Thread Number: 45090  /  Tag: 80s/90s Vacuum Cleaners
Cleaning Outer Bag Kirby
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Post# 467517   11/14/2023 at 06:17 (243 days old) by kirbynoob (UK)        

Hi All,

As per my other thread, I picked up a Heritage II.

The bag itself is in very good condition, no tears, rips, fraying or anything.

However, it seems to have been 'atleast' tested without an inner bag as there is some dust etc in there.

This was bought for a restoration and the whole thing really is filthy, looks to have been stored in a shed/garage for years. I'm quite a clean person so this dust and dirt from elsewhere is worrysome for me.

The dust is brown by the way.

How would you go about cleaning the bag?

I thought...

1) Hose it down/rinse it inside and out into a drain
2) Use a disposable tub and some detergent and scrub the outside, turn it inside out
then give it a good scrub on the inside.
3) rinse through thoroughly again with a hose
4) put it through the washing machine inside out
5) put it through again but this time not inside out
6) let it air dry
7) Maybe repeat the washing machine steps.

Overkill? Not enough?

What would you do?

Post# 467518 , Reply# 1   11/14/2023 at 07:33 (243 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        

justjunque's profile picture
Hi Jay,

I'm the farthest thing from an expert, but I can tell you what I did.
Granted, my Kirby is a G4, so the material may be different. But, I've also done the same thing with outer bags from a Royal, a Dirt Devil (also Royal) and two Orecks.
I just hand washed them in a tub (bathtub or set tub) with warm water and liquid Tide detergent. I let them soak for a few minutes, swished and kneaded them around gently but thoroughly, etc.
The ones that were really dirty, I drained the water and repeated the whole process.
Then, drained the water and rinsed them in a tub of clean, cool water until I didn't see any more trace of dirt or suds.
The first one, I then just hung over the set tub to drip dry.
Subsequent ones, I put in the washer on a slow spin to get rid of the excess water, then set them outside on a drying rack. That's obviously weather permitting, though.
I wish you luck with yours! I hope maybe this helps you some.


Post# 467519 , Reply# 2   11/14/2023 at 07:43 (243 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        

vacmadman's profile picture
Hi Jay,

Barry has the right idea with hand washing you should try and stay away from machine washing the outer bags.


Post# 467524 , Reply# 3   11/14/2023 at 08:55 (243 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

I have washed many bags, some nasty, some clean. My process is the same though.
This applies to bags from the 1960s to today.

Wear a dust mask (if very dirty) and always nitrile gloves.

I do it all outside and take my time.

Remove all removable hardware and attachments

Empty bag outside, UPWIND.

Very carefully turn bag inside out and shake it outside, UPWIND.

I GENTLY 'beat' them against a tree to dislodge dirt. Note that 'beating' is just a motion. Do it gently and the bag will not be damaged.

I brush them, getting in all the corners, then 'beat' them more until I do not see any more dirt come off.

Stubborn hair I get with a pet hair sticky roller.

I then hose it off outside with a hose.

Then I put it in a 5 gallon bucket with a SMALL amount (~1oz) of liquid laundry detergent.

I soak it a while, agitate it by hand, then rinse until water is clean.

NOTE - blue Tradition bags can bleed easily. Red Classic III can also. Be quicker with the washing process and use less detergent. Monitor the water color to see how much quicker you need to be. I would rather loose a little color than use a dirty bag.

I carefully turn the bag inside out again.

I do a last rinse in the bucket.

I then wash the bag in the washing machine. This is optional. If you have a HE top loader with a scrub plate, forget it - it will ruin it (like most other things).

I then run the bag through the washer spin cycle on low speed.

I hang outside in the sun and breeze to dry.

Do NOT use heat to dry it and do not use fabric softeners which can alter the pores in the cloth.

When installing dump bags I line them with a HEPA Kirby bag to help keep the cloth ones clean.

Be VERY careful with very old pre-60's bags though - they may not even want to get wet...

Post# 467525 , Reply# 4   11/14/2023 at 09:04 (243 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
a word about washers...

Always wash by hand first to get the worst.

If you do use a washing machine like I do for the final touch, do only for 6 minutes or so, on delicate (slow) cycle.
I spin it on low for only a couple minutes also so it will not crease.
I have a vintage top-load washer that uses a good amount of water so the bag can move freely. I can also adjust my times easily and remove the bag whenever desired.

A front loader may be okay, and maybe a top loader that uses an agitator if you can add enough water.
However if you cannot adjust the wash and spin time to be short or slow enough, just hand wash.
Never use a scrub plate top loader though. (and I mean never, for anything...)

Post# 467530 , Reply# 5   11/14/2023 at 14:11 (243 days old) by Human (Pines of Carolina)        
It depends...

human's profile picture
I've washed a couple of Heritage/Legend series bags in the washing machine on a delicate cycle with no problems. Of course, I always remove the em-tor and fill tube assembly, and that can present its own set of challenges when the time comes to put it back together. I have a Heritage '84 that had its original metal em-tor, which I never could get back onto the bag, so I ended up swapping it for a Heritage II style mini em-tor and fill tube assembly. The plastic Heritage II ones are very easy. Just pull it through from the inside. Unfortunately, that doesn't work with the older style metal em-tors. They're just too bulky. I've still got the original, and would love to put it back on the machine, but I haven't figured out how to do it.

I find that G-series bag assemblies are harder to take apart, so when I got a G3 that sorely needed the bag washed, I just left everything intact and hand washed it. As others have mentioned, I had to change the water more than once, but it came out great.

I have a great facility for drying outer bags. There's a little tool shed on the side of my house, which contains the gas water heater. It's very toasty in there, so I hang the bag on a nail next to the water heater and it dries overnight.

Post# 467544 , Reply# 6   11/15/2023 at 09:34 (242 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Human, if you are having trouble getting the bags back onto the emtors, check out my tips and tricks page on how to get them back on easily.
No tools - just your feet and big toe, some strong fingers, and a backwards rolling motion.
You roll the spring back on, rather than try to stretch it.
I actually enjoy this part of the restos!

Post# 467549 , Reply# 7   11/15/2023 at 10:25 (242 days old) by kirbynoob (UK)        
Thank You


I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for all of your replies here :)

Really appreciate it!

Post# 467574 , Reply# 8   11/16/2023 at 18:35 (240 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
Throw the heritage bag inside out and run it through the washer. If it has stains spray resolve clean spots before washing.
The heritage bags are the most durable bags kirbys ever made.
I'd machine wash and air dry. I've done dozens of heritage bags this way and it looks great.

Post# 467619 , Reply# 9   11/19/2023 at 19:18 (237 days old) by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

I have washed commercial shake out bags in a front load washer with no problems and let air dry.
Any thing with screen printing may be better off hand washing.

The bag for the Heritage II would be ok in a front load washer and air dry.
I would use cool or cold water wash.

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