A vacuum cleaner is a big purchase, and when it’s time for a new one, you’re going to be faced with a lot of choices in the store. If you’re looking at upright models, you’ll have to pick between bagged or bagless, those clear bins that collect all the dirt.

Consumer Reports tests both types of machines to see how well they pick up dirt and debris, how easy they are to manoeuver, and how they perform on different types of flooring.

The perception is that bagless vacuums are easier to maintain. And with no bags to replace, they’re cheaper to own. But bagless machines actually have more filters to clean and replace than bagged models. And to keep it running its best, the bin and surrounding parts should be cleaned from time to time.

There’s also another drawback.

“Emptying the dirt bin can be messy, because when you open it up, you’re releasing some of the particles back into the air that you just sucked up. And that’s something to take into consideration if you have allergies or dust sensitivity,” explained Sue Booth with Consumer Reports.

Vacuums that rely on one big main filter - the bag that collects the dirt - might be the best bet for people with dust sensitivities. Some bags can even be sealed with sliding closures or stickers when you remove them.

Bagged models also have HEPA filters to clean, although they don’t need to be changed as often because dirt goes directly to the bag.

Whatever style you choose, bagged or bagless, the suction should stay the same no matter how full the container is.

The bagged Miele U1 Cat and Dog vacuum is one of Consumer Reports top-rated models. It costs around $649.

The Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 gets top marks in the bagless category, costing around $500.

Whichever style you choose, before you buy, check out the price of replacement filters. They can vary widely and can impact the running cost over time.