similar appearances made up of white synthetic material and with the brand name clear to see. Look further into the bags themselves and whilst the nature of the IntensiveClean bags have a seamless and bonded thick texture to them so that dirt can be bonded on the moment they are sucked in (therefore showing its "Electrostatic," nature of catching dust and keeping it there), there's an additional metal strip that Miele claim to keep odours at bay. Over the use of copy bags that imitate a similar synthetic feel but at half the cost, I can attest to the fact that whilst Genuine Miele bags may well be expensive (a box of 4 bags in the F/J/M model category costs £6-99 and upwards), copy bags are not as strong for keeping back odours and for family members who have strong allergies to dust, the IntensiveClean bags work well with Miele's secondary back up filtration system, also helped along by the fact that Miele do make sealed bins and bondings that do not allow dust to escape from their vacuum cleaners. I must admit nothing beats the simplicity and thought that goes into Miele's IntensiveClean dust bags but they are slowly drying out on the shelf to make way for the new HyClean series. HyClean is very similar to the IntensiveClean on the way it is produced and made; they both have a high filter aspect that is ideal for general dust pick up.
In terms of fitment, both synthetic type bags have always been incredibly easy to fit; just align the plastic collar (unlike paper bags that make do with bendy cardboard, thus allowing dust to escape) into the bag hinge carrier, slide in and lock before the main bin lid can be locked down. The IntensiveClean bags for example always have a grey frontage grid of plastic to make it pliable and flexible enough when being slid into the bag holder of a Miele cylinder vacuum cleaner. Upon disposing of, when the collar is grasped and pulled upwards, a corrugated strip comes over and seals the dust hole in the bag thus minimising dust leakage. The bag can then be carried safely and efficiently to a refuse bin without worry that that the corrugated slip will fall out or slip off. Or so the design is supposed to work! In theory however I find that it's not always the case and I have to manually pull the strip over when it should do it automatically when the bag is still in the vacuum dust bin. The HyClean has a slightly different plastic grid but it slides in just as easily and out when the time comes to empty; Miele have installed a little grab handle on the HyClean bags that makes it easier to just grab and instantly dispose; an improvement on the old bags where you could only pinch a corner of the bag to put in a bin. When the bag is slid and locked into the bag holder in my Miele, the moment the door is closed the bag's cap still remains flat against the collar socket. However when the hose is pushed in and locked to the main body, the flap on the bag is pushed open. For all that it sounds like a simple mechanism replacing the automatic corrugated strip that wasn't always automatically sealing the dust hole upon removal, the new insert seal has a surprising weakness - if bags are bursting full of dirt, the seals don't automatically flip upwards but rather push the dirt down. Miele have to look at these bags again in terms of the design.
In use the IntensiveClean bags have 4 extra layers of filtration that keep back most odours but it's in use with the Miele's secondary filters that make all the difference. Currently for example in my S4210 I have a HEPA filter on the exhaust whilst the vacuum is carrying an IntensiveClean bag. When sucking up stale cigarette butts and ash which amongst many examples of dirt I know, old and dead cigarette butts and its ash are substances which are particularly pungent, it's a true test to see if your HEPA filter is actually up to the job of not allowing the odour to pass through. Miele's HEPA cartridge has an extra layer of charcoal on the base so its nigh impossible for anything such as oily pet hair odour or the smell of cigarettes to filter through into the room I'm vacuuming. Swapping the filter over for Miele's basic Super Air Clean filter reveals an immediate staleness in the air and the odour of cigarettes can be lightly detected coming from the IntensiveClean bag. For all intents and purposes I rate the IntensiveClean bags as one of the best on the market for keeping back odours in your Miele vacuum cleaner but they don't work well with Miele's basic "free" Super Clean Air filter to minimise particularly strong odours and only perform to the highest filtration possible when the vacuum cleaner has the higher cost optional allergy filters fitted. This can then work out to be more expensive than you need, if you or any of your family members suffer from dust allergies.
The HyClean series changes all that. When fitted to my old S571 cylinder vacuum fitted with the lower grade Super Air Clean filter I found the smells of similarly picked up detritus stayed longer in the bag right up until it needed emptied and the filter does not fail to keep back strong odours even though each new bag has a clinical "new" smell that emerges from the filter. Importantly just as I find with the Intensive Clean bags, although the filtration levels have been increased, there is no loss of suction despite the extra filtration on the HyClean bags. At retail, they are no more expensive to purchase over the older IntensiveClean bags and because of their newness, seems to have replaced any stock of IntensiveClean bags left in many of the stores I have visited such as Comet, Currys and John Lewis. Whereas the IntensiveClean bags have 4 layers of extra padded Synthetic material, HyClean has 7 layers of filtration and included in the production are taper strips of material designed to trap hard DIY dust such as nails, bolts or pins as well as ensuring that hard dust such as bolts or pins don't pierce the bag. This is a great idea because it now means I can use my Miele vacuums outside the home for harder dirt pick up without worry of destroying the synthetic bag in the process; indeed with my recent purchase of the extension Flexhose and with a HyClean bag fitted I've been able to pick up dry mouldy soil from the shed floor without fear or being able to smell anything other than clean air emitted from the top of the exhaust filters on my Miele vacuum. Compared to the older bags suction is still as excellent as ever despite the extra filtration layers.
Purchasing the bags really couldn't be simpler. In this case you'll find that HyClean bags have been colour coded to suit each owner's model; if you own the older style of vacuum that has a 3.5 litre to 4 litre capacity for example then the F/J/M branding will suit your model (just like before with the IntensiveClean series using the alphabetic initials) but the new HyClean bags have a corresponding colour coded plastic red dust collar set into the bag; for the bigger Miele vacuums like the S5 series (and recently launched S2) on the market with a 4.5 litre capacity there is the G/H set that comes with a plastic blue dust collar. The latest S7 uprights that use the U bags come with a plastic green dust collar set into the bag. Even if you forget what your model takes, the blue Miele boxes are awash with model numbers as well as showing a large picture of the bag on the box with its associated colour coded collar ring to view and the old use of the alphabetic codes.
The difference in use is that you don't have to use a high cost filter to keep back emissions and latterly when buying (apart from the first time where you'll need your model number) the clearer identification of colour coding the collar rings on the bags makes it easier to identify; the box of bags, 4 in a bag plus 2 spare Super Air Clean filters (one of the exhaust and one for the motor filter) costs between £6-99 to £8-99. John Lewis has a knack of offering both styles of bags in two box formats totalling around £17 so its best to check other outlets such as Comet, Currys and Argos who sell HyClean bags in single packs of 4 bags for £7-99 or shop online at EBay where some prices from sellers are substantially cheaper.
The fact that like the older style of bags, you'll still get two extra Super Air Clean filters in a box of bags, making the purchase of bags and filters a little bit of a bargain if you suffer from allergies but can't afford to pay out for the more expensive allergy fitted filters which have to be replaced yearly. However Miele need to look at those inner seals to make the full ratings. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2009
** Update **
After lengthy research, Miele have updated these bags to becom known as "AirClean," bags and have a supposedly better seal on them since the company have removed the first section of strings that used to snag the plastic seals down. Miele however still aren't fitting the plastic seals or plastic holders with recycled plastic.
Suitable For: S 246-256, S 290, S 300, S 500, S 700, S 4000 / Short name: Miele FJM