I've been cutting a lot of MDF and using my shop vac on the dust collection port of my table saw. I've never been a fan of emptying my shop vac but this definitely makes it worse.

You can't place trash bags inside there, or maybe you could with a weight, but my method of sticking everything into a trash bag and banging it out is blowing a lot of dust around my shop.

What's the most pain free way to clean out a shop vac?

  • 2
    Take it outside.
    – Tester101
    Aug 12, 2014 at 22:55
  • Another shopvac. :)
    – Doresoom
    Aug 13, 2014 at 5:10

2 Answers 2


Filter bags

Filter Bags

One of the cleanest way to empty a shopvac is with a filter bag. Most dust will be caught in your bag and not in the shopvac tank. You just have to remove the bag and replace with a new one. If you use your shopvac a lot, it can become expensive on the long run.

Cyclone Collector

Cyclone Collector

Another solution is to add a separation stage to your shopvac. That's usually done by adding a cyclone collector. The idea is pretty simple, it's to collect bigger chips and dust particles in a regular trashcan or bucket and then send the rest in your shopvac. That way, you won't have to empty or clean your shopvac as often. It can also be combined with the filter bags to reduce the amount of bags you use.

Extra reading on dust collecting and cyclones

  • Bill Pentz has done some extensive research and work on this subject. Keep in mind when reading his site that he has developed some allergies to saw dust.
  • Phil Thien also has a separator lid.
  • You can also most likely buy a pre-made one online or at a local retailer.
  • A good cyclone can actually drop out a surprising amount of the smaller stuff too.
    – keshlam
    Sep 6, 2014 at 17:50

If it is all MDF dust, hose it out into a flower bed. This eliminates dust and provides free weed-blocking/moisture retaining mulch. Then you can blast it dry with your air compressor or just run it for a few minutes to dry it out.

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