Extractor Bags or Cartridge Filters: Which are Best for Your Workshop?

Estimated reading time – 4 minutes

If your work involves sanding, cutting, or shaping any material that produces lots of airborne dust when worked, you’re going to need local and ambient dust extraction and filtering in place to craft safely. If left unchecked, dust build-up can ingrain on and damage equipment and paint, cause breathing difficulties, and reduce visibility in dangerous environments. For more on the health risks of airborne wood dust and how to manage them click this link to our blog.

If you haven’t yet chosen your dust extraction method, this article is for you. You may want to choose your method depending on the information we’ve laid out below.

Dust extraction and filtering is the solution. Dust ventilation systems use one of two capture and cleansing methods to deal with particulate: bags and filters. While both work by using a hood, extractor fan, and piping to remove dangerous particles from the air, each has critical differences that make them more suited to specific places and applications over others.

Here at Dust Spares we offer a mixture of Extractor Bags and Dust Cartridges, and know that not every option we have will be the right fit for you. At times there may be better options and in this article we want to give you an unbiased approach, explaining the differences between dust extractor bags and cartridge filters so you can make the best decision for your workshop or business.

Here’s our short guide to what to expect from both types of dust capturing device.

Dust Extractor Bags

Dust Extractor Bags fit into a part of a free-flowing dust extractor pipeline called the exhaust (or, in some cases, baghouse). They’re a low-maintenance, low-cost solution often used with small scale workshops using a select few power tools.

Dust Bags offer low air resistance, weigh almost nothing, and have no moving or complex parts. As they’re a disposable item, you’ll usually buy them in batches of 25-50 or more from retailers. They also come in fine mesh filter variants, allowing for better durability and reuse.

As wood-contaminated air passes through to the end of the system, floating microparticles of wood become trapped. The dust builds up within a tight polythene mesh. Once the extractor turns off, dust drops into the bag, ready for cleaning out through washing or disposal once full.


  • Easily accessible in a variety of sizes
  • Amateur friendly – no complex mechanics or installations involved


  • More frequent changes typically needed
  • May not be easily compatible with more complex baghouses and extractors
  • No in-built filtering mechanism – unless you buy cleanable filter bags
  • Not generally suitable for one-way air recycling systems

Dust Cartridge Filters

Dust Cartridge Filters are a more sophisticated way of cleaning particulate-contaminated air. They’re a longer lasting solution, too, as they’re fully cleanable for continuous reuse until the time they need replacing. They can also be used with collection bags as a primary filtration stage, to cut down on excess waste.

In-line cylinder and grid filters can be fitted to HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system) extractor lines and extractor hoods, removing wood dust at the source. Multi-layer, internal filters catch the dust pumped through them, recycling clean air back into the workshop through a vented exhaust. Once the filter fills up with dust, it slides out of the system for easy cleaning or replacement. This is a manual process to remove and replace the filters once they become blind and no longer efficient.


  • In-line, unobtrusive fitting
  • Easy to clean via washing – some models may need compressed air to clean up.
  • Great at picking up low-yield, relatively low-risk particulate (such as softwood)
  • Better fitted to air cycling extractors
  • Semi-permanent – but more expensive than bags or filter bags


  • Bulky and better fitted to hub and ambient air extractors and cyclers – over engineered for just one workbench

In conclusion, both options can be a great choice depending on your business needs.

Dust Extractor Parts and Filters from Dust Spares

Ultimately, the best filter or bag is the one that’s fitted to what your business needs. Dust Spares will work with you to find the right filters you need to keep your workshop safe, clean, and efficient. Get in touch with us today to learn more about what we could do for you.

Click the link to the tight to search through our collection of filters

Central photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash


Leave a Reply