If you have asthma or severe allergies, and indoor air quality is crucial to your health, a high-quality bagged vacuum is a safe bet. Our favorite high-end vacuums do an excellent job of sucking up allergens and irritants—and keeping them contained during disposal.
There’s a bit of controversy on this topic. Experts disagree on the traits a “clean-air” vacuum needs to have. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) says that some bagless vacuums are okay in this regard. (It’s worth noting that AAFA is sponsored by Dyson, which makes only bagless vacuums. No other major vacuum brands sponsor AAFA. So that’s a potential conflict of interest, though the AAFA certification testing is pretty rigorous, and we don’t doubt that bagless models have produced good results on this tough test.) But most boots-on-the-ground salespeople and technicians told us that they would not recommend bagless models for households in which air quality was a major concern, because the act of emptying a bagless vacuum re-pollutes your air. We’d recommend erring on the side of caution with a bagged, sealed-system vacuum that has a HEPA filter.
What if you don’t have asthma or severe allergies? Well, it never hurts to have a HEPA filter on a vacuum, but they’re overkill for many people. Also, a vacuum can come equipped with a HEPA filter but have mediocre overall filtration, if the transfer points throughout the vacuum don’t have rubber gaskets. So don’t be fooled into paying extra just because a vacuum has a HEPA filter.
The Complete C3 is a bagged vacuum (they trap dust and dander better than bagless vacs), and the C3 is one of the tightest-sealed machines out there. This model comes standard with a HEPA filter.