Canister vacuums combine the cleaning power of an upright vacuum with the floor head maneuverability of a stick model, so you can tidy up your space with ease. They often are outfitted with a firm handle and wheels on the canister portion that make it incredibly easy to lug the appliance up a flight of stairs and around your room. Notably, canister models can also come with a bagless or bagged design—the latter of which can be a nice option for those with allergies who want to trap the dust.
We put a select group of canister vacuums to the test in The Lab and our own homes—and thoroughly researched dozens more—and evaluated their effectiveness, noise level, and maneuverability. Our top pick, the Miele Compact C1 Turbo Team Bagged Canister Vacuum, is extremely quiet while operating and has six powerful suction settings, making it worth the splurge. If you're on a budget, there are plenty of other canister vacuums to consider, as well.
Miele Compact C1 Turbo Team Bagged Canister Vacuum
Six suction settings
Takes a while to fill up
Might be too cumbersome for stairs
The Miele C1 Turbo Team Bagged Canister Vacuum is pricey, but also has plenty of winning qualities that make it worth the investment. 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.
During testing, we 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. It scored well for cleaning effectiveness on these surfaces, requiring just two passes to pick up the cereal, even on the high-pile carpet. When it came to noise level, this canister earned high marks, because you can have a conversation over it. In fact, one member of our team even said it's "so quiet, it's ridiculous." This machine also made it easy to reach under our low-sitting couch and coffee table, thanks to a telescoping wand.
The vacuum is quite heavy, at 15 pounds. You likely would get tired carrying it up and down the stairs several times on cleaning day. With a 3.75-quart bag, you will be able to do more cleaning at one time since it takes a while to fill it up (which is ideal, since you have to purchase replacement bags separately). We also found that it clogged up a bit on the medium-pile carpet after sucking up hair in our testing in The Lab, a potential drawback of all that suction.
Price at time of publish: $579
Dimensions: 16.9 x 9.1 x 9.8 inches | Weight: 15 pounds | Capacity: 3.75 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 9.8 inches | Bag Type: Bagged | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, hardwood, laminate, vinyl, tile, and linoleum
Bissell Zing Bagless Canister Vacuum
Automatic cord rewind
Hair doesn't get tangled
Simple emptying process
Floor head not as maneuverable as other options
Relatively short power cord
Looking for something a little cheaper? Check out the Bissell Zing Bagless Canister Vacuum. This nifty canister vac gets the job done on hard floors and upholstery. When we tested this model in a home setting, we were impressed by its suction power and how dust and debris it collected in the dust bin. It has both a hard floor mode and a carpet mode, so you can tailor the vacuum's suction power to the surface you're tackling.
The bagless design means you won't have to shell out more money on replacement bags, which is ideal. The container-emptying process was simple, and we didn't create a mess when dumping out the debris. We were also impressed at how longer strands of hair didn't get tangled up inside the vacuum.
This model leaves something to be desired when it comes to maneuverability. The floor head didn't swivel as we would have liked it to, but the compact design of the vacuum still made it relatively easy to get into nooks and crannies. The 15-foot-long power cord is on the shorter side, but the vacuum does come with a telescoping wand and a crevice tool to elevate your cleaning routine. Ultimately, we think this budget-friendly vac can be a loyal sidekick on cleaning days and offers much of the same power and features as some more expensive picks.
Price at time of publish: $80
Dimensions: 14 x 11 x 12 inches | Weight: 10.2 pounds | Capacity: 2 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 11 inches | Bag type: Bagless | Compatible Floor Type: Vinyl, laminate, hardwood, carpet, and tile
Best for Carpet
Kenmore BC3005 Pet Friendly Bagged Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Four height adjustments
Requires frequent bag changes
Looking for a vacuum for carpet? The Kenmore Pet-Friendly Bagged Canister Vacuum Cleaner is a solid bet, and it comes with a smaller price tag than our best overall pick, the Miele C1 Turbo model. 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 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.)
We didn't test this canister vac, but when we dove into research, 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 telescoping wand makes cleaning stairs and high areas much easier. Plus, 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 while that's not ideal, we think it's a relatively small inconvenience for an overall impressive model.
Price at time of publish: $280
Dimensions: 26 x 16.25 x 13.75 inches | Weight: 24.4 pounds | Capacity: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: 15 inches | Bag type: Bagged | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, vinyl, laminate, hardwood, and tile
Best for Pet Hair
Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog Bagless Canister Vacuum
While canister vacuums are some of the most powerful on the market and can handle just about any type of mess, we love that the Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat and Dog Bagless Canister Vacuum is specifically designed for pet owners. This vacuum comes with five different attachments (not including the motorized brush head) that allow you to clean virtually any floor type, plus upholstery. This vacuum easily picked up dog kibble on its lowest setting on hard flooring, and on the highest setting on high-pile carpet. The brush head and canister are slightly difficult to maneuver on carpet, based on our experience, but the canister easily rolled from hardwood to carpet without any issues.
This vacuum also, on all of its settings, handled pet hair with no issues. Navigating stairs may be slightly more difficult with this unit, but leaving the canister at the bottom of a set of stairs while cleaning them can alleviate some of that. While this vacuum was not particularly loud on any of its settings, the motorized brush head did make more noise than the other attachments.
Although this vacuum is one of the most expensive options we tested—and you might experience some sticker shock looking at the price tag—we believe it's worth the splurge, especially if you're looking to make an investment that's sure to last for several years and capable of tackling all kinds of messes created by your furry friend.
Price at time of publish: $999
Dimensions: 12 x 20 x 12 inches | Weight: 19 pounds | Capacity: 2.1 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Bag type: Bagless | Compatible Floor Type: Hardwood, tile, vinyl, laminate, and carpet
Atrix Turbo Red HEPA Canister Vacuum
17 height settings
Easy to store
Narrow cleaning path
Not as durable as others
While canister vacuums can be practical for cleaning, they can be challenging to store in small spaces. 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 and down the stairs—look to the Atrix Turbo Red Canister Vacuum. Measuring a tiny 12 by 18 by 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 The Lab or at home, but we were impressed by the variable-speed motor and whopping 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.
Price at time of publish: $165
Dimensions: 12 x 18 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 11 pounds | Capacity: 3 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 8 inches | Bag type: Bagged | Compatible Floor Type: Hardwood, vinyl, laminate, and tile
BLACK+DECKER Bagless Multi-Cyclone Canister Vacuum
Relatively short power cord
Debris isn't sealed away
The perk of a bagless canister vacuum, as compared to a bagged one, is that it's generally easier to empty and cheaper to maintain, and you don't need to buy replacement bags. However, debris isn't sealed away during disposal, which can be an issue for those who suffer from allergies and are trying to contain all of the dirt, debris, and irritants 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 cleared with the press of a button. The built-in HEPA filter helps to trap debris and allergens 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. At nearly 14 pounds, this pick is heavier than some canister vacuums on the market, and it might not be comfortable to carry up a flight of stairs. We didn't test this pick in The Lab or at home, but we were nonetheless impressed with its engineering and provided attachments.
Price at time of publish: $230
Dimensions: 14.06 x 10.47 x 16.06 inches | Weight: 13.9 pounds | Capacity: 3.8 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 10 inches | Bag type: Bagless | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, hardwood, vinyl, laminate, and tile
Hoover PortaPower Commercial Lightweight Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Long power cord
Requires frequent bag changes
Need to purchase replacement bags
Commercial vacuums 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. While the Miele Complete C3 Brilliant Canister Vacuum Cleaner took our best overall spot in our roundup of the best commercial vacuums, it's extremely expensive. With that in mind, we think you can't go wrong with Hoover's PortaPower Canister Vacuum for residential use.
It's an ultra-lightweight vacuum that packs a serious punch. Weighing just 8 pounds, this unit is one of the easiest to carry, 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, such as blowing leaves. The bagged design will require you to buy extra bags in order to maintain this vac, and the bag tends to fill up quickly. However, a bagged design means that your messes will be sealed away after you pick them off the floor, which is a bonus.
Price at time of publish: $156
Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 7 inches | Weight: 8 pounds | Capacity: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: 10 inches | Bag type: Bagged | Compatible Floor Type: Hardwood, tile, vinyl, laminate, and carpet
Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Weighs just over 8 pounds
Easy to maneuver
Easier to use by pulling toward user
Power cord could be longer
This lightweight canister vacuum from Eureka is the kind of machine you can expect to move around your home without breaking a sweat. Designed with a handle on the top so you can even carry it while you vacuum stairs, we found it to be equally efficient on hard flooring and carpet when we tested it in The Lab. The wand itself was easy to maneuver around, though we did notice that it was more effective—and generally easier to use—when we pulled it back toward us, as opposed to pushing it forward. The attachments were effective on upholstery (especially the crevice tool), but using the wand on its own gets the job done, too.
We're also fans of the retractable cord feature, which makes it easy to store without the hassle of a winding or worse, tangling cord. Though, we wish the cord were a bit longer than 16 feet to better clean larger spaces. Still, the dust cup size was more than sufficient, and we were able to complete our testing process without needing to empty it in between tasks. This vacuum did better with hair than some of its peers, and there weren't as many pieces caught up as we saw in certain other models. At under $100, it's a stone's throw from our best budget pick, which makes us even more inclined to overlook the small inconveniences. You can even pick up the vacuum on its own, without the second filter, to save a few bucks.
Price at time of publish: $90
Dimensions: 14.17 x 12.2 x 9.65 inches | Weight: 8.15 pounds | Capacity: 1.2 liters | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Bag type: Bagless | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet and hard floor
Our top pick for a canister vacuum is undoubtedly the Miele Compact C1 Turbo Team Bagged Canister Vacuum. It has a small canister body, yet a large dust capacity, so you won't have to worry about stopping to empty the canister while cleaning your whole home. For something less expensive, we highly recommend the Bissell Zing Canister Vacuum: a bagless, compact, user-friendly canister vac that weighs about 10 pounds and has a simple emptying process.
Other Options We Tested
Bissell Hard Floor Expert Canister Vacuum 1547: This Bissell model has a lot of positive features, like a pleasantly low noise level, retractable cord, and lightweight design. But—and this is a big "but"—the suction was so incredibly strong that we struggled to move it over carpeted surfaces and rugs. This vacuum literally has "Hard Floor Expert" in the name, so we did consider recommending it for hard floors only, since that's clearly in the design plan. However, we also found that the small brush roll struggled with larger debris like Cheerios and popcorn kernels, and that the attachment designs weren't as efficient as we would have liked. Overall, we see it as good for its intended purpose, but not necessarily great overall.
Prolux Tritan Canister Vacuum: While the Prolux Tritan Canister Vacuum features a built-in HEPA filter and does an average job on most surfaces, it earned a 1.5-star rating for setup and a 1-star rating for maneuverability, since it doesn't swivel, is cumbersome to lug around, and has a short power cord. The manual is super unclear, and it took us over 10 minutes to put the vacuum together. Additionally, the vacuum is notably loud, especially when using the brush roll attachment. If we could make changes to this canister vacuum, we'd make it quieter, lighter, and potentially cordless, with a more conveniently placed power switch.
Miele Boost CX1: Benefits of the Miele Boost CX1 lie with strong suction, easy-to-use attachments, and a simple emptying process. However, in our experience this vacuum struggled on carpet, and had to be placed directly over debris to suction it up. The handheld attachment did perform well, though, lifting hair and debris within a few passes. If your needs are solely to clean hard floors and furniture, it would still be a suitable choice, but you could likely find a more versatile vacuum at this price point.
How We Tested the Canister Vacuums
We tested over 50 vacuums side-by-side in The Lab during our multiple vacuum tests. We started these tests by unboxing each model and rating the ease of setup, after timing the assembly process and following along with the instructions. We 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 were tangled in the model, the vacuum's weight and portability, and the vacuum's noise level.
We emptied the dust bins and changed the bags, noting the ease of emptying each pick. In addition, we brought the vacuums through a living room-inspired obstacle course to test their maneuverability and see how they moved. Then we rated overall value based on our entire experience with the product.
We also tested additional models in at-home tests, where we considered 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 in 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 won'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," Pook 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 should 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 freelance writer for The Spruce who specializes in home improvement and lifestyle topics. For this roundup, she compiled insights from The Lab and our real-world tests, 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. Holland has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019, covering cleaning gadgets, appliances, textiles, and furniture.
Dena Ogden, a commerce writer for The Spruce, also contributed to this roundup, updating it with the most notable picks we recently tested.
What Is Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure that we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all of these products ourselves, though occasionally we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.