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Upright vacuums and their canister counterparts are some of the most common and popular varieties of vacuum cleaners on the market. And it's easy to see why: Where the former tend to be workhorses with plenty of versatile attachments, the latter are nimble, lighter weight, and easy to use all around the house.
Both types are so enticing that it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you and your cleaning needs. That's why we've rounded up the best upright and canister vacuums all in one place—read on to learn more about our top picks and to find out which one is right for your cleaning needs and budget.
Here, the best canister and upright vacuums available on the market.
Best Upright Vacuum: Shark Rotator Professional Upright Corded Bagless Vacuum
Large dust cup
Top heavy design
This surprisingly lightweight vacuum from Shark exemplifies so much of what we love about upright vacuums. It features powerful suction, multi-surface cleaning, a hefty dust cup, and anti-allergen technology. Its swivel steering makes it easy to maneuver around the house and clean tight corners. Its LED headlights reveal overlooked debris. But this model does more than check the essential boxes.
This vacuum is actually a two-for-one deal: In addition to its regular upright mode, the main pod lifts away for handheld use on stairs, in hard-to-reach places, or on high-up fixtures like drapes. The crevice tool and upholstery brush attachments clean where neither the upright nor the pod can reach. In sum, if you want to clean your home's floors, furniture, and stairs with one high-quality machine, this Shark upright vacuum should be your pick.
Best Canister Vacuum: Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction Canister Vacuum
Pricey replacement bags
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 setting 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 inches. While doing so, it captures up to 99.9 percent of all air particles, so you can ensure your cleaning spree is a safe one.
The strong suctioning qualities and lightweight make-up are overall impressive, while the quiet operation makes it a great choice for families with small children or for those who live in a small apartment. After a few uses, it will become evident why this little “work horse” is an overall favorite.
Best Budget Upright Vacuum: Bissell CleanView Plus Rewind Vacuum Cleaner
Five height settings
Some tendency to clog
This upright model from Bissell proves that you don't have to sacrifice quality while saving money on a vacuum. With powerful suction, five height settings, dual-edge cleaning, and multi-level filtration, this vacuum cleans better on the first pass than models of similar prices do after multiple turns around room. The 25-foot power cord, and scatter-proof brush bar makes this machine all the more efficient.
The Bissell CleanView Plus comes with a crevice tool, dusting brush, extension wand, and TurboBrush (which is especially good for cleaning carpets and upholstery). For such a heavy duty machine, it's lightweight and handles easily. If you're cleaning on a budget, this is simply the best upright vacuum for your money.
Best Budget Canister Vacuum: Bissell Zing Bagged Canister Vacuum
Somewhat flimsy attachments
Loud on high settings
This Bissell canister vacuum can switch from cleaning carpets to hard floors on a dime, reaches inaccessible nooks and crannies around the house, and seals dirt and debris into its 2.5 liter dust bag. You can adjust the suction to fit your current cleanup job and enjoy hassle-free storage thanks its automatically rewinding power cord.
This model can clean high and low with its telescoping wand and, at only 7.5 pounds, it won't give your arms too much of a workout. This is a wonderful, wallet-friendly option for anyone who wants a nimble little vacuum that can handle small cleanups and major messes alike.
Best High End Upright Vacuum: Shark AZ2002 Vertex DuoClean Upright Vacuum
HEPA filtration system
Steeper price point
On the heavier side
This vacuum features some of the most innovative technology on the market at the moment, including a dual-action roller for far-reaching, consistent suction and self-cleaning brushroll that resists even the most matted messes of pet hair. The Vertex deeply cleans carpets of dust, dander, and other allergens, trapping them away in a sealed HEPA filtration system. The only way dirt gets out of this vacuum is by way of its one-button emptying feature.
The attachable pet power brush and crevice tool come in handy when cleaning upholster and hard-to-reach areas. Weighing slightly over 16 pounds, this model is undeniably on the heavier side, but the lift-away pod allows for a lighter-weight cleaning experience, for when you need to clean under furniture or above the floor. The 30-foot power cord lets you coast around an entire room without having to relocate the plug. Finally, with its sleek design and rose gold finish, this vacuum matches its performance with its looks.
Best High End Canister Vacuum: Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Narrow cleaning head
Dyson received the highest score among canister vacuums in the J.D. Power 2017 Vacuum Satisfaction Studies, so it’s no surprise that their model, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal 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 head sucks up dirt in tricky to navigate spots. When it does meet its .42 gallon capacity, you can eject the contents with the simple tap of a button.
While the initial price upfront is steep, Dyson includes includes a five-year protection plan, so no additional warranty is needed. And, frankly, its enduring performance make it an undeniably solid investment.
Best Hardwood Floor Upright Vacuum: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright Vacuum
High-capacity dust cup
Can't reach under low furniture
The key to completely clean hardwood floors is a vacuum that doesn't have a coarse brushroll. While this feature is a perk when dredging up debris from high-pile carpet, it will only get in the way (and even put your floors at risk of getting damaged) when cleaning harder surfaces. Luckily, this upright vacuum from Shark features a brushroll that can be raised or lowered, depending on the type of floor you're currently cleaning.
In addition to its hardwood-friendly brushroll, the Shark Navigator's pet power brush and crevice attachments can pick up dirt, dust, and pet dander with ease, while its lift-away pod makes it easy to clean staircases. If your home is mostly hardwood—but also plagued by everyday messes on upholstery and in hard-to-reach areas—this vacuum is versatile enough to meet all your cleaning needs.
"This vacuum can be configured into three cleaning modes to target all areas of your home. There are two separate settings on the vacuum—position “I” for bare floors and position “II” for carpets and rugs. When the vacuum is on the second setting, a rotating motorized floor brush will help agitate ground-in dirt, debris, and pet hair. A green light will illuminate to indicate that the brush is on. If there is a jam or blockage in the motorized brush, the light will turn red to notify you that there is a problem."—Sage McHugh, Product Tester
Best Hardwood Floor Canister Vacuum: Bissell Bagless Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Vacuum
Limited dirt tank capacity
Tools are locked in at a fixed angle
Don't let its overall cleaning power fool you—this canister vacuum is surprisingly gentle on hardwood surfaces. That's thanks, in part, to its adjustable suction controls (which you can access from the wand's handle), but its smaller design details, like the rubber wheels with felt treads, also keep hard floors clean and scratch-free.
If your home's floors are a mix of hardwood and carpet, this canister model is great option for your cleaning needs. In addition to its hardwood-compatible floorhead, it comes with another floor attachment made specifically for low-pile carpets. For multi-surface cleanups, the Bissell Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum will certainly get the job done.
"At the max level, the suction is powerful and could compete with any carpet-specific vacuums. On the lower setting, which we used on more delicate surfaces like blinds, you still get good suction. This vacuum handily removes hair, dust, and dirt on hard floors and leaves you with a clean surface. "—Deanna McCormack, Product Tester
If you prefer an upright vacuum, we recommend the Shark Rotator Professional Upright Corded Bagless Vacuum (view at Amazon) for its anti-allergen technology, lift-away pod, and all around reliable, multi-surface suction. If canister vacuums are more your style, the Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction Canister Vacuum (view at Amazon) is an exemplary model. It operates powerfully yet quietly, making it a great option for apartments or smaller homes in need of deep cleaning.
What to Look for in an Upright or Canister Vacuum
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.
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.
When should I choose a canister vacuum over an upright model?
If you plant to use your vacuum on multiple levels of your home, or if you live in an apartment or smaller space, you may be better off choosing a canister over an upright vacuum. Canister vacuums are generally lighter and easier to maneuver from room to room (or from floor to floor), and can reach above-floor areas with more easily than uprights. This makes them extremely versatile cleaning machines that, as long as you don't have high-pile carpets or large rooms to clean, can vacuum your whole home without issues.
When should I choose an upright vacuum over a canister model?
If you're looking for a vacuum with maximum suction power, an upright is the right model for you. This type of vacuum is considered the workhorse of the vacuum family for a reason—upright vacuums are sturdy, usually hold more dirt than other vacuum varieties, and can clean rugs as effectively as bare floors. Homes with carpeted rooms will benefit immensely from an upright vacuum. This model is also a great pick for homes with limited storage space, as it tends to have a smaller footprint than canister vacuums.
What kind of suction power can I expect from upright and canister vacuums?
As mentioned above, an upright vacuum will more than likely have stronger suction than a canister. However, you can find plenty of suction power in both varieties. To get a better idea of your vacuum's suction, take note of how many interior fans it features, the size of its motor, and what it promises in terms of airflow.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sara Coughlin, a freelance writer and The Spruce’s small appliances expert. From canister models to dustbusters, she’s researched what it takes for a vacuum to stand out in a vast and broad market—and what to look for in up-and-coming models.