Bagless vs. Bagged Vacuums

This vacuum cleaner guide will review the pros and the cons of bagless vacuums and vacuums that use a bag so you can determine which would be the best for you. We will also cover the specifics of the kind of vacuum that you DEFINITLY want to avoid.

Great Vacs started selling vacuums on the internet in 1998 and since then we have sold over 10,000 high end bagless and bagged vacuums on the internet alone. Because of our volume we get on average 100 emails a day. Most of which are asking what is the best kind of vacuum and asking for general vacuum knowledge. This is an email we get asked a lot: which is better bagless or bagged vacuums?

First lets talk about the history of bagless vacuums. Most people think that bagless vacuums are a new thing but bagless vacuums were around before the bag was even created. For example the Kirby vacuum even used bagless features until the 1980s. So why did they quit making bagless vacuums? They were really messy. You had to take the bag unit off and dump the dirt in your garbage and it was really messy. Plus over time your filtration in your bag would get clogged with dirt so you had to wash your cloth bag in the washing machine. So then someone came out with this great idea of just making a disposable bag that you just throw away and you can avoid all of the mess. However in our day we have seen the return of the bagless vacuum and they are as popular as ever before.

So what are the benefits of the bagless vacuum? There are several actually. The main reason is you don't have to buy vacuum bags and that can be a money savings (in theory). Then as your dirt chamber starts to get full you just remove it and dump it in the garbage. Another benefit is as your dirt chamber gets full your vacuum does not lose suction (in theory). Lastly you can actually see how much dirt your vacuum is picking up.

So what are the benefits of a vacuum that uses bags? Well the main reason is that there is no mess when you go to empty your dirt. You just pull off the old bag and throw it away and then put on a new bag. Another big benefit that I have seen is filtration is typically better. For example most bagless vacuums just have HEPA (or similar) filtration and a lot of bagged vacuums have a great filtering bags plus a HEPA filter (or similar filtration). With Filtration the more higher or tighter or better the filtration the more power it takes to push the air through. So with a lot of bagged vacuums you can pick the filtration you would like based on your needs. For example with the Kirby vacuum they make the HEPA disposable bags (filters down to 1/10 of 1 micron) and the Micron Magic bags (filters down to 1/3 of 1 micron but still is awesome filtration). So if you have really bad allergies you go with the HEPA bags but if you don't but still want great filtration you go with the Micron Magic Filtration and your vacuum has a little extra power.

So what are the cons of the bagless vacuum? Well here we get to talk about the realities for a minute. Do you remember their were a couple of pros for bagless vacuums that I ended with (in theory)? The first was you can save money by having a bagless vacuum and not having to buy bags? The truth of it is that most bagless vacuums have cheap NON WASHABLE Filters that have to be replaced. They usually have to be replaced once a year or so and most HEPA filters cost about 30 dollars on average. In other words by the time you replace the HEPA filters it actually cost more that if you had bags that you had to buy. So the way around that is to buy a vacuum with a WASHABLE filters. So when it comes time to replace the filter you just wash it, let it dry, and put it back. The other one I mentioned was that on a bagless vacuum you wont lose suction as your dirt chamber fills up. The reality of it is as your filter gets clogged with dirt you lose suction. Depending on the vacuum and filter sometimes this can be worse than with a bag filling up and losing suction. The third and main con to using a bagless vacuum is they are still messy when you dump them. You really need to take your dirt champer outside and hold your breath and dump it out and then tie it up in a garbage sack.

What are the cons of a vacuum that uses bags? Well you will have to continue to pay for your disposable bags. Also as your bags get full you will lose suction. There are several high end vacuums that have found a way around this. The main way to do this is to change your bag before it gets all the way full. For example on the Kirby vacuum they have a very large bag and there is a line half way up the bag. The line is marked and says to change the bag when it reaches that point. That way you still have plenty of room left for filtration and suction.

IN MY HUMBLE OPIONON - So now that you have all of this info you are probably still wondering which is best so let me share my thoughts with you. To be honest, I am not a big fan of the bagless vacuum. Especially ones that you can buy at your local big box super store. I have seen a lot of these come in with more dirt on the outside of the vacuum than the inside of the vacuum. For more information on why that is check out my article Picking the right Vacuum article. However I do have a bagless vacuum that is very popular and we sell tons of that are a great vacuum. That is the Rainbow Vacuum. It uses water to filter with (no bags or filters to replace, you just dump out your dirty water when you are done). With some of the Newer Models (the Eseries and the E2) they also have HEPA filters as well. The filters are available in Washable and Non Washable on the E series. So I feel like if you are going to buy a bagless vacuum make sure it is a high end vacuum and has a filtration system that won't need replacing every year. I would stay away from cheap bagless vacuums that don't do what they are supposed to do.

If you have bad Asthma or allergies I would suggest going with a bagged vacuum that has a good bag and a filter. Over time I think you will be very pleased with their performance. So I could have any vacuum made in my home and which one do I use? I use a Kirby vacuum with Micron Magic Filtration (we don't have allergies of course).

Free Advice - If you are still confused as to the right model or vacuum for your family (everyones needs differ) then please feel free to fell out the form below and tell us about your situation (like how much carpet, hardwood, allergies, pets, kids) and we would be glad to help you get a vacuum that would be perfect for you.

Which vacuum cleaner is the best?   We get asked that question all the time.    The fact is it depends on YOUR needs and YOUR situation.    At GreatVacs we are experts at vacuum cleaners and carry all the best brands.    We have rebuild over 50,000 vacuum cleaners (all models) and we know vacuums.    A FREE service that we offer is tell us about your situation and we would love to suggest something that you will LOVE.    Put our expertise to work for you and get a vacuum or air purifier that is perfect for your needs.    

  • Example: 3 Kids & 2 dogs that shed. 60% carpet and 40% hardwood floors. 2 sets of carpeted stairs.

  • Example: I want my next vacuum to work good on pet hair and be able to vacuum carpet & hardwood. I am tired of throwing my money away and want it to last at least 10 years.

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