HEPA Vacuum for Small Archives

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    • #132742

      Hi everyone. I work in a town archives with a very limited budget. I’m looking for a vacuum for use in cleaning our collections. Primarily this consists of paper and books, but we also have some newer (1950s to the present) textiles, plastics, metal plaques, etc. Nilfisk and Miele are way out of our price range. Has anybody had experience with the Atrix Express Vac http://www.collectioncare.org/tas/ntasvacuums.html or the two-speed Data-Vac ? http://www.gaylord.com/adblock.asp?abid=475

      Thank You,



    • #132747
      Tara Kennedy

      Hi Abigail-

      As long as the vacuum is HEPA-filtered, you can use any vacuum with a brush attachment. Provided you are doing work that isn’t going to risk bits of the object getting sucked up in the vacuum, like the outside of books and boxes, you should be fine.

      For more delicate work, see if you can’t somehow attach a rheostat to control the amount of suction from the vacuum. Then you can reduce the suction, making it safer to clean more delicate objects, like single sheets of paper, textiles, and the like.





    • #132746

      For delicate or small items, there’s a set of small attachments sold for under $20 that fits onto regular vacuum cleaners. It’s called a “micro vacuum attachment kit.”

      Barbara Appellbaum

    • #132745
      Lauren Paustian

      Hi Abigail,

      I would recommend against using the two-speed Data-Vac.  My library is looking for a vacuum cleaner for our stacks, and we had ordered the Data-Vac from Gaylord and then ended up returning it.   The vacuum has two hoses (one on each end), which simultaneously suction in and expel air.  As one end suctions debris, the vacuum is simultaneously blowing dust from the other end.   I don’t understand how anyone could effectively clean anything in this way,  especially in a rather delicate collections environment.   Gaylord had referred me to someone from the Data-Vac company, and they said I could attach a brush cleaning attachment  to the expelling hose to “direct the air current upwards.”
      Also, on Gaylord’s website and catalog, they advertise a HEPA accessory kit for use with the vacuum.  However, the accessory kit which arrived with the vacuum is labeled a “Toner Cleaning Kit.”  When I asked the Data-Vac representative about this, he said that none of their products actually are HEPA capable, but the toner cleaning kit could work to pick up minute particles like a HEPA filter.

      While the price of the Data-Vac is reasonable, it seems to me that this product is inappropriately being marketed to libraries and archives and museums.   Really, it is more appropriate for warehouses (where perhaps workers would want to clean large spaces by blowing dust into a corner, then vacuuming it up) or offices (where toner spills from printers and copy machines happen).

    • #132744
      Jane Dalley

      Hi Abigail,

      I purchased an Atrix Express vacuum a few years ago and am quite pleased with it.  It is noisy but cheap.  The Omega (next level up) has sound baffling so if your budget allows, that’s preferable.  Also, for a small extra charge, I could have purchased a longer power cord, which is something I’d recommend.  The HEPA filter is not reusable so you do have to purchase a new one when the existing one is full.  I was advised that I’d know this because the suction is decreased.

      The people at the plant are easy to deal with and because they manufacture them, they can advise you appropriately.  They make a back pack model, too.

      Good luck!


    • #132743

      Thanks everyone! I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get back to all, but it took me awhile to get information about the vacuum that our facilities guys use. After hearing from Tara,I was hoping to use their vacuum, at least temporarily. I do have one other question/ worry. While the facilities vacuum has a HEPA filter, it is bag-less. (It’s a Dyson DC14 Animal)

      Is it ok to use a bag-less model? Another issues is that the Dyson HEPA filter is also advertised as a lifetime filter, and everything I’ve read recommends regularly replacing the filter.  I guess I’m a bit worried about cleaning items that may have had mold/ have inactive mold on them.

      Lauren- I’m sorry to hear about your ordeal. I’m surprised Gaylord hasn’t addressed these issues on their site, as they still seem to push these as great vacuums. Have you been able to find a good replacement?

      Thanks again,


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