If you don't want to deal with the hassle of having to replace a dirtbag in your vacuum, there's no shortage of bagless options on the market. Unlike bagged models, this kind has plastic dirt compartments and use filters to prevent dusty air from drifting back out into the environment as you clean. They usually have low or virtually no recurring costs, depending on whether or not they use disposable filters. That said, they can vary significantly in shape and size, all for the sake of being better-suited for different kinds of cleaning tasks. An upright is a fine choice for clearing debris from carpets, while canister models usually do well on bare floors. If you want something smaller and lighter, a stick/handheld can be a good option.
We've tested over 40 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best bagless vacuum cleaners. These picks were selected not only based on their performance, but also their design, ease of maintenance, and price. For more recommendations, see our lists of the best vacuums and the best cordless vacuums. If you're looking for a robot vacuum, which is usually bagless by design, you can see our picks of the best robot vacuums.
The best bagless vacuum for bare floors that we've tested is the Shark Rocket Pet Pro. This cordless stick/handheld is an outstanding performer on even, flat surfaces like linoleum or hardwood, as it clears everything from pet hair to pieces of cereal with ease. Even better, you can quickly reconfigure it into a handheld to clean messes in tight spots, and it's easy to maneuver in small, cramped rooms.
It's decently well-built, with a bagless design and reusable, washable filters. It has virtually no recurring costs as long as it's properly taken care of, though quite a few parts need to be regularly maintained. It has a reasonably-sized dirt compartment, and performance on all surfaces remains consistent as it fills with debris, which is great when tackling larger messes. If you need to go from cleaning floors to a more delicate surface like curtains, there's an easily-accessible suction-adjustment trigger on its handle.
Unfortunately, it can drain its battery in just over 10 minutes if left to run in its highest power mode for too long, though you can expect to stretch that out to over 40 minutes if you use it in its least powerful suction mode. Despite its short runtime, its outstanding bare floor performance and lightweight design make it one of the best bagless vacuums we've tested.
If you're looking for a vacuum that has slightly lower maintenance needs and similar bare floor performance, take a look at the Shark Rocket Ultra-Light. It lacks a HEPA filter as well as the go-anywhere range of the Shark Rocket Pet Pro and feels slightly more cheaply made. However, it has less demanding maintenance requirements and a corded design that gives it a theoretically indefinite runtime. That said, its power cord isn't the longest, so you may need to swap outlets while cleaning a large space or a room with a lot of obstructions. While it doesn't perform as well on bare floors, it still does a superb job on this kind of surface. Thanks to its bagless design and washable filters, there are no recurring costs.
Get the Pet Pro if you want a better-performing all-around stick/handheld, but consider the Rocket Ultra-Light if you want a vacuum that's easier to maintain and comes without the hassle of charging a battery.
The best bagless vacuum for carpets that we've tested is the Dyson Ball Animal 2. This corded upright model is surprisingly maneuverable despite its bulky design and does a remarkable job of sucking up all kinds of debris on carpeted surfaces. The head self-adjusts to adapt to different surfaces, which is handy when passing from low-pile carpets and densely-packed shag rugs, and performance remains consistent as its dirt compartment fills up.
It comes with an impressive array of tools and accessories to suit most kinds of cleaning tasks, including a pet grooming tool and a turbo brush. You can uncouple its wand from its main body to use it as a handheld, which is useful when trying to clean under or behind furniture. As long as you take care of its pre-motor and HEPA filter, they shouldn't need replacing, meaning that there are no recurring costs.
Unfortunately, its bulky design makes it somewhat tricky to store and carry around. It also lacks the easy-clip mechanism found in other Dysons, which makes it a little harder to take apart and reassemble during routine maintenance. Lastly, some may be put off by its all-plastic construction, which feels a little cheap, especially at this price point. That said, this is a great choice if you're looking for a bagless vacuum that can deal with big messes on carpeted floors.
If you're looking for a vacuum that's easier to move around, take a look at the Dyson V8 Animal. This stick/handheld comes with a narrower range of accessories than the Dyson Ball Animal 2 and doesn't perform quite as well on carpeted floors, but it is substantially lighter and has a more intuitive design. Its design allows you to carry it almost anywhere in your house, and it can be quickly reconfigured into a handheld vacuum to help you clean tight spots behind furniture or even the inside of your car. As long as you take care of its various parts when the manufacturer specifies, you shouldn't have any recurring costs to worry about. Unfortunately, you can run out of charge in under 10 minutes if you run it continuously in its high-power suction mode, though you can expect roughly 40 minutes of runtime if it's used more conservatively. It also takes about four hours to completely recharge its battery, which can be quite annoying.
Get the Ball Animal 2 if you want better performance on carpeted floors and want an indefinite runtime, but consider the V8 if you have a smaller area to clean and want something a lot more portable.
The best budget bagless vacuum that we've tested is the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. This canister model has washable filters, so as long as it's properly taken care of, recurring costs shouldn't be a concern. It uses a simple design that's quite easy to maintain, with relatively few parts that need to be taken care of regularly.
This vacuum delivers superb performance on bare floors like linoleum and hardwood and does an excellent job of clearing various kinds of debris on low pile carpet. While it struggles a little more on shaggier surfaces, especially when it comes to fine material, such as baking soda, it still clears a good amount of debris. Better still, performance remains consistent as its decently large dirt compartment fills up, which is handy when cleaning up big messes.
Unfortunately, it has a plasticky body that feels a little cheap, though the vacuum itself is quite lightweight. It also has a very short power cord, which can be annoying when trying to clean large areas. Thanks to its budget-friendly price and overall versatility, it's still among the best vacuums we've tested.
10/16/2020: Added HoLife HM036E and Shark ION W1 WANDVAC to 'Notable Mentions'. Slight changes to the text for accuracy and clarity; no change in main product recommendations.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best bagless vacuum cleaners we've tested. We don't just base our results on overall performance, but also factors like availability, price, and reader feedback.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our bagless vacuum reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no vacuum is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.