That is a great question! The answer is not a simple one. There are many reasons why a bagged vacuum cleaner is better than a bagless. Let’s start by debunking the myth that you will save money by not having to buy bags. All bagless vacuums have filters. In most cases they have at least two and in some cases more. Filters quickly become dirty and clogged and will need to be changed at least once a year in order for the vacuum to function properly. Filters for bag less vacuums are not cheap. If you are thinking of buying a bagless vacuum you should research the cost of the filters and how often the manufacturers recommend you replace them. Some filters need to be replaced every six months.
There are some filters that claim to be washable. If the filter is dense enough to do a good job of filtering it is impossible to wash out all of the dust and dirt that is in the microscopic pores that make up the filter. In fact, what happens when you mix water and dust? It turns into mud and that mud clogs up the pores reducing the air flow and efficiency of the vacuum. Also after washing the filters, many consumers complain about the vacuum smelling musty when they vacuum. Washable filters are not practical or efficient it is just the marketing department’s way of trying to sell you on the idea of buying a bagless vacuum and making you think you won’t have to buy filters.
The motor failure rate in bagless vacuums is much higher than the motor failure rate for bagged vacuums. Why is that? Because consumers do not clean or change the filters as often as they should. This results in the motors running much hotter than they should and that shortens their life.
When using a vacuum with a disposable bag, you are changing the primary filter every time you change the bag. Most high performance vacuums have certified HEPA bags available. These bags can filter down to 0.3 microns or 99.97% of the dust particles. Some of these vacuums still have a secondary micro filter to capture what little of the finest dust particles that are not trapped by the bag. These filters can last as long as two years because the HEPA bag has already done all of the heavy work.
This brings us to the disposal of the dirt. When you go to empty the dirt container of a bagless vacuum, it can be a messy situation. The dust, dirt and pet hair will fly everywhere. If you have allergies, this cannot be a good thing. Disposable bags in general are less messy to change. Also, depending on the size of the bag, you must empty the dirt bin as much as 30
times in comparison as to how often you must change the bag.
Finally, there are the claims about cleaning ability. There are no independent studies that prove that bagless vacuums clean any better than bag units just simply because they are bagless. In fact there are many bagged vacuums that will out clean bagless vacuums and it has nothing to do with the fact that the vacuum is bagless or bagged, that is a subject for another article. The bags used in upright vacuums are filled from the top and the dirt falls into the bottom of the bag therefore it does not affect the cleaning ability or airflow of the vacuum unless you overfill the bag. Consumers think that bagless vacuums clean better because they can see the dirt going into the dirt chamber. Just for the record, bagged vacuums are the clear and overwhelming choice of retail floor care professionals.
Why, you may ask, are Bagless vacuums so popular? Bagless vacuums outsell bagged vacuums and this should not be the case. If you consider the substantial advantages that bagged vacuums offer over bagless vacuums. There is a reasonable explanation for this situation. Bagless vacuums are popular for two reasons: 1) The perception that you save money by not having to buy bags, and 2) it is easier to empty a dirt container than to replace a full vacuum bag. Slick manufacturer advertising campaigns further these notions. In reality, however, these perceived advantages are more than offset by the high cost and inconvenience of frequent filter changes, diminished filtration and suction performance, the shortened life of vacuum motors caused by clogged filters, and the hassle of emptying nasty and perpetually full dirt containers.
I hope this helps you make an educated choice based on facts and not based on advertising hype, when you go to buy your next vacuum cleaner. For more information, visit your local vacuum and floor care professional.
Ray York has 35 years experience in the sewing machine and vacuum cleaner business. He owns Fenton Sew and Vac at 180A Gravois Bluffs Circle Dr. in Fenton, Missouri 63026 and serves the Fenton and greater St. Louis Missouri metro area.
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