Bagless vacuum cleaners promising more hygienic dust emptying are no better than standard bagless models at stopping dust spraying out, Which? tests have revealed. Both are far worse than traditional bagged vacuum cleaners.
Plenty of people enjoy the convenience of using bagless vacuum cleaners, which eliminate the need for costly replacement dust bags. But the pay-off is that you have to tackle the often messy and unpleasant job of emptying the dust container.
We noticed a number of vacuum cleaner manufacturers taking aim at this issue with new hygienic-bin-emptying features on premium bagless models, and promoting their allergy-friendly credentials.
Vacuums from Dyson, Miele and Philips all use their advanced emptying design as a marketing sell, but when we put them to the test against ordinary bagless vacuums and bagged models they were no better. The Philips was significantly worse.
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‘Hygienic’ dust emptying systems put to the test
We pitted top-end models with hygiene features against cheap bagged and bagless vacuums. The premium models included:
- Dyson Cinetic Big Ball – has a ‘hygienic bin ejector’ to push out debris
- Miele Blizzard – has an Allergy UK seal of approval and claims to separate fine and coarse dust so they slip neatly into your bin
- Philips PowerPro Expert – advanced dust bin designed for easy, mess-free emptying, classes itself as ‘anti-allergen’
For comparison, we tested two cheap bagless vacuums with basic bin-emptying systems, and two mid-priced bagged models: one with a self-sealing bag and the other with a standard bag.
We emptied each vacuum cleaner into a bin in a sealed test chamber, and then monitored the number of dust particles dispersed into the room, repeating the test three times for each model.
The difference was stark. The models which claim to have more hygienic emptying systems were no better at minimising a dust cloud than basic bagless models. The Philips let more than 70,000 particles escape back into the air on average, compared to just 552 particles that escaped when we disposed of the sealed bag from the Bosch vacuum.
Our verdict on hygiene claims
While there are bagless vacuum cleaners, including some of the models above, which will do an excellent job of capturing and retaining allergens and dust particles while you are cleaning, emptying the vac can undo all that good work.
If you have allergies, take claims about hygienic bin emptying with a pinch of salt – and read the small print. Both Dyson and Allergy UK recommend you empty your bagless vacuum outdoors, into a bag, and that people with allergies should always wear protective items, such as a face mask and gloves, to reduce their exposure to allergens. When we contacted Miele with our findings, it also recommended that bagless vacuums should be emptied outside where possible.
If you have severe allergies and don’t want to go through this process when emptying your vacuum, consider a bagged model instead. See our bagged vacuum cleaner reviews to compare models.
Best vacuum cleaners for allergy sufferers
Emptying is of course only one part of the battle to keep dust and allergens contained while vacuuming. A poor vacuum cleaner may blow dust around when cleaning, flinging it into the air instead of cleaning it up, or let it seep back out through the exhaust filter or gaps in the machine once sucked up.
When we test vacuum cleaners we check how effective their allergen filters are by monitoring the amount of tiny dust particles that escape while in use. You can check this allergen retention score for every model in our independent vacuum cleaner reviews.