If your home has a mix of bare floors and carpeting, lots of stairs, or you're a fan of using your vacuum cleaner and its attachments to nab dust and dirt from places above the floor (like upholstered furniture, window blinds, and lamp shades), then a canister vacuum is your best choice. Both canisters and uprights clean well, but canister vacuums excel for their versatility and flexibility. And honestly, with a bare floor brush attached, canister vacs do the best job cleaning wood, tile, and other hard floors along with low pile and looped carpets and area rugs. And they are easy to carry with two hands.
The Good Housekeeping Cleaning Lab has tested a wide array of canister vacuum models over the years. For each model, we assess how well it picks up debris, like dirt and pet hair, how effective it is at trapping allergens, and how easy it is to maneuver across various flooring types and around obstacles. We also look at how intuitive the controls are, how heavy each vacuum is to lift, and how simple it is to change bags, empty dust bins and clean filters and any other special features it might have. The picks below are updates to models we've previously tested or are from brands that always perform well in our tests.
Best Overall Canister Vacuum
Miele Complete C3 for Soft Carpet Powerline Canister Vacuum
Miele’s vacuums have won over our pros in past cleaning tests, and this Good Housekeeping Seal star is no exception. Knowing that super soft or plush carpets are often harder to clean because of dense tufts, the Miele Complete C3 comes with a power nozzle and brush roll that adjust to five different levels to make plowing through plush pile carpets easier. A metal telescoping wand, a dusting brush, an upholstery tool, and a crevice tool are also included in its accessories set as is a Pure Suction Floorhead made for use on all smooth flooring. The vac uses a high filtration bag and HEPA AirClean filter that the company claims will retain 99.99% of dust from being released back into the air — a plus for allergy sufferers. In our tests, Miele vacuums do the best job of picking up and keeping dust and dirt particles inside the vacuum.
Weight: 20 pounds
Cord Length: 24 feet
Best Value Canister Vacuum
Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G Corded Canister Vacuum
Apartment-dwellers or college students often don’t have the space for a canister vacuum, but this model is a lightweight and compact machine that doesn’t lack in power. It’s racked up a 3.8 out of 5 star rating from more than 5,000 reviewers who sing its praises for how easy it is to tote up and down the stairs and its two wand attachments that have excellent pick up in tough-to-reach places. It’s best for quick clean-up jobs on bare floors or smooth surfaces and comes with a blower port for blowing leaves or debris in the garage. While it can likely pick up lint or hair on a carpet's surface, without a rotating brush, don't expect it to deep clean.
Weight: 9 pounds
Cord Length: 20 feet
Best Bagless Canister Vacuum
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister Vacuum
If you don’t want to keep a stock of extra bags and filters for your vacuum, stick with this pick from Dyson. It comes with a built-in bin that you empty over the trash can just by pushing a button. Our pros also recommend using the built-in scraper to clean off the filter to prevent microscopic dust from clogging up the vacuum and reducing suction. The Dyson Big Ball comes with a self-adjusting floor head that adjusts to create an optimal seal for whatever type of floor it's cleaning and in our lab evaluations, it picked up an average of 99.9% of debris from hard wood floors.
Weight: 17.64 pounds
Best Canister Vacuum for Pet Hair
Kenmore 600 Series Bagged Canister with Pet PowerMate Vacuum
No one understands the need for a good vacuum like a pet owner. This option from Kenmore comes with a metal telescoping wand and a mini motorized Pet PowerMate attachment that not only picks up fur, but also sucks up embedded dust and dirt on upholstery, carpeted stairs and in the car. Online reviewers loved that it picked up even the finest hair in one pass and the disposable HEPA bag and filter make for easy clean up (just throw them away!). It’s a bit heavy, but the foot controls make it easy to change the tools without having to bend over or lift up the canister.
Weight: 22.6 pounds
Best Portable Canister Vacuum
Oreck Compact Canister Vacuum
For smaller jobs, the Oreck weighs just 5.5 pounds (the lightest of our picks) and is more portable than the traditional canister. It comes with a shoulder strap and a telescoping extension wand for nabbing dust in hard-to-reach places like window frames, ceiling fans, and light fixtures. There's also a 20-foot cord so you don’t have to worry if your messes (such as spills in the car) aren’t close to an outlet. While it can't deep clean pile carpets, our pros were impressed with its pick-up on hard floors, flat carpets, and area rugs.
Weight: 5.5 pounds
Best Long Reach Canister Vacuum
Bissell SmartClean Canister Vacuum
Nothing's more frustrating than having to stop mid-job to unplug your vacuum because it can't reach all the way under the bed, behind the sofa, or anywhere you want to clean. But, with this Bissell bagless canister model, even the most distant dust bunnies won't escape you. It's got a 30-foot cord, a six-foot six-inch hose, and a telescoping extension wand that together provide for a 40-foot cleaning radius. Three suction speeds, a multi-floor cleaning nozzle and an additional dusting brush built onto the handle mean you can go from bare floors to area rugs and upholstery to draperies without missing a beat. While we haven't tested this model, Bissell upright vacuums do well in our testing and carry our Good Housekeeping Seal.
Weight: 23 pounds
Cord Length: 30 feet
Best Wet & Dry Canister Vacuum
Hoover ONEPWR High-Capacity Cordless Wet/Dry Utility Canister Vacuum
Vacuuming doesn't just happen inside your home. The basement, garage, deck, and other outdoor areas need attention, too, not to mention the occasional leaky pipe or backed-up drain that must be cleaned up. A wet/dry utility vacuum is the solution in these instances because it can pick up large and fine debris, like leaves and sawdust, and even wet messes and water that can destroy a traditional vacuum cleaner. Unlike other wet/dry utility vacs, Hoover's ONEPWR is cordless and runs off a rechargeable battery, so you're not tied to an outlet and have unlimited reach. Also unique are its large wheels and low horizontal design for more stability and less tipping. The tools and wands store on board and the bin has a capacity of six gallons. While we haven't tested this specific model, Hoover vacuums of all shapes and sizes always do well in our tests.
Weight: 18.4 pounds
Cord Length: Cordless
Best Canister Vacuum for Hardwood & Tile Floors
Bissell Hard Floor Expert Canister Vacuum
All canister vacuums clean bare floors well. But what makes this Bissell especially unique is that it comes with not just your average oval bare-floor brush attachment, but with an air-powered rotating soft brush head designed to gently, but effectively, sweep dry dust and particles from the grout lines in tile and the cracks and crevices in hardwood and laminate floors. There are also attachments for low pile carpets and area rugs, dusting and crevices. The bagless dirt container empties from the bottom and the cord rewinds for neater storage. Bissell bagless upright vacuums do well in Good Housekeeping Cleaning Lab tests.
Weight: 9.3 pounds
Cord Length: 18 feet
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