Choosing between a bagged or bagless vacuum.

Should I Buy a Bagged or Bagless Vacuum?

An employee helps a woman shop for a vacuum.

There are many things to consider when purchasing a new upright vacuum. There are different sizes, different styles, and different prices. Before you consider any of those things, begin with if you want a bagged or bagless vacuum. Ever since bagless vacuums have come along, there has been an intense debate as to which is better. Both sides have their dedicated followers, but what if you’re looking to buy your first vacuum or thinking about switching sides? 

There are pros and cons to both, so there isn’t really a one is better than the other argument to be had. We’ll cover the benefits and drawbacks of each option so that when you decide to purchase one, you can make the best vacuum selection to fit your preferences.

Bagged Vacuums

Bagged vacuums are the original style of vacuum and have stood the test of time by featuring a simple system that’s clean, efficient, and long-lasting. A bagged vacuum usually features a cloth outer layer that holds the bag within it and helps keep any debris contained.


Carpet is cleaned with a bagged vacuum.

System: A bag system allows dust to enter directly into the inner bag, so you don’t have to worry about high pressure causing leaks in the bag or hoses. The bag being contained inside another layer helps keep dust contained if the bag bursts. 

Great for Allergy Sufferers: Most bags automatically seal when you remove them, so you have to worry less about dust getting back into the air when throwing them out. Also, some bagged vacuums use HEPA filters, which are better at removing allergens from the air and keeping them inside the bag.

Less Maintenance: Filters are built directly into the bags, so you don’t have to worry about swapping out any filters throughout the life of the vacuum. Bags also hold much more dirt and debris than a bagless vacuum, so you can go for longer periods without having to change out the bags.


Buying Bags: The fact that bags work so well comes at a cost. They usually only last for 2 to 3 months and need to be replaced once they become full. This is a recurring cost that you’ll have over the life of the vacuum, so that needs to be weighed against its excellent filtration capability.

Slow Down: As your bag fills up, the vacuum will experience lower overall suction power, so the performance of the machine will decline once you put an empty bag in it. It’s also hard to tell when a bag is completely full, and you run the risk of emptying it before it’s completely full or wasting time vacuuming with a bag that’s too full to accommodate more dust. There are some models that have an indicator light to notify you when the bag is full.

Bagless Vacuums

Bagless vacuums are a newer invention and have become more popular in households. They are usually lighter, easier to use, and less expensive, but bagless vacuums aren’t without their flaws. 


A bagless vacuum is used to clean carpet in a living room.

Less Money: Bagless vacuum cleaners are less expensive to operate and maintain. They don’t require bags, so you aren’t incurring that additional cost on top of the original purchase price. The chamber on a bagless vacuum can be emptied as much as you want for the machine’s entire life.

Easier to empty: As mentioned above, you can empty the dust chamber of a bagless vacuum at any time at zero cost. The chamber is also clear, so it’s easy to see when it needs to be emptied, so you’re closer to achieving maximum performance, but a bagless vacuum still experiences performance slow-down as more dust enters the chamber.

Eco-Friendly: The absence of bags allows a bagless option to be better for the environment because you aren’t consistently adding bags to your trash. The filters can also often be reused by cleaning them and letting them dry before putting them back in the vacuum.


More Mess: Based on how a bagless vacuum is emptied, it increases the chances for dust and allergens to re-enter the air. This method can also get messy depending on if pet hair or other materials get stuck in the chamber or if you accidentally miss the garbage can.

Higher Maintenance: The higher number of parts on a bagless vacuum means a higher chance something can break, which can increase the overall cost of the machine. Also, many parts of the vacuum need to be cleaned throughout the life of the machine and can be more hassle than it’s worth for some.

Shop upright vacuums from some of the top brands in the industry, including Hoover, Dirt Devil, Makita, Oreck, and more at Acme Tools.

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