Vacuum cleaners are trading power and capacity for convenience. But if a small vacuum won’t cut it for house cleaning, canister vacuums still exist—and they’re better than ever. Composed of three main parts—the canister (with the motor and filter), the hose, and the wand—today’s canister vacs still roll on wheels, but they’re lighter, so they can cover a lot of ground with ease.
Sucked-up dirt and debris settle into a dust cup or bag, which can hold far more than a stick vacuum can. If that sounds ideal, read on to learn what features to look for in a canister vacuum and why the following models rate as some of the best available.
- BEST OVERALL: Miele Grey Classic C1 Pure Suction Canister Vacuum
- RUNNER-UP: Eureka NEN110A WhirlWind Bagless Canister Vacuum
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Eureka Mighty Mite 3670M Corded Canister Vacuum
- BEST BAGLESS: Bissell Powergroom Bagless Canister Vacuum
- BEST BAGGED: Oreck Commercial BB900DGR XL Pro 5
- BEST FOR PET HAIR: Ovente Bagless Canister Vacuum with HEPA Filter
- BEST FOR HARDWOOD FLOORS: Miele Complete C2 Hard Floor Canister Vacuum Cleaner
- MOST PORTABLE: ProTeam Backpack Vacuum with Telescoping Wand
Before You Buy a Canister Vacuum
With their large capacity and improved maneuverability, canister vacuums are great—as long as they suit a certain space. Storage, for example, can be a challenge, since a canister vacuum can be about a foot wide and deep, and over a foot and a half long. Factor in the hose and wand, and these vacuums, require a large closet or the corner of a utility space like a laundry room or garage. The canister itself is big, and the best models have several attachments that demand organization.
Canister vacuums can be clumsy as well. Some homes have multiple floor types, carrying an armful of vacuum parts up and down the stairs can be difficult and dangerous. While canister vacuums themselves are fairly lightweight, they can hold a lot of dirt, which increases their weight. Cords can become trip hazards, too.
How We Chose the Best Canister Vacuums
We researched the most sought-after canister vacuums in their respective categories and discovered that the best models are determined by their type, weight and maneuverability, dust and debris capacity, included accessories, and other special features included by top brands.
After extensive product research, we included options in our list of top picks that were both bagless and bagged canister vacuums to suit multiple consumer preferences. We also included canister vacuum cleaners with lightweight constructions for easy maneuvering and large dust, debris, and pet hair capacities of 2.5 to 3 liters to make light and heavy cleaning jobs a cinch.
As for ease of use and convenience, we selected canister vacuum cleaners that could tackle any vacuuming job from cleaning floors, furniture and upholstery, draperies, tight spaces, and more with the help of floorheads, crevice tools, brush heads, a dusting brush, wand brushes, upholstery tools, and more. Plus, many of these canister vacuum cleaners come with telescoping wands and long power cords to tackle rooms of all sizes.
Our Top Picks
A canister vacuum’s value is hard to beat. It’s got the power to clean some tough surfaces deeply, and it can collect a ton of debris. Read on for some of the best canister vacuums available today.
The Miele Classic C1 has six different powerful suction levels, which correlate with the floor or fabric surface that needs cleaning, so users can pick the ideal pressure for the job at hand. It uses an easy-to-replace bag system for collecting dirt, debris, and pet hair and the Miele AirClean system leaves a room’s air cleaner than when a given user started.
It comes with a combination floorhead, dusting brush, upholstery tool, crevice tool, an AirClean Filter, and the AirClean Filter bag. When the bags run out, order more. This vacuum weighs just under 11.5 pounds—light considering the 12 amp motor. It also has a power cord that is almost 30 feet long, allowing users to tackle two or three rooms without unplugging.
- Type: Bagged
- Weight: 11.5 pounds
- Tools and accessories: Combination floorhead, dusting brush, upholstery tool, crevice tool; an AirClean Filter; and an AirClean Filter bag
- 6 different types of powerful suction
- Bag is easy to replace
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- 30-foot power cord allows for cleaning large areas
- Replacement bags sold separately
Get the Miele Grey Classic C1 canister vacuum on Amazon or at Bed Bath & Beyond.
For a reliable bagless vacuum at a reasonable price, the Eureka WhirlWind Canister Vacuum is worth checking into. This super-light vacuum uses a 10 amp motor, yet weighs just over 8 pounds, and it can hold up to 3 liters of dust and dirt in its dust container.
The accessories use a snap-fit connection system, allowing the user to pop parts on and off the wand easily and creating a tight seal to maintain powerful suction. Emptying takes only the push of a button while holding the container over a garbage can. It comes with a 16-foot cord, a combination floorhead, and a wand brush for curtains or furniture. Plus, the filtration system components are all washable, so users will save money on filters as well as bags.
- Type: Bagless
- Weight: 8.29 pounds
- Tools and accessories: Combination floorhead and wand brush
- Easy snap-and-fit connection
- Simple to empty
- Washable filter
Get the Eureka WhirlWind canister vacuum on Amazon.
This bagged canister vacuum features a powerful 10 amp motor despite its tiny size—and its tiny price. It weighs less than 9 pounds—so it’s a breeze to carry upstairs or out to a vehicle—yet can carry up to 2.5 liters of dust and dirt. It includes a floorhead, two extension tubes, a crevice tool, and a furniture/curtain brush, plus it has a blower port that turns the vacuum into a blower for clearing off workbenches or leaves from a deck. The Mighty Mite boasts an ample 20-foot power cord, and it comes with five bags for even more value.
- Type: Bagged
- Weight: 9 pounds
- Tools and accessories: A floorhead, 2 extension tubes, a crevice tool, a furniture/curtain brush, and a blower port
- Compact unit
- Easy to carry
- Multiple attachments
- No built-in storage for the attachments
Get the Eureka Mighty Mite canister vacuum on Amazon.
As the name implies, the Bissell Powergroom boasts plenty of power, thanks to its 15X Multi-Cyclonic technology and 9.2 amp motor. Emptying the canister is a clean, straightforward process: Just pop a latch and the contents drop into a waste can. This canister vacuum comes with several attachments in addition to the floorhead, including a brush tool for curtains/furniture and a crevice tool.
At 10 pounds, it’s light enough to move easily back and forth along floors, but also has large wheels to help it over transitions, such as between hardwood and carpet. The cord retracts automatically, allowing users to store this vacuum away without a power cord creating a trip hazard on the ground.
- Type: Bagless
- Weight: 10 pounds
- Tools and accessories: A brush tool for curtains/furniture and a crevice tool
- Powerful suction compared to similar options
- Great for curtains and tight spaces
- Retractable cord
- Long hairs can get stuck in the bristles
- Heavier than comparable options
Get the Bissell canister vacuum at Bissell or Kohl’s.
For a compact yet powerful bagged canister vacuum that’s easy to store, the Oreck Commercial BB900-DGR XL Pro 5 may be the right choice. This 5-pound vacuum cleaner is light enough to go anywhere but powerful enough to handle any job, thanks to a stout 4 amp motor and bags that hold up to 1 quart of dust and dirt. It comes with a 30-foot cord, allowing users to handle several rooms without unplugging, and a 4-foot hose can attach to an extension in order to reach ceilings with ease. The extension is included, as is a crevice tool, a brush, and several other small attachments.
- Type: Bagged
- Weight: 5 pounds
- Tools and accessories: A telescopic wand, a crevice tool, a brush, an upholstery tool, a floor cleaning nozzle, a universal adapter, and an accessory tool caddy
- Extra-long power cord
- Highly portable and maneuverable
- Long hose great for high ceilings
- Many tools and accessories included
- Attachments can fall off during use
Get the Oreck canister vacuum on Amazon.
Pet hair is no problem with the Ovente Bagless Canister Vacuum with HEPA filter—even in places other vacuums can’t access. Among its various attachments, for example, is an adjustable angle brush that gets the wand in tight cracks and corners to remove stubborn pet hair. It also has an upholstery attachment designed specifically for removing pet hair from curtains and furniture.
The wand boasts an airflow adjustment feature so users can dial in the proper flow for hardwood, tile, or carpet without changing to a different floorhead. The entire vacuum weighs 12 pounds, but thanks to its large wheels, it’s very easy to drag around. It also uses a HEPA filter, keeping the dust associated with pet hair to a minimum.
- Type: Bagless
- Weight: 12 pounds
- Tools and accessories: A floor brush, a crevice nozzle/bristle brush, and a telescopic metal wand
- Special upholstery attachment; sucks up dust and pet hair
- Airflow adjuster for hardwood and carpet
- Easy to maneuver
- HEPA filter included
- Attachments don’t lock into place, requiring constant adjustment
- Heavier than comparable options
Get the Ovente canister vacuum at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Wayfair.
Thanks to six different suction settings, the Miele Complete C2 Hard Floor Canister Vacuum will make short work of tidying up hardwood, tile, or laminate floors—and it’s no slouch on carpets, furniture, and curtains either. There’s even a low-volume setting for when the kids are sleeping. It uses ample 4.75-quart bags, giving users plenty of onboard dirt storage before needing to change a bag. It also has onboard storage for its tools, which include a furniture brush, a crevice tool, and a hard-surface head. At nearly 20 pounds it’s pretty heavy, but that’s because it uses Miele’s 9.5 amp Vortex Motor, has plenty of storage, and uses a massive bag.
- Type: Bagged
- Weight: 20 pounds
- Tools and accessories: A furniture brush, a crevice tool, and a hard-surface head
- 6 different suction settings included
- Suitable for cleaning multiple floor types
- Low-volume setting
- Large bag capacity for long-term cleanings
- Very heavy compared to similar options
Get the Miele Complete C2 canister vacuum on Amazon.
For portability and capacity, choose the ProTeam Backpack Vacuum. While it looks large and features a 9.9 amp motor, it only weighs 11 pounds, which is barely noticeable on a user’s back, thanks to the adjustable and padded straps. It comes with several attachments, including a crevice tool, telescoping wand, dusting brush, and upholstery tool, as well as a multi-surface floorhead. The power cord is 50 feet long, allowing users to travel from room to room without switching outlets. It uses 10-quart vacuum bags, which will take quite a while to fill in an average home.
- Type: Bagged
- Weight: 11 pounds
- Tools and accessories: A crevice tool, telescoping wand, dusting brush, and upholstery tool, and a multisurface floorhead
- Innovative carry design
- Adjustable back straps
- 50-foot power cable
- Requires disposable vacuum bags
Get the ProTeam Backpack canister vacuum at The Home Depot.
What to Consider When Buying a Canister Vacuum
Factor in the following features and options when trying to determine the best canister vacuum for users’ needs.
Bagged vs. Bagless
The bagged vs. bagless debate is basic to the vacuum industry as a whole. Bags are easy to change, and these models rely less on filters to maintain decent air quality since the bag does much of the filtering itself.Bagged canister vacuums hold a lot of debris, but that means they can become very heavy. Plus, users can wind up with a full bag and no replacement at some inopportune moments—like when users are halfway finished cleaning before company comes.
The benefit of a bagless vacuum is that it’s always ready to go. However, these models usually hold less debris, and emptying a bagless canister vacuum can be a messy endeavor. They also require frequent changes of expensive filters to maintain air quality, since there are no bags to catch small particles.
One of the great benefits of a canister vacuum is that the motors are inside the canisters. This makes the wand and floorhead very light, but also allows the manufacturer to use a more powerful, heavier-duty motor than they could in a stick or upright vacuum. This does make the canister a little heavy, but users can vacuum most of a room by only moving the canister a few feet.
In general, the more powerful, the deeper the cleaning. So for users that have kids, pets, and carpeted and/or upholstered surfaces, a powerful model will be able to pull stubborn dirt, fur, and dust from deep within the carpet pile, improving the air quality and getting the job done faster. For these homes, vacuums with nine to 10 amps will work just fine. For homes that have mostly hardwood or tile floors, sacrifice some power for portability and reduced weight, and go with a lower amperage option.
Size and Weight
No one loves to vacuum, but the smaller and lighter the machine, the more apt a user is to take on the chore. Today’s best canister vacuums are pretty manageable, weight-wise, at between five and 25 pounds.
When evaluating a canister vacuum’s size, keep in mind that larger models hold more debris before needing to be emptied, but they’re harder to store. Smaller vacuums hold less but fit in small closets easily. Luckily, larger homes that require a lot of vacuuming usually have bigger closets, while homes with smaller closets typically require less vacuuming.
When it comes to vacuuming, maneuverability means two separate things. There’s the ability to get the floor head where it needs to go, and the ability to get the entire vacuum from place to place. Highly maneuverable floor heads are a joy to use. With a twist of a wrist, the head will pivot and change direction, allowing users to hit tight corners with ease. Factoring this in with the increased maneuverability of a lightweight wand, users can get a lot done in a short amount of time.
Moving some types of vacuums from room to room isn’t always easy to do. Heavier canisters are difficult to move, but manufacturers often address this by using larger wheels, providing more clearance to the ground, and using lighter-weight materials. The most important of these factors is the canister’s weight.
Each manufacturer has a different filter setup, and these can even change from model to model. However, most operate the same way with two main filters: intake and exhaust.
The intake filter helps protect the motor by catching harmful particles that could shorten its usable lifespan. These filters are located after the bag or canister area, and before the motor. When covered evenly with dirt, dust, and hair, it is time to change the filter.
Exhaust filters help to protect the air quality by removing the particles that make it through the motor, which can be particularly irritating to the sinuses. These filters also require replacing once they’re evenly dirty.
Accessories make canister vacuum cleaners more functional—whatever a home’s particular cleaning issues are, there will be an attachment to help. The best canister vacuums have quick-connect hoses and attachments, so snapping these accessories on and off is easy and straightforward.
Floor brushes are excellent for removing fur and dirt from carpets and grouted tile, while bare floor attachments create the best suction on smooth surfaces. Mini crevice and crack attachments allow users to reach into tight corners and the grooves of intricate trim work. Many even come with attachments for upholstered surfaces.
Tips for Buying and Using a Canister Vacuum
Some canister vacuums are extremely quiet, especially when compared to upright vacuums. For those that have noise-sensitive young children, pets, or neighbors (in a multifamily dwelling or an apartment house), a quiet vacuum can literally keep the peace.
To make emptying a bagless canister vacuum less nasty, choose one with a dust compartment that removes and empties easily to avoid dumping dust back on the floor or breathing it in.
If there are stairs to vacuum, consider an additional hose extension for a canister vacuum. Long sets of stairs can be difficult to reach with the shorter hose that comes with most models, and teetering the canister on a step is asking for a trip to the repair shop.
- Choose a quiet vacuum to keep from disturbing others.
- Choose a bagless vacuum that is easy to empty
- Purchase an additional length of hose if there are lots of stairs to vacuum.
The Advantages of Owning a Canister Vacuum
Canister vacuums are great for homes with high ceilings and long curtains. Since the wands often telescope, and attachments can be changed quickly, users will be able to clean curtains, ceiling fans, and the tops of bookshelves with ease. While some upright and stick vacuums can handle these jobs, their attachments are often heavier and clumsier.
Many canister vacuums have large capacities, which means users will have to change bags or empty the dust cup less often. Stick vacuums can accomplish many of the same tasks, but rarely have the capacity and battery power to finish them all in one shot.
Gone are the days when users would have to spend thousands of dollars on a whole-house canister vacuum system that was hard to store and even harder to clean. Today’s canister vacuums are as effective, if not more so than the older heavy clunkers that would slam into floor transitions or down a set of stairs. They’re also more affordable than their predecessors.
- Canister vacuums allow users to reach higher places with ease.
- Both dirt cups and bags on canister vacuums are larger than those on other styles.
- Canister vacuums are much more affordable than they used to be.
Now that you know what to look for in the best canister vacuums and have seen some of the top products available, there may be some lingering questions left over. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from canister vacuum users.
Q. How do you clean a bagless vacuum canister?
To clean a bagless vacuum, first empty out any content you already vacuumed, then wipe the inside part with a damp cloth. For a more thorough deep cleaning—if your vacuum really looks like it needs one—you can sometimes detach the entire canister, and wash it with warm soapy water. Make sure to fully dry any wet parts before using the vacuum again.
Q. How long do canister vacuums last?
If treated carefully and maintained every now and again, a corded canister vacuum can last at least 8 years or more.
Q. Are canister vacuums hard to use?
Compared to large upright vacuums, canister vacuums tend to be much lighter and easier to maneuver around, plus the hose attachments make quick work of most vacuuming jobs.
Q. How do you store a canister vacuum?
Canister vacuums can be stored just like any other vacuum—usually out of sight in a closet or corner—and usually their various attachments can be clipped directly onto the unit to keep everything organized.
Q. How do you use a canister vacuum?
To use a canister vacuum, simply attach your preferred hose attachment to the end of the hose, plug the power cable into an outlet, and press the on button. Use the hose to vacuum, and either wheel or carry the main part of the vacuum as you go.
Q. Where is the best place to empty a canister vacuum?
Typically, a canister vacuum can be emptied straight into your usual trash bin. If doing so releases too much dust into the air, consider emptying it outside into a trash bag.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.