A woman vacuuming with a bagless vacuum.

Q. Which is better—a bagged or a bagless vacuum?

A. 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.

Inside the Vacuum Test Lab

In the market for a new vacuum cleaner? CR expert, Sue Booth, shows 'Consumer 101' TV show host, Jack Rico, how Consumer Reports puts models through the paces.

Editors Note: This article also appeared in the September 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.