If you'd prefer to avoid the hassle of finding replacement bags for your vacuum and want to reduce waste, you might consider a bagless vacuum. These vacuums have a removable dustbin in lieu of a bag. As sources such as ConsumerReports.org point out, you'll be exposed to some dirt and dust while emptying the bin, so bagless vacuums may not be the best choice for those with dust allergies.
Dyson is the big player among bagless vacuums. Although Dyson vacuums are pricey, many owners say they are well worth their cost. To explain the pros of a specific Dyson model, one user says simply "It's a Dyson," as if that were the highest possible praise. All Dyson's upright and canister vacuums feature the company's patented Root Cyclone technology, which keeps the vacuum from losing power as its dust container fills.
The standout feature of Dyson vacuums is the Dyson Ball, which makes it easy to twist and turn the machine to access tight spaces and navigate obstacles. The Dyson Ball essentially functions as a single large wheel, instead of the typical two-wheel design. The ball also houses its 11-amp motor, which creates a low center of gravity for added balance and maneuverability. They also include washable filters and are backed by a five-year warranty that covers parts and labor.
The Dyson DC25 Multi-Floor (*Est. $400) is a clear standout among consumer reviews, with thousands of positive ratings across sites like Walmart.com, Amazon.com and Viewpoints.com. The Dyson DC25 doesn't win the top spot in professional reviews, but does receive positive feedback from testers. Editors from one consumer testing organization say it doesn't do well cleaning walls and corners, although it performs well on every type of flooring surface as well as picking up pet hair. On the contrary, another professional source says that this vacuum's performance on carpet is only so-so, although its bare-floor performance is excellent. More than 600 owners posting reviews of the Dyson DC25 to Amazon.com contribute to an average rating of 4 stars out of 5, while the DC25 maintains an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 in nearly 1,500 reviews on Walmart.com. Users love the DC25's maneuverability, ample 25-foot cord, and its light weight (16 pounds).
On Viewpoints.com, the Dyson DC25 earns a score of 91 (out of a possible 100) in over 380 owner-written reviews. Users say it snaps together simply and easily straight out of the box, looks modern and stylish, and has a nozzle design that allows cleaning flush along the edge of a floor without using attachments. The Dyson DC25 Multi-Floor features a push-button release for easy emptying of the dustbin; however, some owners find the dust cup too small and the attachment hose and tools awkward to use. The most commonly cited drawback of the DC25 is its cost, although it's on the lower end of the price range among the Dyson brand, and most users say they think it's worth it.
We found more mixed reviews for the Dyson DC24 Multi-Floor (*Est. $430). It lands near the bottom in one professional roundup evaluating both bagless and bagged upright vacuum cleaners, earning poor scores for airflow and just fair scores for picking up pet hair. About 260 owners review the Dyson DC24 Multi-Floor at Amazon.com, where it has an average rating of 4 stars (out of a possible 5). At just 11.65 pounds, the DC24 is one of the lightest bagless uprights we found, but owners still say the suction is good despite its small size.
It's not as powerful as other Dyson models -- several reviewers say it won't pick up large clumps of hair or dog toy stuffing, for instance -- although most owners opted for this smaller Dyson for greater convenience 10 small spaces. The handle of this unit telescopes down to shorten the height for easy storage. Like other Dyson vacuums, this model has a washable, lifetime HEPA filter. A few common complaints are that the attachments are difficult to use, and the cord is too short.
One U.K.-based publication recommends the DC24 as a best buy; however, editors do note that it's slow to pick up pet hair and say emptying the dustbin is tricky, despite the push-button release. It gets better scores at Sears.com, where about 65 owners contribute to an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Still, there are complaints that the hose/wand feature is difficult to use, a gripe we found mentioned on other sites as well. Overall, consumers who live in apartments or small dwellings and don't have a pet-hair problem will find the Dyson DC24 Multi-Floor adequate.
The Dyson DC28 Animal (*Est. $600) outperforms the DC25 in one professional roundup with better scores for cleaning carpets, although the DC25 wins out in terms of handling. This model automatically adjusts the height of the cleaner head and brush bar to conform to different surfaces. Other features include a lifetime washable HEPA filter, a telescopic wand for stairs and high-reach cleaning and a powered mini turbine head attachment for upholstery and stairs (a feature the top-rated Dyson DC25 Multi-Floor lacks).
In professional tests the DC28 achieves excellent results on bare floors and gets embedded dirt out of carpet, but it's a bit slow at picking up pet hair. The editors of ConsumerReports.org also note on their Home and Garden blog that the 21-pound Dyson DC28 Animal, although powerful, is awkward to push and pull. Popular Mechanics magazine pits the Dyson DC28 against the Dyson DC25 and the Eureka AirSpeed. In this test, the DC28 emerges as the winner, offering a more efficient clean (picking up messes like flour in a shorter time than the other models). However, the DC25 comes in a close second and is more maneuverable for vacuuming under tables and other furniture.
Most owners love the Dyson DC28 Animal. More than 1,000 comments from users at Walmart.com, Sears.com, Viewpoints.com and BestBuy.com give this vacuum an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5, and roughly nine out of 10 users say they would recommend it. Owners report the Animal's suction power is phenomenal; many note that their new Dyson vacuums picked up a huge volume of dirt their old vacuums had left behind. Users also love the specially designed dirt cup, which empties from the bottom to minimize the user's exposure to dust. However, some users do complain about the DC28's weight and high price tag. We also saw several complaints about its reliability and how long it takes to get repairs done under warranty.
Two other Dyson upright vacuums earn positive scores in reviews: the Dyson DC33 Multi-Floor (*Est. $400) and the Dyson DC41 Animal (*Est. $600). The DC33 Multi-Floor is listed as a best buy in one professional roundup, while the DC41 Animal was too new at the time of testing to earn it this accolade. Editors point out the DC41's self-adjusting floorhead, which automatically adapts between carpet and hard floors without the user manually adjusting the setting. The washable filter has been relocated to the center of the cylinder, which editors say is now easier to remove and clean than older models. Accessories include a stair tool, mini turbine head and combination accessory tool. The DC41 Animal weighs 17.4 pounds.
In the same roundup, the Dyson DC33 Multi-Floor is said to perform well on all floor types, including tile and other flooring with crevices. It's also efficient at picking up pet hair. Removing the dustbin is a multi-step process, although editors say it's not difficult and it features a push-button release to eliminate messes and exposure to dust. It's a larger vacuum than other Dyson models, weighing 17.6 pounds, so it's not as maneuverable under tables and behind furniture. Unlike the DC41 Animal, users must manually switch from carpet to hard floor mode to change the height of the brushroll.
More than 500 owners across Walmart.com, Amazon.com and Sears.com agree that this vacuum has incredible suction power, so much so that several suggest using caution when using it for throw rugs. Similar to other Dyson uprights, the DC33 has a wand/hose attachment that some users find difficult to use, but the majority of owners praise the extra-long, 35-foot cord. Overall, the DC33 earns positive reviews, averaging between 4 and 4.5 stars out of 5.
Spending $400 or more for a Dyson vacuum isn't your only option if you want a bagless vacuum with good all-around performance. The Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind Plus Bagless UH70120 (*Est. $120) gets good reviews from both professionals and owners. This bagless model weighs about the same as the Dyson DC25 models (16.5 pounds), and it includes both a washable main filter and an exhaust HEPA filter. Other features include fingertip controls, a clean-filter indicator and a 27-foot retracting cord. One feature it lacks, however, is an on/off switch for the brushroll, which means that it can scatter dirt when used on bare floors. Despite this drawback, however, the Hoover UH70120 performs very well on bare floors, as well as carpet, in professional tests. It also does a great job picking up pet hair, and reviewers at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute note that it is very stable and does not tip over easily.
We found more than 1,000 reviews for the Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind Plus Bagless UH70120 at Amazon.com and another 145 at BestBuy.com. Overall, it earns ratings of around 4 stars out of 5. Users say the Hoover UH70120 has great suction, and they love the retracting cord. Most also say that the dust cup is easy to empty, though some complain that it tends to make a mess. More seriously, we saw several reports of durability problems with this vacuum.
At BestBuy.com, we read multiple reports of belts that slip off repeatedly or break, and reviewers on Amazon.com complain that the vacuum tends to become clogged and lose suction power after a few months (even with regular maintenance). Further, some users note that it's necessary to replace the HEPA filter periodically, and they're not widely available at some stores. The Hoover UH70120 was one of several Hoover models recalled in May 2010 for a problem with the power cord that created a risk of fire or shock; however, this problem applies only to vacuums sold between August 2009 and May 2010.
Another affordable bagless upright, the Bissell Momentum Cyclonic Upright 82G7-1 (*Est. $100), earns very good scores for both carpets and bare floors in one professional roundup. At 23 pounds, it's on the heavy side, but the Bissell Momentum comes with a crevice tool, upholstery tool, extension wand and a TurboBrush which can be used for both stairs and upholstery.
There aren't as many user reviews available for this model, and opinions are somewhat mixed. Nearly 100 owners have rated the Bissell Momentum on Amazon.com (where it averages 3.5 stars out of 5), and we found another 75 reviews at Walmart.com (where it averages 4.5 stars out of 5) and 30 at Viewpoints.com. Owners say cleaning out the dustbin is a messy process as the canister is difficult to remove and tends to spill dust and debris on the lower part of the vacuum and the surrounding floor.
There are also some complaints of broken plastic parts, such as the piece that holds the hose in place when not in use. Another problem is the TurboBrush, which has a belt of its own that tends to break. However, Bissell doesn't carry or offer the belts separately, so if the belt should break, owners must replace the entire TurboBrush (*Est. $30), which some owners feel is too significant for a $100 vacuum.
Owners who use the Bissell Momentum primarily on carpets and don't have a lot of pet hair or other messes seem to be the most pleased with this vacuum. On the other hand, there are numerous complaints that there's no shut-off for the brushroll from those with hard floors. There are also numerous reports that this vacuum gets clogged easily in a number of places, which strains both the motor and the belt. The Bissell Momentum is backed by a one-year warranty.