Canister vacuums combine the cleaning power of an upright vacuum with the flexibility of a stick one, so you can tidy up your space with more 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—a perk for those with allergies who want to trap the dust for good.
We put a handful 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, may be a bit of a splurge, but is extremely quiet while operating and has six powerful suction settings.
Here are the best canister vacuums.
Best Overall: 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.
Price at time of publish: $549
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. "With the intense suction power concentrated into the small crevice tool, I quickly and effortlessly got rid of crumbs, dirt, and other mystery particles," they said. "When I ran it across the cushions' surface, it sucked up a notable amount of dust. It was surprising (and a little alarming) to see all the dirt, dust, and debris in the collection cup; I'm glad to have a vacuum that can get the job done."
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.
Price at time of publish: $80
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.
Price at time of publish: $280
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. Our tester noted the brush head and canister are slightly difficult to maneuver on carpet, but the canister easily rolled from hardwood to carpet without any issues.
This vacuum also handled pet hair with no issues on all of its settings. Our tester said navigating stairs may be slightly more difficult with this unit, but she recommended leaving the canister at the bottom of a set of stairs while cleaning them. While this vacuum was not particularly loud on any of its settings, our tester noted that the motorized brush head was the loudest of the attachments. Although this vacuum is one of the most expensive options we tested, we believe it's definitely worth the splurge, 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. "I said 'wow' when I saw price," said our tester. "But I can tell that this vacuum does the job well and would be a good investment."
Price at time of publish: $949
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 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 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.
Price at time of publish: $161
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.
Price at time of publish: $230
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.
Price at time of publish: $156
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 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.
Miele Boost CX1: Benefits of the Miele Boost CX1 lie with strong suction, easy-to-use attachments, and a simple emptying process. However, our tester said this vacuum struggled on carpet, and had to be placed directly over debris to suction it up. Overall, it earned a solid 3 for effectiveness. 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've tested over 50 vacuums side-by-side in The Lab during our multiple vacuum tests. Our testers started these tests 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, and rated overall value based off their entire experience with the product. 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 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 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 freelance writer for The Spruce specializing 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. Theresa has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019, covering cleaning gadgets, appliances, textiles, and furniture.
Dena Ogden, commerce writer for The Spruce, also contributed to this roundup, updating it with the latest picks we tested but didn't love enough to add to the list.
What Is Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce we want to ensure 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 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. We also pride ourselves on transparency and will always let you know if we received a product for free.