You be the judge: should my housemate empty the vacuum cleaner after every use?

Afi believes the bag should be changed every time, but Yetunde thinks that’s a bit much. Should she just suck it up? You decide

Find out how to get a disagreement settled or become a You be the judge juror

The prosecution: Afi

Yetunde doesn’t empty the vacuum bag after every clean. This is unhygienic and selfish

I live with my best friend, Yetunde. We’re both 30, and have known each other since our mid-20s. We’ve lived together in relative harmony for two years. The only issue I have concerns her vacuuming. I was brought up to empty the vacuum bag and canister after every use, but Yetunde lets it build up. I find this gross and annoying for a few reasons.

First, letting all the dust and bacteria sit in the vacuum bag is unhygienic. I read somewhere that the germs hoovered from the floor should be thrown out straight away, otherwise they can settle in your vacuum and become a health hazard. Second, emptying the vacuum cleaner regularly ensures that it carries on working properly and things don’t get clogged up. I’m not a clean freak – this is just common sense.

We take turns to do the housework as we can’t afford a cleaner. We used to pay for someone to come in once a month, but with the cost of living and Yetunde recently going freelance, we’re tightening our belts.

I do think the flat has become a bit grubbier since we’ve started doing the cleaning ourselves. Yetunde and I have different vacuuming habits: She is very fast and whizzes around the carpets; I take my time because that’s how you pick up the dirt.

We have an old vacuum cleaner, so the bag and canister do need to be changed regularly. It’s not nice, but it has to be done. But Yetunde never changes the bag after she’s used it. We take turns doing the cleaning, and when it’s my turn, the vacuum cleaner doesn’t work properly because she hasn’t emptied it. I’ll remind her and she’ll say “yeah, yeah”, but I notice it’s only me who does it.

I don’t want to carp about my friend’s housework, but she could care more. We both have to walk on dirty carpets if she doesn’t clear out the vacuum, after all. I’ve thought about getting a new bagless vacuum cleaner, so at least there’s only the canister that needs changing. Though perhaps that will make Yetunde even lazier. Who knows?

The defence: Yetunde

Replacing the bag every time is over the top and wasteful. We need a new, bagless, cleaner anyway

I find the whole debate over the vacuum cleaner a bit tedious, if I’m honest. “Who emptied it?” “When did you empty it?” Does it really matter as long as the cleaning gets done?

I like living with Afi but she can be a little too intense with the cleaning rules sometimes. I am not a messy person but, OK, I don’t always empty the vacuum. I actually think we need to get a new one, because it’s 2023 and who has time to empty a vacuum bag and replace it afterwards? Not me, that’s for sure.

It’s not like I’ve never emptied the vacuum, but when it’s my turn to clean I prefer to just do the vacuuming and then move on to the other chores. Yes, I’m quick, but I’m also diligent. What usually happens is that I move on to the next job, such as mopping or emptying the dishwasher, and then I never really return to the vacuuming. When I’m done with a task, I’m done.

Afi’s way of doing things involves emptying the vacuum bag every time it’s used, and replacing it with a new one. I think that’s really over the top. We vacuum every week, but our flat is quite small and we don’t have dirt and dust piling up.

The bag doesn’t get totally full, so taking it out and replacing it every week is just a waste, and expensive. I think we should let the dirt build up to at least 75% capacity before emptying the bag. And a vacuum bag can easily last all month.

Afi says that this means the vacuum won’t work properly, but I’ve yet to see any evidence of that. We have an old Henry vacuum cleaner and it has been pretty solid. I think it was here when we moved in. It’s good but I would love to upgrade to something a bit more modern that doesn’t require a bag change all the time. That part is just unnecessary.

I used the vacuum cleaner without the bag in it once and Afi went a bit mad. She said that the dust would be sucked up directly into the filter and that it would clog the cleaner and cause more mess. I remember I had to clean out the vacuum cleaner myself that time, and it was disgusting.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Yetunde empty the hoover bag more often?

“For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). This is literally true. Take a moment and really think about it. Life is too short, too strange and too beautiful to spend it worrying about vacuum bags.
Dan, 42

Everyone has their own cleaning methods and their own standards. If Afi thinks the vacuuming should be done differently, a good solution would be for her to take on sole responsibility for that task and for Yetunde to do other cleaning chores to compensate.
Brian, 58

The elderly Henry came with the flat: he needs retiring and replacing by a cordless model. They’re less cumbersome and would suit Yetunde’s whizzaround approach. The tiny capsule needs emptying every time it’s used, which would also satisfy Afi. Time, money and face all saved.
Sarah, 61

Yetunde is guilty, although they both need to make changes. If Yetunde doesn’t change the bag, someone else will have to; and Afi, unless the vacuum is not working properly, you don’t need to change it every time.
Kiran, 42

Although Afi’s hygiene concerns are understandable, life’s too short to argue about hoovering. Retiring Henry and treating yourselves to a new bagless one would definitely be worth the money.
Em, 21

Now you be the judge

In our online poll below, tell us: should Yetunde empty the hoover bag every time?

The poll has now closed

Last week’s result

We asked if Brent should stop using his girlfriend Lucy’s tea towels to clear up food spills, as it upsets her.

69% of you said yes – Brent is guilty

31% of you said no – Brent is innocent


Interviews by Georgina Lawton

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