Jeff Flowers on September 25, 2015 14 Comments Purchasing a new vacuum cleaner probably seems like a simple task, but once you start to explore explore all of the options, features, brands and accessories, the process can quickly become overwhelming. At first glance, vacuum cleaners come in so many models from dozens of brands all with their own set of features and accessories. The prices range can from under $100 to over $2,000. With so many choices and factors to consider it can be hard to decide which unit is right for you. Without taking all of these variable into consideration, you will undoubtedly buy a unit that won’t be the best for you and your living situation. But, it doesn’t have to be a difficult process. In fact, it’s pretty easy once you figure out what you want, and how much you’re willing to spend. But, first… let’s take a step back and ask yourself this one simple question. Bagged vs. Bagless? For the purpose of this article, let’s just focus on one very important consideration — the method of which you dispose of the dirt and debris your vacuum cleaner collects. There are many different types of vacuum cleaners, but at the core, there are two main types — bagged and bagless. Both types of vacuums work similarly as far as their ability to suck dirt and debris from the floors in your home. Additionally, both types will come with a variety of accessories, attachments and extensions that will make cleaning those hard-to-reach places much easier for you. However, the method of disposal for each type has many implications beyond simply how you’ll be throwing your dirt away. Whether you go with a bagged or a bagless vacuum cleaner, they each have their own set of benefits and its drawbacks. To give you a better idea of which one is the best choice for you, let’s drill in deeper into the pros and cons of both types. The Benefits of Bagged Vacuum Cleaners Bagged vacuum cleaners have been around for a long time. Typically, the bag fits into a cloth section that zips around the bag, which can be easily removed and replaced whenever it becomes full. While it will vary from model to model, the following list breaks-down the most common benefits that come along with a bagged vacuums. 1. Hygienic Option: Bagged vacuums are known to be very hygienic. This is due to many reasons, and not just because the dirt and debris is contained within a closed bag. Technological developments over the years help keep the dirt, debris and possible allergens securely inside the bag, and not just during use of the vacuum cleaner, but when you are removing the bag from the unit for disposal. Allowing you to remove and dispose of the bag without making a huge mess helps prevent those potential allergens from getting back into the air, and possibly affecting your health. Also, you won’t have to clean or replace the filter as often, a chore that should be done frequently with bagless models (see owners manual for exact time frame). 2. Recommended for Allergy Sufferers: This type of vacuum is also the recommended type of vacuum cleaner for allergy sufferers. The bag itself works as a great filter and is extremely effective at trapping dust, debris and other contaminant inside the bag. Because the bags are airtight, it’s virtually impossible for the dust and allergens to escape back into the air and affect you again. 3. HEPA Filteration: While this isn’t always the case bagged vacuum cleaners often use HEPA filters to help trap the most allergens that may be around your home. Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters are highly recommended for everyone, but especially those that frequently suffer from allergy symptoms. In order to earn the name “HEPA,” the filters have to go through rigorous testing to ensure that they can capture at least 99.97% of particulates 0.3 microns or larger. On top of that, HEPA filters are known to remove more dust and pollen from the air than any other type of filter available, especially within vacuum cleaners. Please Note: HEPA filters are available in all types of vacuum cleaners, and are not exclusive to only bagged units. We mention it here because HEPA filters are pretty much the standard for bagged vacuum cleaners. 4. Require Less Maintenance (Mostly): Vacuum cleaners with bags generally require less maintenance than their bagless counterparts. There are many reasons for this, but it mainly boils down to the following; Bags can hold up to two pounds of debris so they don’t need changed nearly as often. Also, because the filter is built directly into the bag it never needs to be cleaned, and you always know exactly when is the best time to replace the filter. The Disadvantages of Bagged Vacuum Cleaners While bagged vacuum cleaners have many great features and benefits associated with their use, we’d be lying if we said they didn’t have their own share of drawbacks. Depending on the brand, model and age of your vacuum cleaner, the following disadvantages may vary. For example, if your vacuum cleaner is really old, you may have trouble finding the bags you need, or it may be more difficult to replace the bags. Newer models have bags that are easier to replace than those in the past, but by no means does that mean that the bag won’t present some problems for you from time to time. While it will vary from model to model, the following list breaks-down the most common drawbacks that come along with a bagged vacuums. 1. Must Buy More Bags: Bags must be replaced every time they become full. This means you will recur and ongoing cost just to use your vacuum cleaner. And depending on the model you buy, the price of the bags will vary. So, think about how often you vacuum in your home, and then consider whether this recurring cost is worth it, especially when other types of vacuum cleaners don’t come with this stipulation. Additionally, if you’re in the middle of vacuuming and your bag becomes full, you may have to make a run to the store just to buy replacements. Another potential issue you may encounter, especially if you have an older vacuum cleaner model, will you be able to find replacement bags? If the brand discontinues making the bags for your unit, you’ll be stuck with a perfectly-fine vacuum cleaner that you can’t even use. 2. Decreased Performance As Bag Fills: Even if a bag is not yet full it may cause problems with how your vacuum cleaner performs. As the bag fills the vacuum’s overall performance may start to decrease, so you’ll only get optimum performance with a new, empty bag. What’s more, it can be hard to tell when the bag is full, so you risk wasting money by replacing bags too soon or wasting your time by vacuuming with a bag that is too full to accommodate more. Luckily, some newer models have an indicator light that removes much of this guesswork and tells you when the bag is full, but this will vary from model to model. The Advantages of Bagless Vacuum Cleaners Bagless vacuums are a somewhat new innovation in the world of vacuum cleaners. Whether is because people found them easier to use, clean and maintain, or just hated stocking up on (and running out of) replacement bags when they needed them the most. Bagless vacuum cleaners have been met with quite a bit of enthusiasm from consumers, and there are many reasons for this. While it will vary from model to model, the following list breaks-down the most common benefits that come along with bagless vacuum cleaners. 1. Less Expensive: Once it has been purchased, a bagless vacuum cleaner is less expensive to operate and maintain than its bagged counterpart. This is mainly driven by the lack of having to repeatedly buy more and more bags just to use your vacuum. But, also, the chamber in which you would empty the dirt and debris The chamber on a bagless model can be emptied again and again and lasts for the entire life of the machine. 2. Easy to Know When to Empty: The clear chambers that are standard on bagless vacuum cleaners make it easy to see when the vacuum needs to be emptied out. It’s also easy to see whether your vacuum is working as effectively as it should be, as you would be able to tell at a glance whether it’s gathering dirt or not. Not to mention, it can be satisfying to see visual evidence that your vacuum cleaner is clearly picking up dirt. One similarity that bagless vacuums have as their bagged counterpart, is that the fuller the unit gets, the less efficient it will become when it comes to picking up dirt and debris. This can be easily avoided by emptying its contents frequently. 3. Eco-Friendly Option: Compared to its bagged counterpart, a bagless vacuum cleaner is easily the more environmentally friendly option. Bagged vacuums can use hundreds of bags over their lifetime, but with a bagless model you won’t be throwing anything superfluous away along with your dust and dirt. If you’re extremely eco-conscious (or simply an active gardener) you can even empty the chamber straight into your compost bin. If you go this route, be sure everything in the chamber would be beneficial to your compost. 4. Popular Option: Bagless vacuum cleaners tend to be more the more popular option amongst customers. This is likely for many reasons, mainly because you don’t have to constantly buy bags just to use the device. It’s also easier to dispose of the dirt and debris, because you can do it as often as you’d like. Also, if you accidentally vacuum up something valuable, opening up the chamber to retrieve the item is incredibly simple, unlike a bagged vacuum cleaner where you’d have to cut open the bag and sift around. The Disadvantages of Bagless Vacuum Cleaners While bagless vacuums are indeed a popular choice among consumers, they are not right for everyone. There are a couple of clear downsides to this type of vacuum cleaner, and it would be wise to take these into consideration if you are in the market for buying a new vacuum. 1. Increased Exposure to Allergens: Oftentimes, especially when attempting to empty the chamber full of dirt and debris, bagless vacuum cleaners may expose users to more dust and allergens than a bagged model. This is mainly due to the fact that the dirt and debris doesn’t go into an air-tight bag, but instead, an air-tight chamber. Because the disposal process isn’t simply removing a bag, it is possible for some of the dust and allergens to be kicked back into the air while emptying your bagless vacuum. 2. More Hands-On This disadvantage is a bit more anecdotal, as it likely won’t have an affect on many people. However, because of the way a bagless vacuum collects the dirt, dust and debris, some consumers feel that this type of vacuum is dirty and requires too much maintenance. While it is true that you have to be careful when emptying the chamber, which we would recommend doing outside to prevent the allergens from re-entering your indoor air, it’s not as dirty as some would initially think. Takeaways There’s no denying that both bagged and bagless vacuums each have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. But they are both effective and efficient when it comes to helping you keep your home clean. Neither type of vacuum can be categorically crowned the best choice, because it really comes down to knowing what you need and want in a vacuum cleaner. There are excellent models of both types and the technology and filtration is getting better all the time. So, we hope that by weighing each of these pros and cons, you’ll have a better idea of whether a bagged or bagless vacuum is better for you and your home.