A woman vacuuming with a bagless vacuum.

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

Quick Take

Miele Compact C2 Electro+

Price: $700

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Miele Complete C3 Marin

Price: $1,100

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Best Bagless Canisters

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Kenmore 22614

Price: $390

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog

Price: $900

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Best Bagged Uprights

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Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150

Price: $350

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Quick Take

Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog

Price: $550

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Best Bagless Uprights

Quick Take

Dyson Ball Animal 2

Price: $500

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Quick Take

Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away NV831

Price: $350

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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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.