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I'm a sucker for new inventions - especially ones that seem such a good idea as these. In fact my husband often hides those "new inventions" magazines that frequently pop through the letter box. However, even he had to agree that these seemed like a perfect storage solution for all those bits and pieces in the house that take up room but you just can't throw away.
So, what are they? ------------------------- The basic outline is simple - the storage bags are a set of differently sized bags which you can fill with a variety of items e.g. bedlinen, duvets and pillows for spare beds (especially if you have sofa beds or futons and therefore don't store them on the actual bed, or if you have different duvets for the changing seasons), clothes (especially jackets, jumpers and coats during the summer, shorts, bikinis, strappy tops in the winter and baby clothes as the little one grows out of them) and occasional wear (I've stored a couple of bridesmaids dresses from when I was a kid in one of mine and also the maternity wear from my recent pregnancy). They are basically an alternative to putting your clothes and soft furnishings in black sacks to clog up your loft or spare bedrooms! Once you have filled the clear plastic bag you seal the top - they have different types of seal, more on this later - you then suck the air out with your vacuum cleaner. Again there are different ways to do this depending on the type of bag, so more on this later. The bag and its contents shrink down to about half their original size and the whole lot is much easier to store.
How do they work? -------------------------- As I said there are different types available and I have three of them. The first type works in two ways - you can either seal and roll up to push the air out of them or you can leave a small gap in the "zipper" that closes the bag and put the vacuum nozzle into the gap to suck the air out. This type can be useful for packing in your suitcase for holidays to save space, as you don't actually need a vacuum cleaner to use them, but using your vacuum is somewhat easier and more efficient. The trouble is it's quite an art getting the nozzle out without letting air back in, thus defeating the object! The second type has a small pocket attached to the opposite end of the bag from the "zipper". This is where you insert the nozzle of the vacuum to suck out the air - it has a special valve which closes as you take out the vacuum, but this type doesn't seem to suck out as much air as the other types. The last type is by far and away the best - it has a valve on the outside of the bag which you put the nozzle over and suck the air out. Since the valve is in no way connected to the zipper you don't lose any suction and it comes with a cover to seal it tight. This the type which I have never found to have let any air back in.
How many in a pack, how big, where from and how much? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The first set I bought contained 2 bags - one large (big enough to store one double duvet, two average sized blankets, two pillows or my summer wardrobe of clothes and one jumbo (big enough to store a combination of items from the above list). I bought them in Makro for £9.99. They were manufactured by JML and are the type with the valve on the outside, but don't seem to be very widely available.
The second set I bought consisted of five bags - one small (can just fit a couple of coats, jumpers or a few tops), one medium (fits a couple of coats, several tops, jumpers or trousers), one large (can fit one blanket or a selection of clothes), one extra large and one jumbo. The three smaller sizes are the roll up type and the two larger sizes are the extra pocket type. This set cost £14.99 from Costco.
Anything else? -------------------- The bags are made from quite hard-wearing plastic. That said a couple of my bags have developed small holes which we've had to mend with duck tape so that they still work. Instructions for the roll up travel type bags are printed on the outside of the bag, otherwise they are generally printed on the box or on a small leaflet inside. They are very easy to use and very useful, if you get the best type., but I've rated the specific criteria as generally average or satisfasctory because not every bag works efficiently. They are wipe-clean, being plastic. They do pose the same safety risks as any other plastic bags so you shouldn't leave children and babies unattended with them. They are made of clear plastic so it's easy to see the contents once you've stored them away - this makes it easy to use them too, sinceyou can pack and unpack them as the seasons change. I'm not sure where you can get them apart from Makro, Costco and I think Lakeland and a couple of hardware shops.
Overall? ------------ I would recommend them to other buyers, but I would suggest that you look for the type with the black valve on the outside of the bag, as these are the most efficient, hard-wearing and best in my experience.