Our Pros Say These Canister Vacs Are the Best for Deep Cleaning

·11 min read
Photo credit: amazon
Photo credit: amazon

We updated this article in July 2022 to ensure the featured products vetted and tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute were in stock and correctly priced.

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, thanks to the distribution of weight between the canister and powerhead. 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 picks below are updates to models we've previously tested or are from brands that always perform well in our tests.

The Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab has tested a wide array of vacuum models over the years, from stick vacuums to HEPA vacuums to robot vacuums, vacuums for pet hair, and so much more. For each model, we use industry-standard ASTM tests and special test equipment to assess how well it picks up debris, like embedded dirt and simulated pet hair, from carpets and bare floors; its suction power at the end of the hose when you are using the crevice, dusting and other tools; 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.

Our top picks

Best Overall

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

Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G Corded Canister Vacuum

Apartment-dwellers and college students often don’t have the space for a full-size canister vacuum, but this model is a lightweight and compact machine that doesn’t lack in power. It’s racked up a 4.5-star rating from more than 11,000 reviewers on Amazon who praise it for being easy to tote up and down the stairs and for including two wand attachments that have excellent pick up in tough-to-reach places. And this model has been part of the Eureka line for many years, so it must be doing something right. 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

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 hardwood floors.

Weight: 17.64 pounds
Cord Length:
21.3 feet

Best Portable

Oreck Compact Canister Vacuum

The Oreck weighs just 5.5 pounds (the lightest of our picks) and is more portable than the traditional canister, making it great for smaller jobs. 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
Cord Length:
20 feet

Best for Pet Hair

Miele Classic C1 Cat & Dog Canister Vacuum Cleaner

This Good Housekeeping Seal star was created especially for cleaning up after cats and dogs — it was even our pick for best model for pet hair and hardwood floors. The powerful vacuum comes equipped with an Active AirClean Filter to help neutralize any lingering pet odors, so it's great for trapping and locking that dreaded "dog smell." It also comes with a Flexible Handheld Mini Turbo Brush attachment for cleaning upholstery, stairs and other tight spaces that are prone to collecting pet hair, dirt and more.

Weight: 21 pounds
Cord Length:
18 feet

Best for Carpet

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 wherever 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 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 Cordless Wet & Dry

Hoover ONEPWR High-Capacity Cordless Wet/Dry Utility Canister Vacuum

Vacuuming doesn't happen only 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. 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 for Hardwood & Tile Floors

Bissell Hard Floor Expert Deluxe 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: 9.1 pounds
Cord Length: 16 feet

Best Corded Wet & Dry

Dewalt 10-Gallon, 5.5 HP 2-Stage Quiet Wet/Dry Vacuum

If you’re looking for a canister vacuum that will work on dry and wet messes in your home, garage and workshop, look no further. This Dewalt is ideal for job sites with heavy debris and water, but the included attachments for cars, hard-to-reach crevices and floors make it perfect for cleaning your home too. And if you have a wet spill on your carpet, this canister vacuum can take care of that mess too. With swivel wheels, a 7-foot hose and 10-foot cord, it is impressively maneuverable for spaces of all sizes. Another feature we love about this vacuum is its quiet operation. Per the manufacturer, its two-stage motor makes this vacuum up to 50% quieter than previous models and GH Cleaning Lab tests bore this out. We found it noticeably quieter than other models we have used.

Weight: 22.7 pounds
Cord Length: 10 feet

How to find the right canister vacuum for your home

There is no universal canister vacuum that will be perfect for everyone, but with so many models on the market, it is possible to find the perfect one for you. Consider the factors below when choosing a canister vacuum.

✔️ Bagged or bagless: While both bagged and bagless canister vacuums will offer you the same level of cleaning, there is one thing that sets them apart. Bagged canister vacuums are generally much easier to clean. When you finish using them, you simply remove and dispose of the used dust bag. You will need to repurchase bags, and prices for these vary greatly across different brands. Bagless canister vacuums feature a dust cup with a filter that needs to be emptied and cleaned after each use. While you won’t have to repurchase dust bags, you will have to periodically replace the filter to maintain proper cleaning power, and emptying the dust cup can get messy. The dust cloud that some emit may also be bothersome to allergy sufferers.

✔️ Space: If you know you’ll be using your vacuum to clean your stairs, a lightweight canister vacuum or one with an extra long hose and cord is your best option. For bigger homes, you will want to consider if a longer cord or a cordless vacuum that will allow you to clean your home without having to connect to different outlets is best for you. Note that cordless canister vacuums will give you the flexibility to clean around your home freely, but will offer you much shorter runtimes than corded models. Alternatively, for smaller homes or apartments, cordless vacuums are a great option because runtime isn’t as important, and smaller, portable models will be much easier to store.

✔️ Attachments: Attachments can often make or break your decision about which model canister vacuum to purchase. Most models come with a dusting brush, upholstery tool and a crevice attachment to clean hard-to-reach areas of your home, but equally as important is a powerhead attachment that will allow you to deep clean carpets and rugs more efficiently. If you only have bare floors or very flat rugs in your home, a universal floor head or bare floor brush will clean both. If you have medium or deep pile carpets, spring for the motorized powerhead with a rotating brush. Car attachments are also great for keeping your car as clean as your home.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

Carolyn Forte, the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Care and Cleaning Lab Executive Director, has a B.A. in Family & Consumer Sciences from Queens College, City University of New York, and is a consumer products expert. She has been testing, speaking and writing about appliances, textiles, cleaning products and more at Good Housekeeping for more than 40 years as well as consulting with the appliance industry, especially washing machine manufacturers, about appliance testing protocols and consumer laundry habits.

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