Which is better Bagged or Bagless?

February 2, 2017
Vacuum Articles

This is one of the most common questions asked in our store. With over 50% of all vacuums sold in America being bagless, one would assume that so many people can’t be wrong. Can they?

The recent trend in consumers buying bagless vacuums is an example of some of the finest marketing you will ever witness. I say that with a great deal of respect. American consumers have been seduced (yes seduced) into accepting and embracing a vacuuming system that is inherently dirty.

You have been convinced that you will never have to buy vacuum bags again. This is absolutely true if you buy a bag-less vacuum. The marketing of these machines has played on your frustration of finding that you have a full vacuum bag and don’t have a replacement and now have to go out for the unpleasant task of finding replacements. And, who knows if you will remember which ones you need in order to get the right ones. Bag-less vacuums have been touted as “maintenance free.” I will state emphatically now that there is no such thing as a “lifetime filter.” You were told that it “won’t lose suction.” This is technically true, but as a practical matter, a complete falsehood. Did you ever read the owner’s guide to show you how to unclog your vacuum? If it’s clogged, doesn’t it lose suction? As I said, the manufacturers played on the unpleasant parts of vacuuming to create a desire on your part to avoid these things in the future.

While telling you that you will never have to buy bags again, you are not told that a filtering device (a bag is a filter) is still needed to keep dust from re-circulating into your home. One or more filters is required to catch the fine dust particles in a bag-less vacuum, and if these are not regularly cleaned and periodically replaced, your vacuum will soon be spewing a lot of dirty air into your home. Bag-less vacuum filters clog quickly and are seldom maintained as required by homeowners. And worst of all, the cost of replacing the filters in a bag-less vacuum will EXCEED the cost of replacement vacuum bags in almost all cases.

Bag-less vacuums have many rubber seals and joints in them. At each one of these joints is an opportunity for air to leak out, and rather than capture dust and debris, it has the potential to leak back into your home. In our store, we will show you by using a particle counter how much more dust is being re-circulated into the air from dirty air leaking from the joints of these vacuums.

Another thing avoided in the marketing of bag-less vacuums is the requirement to have to empty the dust bucket full of all that fine particle dust and dirt. I have emptied the bucket on these vacuums, and it is hard to describe the “dust cloud” that billows out from the trash can when doing this outside. And, I hope no one has ever done this inside your home. The need to run the vacuum immediately afterward would be appropriate.

Most manufacturers have capitalized on the initial success of the “seduction” and offered their product at very low prices. It’s because they are not costly to make and are also made poorly. Most bag-less vacuums are priced below $200 and many are below $100. Yet the best selling manufacturer of bag-less vacuums has utilized bright colors, unique design, and brilliant marketing to get you to give them at least $400 and as much as $700 for a product that is no better than the lower priced models.

One of the worst claims made by bag-less manufacturers is that these vacuums are appropriate for allergy sufferers because of their HEPA filter. As I stated earlier, these vacuums leak at the seals and joints and can spew millions of fine dust particles into an otherwise clean house and trigger reactions to sensitive people.

In our opinion, bagged vacuums are preferred and are much better and cleaner for your home. Bagged systems are much easier to dispose of. Just close the bag latch or fold it over and throw it out. Generally the replacement bags cost less than replacement filters for bag less vacuums. The vacuums are of much higher quality and will last longer and clean better over the life of the machine. Many conspirators would have you believe that the argument for bagged vacuums is because we want to be able to sell bags for years to come. If one looks at the statistical data on the number of bag-less vacuums sold in the U.S., it would suggest that people are buying a new vacuum cleaner (remember more than 50% of all vacuums are bag-less) every two years. Where are all those bagless vacuums going? I’m afraid it’s to the landfill. When you have bought 2 or 3 of these and are tired of buying a new vacuum every couple of years…come and see us and we will demonstrate a quality vacuum that you will operate for many, many years.


Bagged vs. Bagless Vacuum Cleaners

In this article, I will talk about vacuum cleaners with bags and bagless dirt collection systems. I will be very objective at giving you the pros and cons of both types of vacuum cleaners.

Bagged Vacuum Cleaners

In my opinion, bagged vacuum cleaners are the way to go. Disposable bags are a much cleaner, and easier method to dispose of the dirt collected by your vacuum cleaner. In the past, most bags were made of 2 or 3 ply paper with a cardboard collar to connect the bag to the machine. These bags were thinner, and more porous which meant that they could leak a lot of the smaller dust and dirt particles that they were trying to catch. If the vacuum had a porous cloth or vinyl zippered bag, the micro-fine dust particles were exhausted back into the air. If the vacuum had a hard plastic or metal housing and door, the dust escaping the bag would settle on the inside of this type of bag housing.

Disposable vacuum bags have come a long way in the last decade. A lot of manufacturers make bags that are 3-ply or more with a cotton type liner inside that filters far better that standard paper alone. Some manufacturers make vacuum bags that are not made of paper at all. They use a spun cotton material that is far superior to paper, and can capture very small dust particles. Each brand has a different name for their bags. They use wording such as, Filteraire, Micron Magic, Micro-Fresh, Micro-Lined, and Intensive Clean. These words mean that the vacuum bags you are buying have been manufactured to a higher standard of filtering microscopic dust particles from the air circulating through the vacuum cleaner. Most vacuum bags also have a cardboard, sticky paper, or plastic closure that allow you to cover the hole in the bag before throwing it in your trashcan. This helps prevent dust from leaking through the bag’s opening back into the air after you have disposed of it. A year’s supply of disposable vacuum bags usually costs between twenty and thirty dollars depending on how often you vacuum, and how often you change the bag.

Bagless Vacuum Cleaners

Bagless vacuum cleaners have a clear, hard plastic container that captures the dirt and dust. When the container is full, simply remove the top or bottom cover to dump the dirt out. DO NOT empty this container inside your house, or you will have a large dust cloud floating in your face. These containers should be dumped in an outdoor trashcan.

To keep dirt from being sucked into the motor, these machines have a large filter located inside the dirt container, or elsewhere inside the machine covering the suction fans in front of the motor. These filters have to be periodically cleaned, or replaced. Bagless vacuums generally have two or more filters. The main one is the pre-motor filter, and the other is the exhaust filter. The cost of replacing the filters on a bagless vacuum can be more than the cost of a year’s supply of disposable bags. I am telling you this because most people are under the misconception that a bagless vacuum will have no maintenance costs involved. This is not true. All mechanical devices have maintenance costs. There is also no such thing as ‘Lifetime Filters’. After you clean or wash your filters several times they will deteriorate, and need to be replaced. Some customers have told me that after washing their filters the vacuum cleaner developed a mold and mildew odor. The best way to avoid that is to let your filters dry in the sun for a day or so, or replace them. You can also dry them in front of a fan where there is a lot of air movement.

Bagless vacuums also rely on rubber gaskets and seals around the container to keep it from leaking. These seals need to be clean and free of dust to maintain a proper leak-proof seal against the container. If these rubber gaskets and seals ever wear out, or become flattened over time, they will need to be replaced.

Bagging versus bagless vacuum cleaners

Bagless vacuums cleaners operate on a two-step process — larger particles are deposited into a removable canister, smaller particles go into the filter. When the canister is full, you just remove it, dump the debris, and replace. The filters also have to be cleaned occasionally and, eventually, replaced as they wear out. The most obvious advantage of a bagless vacuum cleaner is that you don’t have to buy replacement bags, but some bagless vacuums are messy and awkward to dump. And, eventually, dirt and pet hair will accumulate in the nooks and crannies of the container so it will have to be cleaned — a task most owners find unappealing. However, not having to dispose of the bag is more environmentally friendly as it eliminates an added layer of trash. One other advantage to bagless: If you accidentally vacuum up a small item, you don’t have to tear open the bag and dig through the contents to find it; the canisters are mostly see-through.

Bagged vacuum cleaners have a removable bag that you discard and replace when full. Most bagging vacuums have bags that are constructed of filter media, adding an extra filtration step to the overall system. Many owners prefer this no-muss, no-fuss approach to getting rid of their vacuuming debris, although some bags are trickier to put in place than others. Some bagging upright vacuum cleaners use self-sealing bags, which prevent any particles from escaping back into the air during the bag-disposal process. Bagged vacuum cleaners tend to get better scores in professional tests, overall, for performance on both carpet and hardwood, although bagless models are closing in fast. The major downside to bagging upright vacuum cleaners is that bags must be purchased throughout the life of the vacuum cleaner. Bags typically range in price from $2 to $7 per bag, although generic bags are an option in some cases and bags can often be ordered in bulk for a lower per-bag cost. As with bagless vacuums, the air filters will have to occasionally be replaced as well



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