Pros and Cons of a Bagged vs. Bagless Vacuum

When choosing which to buy, consider the price of replacement bags

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Which is better—a bagged or a bagless vacuum?

Bagless vacuums can save you money because you don’t have to buy replacement bags. But like bagged vacuums, they have filters that need periodic cleaning or—for HEPA filters—replacing, probably more often than with a bagged vacuum.

More on Vacuums

Brands differ, but HEPA filters from Shark, for example, cost $3 to $36 and last six months.

“Emptying a bagless vacuum can be messy, releasing some of the particles you just sucked up back into the air,” says Susan Booth, CR’s lead vacuum tester. That can be a problem if you are sensitive to dust and allergens. Plus, the bagged vacuums in our tests tend to be better at deep cleaning—an advantage if your home has carpeting or rugs.

Below are some of the top bagged and bagless canister and upright vacuums from our tests, listed alphabetically by type and not by performance rank.

Best Bagged Canisters

Best Bagless Canisters

Best Bagged Uprights

Best Bagless Uprights

Inside the Vacuum Test Lab

In the market for a new vacuum cleaner? CR expert Susan Booth shows “Consumer 101” TV show host Jack Rico how Consumer Reports puts models through their paces.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article also appeared in the September 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.