Bagged vs bagless vacuum cleaners: which is right for you?

Blonde lady vacuuming wooden floors near a table and kitchen
(Image credit: Getty)

Are you wondering what the difference is between bagged vs. bagless vacuum cleaners and which type would best serve your home? Demystify these two categories by learning more about why certain models fall into which group, and you’ll be one step closer to making a more informed purchase of your next floorcare essential. 

When it comes to thorough cleaning, one of the best vacuum cleaners should be at the top of your shopping list, with many different types, including cordless, handheld, and large-capacity vacs that can make your life easier, depending on your situation. As with many home purchases, the crucial difference between bagged vs bagless vacuum cleaners is what you’d prefer as a consumer.

So whether that’s changing disposable vacuum bags or allowing the filters within a bagless model to pick up dirt instead, there will be a choice to suit your needs best.

Bagged vacuum cleaners  

The more traditional vacuum type, bagged cleaners have specially engineered bags with filters so that they can capture the dirt and debris that’s just been sucked up through your appliance. Buying, switching, and disposing of these bags are tasks that many have ditched in favor of less-hassle bagless vacuums. Still, those who have stuck to this system can enjoy benefits too, including the likelihood of extending the life of your vacuum and its filters and reducing risk for those suffering from asthma or allergies. 

The good news is that when it's time for maintenance, learning how to clean a vacuum filter is relatively simple, so it's easy to keep your bagged vacuum cleaner in top-notch condition. 

Pros of bagged vacuum cleaners

1. Straightforward disposal process 

If you've ever emptied your bagless vacuum the wrong way around and ended up in a cloud of unspeakable floor debris, throwing a sealed vacuum bag into the trash will appeal to you. 

2. Longer vacuum lifespan

Switching bags regularly means that the body of your appliance will stay in better condition for longer. 

3. Better for trapping allergens and dirt

Using vacuum bags, you can keep debris and dust from threatening your health rather than opting for a bagless emptying system. Bagged vacs also tend to have larger capacities so that you can deal with crucial allergens regularly before disposal. 

Cons of bagged vacuum cleaners

1. Repurchasing costs

The process of finding a stockist and repurchasing vacuum bags can be tiresome.

2.  Less sustainable

Adding to your household waste with vacuum bags isn’t regarded as a green move, and you’ll need to delve into the bag and dispose of it early if something of value is accidentally swallowed up.  

Bagless vacuum cleaners

The convenience of bagless vacuum cleaners wins out for many; all you need to do when your appliance fills up is to direct the tank to the nearest trash can. While advantageous in many ways, the dust and debris in the air with this method can be problematic for allergy sufferers. Without a bag, the filtration job falls upon the filters within your vacuum, which can affect longevity. 

While the vacuum capacity tends to be smaller with bagless models, there is often increased choice with options for cordless and handheld vacuums without bag systems. 

Pros of bagless vacuum cleaners

1. Quick and hassle-free emptying

The emptying process of a bagless vacuum is often helped along by shooting mechanisms and collapsing doors. 

2. No further bag costs

You won’t need to find or repurchase bags with your vacuum.  

Cons of bagless vacuum cleaners

1. Burden on your vacuum

Some see bagless vacuums as like using a trash can without a liner, as there will be increased toil on the filter and parts of your expensive new investment. 

2. Increased cleaning

Carefully clean and dry your vacuum tank and parts without a bag to keep debris from the inner parts. 

Bagged vs bagless vacuum cleaners: Our verdict

What the expert says...

Laurie Billson, Floorcare Expert at Miele GB, says, “A bagged vacuum cleaner would be better for those concerned about allergies, as it ensures very little escape of dust and dirt when emptying the vacuum.  That said, Miele’s bagless vacuum cleaners employ a mono-cyclone that effectively separates coarse dirt from fine dust – meaning that, even with a bagless vacuum, there is a lot less dust ‘cloud’ when it comes to emptying the dust container.”  

When it comes to investing in a bagged vs bagless vacuum cleaner, your personal preferences and time commitments matter. While bagged vacuums can be more time-consuming to empty, and it takes effort to source bags, many see them as built to last. Plus, the large capacity often appeals to larger families. 

For those who can’t see themselves remembering to pick up vacuum bags, a bagless cleaner will win on convenience, but it’s crucial to keep up with your vacuum maintenance if you want your purchase to keep its value in the long run.  

Molly Cleary

Molly is the Staff Writer for the Home Section at Top Ten Reviews, joining the team after finishing college. When she's not writing she enjoys baking and embroidery, as well as getting stuck into a good book. She now enjoys writing about kitchen appliances, gardening tools, and will even dip her toe into writing about fridges and ovens.

With contributions from