The 8 Best Canister Vacuums of 2020

Clean up your home in a jiffy with these powerhouses

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Our Top Picks
"Besides being equipped with all the expected features, it also boasts a 2-motor system that gives exceptional suction strength."
"This splurge-worthy model is quieter than most, and has an electrobrush attachment that adjusts to five different carpet heights."
"A light alerts you when the dust container and filter are full; just rinse and replace the filter when you empty the container."
"Along with excellent suction and a compact design, this affordable model also comes with a 15-foot retractable power cord."
"Reviewers claim that this vacuum is powerful enough to make carpets look brand new—high praise, especially for pet owners."
"This lightweight vacuum features non-marking rubber tires and a soft bristle brush, so you can protect your hardwood from damage."
"Don't let its (5lb!) size fool you: this vacuum packs a punch, with a two-stage bypass motor that delivers superior suctioning."
Best Wet/Dry Canister:
Craftsman 12004 Wet/Dry Vac at Amazon
"Unlike other vacuums, this model can be used on wet surfaces and outside (it can even convert to a blower to help gather leaves)."

Cleaning your house isn't always the most exciting thing on your to-do list—and when you have a big bulky vacuum, it makes chores even less desirable. If this is a typical scenario in your household you might want to invest in a canister vacuum.

Unlike the more popular upright vacuums, canister vacuums are often lighter and easier to maneuver as the wheeled unit glides behind you as you work. The downside is canister vacuums are often better suited for hard floors and often can't tackle high pile rugs so if you have wall-to-wall carpet, you might want to try an upright vacuum.

Other things to consider when buying a canister vacuum are if you have allergies or pets. If so, you'll want a model with a HEPA filter and a sealed air filtration system as well as specialized attachments.

Here, the best canister vacuums available now.

Best Overall: Kenmore Elite 81714 Pet Friendly Canister Vacuum

In order to be named the best canister vacuum cleaner, a vacuum can’t sit out on any of the major features it’s expected to have—and it should boast a few bells and whistles that will convince you to choose it over more budget-conscious options. The Kenmore Elite 81714 Pet Friendly Canister Vacuum is that vacuum—one that flies under the radar and then pops up to impress with features like a 2-motor system that gives it exceptional suction strength, an adjustable telescoping wand that can reach and clean up to 10 feet, and a 26-foot cord that offers freedom of movement as you clean and is retractable with the push of button. 

This is a classic bagged canister, which means you will have to replace bags on occasion—but it also means there’s no need to constantly empty filters and wash them out. It was designed with an integrated HEPA filtration system and a special Pet Powermate attachment for sucking up fur and hair from floors, upholstery, and pet areas—a must-have if you have a pet that sheds. Another useful attachment is the dusting and crevice tool with suction control, which can tackle hard floors, carpet, and delicate items like curtains. Make no bones about it: at 25 pounds, this is a substantial vacuum and it requires manual pile-height adjustment when you switch from floors to carpet or rugs, but considering its many features, this is the best overall vacuum to own.

Best Splurge: Miele Compact C2 Electro+ Canister Vacuum

If you’re ready to take the leap and splurge on an incredible canister vacuum cleaner that stands the test of time, it doesn’t get better than the Miele Compact C2 Electro + PowerLine. This is the vacuum that checks the boxes for nearly every important vacuum feature—and can be trusted to do an incredible job of gently cleaning hard floors and deep cleaning carpets. This powerful vacuum delivers 1,200 watts of suction power and features two different brush types: use the soft parquet brush to clean hard floors without scratching surfaces and swap it for the electrobrush when you need to get every last stray hair out of your carpet. The cherry on top? The electrobrush adjusts to five different heights to suit a variety of carpet types. 

You don’t have to worry about this vacuum making a racket—its Vortex silence motor gives it a more muffled sound than most vacuums. You can control the amount of suction power via a simple-to-operate 6-setting rotary dial and the three accessories that are included—a crevice tool, upholstery tool, and dusting brush—come clipped to the hose for convenience. Allergy sufferers can breathe easy knowing this Miele vacuum traps over 99.9 percent of dust, dirt, and allergens via its AirClean filter system that includes a dust bag and HEPA AirClean exhaust filter.

"The upholstery tool is amazing at picking up cat hair from couches—better than anything we’ve tested so far."—Joy Merrifield, Product Tester

Best Bagless: OVENTE Bagless Canister Vacuum

Two of the greatest things about investing in a bagless canister vacuum cleaner are knowing that you won’t need to spend another dime on replacement bags and not having to come into close contact with dirt and dust. The Ovente Bagless Canister Vacuum is all about making your life as easy as possible. Its translucent filter and dust container effortlessly lifts up from the canister by a handle and is emptied from the bottom, straight into your garbage. Rinse the filter, replace it, and keep on using your vacuum until a convenient LED light alerts you when the dust container and filter are full. 

This cyclonic vacuum delivers 1200 watts of power and has a HEPA filtration system for capturing allergens, dust, and tiny airborne particles. The automatic cable rewinder keeps you from having to wrap a cord around the vacuum, and a telescopic wand provides access to hard-to-reach areas like the tops of windows, ceilings, and corners. It doesn’t flake out when it comes to attachments, either—you’ll get a pet brush, floor brush, and a combination crevice nozzle and bristle brush.

Best Budget: Bissell Zing Bagged Canister Vacuum

The pursuit of a cleaner home doesn’t have to break the bank. There are a number of double-digit vacuums out there, but the BISSELL Zing Bagged Canister Vacuum stands out for its affordable price tag and plenty of features that don’t force you to compromise on quality. Weighing less than 8 pounds, this bagless vacuum can collect up to 2.5 liters of dirt, dust, and debris. The lightweight vacuum lacks a variety of settings, but it makes up for it with simplicity—one flip of a switch takes you from hard floors to carpet and another adjustable knob lets you lower the suctioning power so that you can safely clean thin rugs, drapes, and upholstery. 

If you have stairs, you’ll appreciate this vacuum’s integrated carrying handle and telescopic wand. And there’s good news for anyone who can’t stand wrapping and uncoiling cords—this model boasts a 15-foot power cord with an automatic cord rewind that retracts when you push one button.

Best for Pet Hair: Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister Vacuum Cleaner

The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister Vacuum Cleaner is one of the most powerful vacuums on the market—and one that has gained a reputation among customers as having such forceful suction it can make carpets look brand new, even if you own several dogs that are constantly shedding. Pet owners know the importance of keeping floors, carpet, and their pet areas clean and free of fur and hair. This vacuum has features that include its trademarked Dyson Cinetic technology for suctioning up and separating microscopic dust and dirt particles, so you can feel confident that it’s getting up all of the debris your pooch or kitty tracks in from the outside (even what you can’t see with the naked eye)—and you don’t have to worry about your vacuum getting jammed up every week. The bagless vacuum is free of filters, which means no extra costs or time spent washing dirty filters. It boasts an ejector lever that drives dirt, hair, and other debris out and straight into your garbage bag so that you never have to pull out gunk with your hands.

This vacuum’s .42 gallon canister holds a substantial amount of dirt, extending the amount of time you can spend cleaning, and it even self-corrects and picks itself up again if it falls, which saves you time. As with all Dyson ball vacuums, the ball technology allows for ease of movement and steering, which comes in handy when you’re moving around furniture legs and darting in and out of rooms. It has a 21-foot cord and attachments that are stored on the handle, including a turbine head that picks up more dust from hardwood and low-pile carpets and a counter-rotating brush head designed specifically to pull up hair from carpets, upholstery and pet beds.

One really nice thing about this vacuum is that, if you are a longtime Dyson devotee and are making the switch from Dyson’s upright or another model, this vacuum comes with an adapter that allows you to use transfer attachments over from your previous Dyson vacuum cleaner. It has a whole-machine HEPA filtration system that keeps allergens tucked inside the unit—and has been certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Best for Hardwood Floors: Bissell Bagless Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Vacuum

Hardwood floors are an investment. The last thing you want to do is scratch and destroy that investment when you’re trying to get your floors as clean as possible. It’s important to keep your floor’s needs in mind when choosing a vacuum—and the Bissell Deluxe Canister Vacuum comes equipped with features that protect hard wood and ease your worries. This 9 pound, bagless vacuum glides along floors on its non marking rubber wheels that feature felt treads. It won’t scratch floors as you go about your cleaning, but it will suction dirt and dust into its 1-liter dirt cup, which is emptied from the bottom to avoid messy situations. 

Whereas some vacuums have cleaning brushes that are more abrasive, this Bissell model comes with a soft, air-driven bristle brush designed to clean hard floors without scraping them. It has digital fingertip controls that let you reduce or increase suction as needed—a rare gem on a model of this price point—and its telescopic 8-foot extension wand is the perfect tool for lifting up debris and dust from curtains and ceiling fans. If you prefer not to fumble with cords, you’re in luck: it has an automatic cord rewind.

Best Lightweight: Oreck Commercial BB900-DGR XL Pro 5 Compact Canister Vacuum

If you live in a multilevel home and would rather not pull a muscle on cleaning day, a lightweight vacuum may be the best choice for you and your lifestyle. The Oreck Commercial BB900-DGR XL Pro 5 Super Compact Canister Vacuum is unlike any other lightweight model on the market. Weighing just 5 pounds, this bagged canister vacuum features both an integrated handle and a shoulder strap to make it beyond comfortable to carry around. And don’t let its smaller size fool you: it has a 4-amp, two-stage bypass motor that delivers far superior suctioning power than single-stage motors. 

This model comes with plenty of tools like a 5-foot stretch hose, telescopic wand, upholstery tool, dusting brush, and floor nozzle. Its disposable 1.25-quart bag will need to be replaced on occasion, but it’s well worth it because this vacuum is so versatile and can tackle hard floors, carpet, stairs, upholstery, and impossible-to-reach corners and crevices. Last, but not least, one of the best features about this vacuum is its 30-foot power cord—feel free to roam around your home while cleaning without worrying about having to stop every few minutes to change outlets.

Best Wet/Dry Canister: Craftsman 12004 Wet/Dry Vac

Vacuums aren’t just for living rooms and kitchens. A wet/dry canister vacuum is a great appliance to keep on hand when you need to spruce up a basement, deep clean an area where you are knee-deep in a DIY project, suction up glass and other large debris, or quickly get rid of water from an attic that just experienced a leak. The Craftsman 12004 Wet/Dry Vac is an affordable option that can clean up water and dry out wet spaces in a flash. It has a 6-gallon polypropylene collection tank, a powerful 3 peak HP motor, and a removable filter with a screw cap.

The quartet of attachments included are two extension wands, a utility nozzle, and a floor squeegee. A top carry handle makes it easy to carry and it even converts to a blower to help gather leaves

Final Verdict

The best overall canister vacuum is the Kenmore Elite 81714 Pet Friendly Canister Vacuum (view at Walmart). It has a 2-motor system that gives it impressive suction strength and a 26-foot cord. However, if you have a bit more money to spend, the Miele Compact C2 Electro+ Canister Vacuum (view at Best Buy) is a great splurge pick.

What to Look for in a Canister Vacuum

Power Just how heavy-duty does your vacuum need to be? That depends on the type of floors you have, the size of your home, and other factors, such as if you have pets or not. Things like HEPA filters, which some models include, can also make a vacuum more effective when it comes to trapping allergens like dust and pollen.

Size and weight Often, the more powerful a vacuum is, the bigger and heavier it will be—which isn’t ideal if your home has multiple levels. In some cases, you may even want to consider multiple vacuums, so you can keep one on each floor, but there are also some powerful lightweight models that may do the job. 

Features There’s probably nothing that’s going to make vacuuming your favorite activity, but there are some features that can make it a lot easier. Things like retractable cords and different attachments can help—just think about what matters most to you.

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