Bagged or bagless: best vacuum cleaner

I need a new vacuum cleaner, and have discovered most stores now sell monstrously huge bagless vaccums. It seems as if they’d be hard to handle in small spaces, and that emptying it would put too much dust in the air.

So, dear people who vacuum, what are the virtues and drawbacks of your vacuums? Of those who have used both types, which do you prefer?

I’ve owned a number of different vacuums. Bagged and bagless, upright and canister. By far the neatest and most reliable have been canister vacs with bags.

And, when it comes to vacuums, you get what you pay for. I find that my $500 vacuum is infinitely better than the $150 one I had a couple of years ago. The $1500 vacuum my mother has is basically perfect, and has worked without a hitch for 20 years. Whereas my $150 vacuum lasted only a year.

I’m partial to Electrolux.

While I agree that emptying bagless vaccuum canisters is not a tidy job, I prefer bagless.
I have pets. I found with my traditional bagged vaccuum, the pet hair from the previous week would grow smellier while sitting around in the bag. The next time I vaccuumed the air would be filtered through week old smelly dog hair. I could replace the bag every week, but that was wastefull and expensive.

I like my bagless canister. Each week the pet hair goes directly in the trash, and when the filters get smelly they get washed and set in the sunshine to dry thoroughly*.

*A very important step - my husband, who refuses to believe in the existance of mildew, put the filter back *wet * once. Phew! I had to get a new filter. There was no getting the smell out.

I got a Dyson bagless about a year ago and I much prefer to any bagged version I had used previously.

I have a Dirt Devil bagless canister. I like it much better than one with bags. It’s clear plastic, so I get visual confirmation that it’s sucking and it is so easy to empty that I do so every time. Pop it off, shake into trash, pop back in. I never intend to go back to a bag again.

I’m with Q.N. Jones here. I love my Electrolux. My mother had one that lasted twenty-some odd years before the motor started going out on it.

I also like the canister design. I can reach more places and further under the beds and couches. Also, mine came with an upholstery head which makes vacuuming the stairs much easier than lugging the old upright up there.

Gotta love that upholstery brush. It’s amazing at getting pet hair off the furniture.


I am about to toss my bagged vacuum for this very reason. The smell is awful and its entirely due to the dog (who is no longer with us, although her smell remains).

I much prefer bag type vacuums with HEPA afterfilters because bag filtration can be so much more efficient. The vacuums with the big clear containers where they show the dirt spinning around use a great deal of space for that display, and by grinding the dirt together constantly like that they also tend to break it down and reentrain the finer particles to return them to the room.

You don’t want to agitate the dirt. You want to trap it and keep it still until you can throw it in the trash.

I’m an expert in air filtration with 17 years of industrial filtration experience. I know that industrial systems for capturing dust don’t also try to put on a show like that. Bag filters can be made to work very well. In industry we also use cyclones, the conical tornado chambers like the home vacuum cleaners are imitating. But you DON’T KEEP THE DUST IN THE CYCLONE! You immediately send it out the bottom, often with a small air stream. Cyclones are nice if you have predictably large and heavy dust particles and a very large volume of it. You can often handle many tons of dust per day with a cyclone that doesn’t need any servicing. But unpredictable household dust with lots of problematic fine particles like pollens and dust mite fecal pellets isn’t a good candidate for cyclone remediation.

OOOOO so do you have any suggestions on getting the smell out of my bagged vacuum (which BTW does have a hepa filter, that was one of the reasons we bought it)???

I’m very serious, I would love to know how to get rid of the dog smell. The dog is gone . . . I need the smell to be gone to.

Thank you all for your very helpful posts. You’ve pretty much sold me on an Electolux canister vacuum that uses bags. Napier, thanks for your comments.

Before you spend the bucks–the cheapest one is over $300–check out You’ll get a lot more info than we gave you in here.

One thing I will say is, don’t cheap out and get the Harmony. The rug attachment is just not up to snuff. The Oxygen and Oxygen Ultra have good rug attachments that really do an excellent job of picking up the dirt. Also, Harmony doesn’t have HEPA filtration like the others. My Oxygen Ultra never leaves that dusty smell in the air the way bagless uprights always did.

I bought mine from You can get machines that are “factory refurbished” and save a bundle. I got a refurbished Oxygen Ultra and saved $200. I’ve never regretted it. It was in like-new condition.

My mom’s $1500 Electrolux has never had a problem, but my less expensive machine does get clogged on occasion. However, I find it pretty easy to take apart the rug attachment and the hose and clean them out by pushing a piece of plastic-covered wire clothesline through it. It’s only happened a couple of times though.

You should know that Electrolux was sold a few years back. The company making the Harmony and Oxygen vacs is not the old Electrolux most people remember as being so reliable. (However, they still make a good product.) They don’t make the really high-end vacuums. The old Electrolux company is now called “Aerus Electrolux,” and they do sell three models of high-end canister vacuums in the $1000 range. I understand they are still highly rated, but I don’t know anything about them.

>OOOOO so do you have any suggestions on getting the smell out of my bagged vacuum (which BTW does have a hepa filter, that was one of the reasons we bought it)???

Well, I only have some weak suggestions. You could open it as far as you can - that is, remove all the attachments and open the container where the bag is and remove the bag. If you are mechanically inclined, disassemble it down to major parts. Then you could wash everything that doesn’t mind soapy water, or use alcohol on paper towels, to clean interior surfaces. Then, you could leave it in this state someplace with nice ventillation for as long as you can, preferably someplace hot. And/or you could leave it running or leave it connected to a small fan or blower to keep air moving through it.

Smells come from gasses which are evaporating in the object you’re smelling. The longer those gasses come out, the less of them there will be left in the object. It is a drying-out process.

You could also try to ignore the smell, using the rationale that smells pass pretty quickly out of a home, unlike any dust that a bad vacuum cleaner emits, most of which will settle on surfaces and stay there until you remove them somehow.

Ellen? Is that you?!?

2 people, 2 dogs, 2 cats here. Gravel driveway, snowy and muddy environment.

We bought a Dyson about 2 years ago. Love it. Will never go to a bag type vacuum again.

I like that it’s so easy to empty. I don’t find that part dirty or dusty at all, but then I usually am pretty careful about it. Bag vacuums are a PITA IMHO. I empty the Dyson every time I use it. If things are bad, I may empty it more than once. It’s that easy.

I also like that the canister hose actually has good suction. It’s not a shop vac, but it’s close. And you don’t have to do any regrouping to use it. It’s always there if you need to get something up from a corner.

I use a Bissell Lift-Off Revolution Pet vacuum, and I find it works wonders with keeping our house clean. Our dog is half German Shepherd and half Shar Pei. She gets the ability to shed from the German Shepherd with the wily tenacity of the Shar Pei hair. It’s a nightmare if you don’t have a good vacuum, and this one works really well for us. It’s quite a bit less than the Dyson or the Electrolux, and some reviews say that it works as well as a Dyson or better. Having not tried a Dyson, I wouldn’t know, but this one works for us.

Har. :wink:

So I discovered the source of the smell. The Hepa filter is fine, but there’s a strip of some sort of fabric that lies underneath the bag and THAT was beyond gross with dog hair and dust. I thoroughly cleaned it, changed the bag, and also cleaned the bagless vacuum again so here’s hoping we are done with stinky dog off-gassing.

I love my Roomba. I won’t say it was the best $150 I ever spent, but it’s up there. Pick up the odds and ends on the floor, push a button, and wander off and do something else while it cleans the carpet.

Next year, the Robomow.

Other than people with allergies or pets that majorly shed (I’ve got three cats), I’ve got to say I don’t grok the idea of spending several hundred dollars on a vacuum. I think the most I ever spent on one, other than the Roomba, was $80. They kept the carpet plenty clean. Yeah, maybe there was some grit way down there that the cheapo vacs didn’t get, but that grit wasn’t gonna jump up and rub itself on my body, so no problem.

I use a Bissell 12 amp bagless vacuum cleaner. I don’t know how old it is but I don’t think it’s more than a couple of years old.

It’s the best vacuum cleaner I’ve ever had and as a total neat-freak I have gone through a lot of vacuum cleaners.

My boyfriend got it out of a dumpster. (We both like to dumpster-dive for cool stuff.) Anyhow, he cleaned it up and gave it to me because he knew I didn’t like the vacuum cleaner I had at the time.

Man, that is one awesome sucker. Easy to maintain too: I can strip it, empty the bucket and clean it and reassemble it in about five minutes. If I only empty it, way faster. I love that vacuum! Picks up cat hair, lint, and anything else on the first pass.

We have had an Oreck (ten years old, still runs, love it). A Dyson (gave it away, hated it. Heavy awkward and didn’t pick up nearly enough - though it DOES pick up pet hair - for most of its life in my house we didn’t have a pet - and it wouldn’t pick up kid dandruff (small bits of paper, little rocks, popcorn kernels - kids shed the strangest stuff). The new love of my life is a Meile. Wonderful device.