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A couple of weeks ago I realised that I needed to buy new bags for my Miele Cat and Dog vacuum cleaner. Imagine my annoyance when I changed the bag only to find that the filter also needed to be changed!
At first I thought this was just a matter of changing the filter cloth inside the housing but sadly in the model I have the whole thing needs to be replaced and I didn't have a spare one ready for the job.
I took a look on EBay - going via Quidco of course - and found the Miele Vacuum SFAAC50 S5260 Active Air Clean Filter for £7.89 plus £1.95 postage. There were others on there for sale but this was the best price that I could find.
The filter itself is rectangular and is black in colour with a honeycomb design on both sides. When you shake it you can hear the charcoal bits inside rattling about and you will need a good wash after you have fitted it as the charcoal does get on your hands to a certain extent.
The charcoal in the filter absorbs the odours as you clean so that the air coming out of the vacuum is fresh and doesn't leave the newly cleaned room smelling stale.
There is also a place on the front of the filter to write in the date on which you installed it to act as an aide memoir to remind you when to replace it. To be honest I just replace mine when it stops working - note to self - get another one so I always have a spare ready!
Fitting it is easy peasy. I just had to pull open the top of my vacuum cleaner, lift out the old filter which is located behind the bag across the exhaust and replace it with the new one. You will know it is fitted in place when you hear a satisfying click.
Incidentally the way that I knew that my old filter needed replacing was the fact that when I switched on the cleaner there was a loud click. On inspection the filter had jumped out of its housing and was standing proud of its surroundings. I pushed it back in and tried again a couple of times but when the same thing kept happening I realised that it was time to change the filter.
The instructions that came with my cleaner said that the filter needs to be changed every 12 months but I found that mine needed to be changed after about 8 months.
This is probably because, not only do we have a cat that sheds so much hair I am surprised that he isn't bald, we also have a log burner. I use the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner to clean the remaining ash from the front edge of the burner once I have brushed out as much as I can so I would expect the filter to need changing more often than it otherwise would.
So I have my new filter and my suction is back to normal - I suppose I had better do some hoovering now then hadn't I?
There is nothing worse than a stinky vacuum cleaner! Whilst hoses can be washed and dried most owners forget to check the filters on their vacuums and it is one of the reasons alone to why vacuums smell if you don't clean them out periodically. Filters are one of the best places to check if your vacuum cleaner smells and if they aren't replaced then the more washable types can still retain the old odours.
When you buy a standard Miele cylinder vacuum however, the filters that come with the machine are called "Super Air Clean," and are made up of two to three packed layers of felt stitched together. Although not washable I've found that they do tend to keep back most odours except pet hair and heavier odours. Super Air Clean filters are free with a box of Genuine Miele dust bags and at the time of purchase you are supposed to replace the Super Air Clean filter after four bags have been used. One filter goes in beside the disposable dust bag to protect the motor whilst another sits in a lift out grid above the main exhaust where fresher air is filtered. All in all it seems like you get a bargain from this German brand whose products are often more expensive sat alongside other vacuum cleaners that sport the same kind of healthy air promise.
However these days with more and more allergies present, buyers now have the facility to choose different types of filters courtesy of Miele and other brands like Sebo who offer different filters according to need. Hoover and Electrolux offer similar filtration systems but they are not available for the entire range of vacuums and their prices can be a lot more expensive. Miele and Sebo have filters for their entire line up of vacuum cleaners and are available to buy at most high street outlets and retailers. Therefore you don't need to spend over the odds for a Miele vacuum cleaner just because it comes with a specialist filter above their standard "Super Air Clean," type; you can simply upgrade later on if you need to and therefore pocket yourself a bargain priced "starter" cylinder vacuum in the Miele range dependent on your specific needs, the size of the home and the capacity of the bags on offer.
Over the last two years I've been using a change of bags from Miele. I started out with their 5 layer filter IntensiveClean bags and when Miele stopped production of these to replace them with their 7 layer filtration HyClean bags, I have greater peace of mind that the dust scent is stuck in the bag and not pumped back out in my home. Used in conjunction with Miele's standard filters they keep the air in my home clean and largely free of odour until they start to become dank and musty. I was delighted to find early on in my ownership of a Miele vacuum cleaner that I didn't have to spend over the odds if I wanted to upgrade filters for cleaner room air quality.
Instead of just offering one optional filter, Miele have two ingenious options on the market and instead of just offering a HEPA filter, there is a charcoal filled filter called the Active Air Clean (AAC) that gives superior results to odour control without being too expensive at cost. The filter for example costs £9-50 at John Lewis whilst surprisingly costs £11-99 from Comet.
Under its nametag, the SFAAC50 grid has been specifically made for the latest S4000 and S5000 Miele cylinder vacuums that include the famous Miele S5 Cat and Dog model. I ran one in my S4210 model before I replaced it with Miele's HEPA cartridge recently and the differences are minimal. Crucially however whilst other manufacturers push HEPA for pets, the Active Air Clean filter is particularly appropriate for heavy odours and pet hair without having to spend more for the HEPA type, which costs around £19-50 to £23-00. The Super Air Clean filter you'll still receive free in the box of Miele bags, will need to be used for the secondary filter compartment that protects the motor beside the bag.
Rectangular and black in colour with a honeycomb section (one of Miele's famous trademark designs here) the grid is very easy to install into the S4000 and S5000 range, simply by removing the existing grid and replacing it with the Active Air Clean grid. Whatever you do never throwaway the grid that holds the Super Air Clean filter as you may need that in many years if you ever come to sell - and unlike other brands Miele vacuums go for good prices on EBay and other online sites - even second hand. It is also prudent to keep the Super Air Clean filter holder in a safe place if you ever need to replace the current filter on board the vacuum.
The black honeycomb section and rubber seals fit downwards across the exhaust and there are white arrows on the grid to show you instead of having to fish out the user manual. This is handy as the top of the filter also has a honeycomb design but its general shape means there is only one way the filter will fit. The quality build of the filter also matches quality of thought here; both sides sealed completely making it impossible to open unless you hammer it and like most Miele accessories the AAC is sensibly labelled complete with the name tag and feels like a quality item against cheap paper cartridges that don't look like they will last (Hoover!). Give it a shake and you can hear the charcoal powder inside but be careful not to touch the base too much as your fingers can be covered in black carbon dust!
Once the filter is placed in you'll hear a click as the filter locks into place. There are finger pick rectangles on both sides of the filter when it comes the time to change it or dispose and it is as easy to take out, as it is to install. Unlike Hoover HEPA filters in the past I've often found that they just sit above the exhaust and don't seal the actual opening so it is good that Miele have upped the ante somewhat to ensure that once the filter is in, it really is locked in! I also appreciate the fact that there is the option to write on the date you purchase the filter to act as a reminder to when it needs replacing.
In use I find the AAC filter suppresses a lot of pick up odour from pet hair, human hair and food particles, particularly odourous food particles like onions or pungent spices that have been on our kitchen floor! This is where the standard Super Air Clean filter failed to suppress and the air that the AAC filters out is clean and neutral without sneeze inducing. Compared to the thin-layered Super Air Clean filter, the Active Air Clean filter gives very clean air just by smelling the rooms when vacuuming as well as hovering over the exhaust blast when the vacuum is switched on. I only have to run after a very old cat but I'd imagine for those with many pets the AAC filter will also suffice. Against Hoover's HEPA cartridges on many of their bagged vacuums (those with the Sensory model may know) the Miele AAC filter doesn't impede on suction either so you still get the full capacity of the dust bag.
However the downsides with this filter however is that because it contains charcoal to suppress odours you can't use any carpet freshening powder or any scent capsules as the oils used can taint the charcoal thus rendering it useless. This is why I recently invested in The White Company home sprays! The AAC can not be washed either so you are pushed to either replace it with the same again or return back to the free Super Air Clean filters you get with the box of genuine Miele bags. Also the AAC filter can't cope with DIY dust as this also ruins the charcoal filling.
The longevity factor for this filter should last up to a year - although I've found recently that my AAC filter lasted up to just over two years without my knowledge! However it really depends on what your household has in terms of what the vacuum picks up. Generally I know owners who have the same kind of filter and replace their filters by Miele's reckoning of 12 months but I have been largely surprised at how long this filter has lasted in my S4210. There are other AAC filters also available for older Miele vacuum cleaners but it is best to look on Miele's website to check which type you need for your Miele cylinder vacuum.
Although not putting air out as "fresh as a daisy," the Active Air Clean is active enough to produce clean air without being artificial. The filter is a superb consideration if are fed up with dank smells emanating from your Miele cylinder vacuum cleaner. Certainly for a cleaner point of view from daily or weekly vacuuming, the AAC filter makes a lot of sense if you want to suppress pet hair odour and crucially without having to spend a lot more money than you would with Miele's HEPA cartridge. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2009
Photos of the filter can be seen here (for some inexplicable reason Miele just don't allow the filters to be pictured here despite my constant harassing emails!):
Short name: Miele SF-AAC 50