If your dust collector's filter bag gets caked with gunk inside and doesn't seem to draw well, tossing it into the laundry may not be the best remedy. According to the experts at American Fabric Filter Co., a fine layer of dust coating the inside surface of the bag actually works with the fibers of the filter to trap small particles. But if you notice a thick crust of dust (called "dust cake"), or you're seeing dust bleed through the filter, or you're experiencing significantly decreased suction, it's time to act.Before you launder the filter bag, try these steps: With the dust collector running and the bag inflated, tap the bag with your hand or a broomstick. If that doesn't clear up the cake, try blowing compressed air against the outside of the bag with the collector running. Still not drawing properly? Remove the bag, turn it inside out and vacuum any remaining dust cake, as shown at left.If you're still not happy with the bag's performance, the folks at American Fabric Filter say that a spin in the washing machine could clear up any remaining problems, acting as a "reset" for the filter. (We suggest an industrial machine at your local laundromat rather than the one that normally keeps your tighty-whities white and tight.) Turn the bag inside out, use the cold setting, and wash it on a gentle cycle with laundry detergent. Tumble-dry the bag on the air-only, no-heat setting or hang it outdoors in nice weather to dry completely before using it again.—from the WOOD® shop