You'll notice that there are vacuum cleaners that use disposable bags. Once the bag fills up, you remove the bag and conveniently throw it away. But the disadvantage is that you always have to have a supply of bags for your model of vacuum cleaner. That's an added expense, and also an added time sink, trying to find someone who sells the replacement bags (or having to order them online). And if the bags are discontinued, you pretty much have no choice but to get a new vacuum cleaner!
So, most manufacturers have introduced bagless vacuum cleaners, which employ a dirt cup which you empty from time to time as it fills up. You won't have to look for replacement bags, and the suction power is comparable to the bagged models. Even though the dirt cup is typically half the size of vacuum cleaner bags, most models have a dirt cup that empties out easily and without any muss or fuss.
But you have other things to take note of before making a purchase: Dо уоu mіnd hоw hеаvу the machine іѕ? Is іt easily maneuverable? Will it rеасh іntо tight crevices and other hаrd-tо-rеасh ѕроtѕ іn уоur home? Iѕ the mасhіnе quiet? And fіnаllу, mаkе sure уоu dоn’t get ѕо саrrіеd аwау wіth thе benefits of thе bаglеѕѕ technology thаt уоu fоrgеt tо check whеthеr the machine you’re buying wіll ѕuсk up dust еffісіеntlу, lеаvіng уоur hоmе with thаt frеѕhlу-vасuumеd lооk.
We've researched upright, суlіndеr, handheld, аnd rоbоt vacuums across an assortment of floor tуреѕ tо brіng уоu thе bеѕt of them.
The Principle of Operation of Bagless Vacuums
All vacuums have a motor which operates a fan. The fan then generates suction, picking up debris together with the air that is drawn into the vacuum. A bagged vacuum has the air drawn through a vacuum bag, either made from cloth, or disposable paper that you insert inside a cloth bag. The debris is caught inside the bag and remains there until you dispose of the bag. The bag itself serves as a filter and as a means for collecting the debris.
A bagless vacuum will employ filters to trap the debris. There are typically two filters, whose names are determined by where they are situated relative to the motor: 1) a “pre-filter”, placed between the dirt cup and the motor. That filter ensures that the dirt collects in the dirt cup, and doesn't get in the motor. There is also 2) a “post-filter”, or exhaust filter, after the motor, which is to ensure that dirt doesn't get released into the air surrounding the vacuum.
HEPA filters: You’ll see bagless vacuums that employ a HEPA (=High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. That indicates that it can traps 99.97% of particles over 0.3 microns in size--or a 3000th of a millimeter!
(To have an idea of how small that is: a dust mite is around 300 microns (0.3 millimeters) in size, while typical pollen grains can be from 10-100 microns in size. So you can be sure that a HEPA filter will not let these things through.)
A HEPA filter is usually made of a pleated, semi-rigid material (typically made from glass fibers together with activated carbon) that resembles thick paper. It is set in a metal frame and held in place with an airtight rubber seal. The pleating in the filter increases the filter's surface area (some filters being the equivalent of 40 square feet in size!), to trap more impurities. The activated carbon in the filter is used to absorb odors caused by gas particles that otherwise pass through the filter. And the rubber seal keeps allergens and dust from passing through.
The care of the filters will vary on the model of bagless vacuum. For example, in the Dyson DC40 Animal, there is a HEPA and non-HEPA filter. Both are washable and reusable. The prefilter is a cone-shaped, purple filter, while the post-filter is a pleated, circular filter. On the other hand, an older Dyson model, the DC05, the HEPA filter should not be washed or cleaned, and preferably should be replaced yearly--an added expense.
Replacement HEPA filter in Dyson DC05 Vacuum--Note the pleats in the filter
Types of Bagless Vacuum Cleaners
Bagless vacuums are growing in popularity, as people seek to buy products that don’t demand the overhead of buying vacuum bags all the time--nor the waste of more garbage to throw out. So you can find a bagless version of all the major vacuum cleaner types:
Upright: This is a vacuum where the motor, suction head, and dirt bin is all in one unit. "Upright" is not just a description of the vacuum--it even describes your posture when vacuuming! You can push it along as you walk through your living room, with the vacuum's geometry saving you the effort of having to bend over. The dirt bin is right in front of you, so you can monitor how it fills up while vacuuming. But a drawback is that you have to push the entire vacuum's weight when vacuuming--even when doing stairs.
Canister: The canister vacuum has most of its weight in the container housing the motor, the filters, and the dirt cup. The flexible hose leading out of the vacuum's container is attached to the vacuum wand, with special attachments for carpeting, upholstery, crevices, and hardwood floors. Even though this model requires you to bend over to reach under furniture, it will also give you the freedom of being able to vacuum curtains and other areas of the house above your head. An example of a canister bagless vacuum is the Bissell Zing Rewind Bagless Canister Vacuum (Model No. 4490HE), with special attachments for upholstery, crevices, and drapes.
Hybrid: Many upright vacuums nowadays can convert to a canister vacuum or even a hand-held unit. In uprights that convert into a canister, you can separate the vacuum head and wand at the press of a button, and use them while attached by means of the hose. In such models, you can vacuum floors and carpeting while in upright mode, and convert to canister mode when doing upholstery and curtains. An example is the Hoover T-Series WindTunnel Rewind Plus Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner (Model No. UH70120), with an 8-foot stretch hose and attachments to make it easier to clean furniture, stairs, and curtains. The Bissell CleanView Bagless Upright Vacuum (Model No. 1330) also converts to a canister vacuum for stairs, countertops, and more. There are also uprights that convert into a handvac, such as the Morphy Richards Supervac 2-in-1 Supervac (Model No. 732002). It is a cordless model, which gives you 20 minutes of continuous vacuuming power when fully charged.
Robotic: Robotic vacuums are programmable devices that will do the floor and carpet when it’s most convenient for you. They will have a dirt cup, and an indicator to tell you when to empty it out. The dirt bin capacity on a Roomba 880 is 600 ml, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that goes over 800 ml, as in the Neato Botvac series (even though you can find industrial-strength robotic vacuums, such as the Makita DRC200Z which has a 2500 ml capacity).
Handheld vacs: These are small, lightweight vacuums for small cleaning jobs, or for getting into tight places, when an upright or canister vacuum just won’t work. An example is the Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Corded Bagless Handheld Vacuum (Model No. SD20005RED). But you’ll have to empty the dirt bin out often in handheld models since they’re so compact.
Pros and Cons of Bagless Vacuums
What exactly do you save when you get a bagless vacuum?
No added expense of buying bags: A bagless vacuum cleaner doesn't have the added expense of buying vacuum bags. A set of vacuum bags can cost around $20 for 5 bags, which can last you around 10 months, depending on use and how much dirt accumulates in your house. But a vacuum with a dirt bin will not require any added expense (unless you have to replace filters in the vacuum).
More eco-friendly: There is less waste disposal when using a bagless vacuum. You just have to empty the dirt bin when it fills up--and even that can be reused as compost.
Can see exactly when your vacuum needs to be emptied: The dirt cup on bagless vacuums is typically clear plastic and is situated right in front of you. So it will be obvious when to empty out the vacuum.
No loss of suction as the bag fills up: Bagged vacuums will have noticeably less suction as the bag fills up (the dirt obstructs the air flow through the bag). But newer bagless vacuums, such as the Dyson innovative vacuums, employ a cyclonic technology. They use centrifugal forces to make the dirt accumulate along the sides of the dirt cup. This allows the air to continue to flow freely through the vacuum.
But there are also drawbacks to bagless vacuums:
Not friendly to asthma and allergy sufferers: Bagged vacuums have a seal to make sure the dirt stays inside. So, when changing bags, there is no real risk of the dirt coming out. If you suffer from asthma or allergies, that means that the air you breathe remains dust- and allergen-free. But emptying out a bagless vacuum can release a cloud of dust and allergens when emptying out the dirt cup.
Vacuum bags can hold more: Vacuum bags can usually hold 2x more dust and debris than a bagless vacuum's dirt cup can hold. So, you will have to empty out the dirt cup twice as often as you would have to change a vacuum cleaner bag. But, you will have to replace the vacuum bag dozens of times over the lifetime of your typical vacuum. So just think of how much you’re saving in not having to buy vacuum bags. We’ve researched some brands of bagged and bagless vacuums, and have reached the following numbers regarding the capacity of a bag, as opposed to the capacity of a dirt cup:
Shark—is a maker of household appliances, that was founded in Montreal, Canada in 1995. Their products include vacuum cleaners, steam mops, steam irons, and more. They make cordless upright vacuums, robot vacuums, and their “DuoClean” vacuums that are good both for carpets and for hardwood floors.
Bissell—also known as Bissell Homecare, was founded in 1876 by Melville Bissell. It presently has its headquarters in Walker, Michigan. They originally made mechanical sweepers, but then they moved on to vacuum cleaners and carpet shampooers. They presently have an extensive line of deep cleaners, vacuums, and hard floor cleaners.
Dirt Devil—is a maker of vacuum cleaners that was founded by Phillip A. Geier as the P.A. Geier Company in 1905. Over the years, their product line later came to include mixers, hair dryers, and washing machines. It was later renamed Royal Appliance Manufacturing, and in 1981, Dirt Devil, starting with hand vacuums, and later expanding to a line of uprights, stick vacuums, canister vacuums, and carpet washers.
Hoover--was founded in 1907 by inventor Murray Spangler who suffered from asthma, and constructed a “suction sweeper” ( = vacuum cleaner) to remove dust and debris. The invention was then bought and marketed by W.H. Hoover. One of their innovations was the beater brush which dislodges the dirt from a carpet so that the vacuum's suction can remove it. Besides vacuums, they now market hard floor cleaners, full-size and spot cleaners for carpets, and cleaning solutions.