Best Bagless Vacuum Cleaner: Surprise It’s Not a Dyson
Last updated on September 15th, 2018 by Garrick Dee
Before James Dyson got to work developing the bagless vacuum, all of the products in the market had bags inside.
Even if he had to make over 5,000 prototypes, it didn’t stop him from pursuing his vision.
Five years later the Dyson brand was born.
Today, nearly all vacuum brands have a bagless in their product line thanks to the innovation of James Dyson and we’ll feature 5 of the best.
These products you see here will vary.
Right now other brands are competing with Dyson in this space. Names like Shark, Hoover, Bissell, etc. all want a piece of the Dyson pie.
And they’ve developed really good products that deserve a look.
One brand that stands out would be Shark, particularly the Rotator series that has upright power and the versatility of a canister to clean above the floor areas.
Top help guide you in this review I’ve prepared a table of contents section…
- What the heck is a bagless?
- How to choose one?
- Our Pick: Shark Navigator Powered Lift Away
- Cordless and Bagless: Dyson V8 Absolute
- Dyson Clone: Shark Rocket with Duo Clean (HV382)
- Filter-less: Dyson Cinetic
- Autonomous Worker: Neato BotVac Connected
- To Wrap It Up
A bagless vacuum simply put is a product that doesn’t use a disposable bag to capture dirt. In it’s place is a container that utilizes a filtration system to keep dirt inside.
The obvious advantage of a bagless cleaner is the savings. You won’t need to buy any more bags during the lifetime of the product. All you need to do is wash the filter regularly.
Some of the best brands like Dyson have filters that will last the lifetime of the vacuum.
Biggest disadvantage would be exposure to allergens. No matter how careful you are, there will be a level of exposure that will happen.
How your body reacts will depend on how severe your condition is (provided you have one).
I wouldn’t recommend a bagless to someone who is allergic to dust and pollen – a bagged vacuum would be a better option.
Bagless technology has come a long way. The products available right now can go head to head with any bagged vacuum in terms of sheer power and agitation.
Without any bags to replace, running costs only include the electricity it consumes, nothing else. That is if you buy the best brands because their filters will last.
How much are you willing to spend?
The first order of business is setting a budget. Setting a cap on how you’re willing to spend weeds out products that you can’t afford.
This saves you time because there won’t be a need to read through reviews or check features only to find out it’s too expensive.
You can set a budget two ways.
First would be setting a hard cap. Let’s say you’re only willing to spend up to $200. Anything more than that wouldn’t be an option
Second would be setting a range. This is applicable to people who have a little more extra to spend.
For example, the budget is $300 but you can afford to spend $50 more for something with more power or tools. So the budget would be between $300 and $350.
What type of floors do you have at home?
Look around your home. Do you have carpet, hardwood or tile? This will help you decide what type of vacuum to choose and the power needed.
For homes with only bare floor like hardwood even a canister vacuum will do. I like its versatility it brings to the table. It not only will clean floors but also upholstery, stairs and some variants can reach ceiling vents.
There are some uprights however like the Shark Lift Away that morph into a canister vacuum. It was able to achieve this using a simple concept – the Lift Away feature.
Shark introduced this concept with the Navigator Lift-Away Professional where you can separate the body and the cleaning tool. So from an upright, it transforms into a canister vacuum without the wheels.
It has everything a canister has except for the motorized cleaning head that’s capable of cleaning rugs and carpet but inside homes with only hardwood this wouldn’t be much of an issue.
Shark has continuously improved upon this technology. Their newest product, the Rotator Powered Lift Away has improved leaps and bounds over the first Shark Lift Away. Even in canister mode, you can still use the main motorized tool which means this would be great on homes with carpet.
I’ll talk more about the Shark below and how it works.
How big is your home?
Smaller homes could get away using a cordless because the newest products will run for as much as 40 minutes.
One such product is the Dyson V8 Absolute.
This latest Dyson is an improvement over the V6 with a bigger motor, stronger agitation and more efficient batteries that extend run time to 40 minutes. With the motorized tools attached, it goes down to 25 minutes which is still impressive.
But in larger homes it wouldn’t be advisable to only use a cordless. For homes with lot of carpet then investing in an upright would be a smart option. It has enough power to deep clean and not have to worry about empty batteries.
Does it have stairs?
My in-laws live in Mountlake Terrace, Seattle and I’ve seen a lot of bungalow homes there. But if you live in a multi-level home with stairs, you will have to find the right tool to clean this area.
It can be tricky cleaning this area if you don’t have the right tools.
There are vacuums available right now, fully capable of cleaning this area efficiently.
Again, the Dyson V8 or V6 are great options because these are lightweight and you have the option to attach the main cleaning head directly on the motor.
This gives you more control over in terms of maneuverability.
If a Dyson is too expensive then you can opt for a Hoover Cruise. It’s less powerful but at a few hundred bucks cheaper, it’s a great deal! And it will give you similar functionality.
Right now the Navigator Powered Lift Away is the best Shark vacuum in their product line. It combines deep cleaning power and versatility not found in other uprights in its class.
No HEPA filter
The biggest downside of Shark would be the absence of a HEPA filter. Compared to a Dyson, it’s filters don’t filter as well.
Ibaisaic demonstrates the different tools and features in this video.
It has all the tools you need to clean the entire house. Not only will it clean floors but upholstery as well.
The NV752 comes with a couple of tools for cleaning pet hair, the TruePet tool and upholstery tool.
Tool for cleaning pet hair
The “True Pet” is a mini motorized tool for cleaning pet hair on upholstery. You can also use this on mattresses to clean dead skin cells and bed bugs.
The upholstery tool comes with dense nylon brushes that also work well with pet hair.
You can slide off the bristled attachment and use it to clean fabric upholstery like sofa.
It has two felt-like litter pickers at front and back end of the nozzle designed to agitate pet hair.
Here’s how the Shark looks like in Lift Away mode…
None of the other uprights in the market has this functionality and this is the biggest reason why it is a winner here even against the mighty Dyson.
The biggest weakness would be how the main cleaning head deals with large messes on bare floor. The low profile design will snow plow large piles of dirt…
This isn’t the latest Shark upright but it does give you a lot of value for your hard earned dollar.
It’s almost $100 cheaper than the DuoClean Powered upright NV803 but still retains a lot of the functionality.
Bottom line: This Shark variant is the most versatile upright available in the market right now. Not only will it clean bare floor and carpet efficiently, it’s got enough tools to clean the whole house! A few things holding it back would be the main cleaning head snow plowing dirt on bare floor and the lack of HEPA filtration.
This is where a product like the Dyson V8 comes in. It won’t take up as much space as the Shark upright.
The V8 is one of the latest in the long line of Dyson cordless vacuums. And it is currently the best and most powerful cordless.
None of its competitors can match it in terms of performance and with a max run time of 40 minutes, cleaning your small home shouldn’t be a problem.
I’d also recommend this to larger homes because it would be a great high traffic area cleaner especially on carpet or rugs.
New motor and better agitation
Dyson improved upon the already good V6. They upgraded the motor, increased agitation of the two floor tools and improved the battery’s efficiency.
All these improvements have resulted in a better cleaning tool that will run longer.
Longer run time
With the motorized tool attached, this will run for about 25 minutes. Without the motorized attachment, run time extends to 40 minutes.
It also has the mini-motorized tool, crevice tool and dusting attachment so this product can clean even nooks and crannies.
Just in case you don’t need the all-around functionality of a V8 or its too expensive then you can opt for the V6. It has a total of 10 variants with each model offering a different combination of tools.
Bottom line: The Dyson V8 is hands down the best cordless in the market right now. It’s the most powerful, best performing and will run for up to 40 minutes. The bad news is it’s also the most expensive!
It utilizes the same design principle found in all Dyson cordless vacuums with the exception of two things.
Has a cord
First, it has a 30 foot power cord that means run time will not be an issue. But this will be at the expense of reach.
Second, it does not use the trigger mechanism. Instead Shark used a slide switch to make it easier for people to turn it on or off.
600 watt motor
This is the latest in the Shark Rocket series vacuums and is the most powerful with a 600 watt motor.
The large motor also means it is the heaviest at almost 10 pounds with most of it at the motor up top.
Here’s a video recorded by ibaisaic that demonstrates the different features and cleaning performance of the Rocket Duo Clean…
Better agitation than a Dyson?
Shark didn’t just copy the design principle of Dyson, it improved upon it.
It took the soft roller brush that Dyson introduced and combined it with a bristled brush that makes it such a good cleaning tool.
By using a soft roller in front, Shark engineers were able to increase clearance to fit in large bits of debris at the inlet.
This design prevents any snow plowing from occurring when cleaning large messes.
As you’ve seen in the video, it works very well on tile flooring. Even dirt on the creases where sucked up.
Like the Dyson V8 it also has a similar tool set that will make this usable on upholstery and other types of furniture.
Amazon also sells refurbished units if you’re look for even more savings. This makes it one of the best deals available if you don’t mind the small bin and the limitations brought about by the cord.
Bottom line: This compact and lightweight stick vacuum is great for small to medium sized homes. The interchangeable tool set gives it comparable versatility to the Dyson but at a more affordable price.
The Cinetic series represents a new era in Dyson’s full sized vacuum line.
They were the first to invent the bagless vacuum now they’re at it again introducing perhaps the first vacuum that doesn’t use a pre-motor filter.
No more filters
Dyson says that they’ve found a way to get rid of filters using Cinetic science technology.
Cinetic science refers to the oscillating tips on the cyclones that prevent fine dust from clogging it.
Dyson says that their technology is so good that it doesn’t need any filter.
Right now there are several different variants but we’ll be focusing on the “Animal” versions of the upright and canister.
Great for large homes
The upright would be suitable for larger homes that have a lot of carpet because it has a motorized brush roll. It is one of the most powerful uprights in them market right now with 270 air watts.
Here’s a demonstration of how much power it has…
The bin din a very good job keeping all the dirt inside. Based on the video, there was wasn’t any dirt that seeped through the Cinetic-tipped cyclones.
And this is a screenshot of the dirt it was able to pick up…
Power cord is lengthy as well at 35 feet. Overall reach is 50 feet when you include the detachable wand and hose.
For those who want more versatility, the canister ball would be a great option because it’s got more tools and longer reach.
Brush does not have its own motor
Unfortunately the main floor tool doesn’t have a motor so agitation will not be as good.
It will not provide as much agitation.
Despite the air powered beater bar, the amount of dirt it was able to pick up was outstanding. But it lacks the deep cleaning of the Cinetic upright.
If you don’t have any pets, you can save a few hundred dollars by choosing the Cinetic Big Ball “Animal”.
Animal simply means that it comes with the tangle-free turbine tool that is the best right now when it comes to picking up pet hair on upholstery.
Despite Dyson’s claim of being filter-less, it really isn’t because there is a post motor HEPA filter.
Bottom line: The filter-less technology looks promising but these vacuums are very expensive. But if you’re willing to spend between $340 and $550 on these vacuums, it is a good investment. Make sure to get the “Animal” version if you have pets but you can save a couple hundred by getting a variant without it.
The last product in this list is the latest robot vacuum from Neato. I added this here because I’m a firm believer of these types of cleaners.
While these machines won’t match any of the vacuums above in terms of power, it has something that none of the other products in this list have – autonomy.
It has come a long way since the first robot came out of the assembly line in 2002.
The latest products run longer and have better cleaning performance with better reliability.
Higher end variants like this BotVac from Neato also have WiFi connectivity and an app that allows you to control this remotely.
For navigation the BotVac uses the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping algorithm (or S.L.A.M.).
This is the same software found in Google’s self-driving car.
It also uses a laser-guided sensor that helps it detect potential road blocks and map out the area it will clean.
Unlike the Roomba that cleans the middle part first, Neato does the outer part first then goes in a back and forth pattern in the middle part of the room.
WiFi Connectivity and App
Since a lot of people have smartphones, robotic manufacturers have caught on and developed their own respective apps to meet the demand.
The Neato app is pretty simple but very stable. With it you can schedule the robot to clean at specific times but only once per day.
It also allows you to control the robot like an RC toy and select the power mode – whether to use the eco or turbo mode. The Turbo mode is great for carpet.
If your home has a lot of carpet, I’d suggest you go with the Roomba 980 because it will provide better agitation but it’s less efficient.
I’ve written a detailed article comparing the Neato Botvac Connected and Roomba 980, make sure to check that out.
It lacks the acoustic sensors and the rubber extractors that make Roomba one of the best. But it’s a couple of hundred dollars cheaper.
Bottom line: The Neato BotVac Connected is great for busy folks who’d rather spend their time doing something else other than vacuuming. This autonomous cleaning machine will do the job for you and help keep dirt from piling up. You can even schedule it once a day, seven days a week.
Bagless vacuums are great because you don’t have to worry about the cost of replacing bags. And the products you see here represent a quantum leap in technology.
Why the Shark is a good option?
You can use it not only to clean floors but also upholstery, vents, etc. It is the jack-of-all-trades type of tool that every home needs.
If don’t mind spending a little more then the Duo Clean Powered Lift Away is a gravy option.
It has the same functionality as the Rotator Powered Lift Away but with better agitation thanks to the Duo Clean system.
Shark isn’t as expensive as a Dyson so it’s great for people who are looking for “value for money” products that over perform for their price.
The biggest weakness though is filtration. It uses two foam filters that won’t filter out as fine a dirt as a Dyson is capable of but this shouldn’t be a deal breaker for those who don’t have serious conditions like asthma.
Why the Dyson is a good option?
Dyson is another great option. Heck they invented the bagless vacuum so it’s fitting that you look at their products. The Dyson V8 Absolute is an absolute beast of a cordless vacuum. It has the most power and the best agitation.
A cheaper alternative would be the V6 series that has 10 variants all equipped with different sets of tools.
If you need more power, then opt for any of the Cinetic variants available.
The differentiator would be the size of your home and floor type. For large homes, you can opt for the more powerful upright. The canister version would be better suited for smaller homes.
Why robot vacuums?
Robot vacuums are great because they will do the work for you. The autonomous nature of these machines makes it such a popular option for folks who could afford it.
It won’t the deep cleaning power of any of the other products listed here but it does help dirt from piling up. And it will help clean areas under furniture.
If the BotVac is too expensive then the Xiaomi robot vacuums would be a good alternative. In terms of features, it has the same navigation, app-based control and it costs a third of a Neato.