One complaint plagues nearly every bagless upright vacuum cleaner: There's no perfect dirt canister that won't create a mess during emptying. Without a sealed container, there's no way to prevent microscopic dust particles and allergens from re-entering the air when the dirt cup is removed from the main vacuum unit. Some owners work around this by handling the task outdoors, but it's still a cumbersome process.
Bagging upright vacuum cleaners eliminate that hassle with convenient dirt collection bags that can simply be removed and disposed of when they're full. The Miele S 7260 Cat & Dog (Est. $650) , for instance, offers easy-to-change filtration bags with a large capacity, so they don't have to be replaced frequently.
"The power of an army with the agility of a Porsche, it navigates corners effortlessly," describes Stephanie Sisco of the Miele S 7260 in a review for Real Simple magazine. In one head-to-head test of 25 bagging upright vacuum cleaners, the Miele S 7260 Cat & Dog lands near the top of the pack, earning excellent scores for bare-floor performance, carpet cleaning and pet-hair pickup. While editors give it a slightly lower score for handling, owners posting reviews to Amazon.com praise the Miele S 7260's excellent swiveling action for easy maneuverability. It also earns a recommendation in another comparison review which evaluates 25 vacuum cleaners in real-world scenarios, such as removing ground-in pet hair from low-pile carpet and other flooring surfaces.
The Miele S 7260 has an extra-long 39-foot power cord and an integrated 12-foot extension hose, creating an overall reach of 54 feet. It also comes with an upholstery brush, dusting brush, crevice tool and power brush, with four power settings to adjust suction strength. One gripe a few owners have is that the Miele S 7260 doesn't come with a standard HEPA filter, despite its high price tag. Owners can choose to purchase a HEPA filter separately for about $50, which should be replaced every 12 months.
At 22 pounds, the S 7260 is heavier than many bagged upright vacuum cleaners, but owners say it offers exceptional durability. We read a few isolated complaints about defective units and loss of suction, but the Miele's seven-year casing and motor warranty covers these issues in most cases.
For a couple hundred dollars less, you can try out the basic model in Miele's S7 series, the Miele S 7210 Twist ($450) . It earns a slightly lower score for bare-floor performance in one professional comparison test, although it scores higher overall than the Miele S 7260. Editors at AllergyBuyersClub.com call the Twist an "entry-level" model, citing its basic design and features compared to the more-expensive Miele upright vacuums in the S7 series. Compared to its more expensive sibling, the top-rated Miele S 7260 Cat & Dog, the features are pretty comparable. Both have the same 39-foot power cord and 54-foot cleaning reach, as well as the 12-foot integrated, extendable hose.
Like the S 7260 Cat & Dog, the Miele S 7210 Twist doesn't come with HEPA filtration as a standard. Owners who want the added filtration HEPA offers can purchase a HEPA filter separately for about $50, but some retailers offer special deals, which include a free HEPA filter with the purchase price.
As with many products, price doesn't always correlate with performance when it comes to upright vacuum cleaners. There are a few bagging vacuums that fall towards the budget end of the price range, but perform like more expensive models. The Hoover Platinum Bagged UH30010COM (Est. $250) will save you a couple hundred dollars, and it earns identical ratings to the Miele S 7210 Twist and Miele S 7260 Cat & Dog in one professional roundup for carpet and bare-floor performance, as well as for pet-hair pickup.
The Hoover Platinum offers one advantage over the Miele contenders. It includes a small, lightweight canister vacuum that reviewers say is perfect for baseboards, upholstery and dusting ceiling fans. However, other users posting reviews of the Hoover Platinum to sites like Amazon.com and Walmart.com have mixed sentiments about the canister unit. Many complain that it's so noisy it's almost unbearable to use, and a few say it tends to blow dust and debris around rather than suck it up.
Unlike the Mieles, 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. It's significantly lighter than the Mieles, 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 unit, not the upright unit. Some owners posting feedback to Amazon.com and other sites say this is an inconvenience when you need an attachment while using the upright.
The Hoover has just two speed controls for suction-strength control, and it lacks an on/off switch for the brushroll. For this reason, consumers tend to disagree with professional reviews and say that this upright vacuum is ineffective on hard surfaces, as the brushroll blows dirt around. There are also a significant number of reports of broken parts, defective units and malfunctioning motors. It's backed by a five-year warranty, but dealing with customer service is a pain, users say.
The Eureka Boss Smart Vac 4870 ($150) is even less expensive than the Hoover Platinum. Like the Shark NV350 series, there's some confusion surrounding the Eureka's 4870 model number. This upright vacuum is sold under various extensions of the 4870 model number, such as NZ, MZ and HZ. These extensions refer to different included accessories, colors and other features. However, all Eureka Smart Vacs with the 4870 model number have the same basic design and functionality, with only subtle differences and add-ons. The Eureka Boss Smart Vac Pet Lover 4870SZ (Est. $160) , for instance, comes with an attachment specially designed to remove pet hair from upholstery.
The Eureka Boss Smart Vac 4870 earns identical excellent scores to the Mieles and the Hoover Platinum in one comparison test evaluating 25 bagged upright vacuums. It weighs nearly twice as much as the Hoover, at 21.5 pounds, causing owners to say it's difficult to operate, especially on thick-pile carpeting. It has a shorter 30-foot cord, which most owners say is adequate. The Eureka's dust bags also cost around $3 per bag, but generic options and bulk purchasing can save you money if you shop around.
The Eureka's HEPA filter costs just $20 and should be replaced every six bag changes. Eureka also sells a maintenance pack, which costs $65 and includes six dust bags, one HEPA filter, a pre-motor filter and a drive belt, ensuring that you have all the essentials handy. Like the Hoover, the Eureka is the subject of a number of durability complaints. The Eureka is backed by a one-year warranty, and, while their customer service department isn't hard to work with, the nearest repair center could be more than 100 miles away for some users.
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 lowest 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 it's not as effective on carpets. 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.