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Bag vs. Bagless Vacuums | Tips For Effective Vacuuming – Part 2

Bag vs Bagless VacuumIn Part 1 of the Tips for Effective Vacuuming series, we discussed why we vacuum and how to optimize your vacuum’s efficacy by its settings. Now, we are going to discuss what kind of vacuum is best, bag or bag-less.

There are 4 categories to consider when purchasing a vacuum, let’s see how bag vs bag-less compares in each.


When cleaning for health, our primary concern is to remove the germs and allergens that we cannot see. For this, excellent filtration or HEPA filtration is preferred.

The bag in a vacuum is the first level of filtration and usually very effective. Many bags have several layers to catch the majority of the large and small particles. That way filters before and after the blower motor only have to worry about fine particles.

With a bag-less vacuum, you are counting on the air movement path and filters to catch all of the debris. The bag-less vacuum is set up so  heavier debris will drop to the bottom of the canister and filters will trap lighter and smaller particles.

The reason the bag vacuum has better filtration is the bag’s surface area is larger then any other filter in the vacuum. This point is really important, because the vacuum bag is full well before most people think it is. See the Bonus section at the end for more details.

WINNER: Bag Vacuum

Note: To get improved filtration in a bag-less vacuum, change or clean the filters as often as you would change a vacuum bag.


Vacuuming and cleaning take enough time as it is, so which vacuum is more convenient? Unfortunately, it depends.

The bag-less vacuum fanatic would declare:

“No contest! It’s so easy to just pull the canister off the vacuum, hit a switch, and dump the dirt in the trash. When you have a bag, you need to remove it and replace it, which is never easy and who wants to touch that dirty bag.”

If removing debris from your vacuum was exactly like that, I would agree that bag-less is more convenient, but here’s where I have a problem, it’s not always that easy.

I’ve used plenty of bag-less vacuums that did not release easily and when you went to dump the dirt, that nice little puff of dust makes you think, “wait a minute, isn’t that what I was trying to remove?!?” I’ve also used plenty of bag vacuums that make the bag challenging, if not requiring an advanced degree in vacuum bag replacement.

That’s why I’ll say it depends on the vacuum’s brand and design. Plus, you cannot leave out dealing with filters, especially with bag-less vacuums.


Note: Before making a purchase, make sure you are trained and comfortable with how and when to change vacuum bags and filters.


The cost to purchase will range for both bag and bag-less vacuums. You will notice that the more expensive vacuums, $500+, do not offer a bag-less version. At that price level, filtration and performance are crucial, and you cannot achieve excellent filtration with a bag-less vacuum.

The cost to run the machine over its lifetime is a different projection. If the cost of the filters are the same for comparable vacuums, then it’s cheaper to have a bag-less vacuum. But, it’s closer than you think because you should be purchasing filters for a bag-less vacuum more often.

The vacuum bag expense is pretty minimal anyway. The average home would use a bag per month and most bags will be around $1 to $2 per bag.

WINNER: Bag-less Vacuum

Note: I recommend you purchase your bags and filters online and use off brand makers. Vacuum companies make a lot of money on bags and filters and in comparison, there is rarely a difference. Considering you will save 100% to 300% buying generic, it’s worth it.


Like convenience, vacuum performance will depend on brand, design, and cost of the machine. But, all things being equal, I’ve found bag vacuums have better suction.

Great suction comes from the shortest distance possible between the blower and where the vacuum touches the carpet, with the least amount of disruptions in direction.

Bag-less vacuums require many different routes for the air flow because it has to use gravity and redirection to trap dirt. A bag vacuum has the bag, so the air flow can be a direct route with minimal twists and turns. The best vacuums have a straight, direct air flow from the hose, thru the bag, and one filter before hitting the blower motor.

WINNER: Bag Vacuum

The Verdict

A bag vacuum is your best buy.

No matter what type of vacuum you purchase, make sure you:

Buy a vacuum from a store with at least
a 7 day money back guarantee!

You will never know how your vacuum will perform until you test drive it in your home. Other considerations like, cord length, maneuverability, side wand, extra tools, hard floor to carpet transition, weight, and ease of moving up and down stairs are impossible to test in the store.

Try it in every scenario in your home before committing and watch every Youtube video before buying. Just because it’s a $700 vacuum, doesn’t mean it’s the best one for you.


The Vacuum Bag Is Full Before You Think It Is

As the air passes thru the walls of the bag, heavy debris drops to the bottom and the lighter debris sticks to the sides. Once all sides of the bag are covered with lint, dust, hair, mold, germs, etc., the bag is full. It has very little to do with the heavy debris at the bottom. Often people will wait until the bag is completely full of heavy dirt before disposing of the bag. That will put way too much pressure on the vacuum’s blower motor and possibly damage it as well.

The bag change should be based on the suction and not how full the bag is. If you can tell the difference in the sound and performance of the vacuum, it’s probably time to change the bag.

Another Reason To Buy A Bag Vacuum

I couldn’t fit this into another category, but it is worth mentioning. Commercial cleaning companies use vacuums all of the time, so wouldn’t the industry have the most convenient, cost effective machines available? They do and none of them are bag-less…none. I’ve never seen one in a catalog or at a trade show.

That, to me, is a pretty good reason. Look to the industry that vacuums for a living and buy whatever they are using.

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