The Better Vacuum: Upright or Canister?

Helping you choose the right vacuum for your home

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Upright Vacuum: Oreck Commercial XL2100RHS8 at Amazon

"If you have bad allergies, a bagged vacuum like this Oreck is a good option."

Best Canister Vacuum: Miele Compact C1 Canister Vacuum at Amazon

"Experience the power of the robust Vortex Motor System in action."

Best Budget Upright Vacuum: BISSEL Vacuum With OnePass at Amazon

"The foam filter can even be washed in the sink."

Best Budget Canister Vacuum: BISSELL Canister Vacuum at Amazon

"Light enough to maneuver around the house easily."

Best High End Canister: Dyson Big Ball Canister Vacuum at Best Buy

"The ability to clean any floor without frequent canister emptying."

Best High End Upright: Shark Rotator Lift-Away Vacuum at Walmart

"It twists and turns around all obstacles."

  • 01 of 06

    Best Upright Vacuum: Oreck Commercial XL2100RHS8

    Oreck Commercial XL2100RHS 8 Pound Commercial Upright Vacuum, Blue
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    If you have bad allergies, a bagged vacuum like this Oreck is a good option. They’re generally more expensive than bagless, especially when you consider the money you’ll spend on replacement bags, but they’ll most likely last longer so you’ll get your money’s worth in the long run.

    This eight-pound machine has a large, 12-inch wide cleaning head and leaves no dirt in its center path. It also has an automatic floor adjustment so you won’t have to manually change it when you move from hardwood to carpet.

    A bestseller in its category, this vacuum has received many great reviews from consumers who rave about its lightweight size, suction power, and ease of use. Some of the critical reviews have complained about its loud noise and difficulty on high-pile carpet. But the majority of customers would recommend the product. The vacuum comes with a commercial one-year warranty.

    Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best upright vacuums available online. 

  • 02 of 06

    Best Canister Vacuum: Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction Canister Vacuum

    When it comes to both power and quality, Miele’s Compact C1 Pure Suction vacuum cleaner has all the essentials to tackle carpeting and smooth flooring alike. Switch seamlessly between these surfaces with the push of a switch to experience the power of the robust Vortex Motor System in action. Combined with a powerful, six settings motor, and you’re guaranteed an unmatched clean compared to other models.

    Intimidated by the strong suctioning and cleaning qualities? There's no need to be! The 13.8 pound wand moves effortlessly around an impressive cleaning radius of up to 29.5'. While doing so, it captures up to 99.9% of all air particles, so you can ensure your cleaning spree is a safe one.

    Buyers of the product were primarily impressed with the strong suctioning qualities and lightweight make-up. They also praised the quiet operation and claim it makes a great choice for families with small children or for those who live in a small apartment. After reading the review, it will become evident why this little “work horse” is an overall favorite among many.

  • 03 of 06

    Best Budget Upright Vacuum: BISSEL 9595A Vacuum With OnePass

    BISSELL 9595A Vacuum with OnePass - Corded
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    Looking for an inexpensive but quality upright vacuum? This one is a great choice. It’s a powerful model, and customers say they are impressed with the performance, especially for the price. It has an Easy Empty Dirt Tank, meaning it doesn’t require expensive replacement bags and can be cleaned easily—the foam filter can even be washed in the sink, a definite perk when it comes to maintaining the machine.

    The TurboBrush Tool allows you to get powerful suction on your stairs, curtains, and furniture. Consumers have praised its suction and ease of use, although some have warned that they’ve had trouble with it lasting for a long time. Although if you’re purchasing a budget vacuum cleaner, you probably aren’t expecting it to last for more than a few years.

  • 04 of 06

    Best Budget Canister Vacuum: BISSELL Zing Rewind Bagless Canister Vacuum

    BISSELL Zing Rewind Bagless Canister Vacuum, Caribbean Blue - Corded
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    A bestseller in its category, this BISSELL canister vacuum features multi-surface cleaning—go from carpet to hard floors with the flip of a switch. It also has a three-stage filtration system, plus the filters are washable and reusable, and no replacement bags are required thanks to its bagless container. Weighing 11 pounds, it’s light enough to maneuver around the house easily.

    Customers say it rolls on the floor really well and has great suction, picking up a lot of dirt, dust, and hair in its path. Some are not as happy with the design of the floor attachment, saying it doesn’t have a wide enough suction. But overall, for the price, it’s a quality vacuum and comes with a one-year limited warranty.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Best High End Canister: Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Bagless Canister Vacuum

    dyson-vacuum
    Courtesy of Best Buy

     Dyson received the highest score among canister vacuums in the J.D. Power 2017 Vacuum Satisfaction Studies, so it’s no surprise their newer model, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Bagless Canister Vacuum, gets our vote in the Best High End Canister category. With the ability to clean any floor without frequent canister emptying, this sleek choice is an effective option for your home. This vacuum promises to never lose its suction, and, unlike many other models, there's no need to wash or replace a filter. While it operates, the custom head sucks up dirt in tricky to navigate spots. When the .04 gallon dust cup does meet capacity, you can eject its continents with the simple tap of a button.

    Customers love the five year protection plan Dyson includes, so while the initial price upfront is steep, no additional warranty is needed. Several people also chimed in that the price tag was worth the investment for both the quality and performance it delivers.

  • 06 of 06

    Best High End Upright: Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away Upright Vacuum

    shark-upright-vacuum
    Courtesy of Walmart

    For upright vacuums, the Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away gets our top nomination. Since it never loses suction and features three vacuum components in one, it’s worth the money when it comes to a dependable household cleaning tool. This product is great for portable cleaning. But don’t think it skimps on performance. With an extra large dust cup (3.1 quarts to be exact) and Anti-Allergen Complete Seal traps, you can be sure it’ll sweep away unwanted debris with ease. When it comes to maneuvering, it twists and turns around all obstacles (think furniture or pets) while operating noise-free.

    The aerodynamic vac comes with several accessories including: A pet power brush, a tool for targeting crevices, and an extra nozzle. Combined with a lengthy 30-foot power cord, and this model is equipped to tackle big spaces effectively. Buyers love the extra attachments included in their purchase, which helps make the price worth it. On performance alone, this lightweight option is a clear upright winner among consumers.

What to Look for in an Upright or Canister Vacuum

Maneuverability When shopping for an upright or canister vacuum, consider how easy it'll be to move it from room to room. While upright vacuums glide on built-in wheels and pack a little more suction power, you'll have more weight to push around. Canister vacuums, on the other hand, are lighter, but you might need to carry them since not all models have wheels. Canister vacuums are also usually equipped with longer hoses and wand attachments to reach high, dusty spots like shelves, drapes, and more. 

Dust and debris collection All the dust and debris you suction up through the vacuum cleaner must go somewhere, so you’ll need to decide whether you want a bagged or bagless model. Both upright and canister vacuums options are available with conventional vacuum cleaner bags, but it should be noted that the trend is towards bagless vacuum cleaners with dust cups that can be emptied and don’t need frequent replacement. While vacuum bags seal in dust and dirt better, it's an extra recurring expense you’ll need to consider.

Filtration Just about all vacuums have some type of dust filtration, but if you’re looking for enhanced dust, dander, and allergen filtration, consider a vacuum with specialized filtration. Onboard HEPA filters will trap particles as small as 0.03 microns in size, and some models pair these filters with carbon filters for extra odor and dust control. Some filters are washable, while others will need to be replaced on an ongoing basis for long-term effectiveness.