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Bagless vs. baged: What to look for in a new vacuum cleaner

Posted January 22, 2019 5:00 p.m. EST
Updated January 22, 2019 5:35 p.m. EST

— Consumer Reports tested bagged and bagless vacuum cleaners to determine which clean homes the best.

After testing vacuums over thousands of miles of carpeting, Consumer Reports came up with recommendations on what to look for. Both types of vacuum cleaners were tested on how well they pick up dirt and debris, how easy they are to maneuver and how they perform on different types of flooring.

The perception is that bagless vacuums are easier to maintain. Additionally, with no bags to replace, they're also cheaper to own.

However, according to Sue Booth, a Consumer Reports home editor, bagless vacuums actually have more filters to clean and replace than bagged models. Their bins and surrounding parts should also be cleaned from time to time -- and emptying the bin is a messy drawback.

"When you open them up, you're releasing some of the particles back into the air that you just sucked up," said Booth. "And that's something to take into consideration if you have allergies or dust sensitivity."

Experts say bagged vacuums may be the way to go if you're sensitive to dust. Some bags can even be sealed when you remove them by using sliding closures or stickers.

With bagged models, users have to clean HEPA filters, which force air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites and tobacco smoke. HEPA filters don't need to be changed as often since dirt goes directly to the bag.

Whatever style you choose, suction should stay the same no matter how full the container is, experts said.

Consumer Reports found a $300 Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away bagless model (#NV586) that does well cleaning carpets and excels on bare floors. The study's bagged recommendation is the $200 Enmore Pet Friendly 31140, which does well on bare floors and does an excellent job picking up pet hair.