While bagless vacuum cleaners, which we cover elsewhere in this report, are great for their convenience, many people feel that they simply can't match the cleaning and air-filtering performance of bagged vacuum cleaners. A vacuum with a bag offers one extra layer of filtration that allergy sufferers, or anyone who wants cleaner air, can appreciate. You also don't have to empty a bag as often as you have to dump a canister -- something that, in itself, many worry could reintroduce microscopic dust particles and allergens to the air
The Miele Dynamic U1 Twist (Est. $450), formerly known as the Miele S 7210 Twist, is a particularly good choice in bagged vacuums because it offers easy-to-change filtration bags with a large capacity, so they don't have to be replaced very often. This is the basic model in Miele's Dynamic U1 series, but owners say it's all you need for exceptional performance across the board -- both on carpet and hard floors. One expert recommends it as a great choice for larger homes because of its versatility. HEPA filtration doesn't come standard but an optional HEPA filter is available for about $50, and multipacks that reduce the per-filter cost are available. Some retailers even offer specials with a package deal that includes a HEPA filter.
A good array of included accessories adds to the Miele's versatility, such as an extra-long crevice tool, dusting brush and upholstery tool. It also features an automatic pile-height adjustment, four levels of suction power, a 12-foot hose and telescoping wand. Combined with a long, 39-foot power cord, it can reach just about anywhere you may need to clean.
Where the Miele gets its biggest raves is for its extreme maneuverability. Its swiveling technology helps it navigate around furniture, counters, corners and other tight spaces. Its 12-inch cleaning head is considered a plus, helping it to get into narrower spaces where larger vacuums can't fit.
For a few hundred dollars less than the Miele, we saw excellent reviews for the Hoover Platinum UH30010COM (Est. $250). Owners rave about its performance on both hardwood and carpeted floors, and say it's an amazing value for all of the features it includes. One of the favorite accessories it includes is a small, lightweight canister vacuum that reviewers say is perfect for baseboards, upholstery and dusting ceiling fans.
Unlike the Miele, the Hoover has standard HEPA filtration. This requires HEPA dust bags, which cost about $3 each but can be purchased in bulk for a lower price per bag. The Hoover also has a full bag indicator that users like. This vacuum is significantly lighter than the Miele, at just 11.4 pounds, and it earns accolades from owners for its maneuverability. It includes a crevice tool, dusting brush and upholstery tool, although they're stored on the canister vacuum, not the upright vacuum itself. Some owners say this is an inconvenience when you need an attachment while using the upright.
The Hoover has a 35-foot cord and an automatic height adjustment. However, it lacks an on/off switch for the brushroll. Some users say this makes it less effective on hard surfaces, as the brushroll blows dirt around.
If you're really on a tight budget, the Hoover Tempo WidePath Bagged Upright Vacuum U5140900 (Est. $100) is a bagged upright canister vacuum at the lower end of the price range in this category. The dust bags are made of allergen filtration media, but they're not HEPA-certified. The Hoover Tempo WidePath lives up to its name with a wide 15-inch cleaning path to get the job done more quickly. It comes with two extension wands, an upholstery tool, crevice tool and dusting brush for various cleaning tasks.
With easy-to-use controls, including a manual pile-height adjustment, the Hoover Tempo WidePath can be used on both carpets and hard flooring surfaces. Thousands of owners posting feedback to Amazon.com say it's an excellent value for the low price, although many feel it's not as effective on carpets as higher-end vacuums. It has a shorter power cord than the Hoover Platinum, at just 25 feet, although most users don't seem to mind. It's very loud, users say, and some say it feels cheap and flimsy.
The Hoover Tempo WidePath is backed by a limited, one-year warranty. Owners say its belts break frequently, it tends to eat throw rugs, and it starts to break down after a few months of use. Others, however, have owned this model for a few years with no problems, and say it's just a matter of learning its "quirks."
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Reviewed Vacuums: Whether you prefer bagless, bagged or robotic, there is a vacuum that will fit your cleaning style and budget. These are the top vacuum cleaners for a variety of cleaning tasks.
Best Bagless Vacuums: Many people love bagless vacuums for their convenience and ease of use. These are the top bagless vacuums for any size home or budget.
Best Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: Is there anything better than a vacuum that you don't have to push around? If you say "of course not," check out our top picks for robotic vacuum cleaners -- and even a robotic floor mop.
Buying Guide: There are thousands of options when it comes to vacuum cleaners. Our buying guide will help direct you in choosing the vacuum you need for your cleaning tasks.
Our Sources: These are the expert and user tests, comparisons and reviews we used to determine the best vacuum cleaners. They are ranked in order of their credibility and usefulness.