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We put a handful of models to the test in The Lab and our own homes—and thoroughly researched dozens more—to find the best picks for every space, budget, and household. Our top choice, the Bissell 1161 Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum, is lightweight, quiet, and has powerful suction strength.
Here are the best canister vacuums.
Best Overall: Bissell Bagless Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum
Non-marking rubber tires
Extremely quiet operation
Dust bin is quite small
Who else recommends it? Good Housekeeping also picked the Bissell 1161 Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum.
What do buyers say? 79% of 2,100+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
It's hard to beat the Bissell Bagless Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum that received a perfect score from our product tester, so that's why it's our top canister vacuum pick. It's easy to use, versatile, and extremely powerful. While the name suggests that it's only suitable for cleaning wood, vinyl, laminate, or tile, this vacuum is very versatile and can effectively pick up messes on any surface in your home.
On the handle, you'll find a set of buttons that allow you to activate multiple suction levels when picking up debris large and small. The vacuum also comes with a hard floor tool, carpet tool, dusting tool, and crevice tool for getting into every nook and cranny of your space. Since it is only 9 pounds and features a handle on its base, it's very easy to trek around your home, up the stairs, or behind your fridge or appliances.
Our tester noted that it'll stay remarkably quiet the entire time, too. The conversation-friendly noise level is no indication of the powerful suction either. They noted that the max suction level was competitive with carpet-specific vacuums, while the low suction level was perfect for cleaning blinds. They also enjoyed the automatic cord rewind feature, which can make this Bissell vac easier to prepare for storage, and telescopic wand that is adjustable.
Just a heads up, though: The bin only holds 1 quart of dust and debris, so you'll have to empty it often. This is something to keep in mind if you're planning to use your vacuum for whole-house cleans. You'll also need to be near a plug, as this model isn't cordless. However, you'll get a major sigh of relief knowing the non-marking rubber tires and soft bristle brush are designed to not damage your most beloved surfaces, while also picking up all the leftover debris.
Best Budget: Bissell Zing Bagless Canister Vacuum
Automatic cord rewind
Hair doesn't get tangled
Simple emptying process
Relatively short power cord
Not ideal for carpets
Looking for something a little cheaper? Check out the Bissell Zing Bagless Canister Vacuum. It's not ideal for carpets, but this nifty canister vac gets the job done on hard floors and upholstery. Our tester described the suction power of the vacuum as fast and "impressively strong," noting that it picked up dust and debris that they didn't even know was there. There is also a hard floor mode and carpet mode, so you can tailor the vac's suction power to the surface you're tackling. Now, it certainly leaves something to be desired when it comes to maneuverability. The floor head didn't swivel as much as our tester would have liked it to, but the naturally compact design of the vacuum made it relatively easy to get into nooks and crannies. In addition, the power cord—at 15 feet—is on the shorter side, but the vacuum does come with a telescopic wand and a crevice tool to elevate your cleaning routine.
What's more, the bagless design means you won't have to shell out more money on replacement bags, which is ideal. Our tester noted that the emptying process was simple, since the dust bin detaches with the click of a button. They didn't create a mess when dumping out the debris over their trash can, and were impressed at how longer strands of hair didn't get tangled up inside the vacuum. Ultimately, this budget-friendly vac will be a loyal sidekick on cleaning days and offers much of the same power and features of a more expensive pick.
Best Splurge: Miele Compact C1 Turbo Team Bagged Canister Vacuum
Six suction settings
Takes a while to fill up
Not a good fit for home with pets
Instructions were a little unclear
The Miele C1 Turbo Team Bagged Canister Vacuum is expensive, but also has plenty of winning qualities that make it worth the investment. Our testing team gave it great ratings across the board, and were particularly impressed with how it performed on hard floors, low-pile carpet, and high-pile carpet. They rated it 4.5 stars for cleaning effectiveness on these surfaces, saying it required just two passes to pick up the cereal even on the high-pile carpet. The vacuum clogged up a bit on the medium-pile carpet after sucking up the hair, which landed the vac with an overall effectiveness rating of 4 stars, and does make it less suitable for a household with pets.
When it came to noise level, though, this canister vacuum was awarded 5 stars, because it was so easy to have a conversation over. In fact, our testers continuously noted how quiet it is, even saying it's "so quiet, it's ridiculous." It was easy to reach under our low-sitting couch and coffee table, thanks to a telescopic wand. The vacuum is quite heavy, which is why it ultimately earned a 4.5-star rating for maneuverability. You likely would get tired carrying it up and down the stairs several times on cleaning day. Now, with a 3.75-quart bag, you will be able to do more cleaning at one time with this canister vacuum in tow. It takes a while to fill it up, which is ideal since you have to purchase replacement bags separately. Boasting six suction settings and a self-winding cord, this canister vacuum pulls out all the stops to clean your surfaces and is, all in all, built to last.
Best for Carpet: Kenmore BC3005 Pet Friendly Bagged Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Four height adjustments
Requires frequent bag changes
Got carpets? The Kenmore Pet-Friendly Bagged Canister Vacuum Cleaner is your best bet. It has a dual-motor system and built-in HEPA filtration for capturing fine particles of dust and dander around your space. Four power settings allow you to adjust the suction power, too, according to the pile height of your specific carpets or area rugs. Cleaning along baseboards or sucking up hair on upholstery is also a breeze, thanks to a crevice tool and brush tool that are included and can be stored right on the vacuum. (A bare floor tool is also included in the box for the times when you want to clean hardwood, vinyl, laminate, or tile.)
Now, we didn't test this canister vac, but we were impressed by the 26-foot-long retractable power cord that adds to the maneuverability of this vacuum. Swivel steering also lets you navigate coffee table legs with total ease. While it's slightly heavier than most others in its category, a telescopic wand makes cleaning stairs and high areas much easier. An easy-release foot pedal also allows you to switch to hard floor cleaning in just one motion. You'll need to replace the bags often and the cover may accrue dents after running into a coffee table leg. However, the product will feel thoughtful, and essentially pull itself through cleaning jobs.
Best for Pet Hair: Dyson CY23 Big Ball Canister Vacuum
Picks up hair well
Ball chamber moves with you
Has a hard time with larger debris
Need something that can tackle pet hair? Go with the Dyson Big Ball Canister Vacuum. Our testers noted that it was easy to set up because the instructions were very clear and efficient. Pictures guided them as they put the pieces together, and the entire process took them just five minutes. When challenged with picking up the debris on different surface types, our testers found it generally effective and gave it a solid 4-star rating. The vacuum had to move back to pick up the popcorn kernels, and struggled to pick up the Cheerios on all the surface types. During this process, the vacuum was louder than our tester expected and was comfortable with. However, they noted it wasn't "super obtrusive" and picked up all hair in just a pass or two—making it the best fit for a household with pets.
This vacuum excelled in the maneuverability category. Our testers gave it 4.5 stars for maneuverability, as the ball chamber moved with them very well and the slim profile made it easy to reach under low furniture. At the same time as sliding around your floors, you'll notice the powerful motor gets to work sucking up loose debris while a HEPA filter removes allergens from the air. Not only that, but the sizable dust bin and bagless design save you time and money on replacement bags.
Best Compact: Atrix Turbo Red HEPA Canister Vacuum
17 height settings
Easy to store
Narrow cleaning path
Not as durable as others
If you're interested in something more compact—say, because you live in an apartment or condo, or simply do not want to lug a giant appliance up the stairs—look to the Atrix Turbo Red Canister Vacuum. Measuring a tiny 12 x 18 x 8.5 inches and weighing 11 pounds, the base is small, lightweight, and easy to store. We didn't put it to the test in our lab or at home, but were impressed by the variable speed motor and 17 height settings that'll help you suck up debris on all surfaces. A three-stage HEPA filtration system will then trap the debris, while a dust bag will help you seal it and dispose of the mess cleanly.
While the cleaning path is relatively narrow, this canister vacuum has many other redeeming features, like a full-bag indicator light and an auto-retractable power cord. (The corded design is also ideal for small spaces where outlets may not be as far from the surfaces you want to clean.) The vacuum comes with a long list of useful attachments and accessories, including: a floor tool, two HEPA bags, an air-driven turbo brush, a dust brush, an upholstery nozzle, and a crevice nozzle. An accessory holder is also provided to make storing all of the attachments much simpler.
Best Bagless: Black+Decker Bagless Multi-Cyclone Canister Vacuum
Relatively short power cord
Debris isn't sealed away
The perk of a bagless canister vacuum as opposed to a bagged one is that it's easier to empty and cheaper to maintain. You don't need to buy replacement bags for the vacuum. However, debris isn't sealed away, which can be an issue for those who suffer from allergies and are trying to contain all of the dirt, debris, and allergens in their home. Luckily, the BLACK+DECKER Bagless Multi-Cyclone Canister Vacuum has a sizable dust bin at 3.8 quarts, so you don't need to empty it as often. It can also be emptied with the press of a button. Plus, the built-in HEPA filter does help trap debris and allergens that are floating around your floors and in your air.
Flaunting a 1,200-watt motor and multi-cyclonic engineering, on top of the filter, this canister vac effortlessly sucks up debris and air particles, and pushes them through the system, so you can keep cleaning your space without delay. Now, at nearly 14 pounds, this pick is heavier than some others on the market, and may not be comfortable to carry up a flight of stairs. We didn't test this pick in the lab or at home, but were nonetheless impressed with its engineering and provided attachments.
Best Commercial: Hoover PortaPower Commercial Lightweight Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Long power cord
Requires frequent bag changes
Need to purchase replacement bags
Commercial vacs are great for cleaning workshops, studios, gyms, and other business spaces with ease. But, that doesn't mean you can't use them at home. That being said, you can't go wrong with Hoover's PortaPower Canister Vacuum: an ultra-lightweight vacuum that packs a serious punch. Weighing just 8 pounds, this vac is one of the easiest to carry on the market, while offering an industrial-strength motor and an extendable wand with three convenient attachments. For one, it features a 36-inch power cord and a shoulder strap, making it super easy to maneuver while channeling your inner Ghostbuster.
Not only can you clean just about any surface and tight space, but the added blower feature lets you tackle a tough job on your to-do list that requires forced air. Now, the bagged design will require you to buy extra bags in order to maintain this vac. Plus, the bag tends to fill up quickly. However, a bagged design means that your messes are sealed away after you pick them off the floor, which is a bonus.
Our top pick for a canister vacuum is undoubtedly the Bissell Bagless Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum. It features a range of tools for cleaning a variety of surfaces and non-marking rubber tires that'll protect your beloved hardwood floors. For something less expensive, we highly recommend the Bissell Zing Canister Vacuum: a bagless, compact, user-friendly canister vac that weighs only 8 pounds and has a simple emptying process.
Other Options We Tested
Prolux Tritan Canister Vacuum: We also tested the Prolux Tritan Canister Vacuum, which scored a 3-star rating for effectiveness. While it features a built-in HEPA filter and does an average job on most surfaces, our testers gave it a 1.5-star rating for setup and a 1-star rating for maneuverability, noting that it doesn't swivel, is cumbersome to lug around, and has a short power cord. The manual is super unclear, and it took our tester over 10 minutes to put the vacuum together. Additionally, the vacuum is notably loud, especially when using the brush roll attachment. If we could change anything about this canister vacuum, we'd make it quieter, lighter, and potentially cordless, with a more conveniently placed power switch.
How We Tested the Canister Vacuums
During our vacuum test, we tested 28 vacuums side-by-side in The Lab in Industry City, Brooklyn—three of which were canister vacuums. Our testers started with unboxing each model and rating the ease of setup, after timing the assembly process and following along with the instructions. Testers then challenged each pick to pick up measured amounts of hair, popcorn kernels, and Cheerios on a hardwood floor and three types of carpet, to evaluate its effectiveness. While testing, we noted how many passes were needed to completely clean up the materials, if any hair was tangled in the model, the vacuum's weight and portability, and the vacuum's noise level.
Our testers emptied the dust bins and changed the bags, noting the ease of emptying each pick. In addition, they brought the vacuums through a living room-inspired obstacle course to see how they moved and test their maneuverability. At home, additional vacuums were rated on the same exact attributes in real-world environments and scenarios. Our editors and writers took all the consistently applied testing data and our thorough product research, and boiled it down to the canister vacuums we believe are the very best.
What to Look for When Buying a Canister Vacuum
When buying a canister vacuum, pay attention to the model's weight. Most models weigh between 8 and 20 pounds, with most of the mass sitting in the base of the unit. Generally, lighter vacuums are easier to maneuver and are great for cleaning surfaces other than floors, such as curtains, furniture, counters, refrigerators, and car interiors. They're also easier to maneuver on stairs, where you might be holding your vacuum's base at the same time as using the floor head. If you do choose a heavier model, look for one with a long power cord so you don't have to move the base around as much.
You'll also want to consider the capacity, meaning how much dirt, dust, hair, and other debris it can hold in the bag or dust bin. Smaller canister vacuums have about 1 quart of space, which likely won't get you further than a couple of rooms. Canister vacs with higher capacities can hold up to 4 quarts at a time, allowing you to vacuum your entire home without having to empty the dust bin or change the bag. Canister vacuums traditionally have bags, though there are some excellent bagless models on the market.
According to Robyn Pook, co-founder of Mint Cleaning, the most vital thing when shopping for your vacuum is "making sure you have the proper attachments" to clean the surfaces you have and pick up common debris like fur, hair, dust, dirt, food particles, and pollen. Canister vacuums often come with crevice tools, upholstery brushes, pet-hair tools, extension wands, and sometimes stair tools.
Aside from having the necessary equipment for cleaning hard-to-reach areas on your floors, Pook says you can use the attachments to clean everything from toilets and baseboards to windowsills and bed frames. "We love a vacuum with smaller attachments for these areas," she notes.
How do I clean a canister vacuum?
If your canister vacuum uses a bag, you'll need to seal, remove, and throw it away. Bagless models will need to be emptied into the trash, most likely via a release button on the canister's body. After you empty the vacuum, wipe out the canister's interior with a microfiber cloth. Some models can be further cleaned using water and dishwashing liquid, but you'll need to check your vacuum's manual to make sure that won't damage the unit. Similarly, you'll either need to replace or rinse off the vacuum's filter. While the vacuum components dry, you can check the cleaning head and wheels for hair wrap and debris. Reassemble once everything is dry.
What's the difference between bagged and bagless canister vacuums?
In addition to having different emptying processes, bagged and bagless canister vacuums offer different advantages in general. The former tend to seal away allergens more efficiently, while the latter may be more cost-effective in the long run, since they don't require replacement bags. Both offer plenty in the way of performance and cleaning power, however, so which type you choose is mostly a matter of personal preference.
What do I look for in suction power on a canister vacuum cleaner?
There are undoubtedly some seriously powerful canister vacuums on the market—and many are designed to keep pace with their upright counterparts. Nevertheless, you may need to temper your expectations around suction if you're hoping to clean, say, a high-pile carpet with a canister vacuum. Some models just won't be powerful enough to tackle that kind of job. If suction power is your absolute top priority and you're set on purchasing a canister vacuum, look for models with multiple fans, adjustable height settings, and a high cubic feet per minute (CFM) count, all of which will give you an idea of how much airflow the vacuum can generate.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland is a commerce writer and copy editor specializing in home improvement and lifestyle topics. For this roundup, she compiled insights from The Lab, and spoke with Robyn Pook, co-founder of Mint Cleaning for additional insight on what you should look for when purchasing a vacuum. Before making her final selections, she poured over product specifications, referenced reviews, researched surface compatibility, and considered dozens of canister vacuums from various brands—ultimately choosing models that stood out in terms of ease of use, maneuverability, filtration, and effectiveness. Theresa has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019, covering cleaning gadgets, appliances, textiles, and furniture.