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Bagged or Bagless Vacuum Cleaner – Which One is Better

People often wonder which vacuum cleaner is better – bagged or bagless, especially when canister or upright vacuum cleaners are concerned.

Bagged or bagless, vacuum cleaners use several layers of air filtration to provide HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) grade filtration, which removes at least 99.97% of particles 0.3 micrometers in size. Such level of air filtration is very important for people having issues with asthma and allergies and for people with pets and kids. Cheaper vacuums often state that they use ‘HEPA type’ filters, but they are not true HEPA vacuums.

Updated: May 3, 2023.

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Features and Specifications of Vacuum Cleaners

The modern cyclonic design of bagless vacuum cleaners offers great air-dirt separation using small, but powerful vortexes, aided with replaceable and washable pre-motor mechanical filters, which are often combined with HEPA, non-washable, post-motor filters.

Such design enables suction power to remain practically constant until the dirt bin is almost full, with filter sensors often present in high-end models to warn the user to clean and/or change the filters. Since many bagless vacuums use transparent dirt bins, such sensors are not mandatory.

For a long time, bagged vacuum cleaners offered better airflow filtration, especially when using high-end dirt bags and several mechanical filters after the dirt bag. On the other hand, as dirt bags start to fill with dirt, full dirt bags decrease the suction strength of the vacuum cleaners, regardless of the vacuum cleaner model.

Obviously, bagged models offer certain advantages, but they also have some issues, too.

miele fjm type vacuum bag mFor example, disposable dirt bags are simply thrown away in the garbage when they got full, with practically no dirt particles leaving the bag. This is very important for people having issues with asthma and allergies.

Disposable dirt bags do cost money, but when bought in larger packages, their individual price decreases significantly. Reusable dirt bags often offer a high level of air filtration, but emptying them when they get full can be quite a messy task.

People being very sensitive to dirt, pollen and other allergens can buy disposable bags with several layers of air filtration, including a layer of activated charcoal, capable of stopping even odors.

However, such dirt bags are not available for every bagged vacuum cleaner and they cost more than common disposable bags.

High-end bagless vacuum cleaners have a mechanical air filter between the dirt bin and the motor and often an additional air filter after the motor. If the vacuum cleaner is certified as a HEPA vacuum cleaner, the last filter is often a HEPA filter that can include a layer of activated charcoal.

Bagless models have several methods for emptying the dirt bin, but it always includes opening and emptying the dirt bin above the trash can. If one is not careful, this can release the cloud of dirt and dust.

Scent discs and powders – in order to increase the feeling of cleanness and freshness, it is possible to use scent discs or powders. They are simply crushed and vacuumed in the dirt bag and during vacuuming, after which they give the air an additional scent. When the bag is full and thrown away (or simply emptied), scent powder is lost.

Also, a good disposable bag with active charcoal will almost completely prevent the scent to refresh the air. Bagless vacuum cleaners can use scent discs or powders only if they have a special compartment intended for such use – if they vacuum crushed discs or powders, the scent is lost in the dirt bin with no air passing by. Or they can use scented mechanical filters – it all depends on the vacuum model.

Moist or wet dirt should not be vacuumed using bagged vacuum cleaners. Moisture can lead to a buildup of unpleasant smells and gases and can even lead to ruptured bags. However, moist or wet dirt can hamper air filtration of bagless vacuums, too. In any case, if the vacuum cleaner is designed for dry dirt, be sure to vacuum dry dirt only.

Cleaning tools and attachments increase the ability of the user to clean elevated surfaces like stairs, furniture, upholstery, and similar. Additional cleaning tools and attachments are often used on the canister vacuums, upright vacuums with additional cleaning hoses, and stick/handheld vacuums and they are available for both bagged and bagless vacuums equally.

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Long Story Short: When trying to decide, which one is better, bagged or bagless vacuum cleaner, it all comes to users’ personal preferences. Both bagged and bagless vacuums have their pros and cons and it is up to the users to decide which vacuum cleaner best suits their needs.

Personally, disposable vacuum bags increase the operational costs of the vacuums, but they are an easy way of getting rid of the vacuumed dirt.

Bagless vacuums are feature lower operational costs, but the user must be careful when disposing of the vacuumed dirt.

Reusable vacuum bags keep the operational costs low, but they are the most difficult option when disposing of the vacuumed dirt.

Personally, either go for a bagless vacuum or the vacuum that uses disposable vacuum bags - which one is the best for You, it is up to your personal needs and requirements.

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