The debris picked up by all of the different types of vacuum cleaners and units on the market has to be deposited somewhere — usually in a vacuum cleaner bag.
In 1920 the Air Way Sanitizer Company of Ohio introduced the first vacuum cleaner with a disposable bag. Up until that time, vacuum cleaner bags resembled the type of bags golfers use to carry their clubs. They were heavy and unwieldy devices made out of thick, stiff canvas, designed to be somewhat flexible and yet keep the dust and debris from the carpets from escaping.
The improvement made by the Air Way Sanitizer disposable vacuum cleaner bag went a long way towards improving the overall effectiveness of the vacuum cleaner. The bag, made out of paper, was designed to fit inside the cloth bag typically used. It not only made cleaning the vacuum easier but it kept the insides of the stationary bag clean at all times so that less of the dust and debris could be blown back out of the vacuum cleaner and throughout the house once again.
Early on, each manufacturer designed its own disposable vacuum cleaner bag made out of different types of paper. The bags were not interchangeable from one machine to another, as the fittings were of different sizes with different configurations for the intake opening. Manufacturers, once dependent solely on the sales of their machines, had discovered an entire new market for the disposable bags and once again sales soared.
Previously, a housewife had her machine and the only thing it needed was occasional cleaning and service. If the man of the house was handy, that job usually went to him. But after a while, repair shops specializing in vacuum cleaners were springing up everywhere.
But now, every vacuum cleaner in America was going to need at least one new, disposable vacuum cleaner bag every month and that represented an unanticipated windfall for the companies. It was not until many years later, when the dimensions of the air inlets became uniform and the advent of the bag-less machine that this lucrative aftermarket began to slow down.