Consumer Reports: Vacuums, bagged or bagless

A vacuum cleaner is a big purchase, and when it's time for a new one, you're going to be faced with a lot of choices in the store. If you're looking at upright models, you'll have to pick between bagged or bagless, those clear bins that collect all the dirt.

Consumer Reports has tested vacuums over thousands of miles of carpeting to see which are the best. They checked both types vigorously to see how well they pick up dirt and debris, how easy they are to maneuver, and how they perform on different types of flooring.

The perception is that bagless are easier to maintain. And with no bags to replace, they're cheaper to own, right? Bagless machines actually have more filters to clean and replace than bagged models. And to keep it running its best, the bin and surrounding parts should be cleaned from time to time.

You're apt to empty it more often because the dirt is visible in the canister. But there's a drawback: emptying the dirt bin can be messy, because when you open it up, you're releasing some of the particles back into the air that you just sucked up. And that's something to take into consideration if you have allergies or dust sensitivity.

Vacuums that rely on one big main filter- the bag that collects the dirt - might be the best bet for people with dust sensitivities. Some bags can even be sealed with sliding closures or stickers when you remove them.
Bagged models also have HEPA filters to clean, although they don't need to be changed as often because dirt goes directly to the bag.

Whatever style you choose, bagged or bagless, the suction should stay the same no matter how full the container is. CR found a Shark bagless model does well cleaning carpets and excels on bare floors. It also recommends a bagged Kenmore. It does its best on bare floors, and does an excellent job picking up pet hair.

If your old vac can make it to November, CR says to take advantage of the sales and promotions that will start the week before Black Friday. Retailers will be battling for your business, so take advantage and save.

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