Saturday , October 24th 2020

What’s Better – Bagged or Bagless

Life is full of tough choices: Truth or Dare, Call or text, glasses or contacts, cake or pie. We’re going to look at another of the tough decisions. Do we want our vacuum to be bagged or bagless?

There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s just that, in some cases, one or the other is slightly better, but not different enough that you’ll be wrong with whatever you choose. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

Bagged Vacuums Pros and Cons

Bagged vacuums were the standard for many years. Most were cloth bags at first, but paper took over along the way. Cloth bags had to be shaken out, which was very messy. Paper bags can be removed and tossed out without handling the dirt at all. It’s a lot neater and definitely more hygienic.

a replaceable vacuum bag

Vacuum bags make dirt disposal easy.

Technology has helped the paper bag too. Bags are designed with precise pore sizes so that almost all of the dust gets filtered out. Pores range around the 1 to 1.5 micron in size…that’s technical terminology, just take my word for it that it’s real fine. The key here is, that the better the filtration, the less fine dust that goes back into the air, and the less dusting that you’ll need to do.

And since dust is a big problem for allergy sufferers, the better the filter, the easier it is for many of us to breath. Many of the better vacuums add HEPA filters after their regular bag filters. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, a fancy term that means that just about everything larger than .3 microns is filtered out. That’s fine enough to remove most dust, smoke, chemicals, asbestos, pollen, and pet dander.

Most bags hold a lot of dirt, so they don’t need changing often. And when they do, its a clean replacement. Toss the old bag, replace it with a new one.

Bagged Vacuum Disadvantages

The downside of vacuum bags is that you need to buy more from time to time. And if you’re like me, you’ll get caught short sometimes. Fortunately, many of the new bagged vacuum models have indicators that let you know when change time is coming soon.

Bagless Vacuums Pros and Cons

early vacuum cleaner ad

Early vacuums had cloth bags

Bagless models have become the most popular style lately. Modern engineering has done a better job of separating the dust and dirt from the airflow. Some vacuums use cyclonic action to separate the dust, others use a filter and let the dust fall back into the bin when the motor is turned off. The dustbins on many models are clear, so you can see when it’s working and watch the bin filling up.

A bagless vacuum will save a bit of money too, plus they’re eco-friendly.

Bagless Vacuum Disadvantages

Dustbins are much smaller than vacuum bags and need to be emptied more often. Most manufacturers recommend emptying with every use. Unfortunately, emptying the dustbin isn’t always a clean task. Some dust always seems to fly around when its emptied. And some debris is sticky, requiring washing or wiping.

Bagless vacuums have traditionally been less efficient than bagged, passing more dust. Most better bagless vacuums now come with a HEPA filter which evens them out. Note that while some HEPA filters are washable, most require replacement although the intervals are usually just once every year or two. And some of the cheaper bagless vacuums still have a main filter, and many of these filters cost as much or more than bags.


So if you buy a good vacuum, the cleaning from bagged, or bagless models will be just about equal. The bagless vacuum argument is that you save money on bags. The bagged vacuum argument is that you save time and stay cleaner with easy to replace bags. There are excellent models of both. If allergies are a problem, choose bags for cleaner emptying. Otherwise, the choice is yours.

Top Selling Bagless Upright Vacuums

with OnePass claims the top spot in Amazon’s ratings.  It’s lightweight, cleans well, and has an excellent repair record.  And the price tops it off.  This is one of the lowest priced upright vacs.

Upright Vacuum is listed as a commercial vacuum, so it’s a bit heavier duty than most.  It’s a lift away, so the canister comes off to reach hard places, and it’s great on pet hair. 

is a lightweight vac at a lightweight price.  Yet it still has all of the most important features of the big guys.

Top Selling Bagless Stick Vacuums

and Handheld Vacuum is the stick that I use at home.  Don’t mistake it for a full-size vacuum: It is loud, low powered, and doesn’t clean anywhere as well as our regular vac.  But it’s small, light, and cheap enough that I don’t mind using it outside on the patio.

Stick & Handheld Vacuum Cleaner with HEPA Filtration is Amazon’s second best seller.  It’s got a lot more power than the Dirt Devil, and the HEPA filter is a good addition.  

bridges the gap between stick and upright.  And it’s cordless, so it’s great for quick pickups.