Canister vacuums deliver serious cleaning power, lower noise than upright vacuums and the versatility you need to clean an entire room thoroughly. But, with so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to narrow down your choices. Today, we’re going to cover everything you’ll need to know to find the best canister vacuum for your needs.
Depending on your needs, a canister vacuum may be the best style for your needs. While there are some areas where canister vacuums don’t perform as well as upright or stick vacuums, they are far superior in many ways.
When it comes to canister vacuums, there are several specifications and features you’ll need to consider before arriving at a purchasing decision. How well a vacuum performs will depend largely on the specifications you see on a product page or printed on the box.
Deciphering what these specs mean to you is the key to selecting the proper vacuum. Lets look at each of the key factors in our canister vacuum reviews.
Before we can dive into any of the other features common with canister vacuums, you need to create a budget. Canister vacuums vary widely in price. You can find models available for less than $100, while the highest end models can cost a measly amount of money.
While some mid-range vacuums deliver excellent performance and value, most high quality vacuums fall a few hundred dollars more. Depending on the size of your budget, you can quickly eliminate any vacuum that’s outside your price range.
There are several ways to measure vacuum power, and different manufacturers provide power values in different ways. The majority of manufacturers measure power in watts and amps, and most canister vacuums have 1000-1500 watts of power.
Unfortunately, wattage isn’t the most precise indicator of vacuum performance, even though it’s the one manufacturers provide most often. Sometimes, a lower wattage motor can produce just as much suction power or more when compared to a higher power motor.
The easiest way to tell if a vacuum is powerful enough is to use it in your own home. Since that isn’t always possible, wattage is a good jumping off point for understanding a vacuum’s power.
We’ll help you out here as well – not only will we share the power behind each canister vacuum we recommend, but we’ll let you know how that power plays out in its performance.
The accessories included with the vacuum provide you with additional tools so you can clean your home more completely. While almost all canister vacuums add a few accessories to the box, like a crevice tool and dust brush, some offer more comprehensive accessory sets.
Additional accessories can be particularly helpful for households with pets, as several manufacturers include accessories designed to remove pet hair and dander from surfaces more completely than less specialized tools.
The most important accessory to consider with a canister vacuum is the main floor brush. The primary brush often features settings for carpet and bare floors, and a quality brush can make a huge amount of difference in the efficiency of a vacuum.
Another important consideration is the length of the power cord. Vacuums with short power cords can be frustrating since you’ll need to regularly stop vacuuming to move the plug to a closer outlet so you can vacuum different areas. At a bare minimum, you’ll want a 20-foot power cord, although it’s best to have a cord that’s even longer to provide you with more freedom.
How the cord stores is an issue of convenience that may be important to you. A cord that retracts itself allows you to store the cord away quickly when it isn’t in use. Canister’s without automatic cord retractors take longer to store away when you’re finished vacuuming.
If you’ve used a vacuum before, you know that different types of flooring react to a vacuum in completely different ways. Higher pile floor types, like carpets or rugs can be very difficult to vacuum if the brush is too low to the ground. Meanwhile, low pile or no pile floors require the brush to be very close to the floor in order to function properly.
If you need to vacuum more than one type of flooring, being able to adjust the height of the brush is critical. Generally, less expensive vacuums are less adjustable with regard to brush height, while more expensive vacuums offer finer levels of adjustment.
The type of filtration the canister offers is also worth considering. Cheaper models often don’t feature the same level of air filtration and are less than ideal for allergy and asthma patients.
HEPA filtration is regarded as the industry standard for quality air filtration, and most high quality vacuums either offer HEPA filtration standard or allow you to add a HEPA filter to the canister.
However, air filters only work as well as the canister itself. Canisters that leak air allow unfiltered air to return to the room before being filtered. Usually, only more expensive vacuums have canisters that are 100% sealed. These kinds of canisters are most effective for households where air quality is a major concern.
Compared to upright vacuums, canister vacuums are immediately at a disadvantage from an ease of use perspective. The majority of canister vacuums are bulkier and more difficult to maneuver. However, they usually do a much better job of cleaning.
To make up for this disadvantage, many manufacturers offer intuitive features that are meant to make your life easier as you vacuum. Features like 360-degree swiveling wheels will keep you from tangling your power cord with the canister, costing you valuable time spent untangling.
Other features to look for include a telescoping wand to make cleaning drapery and ceilings easier. Some manufacturers offer ergonomic features to make vacuuming more comfortable.
In general, canister vacuums are quieter than their upright counterparts. However, there’s still plenty of canister vacuums that are as loud as a rock band. The amount of noise the canister generates is going to be worth considering, especially for houses with pets or small children who may be afraid of the vacuum.
Manufacturers can reduce noise by either reducing the power of the motor, which makes the vacuum less efficient, or by insulating the canister better, which makes the vacuum more expensive. For this reason, cheaper vacuums are usually more noisy, while more expensive vacuums are quieter.
Bagged vacuums have been the industry standard for canister vacuums for many years. With a bagged vacuum, all of the dust and debris sucked into the vacuum is stored in a disposable bag, which you empty when it’s full.
These vacuums are usually a bit messier than their bagless counterparts when it comes time to empty the bag. You’ll also need to factor in the added expense of paying for replacement bags.
Bagless vacuums are a more recent addition to the canister vacuum lexicon, and they offer an added degree of convenience since you’ll never need to worry about replacing bags or buying new ones. You just empty the canister when it’s full, and you can get right back to vacuuming.
Chances are, you aren’t particularly excited about the fact you’re in the market for a new vacuum. One of the most important considerations you’ll need to make is how important reliability and warranty are to you.
Nearly all manufacturers offer a warranty, and most are for two years or less. However, high-end manufacturers offer much more extended warranties and often cover their products for five years or longer. The two Miele canister vacuums on our list feature seven year warranties!
If you’re hoping this next vacuum is the last one you’ll have to purchase for a decade or more, you’ll want to choose a canister that offers a great warranty and industry-leading reliability.
In your search for the best rated canister vacuum cleaner, you’ll find hundreds of worthy options. Depending on your needs and budget, you’ll be able to narrow the field further. Below, you’ll find our top picks for 2018 canister vacuums.
Some offer a low price point, while others are significantly more expensive. While not all of these vacuums may be ideal for your needs, these six vacuums represent our top choices in our best canister vacuum cleaner search.
Perhaps the most trusted name in vacuum cleaners, Miele has been around for over 100 years, and they’ve become a household name since introducing their products to the United States in the 1980s.
Miele forgoes all of the flashy aesthetics common with some vacuum cleaner brands. But, what they may lack in looks is more than accounted for when it comes to the quality, longevity, and power of this vacuum.
The Miele Complete C2 has a 1200 watt motor which provides ample power for any situation, and more power than many top commercial vacuum cleaners, as well. This vacuum also features six adjustable suction settings so you can cater the vacuum to your specific need at that moment.
Settings for high and low pile carpet, floors, upholstery, furniture, and rugs are available, which make this model a strong choice for the best canister vacuum for carpet. Canister vacuums typically aren't designed to handle all types of carpets, and they can be hard to push across thick pile carpet fibers. Not so with the C2 - if you want to use your canister vac on carpets, this is your best option.
In addition to the main brush, a separate floor brush is included as well as a dust brush and crevice tool. The parquet floor tool sits extremely low to the ground, which makes it considerably easier to vacuum under baseboards and furniture. The number of suction settings and the parquet brush makes this vacuum a contender for the best canister vacuum for wood floors.
The canister itself may look a bit clumsy, but the wheels rotate a full 360 degrees which allow you to move the canister easily as you vacuum. There’s also a fairly long operating radius, so you’ll be able to avoid having to stop vacuuming to change outlets.
When it comes to storage, it’s easy to get the C2 out of the way. The power cord retracts with the touch of a button, and there are parking stations for the wand located on the side and bottom of the canister. It may look bulky, but the C2 allows for compact storage.
While the C2 doesn’t come with a HEPA filter, it is compatible with HEPA filters and the canister’s completely sealed design forces all of the air entering the vacuum to travel through the filter before returning to the room. For this reason, the C2 is one of the best vacuums available for allergy and asthma sufferers.
Between the power cord and the hose, there are 33 feet in length to operate with. This doesn’t give you quite as much leeway as the Dyson or Hoover Commercial models we discussed earlier, but most people will find it’s more than long enough to tackle two or more rooms without unplugging.
Where Miele stands head and shoulders above the competition is their warranty policy. Miele stands behind their C2 vacuums for an unprecedented seven years. Further, Miele claims that the average lifespan of the Complete C2 greatly exceeds the warranty, with many customers getting twenty years out of their vacuum.
Top end features and a great warranty from perhaps the best brand name in vacuuming.
The vacuums that Miele manufactures are so reliable and full-featured that they deserve a second shout out on this list. The C1 may not have all of the bells and whistles of Miele’s more expensive models, but it retains many high-end features at a much lower price than Miele’s C2 and C3 series vacuums.
The C1 and C2 models share far more similarities than differences. They both feature:
The Miele C1 represents a fine opportunity to get high quality without the high price tag.
The C1 model’s floor brush isn’t quite as nice as the C2. So, when it comes to overall cleaning ability, the C2 probably has a slight edge.
The only other major difference to speak of may be easy to overlook for some people, but it will be critical for asthma and allergy sufferers.
The case of the C2 features a completely sealed design, and Miele guarantees that 100% of the air sucked into the vacuum must pass through the filtration systems before leaving the exhaust. Essentially, this makes the C2 an air purifier on wheels.
On the other hand, the C1 case is not completely sealed. Therefore, some air leakage is to be expected, which can affect those struggling with asthma or allergies.
If you can look past that issue, the Miele C1 represents one of the best canister vacuum values overall, and it’s worth serious consideration.
Top-level features for a mid-level price, backed by an industry-best warranty
Kenmore has been manufacturing high quality consumer appliances for well over 100 years, and quality vacuum cleaners have been one of their specialties. If you need proof of this fact, look no further than the customers on Amazon, who have made this one of the best-rated canister vacuum options available.
The Kenmore Elite CrossOver Canister Vacuum model features a traditional design with many intuitive features that make it easier to vacuum your home from floor to ceiling completely.
When it comes to power, this Kenmore features a unique two motor design with two power modes, which help to ensure you have the right amount of power for the application. The height of the floor brush offers hands-free adjustment, so you’ll be able to utilize that power efficiently and cater the vacuum to whatever surface you’re on.
Of all the vacuums we’ve featured, this Kenmore features the shortest power cord of the vacuums we’ve discussed, but it does offer an additional seven feet of reach thanks to the hose. The telescoping wand allows for additional reach as well. Most people will find that they have more than enough leeway to take care of their vacuuming tasks around the house without having to change outlets.
While it may look traditional, the Kenmore CrossOver has some intuitive features which make it easy to tackle difficult to reach areas. The additional cleaning tools all live in the wand’s handle, so switching between the floor brush and one of the smaller accessories is as easy as disconnecting the wand.
You’ll also be able to vacuum more in between emptying, as the CrossOver features one of the best canister vacuum sizes around.
Now, lets talk about what makes Kenmore get our vote for best canister vacuum for pet hair. For starters, accessories such as the PowerMate pet tool easily removes pet hair from seemingly any surface, and it’s able to get deep into crevices, as well. Also included are a crevice tool, dust and upholstery brush, a pet hair catcher and a second-floor brush for bare floors.
These tools work really well, and it doesn't stop there. The filtration on the CrossOver is exceptional, with HEPA filtration that is certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
This Kenmore model can go toe to toe with nearly any canister on the market when it comes to performance. But, there are a few features we’d love to see them improve upon.
For one, this model is the heaviest vacuum on our list, and it tips the scales at over 23 pounds. It’s also exceptionally loud for a canister vacuum, which may be an issue for some. Also, Kenmore’s warranty is suspiciously short at only one year. Many canister vacuums that are a third of the price of this model offer a longer warranty period.
Bottom line: if you have a pet that sheds, the Kenmore Elite CrossOver Canister Vacuum is a really good canister vacuum to get. Otherwise, you'll want to look at the others on our list.
Special features for pets make this the top rated canister vacuum for pet hair.
With over 50 years of experience, Sanitaire has been producing quality vacuums for home and commercial use. Their commercial line of canister vacuums offers high performance and plenty of intuitive features you usually only see on vacuums more than twice the price.
While the Sanitaire SC3683A is a bit more expensive than the Hoover, Sanitaire still manages to pack in plenty of value for the price.
Unlike the Hoover above, the Sanitaire features a traditional roll-behind canister which has large, heavy-duty wheels to prevent it from tipping over. But, the canister is still small enough to pick up for situations that require more portability.
This model includes a carry strap, which helps to make this Mighty Mite canister a breeze to carry, even at ten pounds. This is a welcomed feature as it gives you nearly as much portability as the Hoover CH30000, plus the option to leave the canister on the floor while you vacuum.
While this Mighty Mite model is small, it’s also powerful and packs a 10 amp motor, which provides significantly more power than many small canisters. For example, the Hoover we discussed above is only 75% as powerful as this vacuum. Even so, the Mighty Mite falls short in the power department compared to some of the other vacuums we’ll be covering.
Like the CH30000, this model’s floor nozzle features a 10-inch cleaning path, and it also includes several accessories to help make cleaning a breeze. In addition to the main floor nozzle, you also receive a nozzle for bare floors, a crevice tool, and dusting brush.
The 20-foot cord combined with the 7-foot hose makes it easy to vacuum without having to worry about plugging into a different outlet. The telescoping wand is another welcomed feature when it comes to cleaning the tops of drapes as well as corners and ceilings.
Rounding out this canister from Sanitaire is onboard HEPA filtration, which allergy sufferers are sure to find helpful and a two-year warranty on parts and labor.
If you’re looking for a modestly priced canister vacuum that’s powerful enough for nearly any home application, you may want to give the Sanitaire SC3683A a closer look. We put this brand and model as the best hardwood floor canister vacuum cleaner because, for the price, you get everything you need for bare floors.
Inexpensive option that adds to Hoover with ease-of-use and a HEPA filter
Hoover has been one of the most trusted names in vacuums for over a hundred years, and today they continue to make quality vacuums for every application. The company is notorious for delivering value and offering quality performance at affordable prices.
When it comes to canister vacuums, Hoover manufactures many popular models that can be found in homes throughout the world. Their commercial series of vacuums are designed for professional applications where power and durability are primary concerns, and they have some of the best canister vacuum ratings around.
Hoover Commercial vacuums are available to non-professional cleaners as well, so you can bring their power and ease of use home with you, as well.
The PortaPOWER CH30000 is Hoover’s most affordable commercial canister vacuum. Unlike most canisters, which roll behind the vacuum as you clean, the CH30000 canister is designed to be carried like a bag. This helps keep the canister out of your way as you clean, and at only 8.3 pounds, you can carry the canister with you with little effort.
The vacuum also includes a carrying strap that allows you to throw the canister over your shoulder, which makes it even easier to carry. Since the vacuum canister is always with you, Hoover opted for a short stretch hose, as opposed to a longer and more cumbersome one. While it’s only about 18 inches long, it’s able to stretch more than far enough to clean walls and high ceilings.
The CH30000 packs enough power for most home applications thanks to its 7.4 amp, 2.2 horsepower motor. However, it doesn’t pack as much suction as more expensive models, and may not be a good choice for demanding applications.
The floor nozzle features a ten-inch cleaning path. It would be nice if it were a bit wider. However it’s certainly wide enough to make fairly quick work out of most cleaning tasks. Beyond the floor nozzle, Hoover also includes several other tools, like a crevice tool, brush, upholstery tool, and multi-floor nozzle. It also has a built-in blower, too.
Perhaps the handiest feature of this vacuum is the extremely long power cord, which comes in at nearly 36 feet. With a cord that long, you’ll have the freedom to clean multiple rooms without having to unplug and find a new outlet, which is a great way to save time while cleaning.
The PortaPOWER CH30000 comes with a full two-year warranty which offers peace of mind and helps make this a strong contender for the best canister vacuum under $100. If you’re looking for a high-value, low-price canister, you’ll want to take a closer look at this model.
Powerful, lightweight, and inexpensive - Hoover brings a powerful combination.
When it comes to design, innovation, and reliability, Dyson has helped set a new standard for canister vacuums. The vacuums they produce are widely regarded as some of the most powerful, well designed and comfortable to use in the industry.
Like all of Dyson’s vacuums, the first thing you’re likely to notice is the futuristic and unique design. The Dyson Big Ball vacuum lives up to its namesake by generally resembling an exercise ball wearing a backpack. This in itself is one of the most functional design features, as this canister can keep itself from toppling over, which is an issue that plagues more conventional canisters.
This is a more significant time saver than most people realize, and it eliminates one of our greatest frustrations with canister vacuums. This vacuum won’t exactly make vacuuming the highlight of your day, but it can help you get the job done more quickly and efficiently.
While many manufacturers measure the power of their vacuum in watts, that measurement only addresses the power of the motor. It isn’t necessarily the best indicator of suction power. Dyson, however, measures the power of their vacuums in air watts, which are a better indicator of true suction power. At 250 air watts, this Dyson has suction and power to spare, which helps to explain why the company has grown to be so popular.
Dyson vacuums, in general, are pricier than average, and that’s true of their canister systems as well. But, they also stand behind their product much better than the average manufacturer and offer a comprehensive five-year warranty on the Big Ball Multi Floor vacuum.
Should something go wrong, Dyson will also cover the shipping costs to return the unit to their repair center, and have it shipped back once the repair is completed.
Additionally, there are some ergonomic and intuitive features with this vacuum that make it a joy to use. The wand handle rotates a full 360 degrees, which can make cleaning difficult areas much easier, and limit the amount of time you spend trying to get the perfect angle to reach a crevice or corner.
Speaking of cleaning in difficult areas, Dyson also provides helpful tools to help make it easier. The main floor brush features both nylon bristles and carbon fiber filaments, which are designed to remove fine dust particles that other brushes are unable to pick up. You’ll also find a combination crevice tool and brush, and a stair tool as well.
Allergy sufferers are going to want to take a closer look at this vacuum, as well. In addition to the HEPA filter, this vacuum has an ingenious feature that allows you to completely empty the canister without having to come in contact with a speck of dust. You’ll also be able to stand further away as you empty the canister, which can save many a sneezing fit.
The cord length of this vacuum is 21 feet - add to that the length of the hose and wand and the vacuum provides a total reach of 35 feet. Some vacuums provide a longer reach, but most people will find that they’re able to take care of all their vacuuming needs from floor to ceiling with the Big Ball Multi Floor from Dyson.
Another major differentiator of this vacuum is the fact that it lacks a bag. Dyson has long been known for their bagless options, and this model is the best bagless canister vacuum available.
If there’s an issue to be found in this vacuum, it’s the weight. At nearly 18 pounds, it’s over twice the weight of other models, like the Sanitaire and Hoover Commercial vacuums above. If you’re going to vacuuming for an extended period, it can be a little taxing lugging around this model.
In summary, Dyson carries one of the best names in the vacuum industry, and the Dyson Big Ball is one of their best. It's big, but it does a number on dirt and debris.
Dyson quality with a plethora of extra added features, extremely convenient to use.
There are quite a few amazing canister vacuums on this list. But, if you're looking for the best canister vacuum, our vote would have to go to the Miele C1. It has virtually all of the features of the fully-loaded Miele C2, including a 7 year warranty. And yet, you can pick up the Miele C1 for right around $200.
It’s clear that there are tons of different options available if you’re in the market for a canister vacuum. Choosing the best canister for your needs is important, and you should consider the features of these vacuums carefully. Most importantly, ensure that the vacuum you choose is going to provide you with the power, versatility and tools you need to get the job done.
Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.