5 Best Canister Vacuums of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Explore our top picks to find the best canister vacuum for your home and cleaning needs.

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January 04, 2024

Photo by: Photo by Theresa Holland

Photo by Theresa Holland

Our Top Canister Vacuum Picks

A canister vacuum consists of a wheeled base that attaches to a long handle (or wand) through a flexible hose. Most of the weight is on the base, which holds a powerful motor, a dirt bin or dust bag, and a filtration system. As such, canister vacs can be lighter and easier to maneuver than their upright counterparts. Just run the wand over your floors and other surfaces while the wheeled unit glides behind you.

That said, not all models are lightweight — and the base can be heavy to lug around — so make sure to check the weight before purchasing one. You'll also want to pay attention to the included attachments, which ensure a vacuum can clean different flooring materials, along with all other nooks and crannies in your home, car, garage or shop.

We tested nine top-rated models firsthand in a real-life setting, carefully evaluating each based on setup, maneuverability, power, noise level, ease of emptying and other key attributes.

Photo by: Photo by Theresa Holland

Photo by Theresa Holland

How We Tested

We selected nine best-selling canister vacuums from top-rated brands, including four bagged and five bagless models at various price points. After evaluating the setup requirements and assembling the vacuums, our tests involved vacuuming up Cheerios and crumbs from hard floors, carpets and rugs and utilizing the attachments to clean furniture, window coverings and hard-to-reach spaces. We also emptied the dirt canisters and removed and replaced the bags. Taking into account user-friendliness, maneuverability, reach, noise, power, efficiency, emptying requirements and overall value, we narrowed it down to the best canister vacuums.

What We Like
  1. More compact and lighter than other Mieles
  2. Powerful suction on all surfaces
  3. Exceptionally easy to remove and empty canister
What We Don't Like
  1. Slightly harder to push on rugs/carpet
  2. Base can't stand vertically

At first glance, the Miele Boost CX1 Parquet stood out for its sleek, modern design and giant disk-like wheels. Assembly was intuitive, as the pieces snap together. While we wouldn't call this 18-pound canister vacuum lightweight, it's on the lighter end for a Miele.

The Boost CX1 boasts high-powered "Vortex" technology with 60 miles-per-hour air suction to effectively capture both fine and coarse particles. We're pleased to report it lives up to its claims. Though we had to place the floorhead on top of the Cheerios (rather than pushing it back and forth while flat on the floor), they were immediately sucked up. On the carpet, it picked up the Cheerios just by pushing the floorhead forward, and the mess was gone within a couple of passes. The pile of crumbs disappeared in a single pass, but it was a little harder to push on carpet than on hard floors.

You can toggle between settings using the dial, and the compact design helps with maneuvering around furniture. We found the dirt canister the easiest to empty of all bagless models we tested — it detaches with a simple lift, and the bottom releases with a squeeze lever to quickly eject the contents.

The Boost CX1 can't be positioned vertically like other canister vacs. However, the floorhead hooks to the base, so you don't have to lean the wand on a wall or place it on the floor during vacuuming breaks. We also appreciate that this vacuum has a HEPA filter, which is considered the gold standard for collecting indoor allergens, like dust and pet dander.

  1. Type Bagless
  2. Weight 18 pounds
  3. Cord Length 21 feet
  4. Attachments Upholstery nozzle, crevice nozzle, dusting brush, Parquet Twister floorhead, SBD 365-3 floorhead
$579 | Amazon
What We Like
  1. Reasonably priced with five-year warranty
  2. Performs well on hard floors and carpet
  3. Bagless design with fuss-free emptying
What We Don't Like
  1. Parts don't snap together
  2. No HEPA filter

The Bissell SmartClean is relatively compact, with large wheels, a telescoping wand and a swivel floorhead that make it a breeze to maneuver and access tight corners. Our Cheerio messes were vacuumed up in a single pass on both hard flooring and carpet. It also effortlessly sucked the crumb pile, taking dust and debris along with it. The "multi-cyclonic design" promises powerful suction, but we were still surprised by how well it performed based on the small size of the floorhead.

At just over 18 pounds, the weight is about average for a canister vac, and its 30-foot power cord is the longest of those we tested. Unlike Miele models, the parts don't make a clicking sound upon snapping together, so it's harder to tell if they're securely connected. Emptying the dirt canister is no problem — it detaches with the press of a button, then the lid releases to allow the debris to fall out.

This canister vacuum isn't the most affordable option but also far from the most expensive. Considering the impressive performance, reasonable price point, and five-year warranty, we think it's the best value.

  1. Type Bagless
  2. Weight 18.1 pounds
  3. Cord Length 30 feet
  4. Attachments Crevice tool, dusting brush, telescoping wand
$257 | Bissell
What We Like
  1. User-friendly yet sophisticated
  2. Superior suction power with HEPA filter
  3. Great for collecting pet hair and dander
What We Don't Like
  1. Cumbersome base
  2. Price might be hard to justify

Miele's Blizzard CX1 vacuum has a futuristic, spacecraft-like appearance. We found it generally user-friendly and appreciated the advanced features. This canister vacuum has a powerful motor with 62 miles-per-hour air suction and a HEPA filter that captures more than 99.9 percent of indoor allergens, including dust, pollen and pet dander.

The floorhead lever allows you to change the angle and avoid lifting it to place it on top of messes. After we adjusted the incline, it picked up all the Cheerios in a couple of passes. This vacuum also captured tons of dust, even on rugs that had already been vacuumed multiple times with previous tests.

The Blizzard CX1 is heavy and bulky, so it's not ideal for carrying up and down stairs. But the base glides smoothly and swivels around furniture with ease. And the accessories will come in handy when removing pet hair from furniture. We also like that the dirt canister pops right off and releases with a simple lever squeeze to dump the contents.

  1. Type Bagless
  2. Weight 19 pounds
  3. Cord Length 21 feet
  4. Attachments Upholstery nozzle, crevice nozzle, Parquet Twister floorhead, Electro Plus floorhead, mini turbo brush
$949 (reg. $999) | Amazon
What We Like
  1. Simple setup and user-friendly operation
  2. Captures and seals debris and allergens
  3. Easy bag replacement
What We Don't Like
  1. Heavy; not ideal for two-story homes
  2. Must buy replacement bags

The Complete C3 is our favorite bagged option. Though the heavy base isn't ideal to carry up and down stairs, we found it generally user-friendly. We hardly needed the instructions to get started, and assembly was easy, thanks to the snap-on parts that make a clicking noise when securely in place.

This canister vacuum has a large floorhead with a wide cleaning path. While it only pushed the Cheerios forward when flat on the floor, it quickly vacuumed them all up when we placed the head onto the mess. All the crumbs were sucked up within a couple of passes. It performed well on hard flooring and carpets, but the carpet setting isn't quite as powerful. This vacuum isn't as loud as many others we tried. There's even a quiet setting to minimize the noise further.

The Complete C3 has a HEPA filter and AirClean filter bags to capture allergens and seal in debris — whereas with a bagless model, they can be reexposed to your indoor air when emptying the bin. The front compartment opens easily, allowing you to replace the bag and filter as needed with minimal effort.

  1. Type Bagged
  2. Weight 20 pounds
  3. Cord Length 24 feet
  4. Attachments Upholstery nozzle, crevice nozzle, dusting brush, Parquet Twister floorhead, turbo brush head
$849 (reg. $1,159) | Amazon
What We Like
  1. Compact and easy to carry
  2. Good for two-story homes
  3. Performs well on hard floors and carpet
What We Don't Like
  1. Relatively short power cord
  2. No HEPA filter

At 8.2 pounds, the Eureka WhirlWind is the lightest option we tried. Though the power cord is shorter than most, the compact, easy-to-carry design and narrow floorhead are great for cleaning stairs. You can also release the floorhead and use the telescoping wand for window coverings, shelves, furniture and other above-floor cleaning tasks.

When we placed the floorhead on top of the Cheerios, it immediately sucked them all up — and we could see in the dirt canister that they were, for the most part, still whole. This vacuum also performed well on carpet, picking up all traces of crumbs in one or two passes.

The dust bin is incredibly easy to empty. We clicked it off, opened it up to release the contents, then snapped it back into place without having to reference the instructions. It would be nice if this canister vac had a HEPA filter, but considering the budget-friendly price tag and overall good performance, we can't complain much.

  1. Type Bagless
  2. Weight 8.2 pounds
  3. Cord Length 16 feet
  4. Attachments 2-in-1 crevice tool/dusting brush
$107 | Amazon

Photo by: Photo by Theresa Holland

Photo by Theresa Holland

Things to Consider When Buying a Canister Vacuum

  • Weight: Be sure to check the weight when buying a canister vacuum. Weights can range from less than 10 pounds to upwards of 30 pounds. While the wand and floorhead will generally be lighter than an upright model, you'll need to take into account the weight of the base unit. Housing the motor and dirt receptacle, the base can be pretty heavy. It'll have wheels, but you may need to carry it from room to room or up and down stairs.
  • Cord Length: The length of the power cord matters too. Some canister vacuums have cords as long as 30 feet — add that to the hose and telescoping handle, and they might boast a cleaning radius of 40 feet. On the shorter end, you're looking at around 15 feet. A longer cord is ideal, as you can cover more area without having to unplug and replug into another outlet.
  • Capacity: A canister vacuum's capacity tells you how much debris can fit into the dust canister or bag. Smaller options may only hold a liter or less and might need to be emptied after each use. Those with bigger capacities may hold three or more liters at a time.
  • Attachments: Canister vacuums usually have one or two floorheads for cleaning hard floors and carpets. Beyond that, they often come with a few attachments for cleaning furniture and accessing various nooks and crannies. This may include an extension wand, an upholstery brush, a dusting brush, a crevice tool or a pet-hair tool.

FAQs

Who should buy a canister vacuum?

People with pets or kids who need something for efficiently cleaning pet hair, spills, crumbs, dirt and dust should consider a canister vacuum. Unlike an upright model, the motor is housed on the base, so the portion you hold is generally lightweight and easier to maneuver around your home. Canister vacs are also great for above-floor cleaning, as you can release the floorhead and use the wand and accessories on furniture, curtains, shelves, etc.

How to clean a canister vacuum

A bagless canister vacuums will have a dirt cup that detaches from the base and opens up to release the debris into your trash can. In some cases, you might want to rinse out the canister and allow it to dry before reattaching it. With a bagged model, you'll have to seal and remove the full bag, then throw it away. The filter will also need to be replaced (or in some cases, rinsed off) every few months or so. And you can wipe down the exterior of your vacuum as needed.

Is bagged or bagless better?

Traditional bagged canister vacuums can be better at sealing in dust and other allergens, as the bags are thrown away without exposing the contents to your indoor air. Bagless options, on the other hand, tend to be more convenient, as you never have to worry about having replacement bags on hand — plus, you can save money not buying them.

Are canister vacuums good for pet hair?

Canister vacuums are really good for pet hair. Besides powerful motors with substantial suction power, they often come with accessories specifically designed for cleaning pet hair off furniture and other surfaces. Many also have filtration systems (like HEPA filters) that collect pet dander and other indoor allergens.

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