Best Canister Vacuum Cleaner 2019 | HowtoHome

Best Canister Vacuum Cleaner

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Best Canister Vacuum Cleaner
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Corded | Battery Corded | 20 ft.
Bagless x
Filter HEPA
Weight 18.7 lbs
Brush Roll
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Corded | Battery Corded | 17ft
Bagless x
Filter Multi Level
Weight 8 lbs
Brush Roll Carpet Brush
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Corded | Battery Corded | 24 ft
Bagless
Filter HEPA
Weight 22.7 lbs
Brush Roll
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Corded | Battery Corded | 21ft
Bagless
Filter HEPA
Weight 17.64 lbs
Brush Roll

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Overview


Canister vacuums are in the unusual position of being both the most and the least portable vacuum type. Their design relies on two parts: a long hose with various attachments to clean different floor surfaces, and a large caster where the motor debris container and other attachments are held. This design makes it easy to clean corners and other hard-to-reach areas without sacrificing suction.

There is a contentious debate about the power of a canister vacuum in comparison to uprights, sticks, and other vacuum types. However, one thing is certain: canister vacuums remain a popular option for many that don’t mind a heavier, bulkier vacuum if it can cut through dirt and hair effectively.

The highest-rated canister vacuums aim for power and features, winning over their customers with retractable cords, effective filtration, and powerful suction. These four vacuum canisters are portable and great for staircases, come in both bagged and bagless variants, and are sold at a range of price points that would appease any conscious buyer.

This article covers the main considerations when purchasing a canister vacuum and then offers an overview of our choices for the best canister vacuum in the market today.

ProsCons
  • Engines tend to be more powerful
  • Lighter and easily carried with convenient handles
  • Great for hard-to-reach areas and staircases
  • Great for hardwood and tile
  • Lots of bending over required to effectively clean
  • Heavily rely on attachments for usability
  • Can be heavy and strenuous to use
  • Can struggle with carpet overall

Attachments and Reach

Canister vacuums are all about attachments and extended reach. With the right canister vacuum and attachments, they can become some of the most powerful home cleaning devices in your arsenal. Upholstery and motorized pet tools are particularly useful on canister vacuums, which leverage their motors to pull out pet hair and other debris from couches and other furniture. Since the hose is significantly lighter and lighter than those found on an upright, canisters are designed to be great for cleaning staircases as well.

Like we’ve mentioned before, the hose on any canister vacuum needs to be adequately long and maneuverable to remain effective at all times of above-floor cleaning. Hoses can often be replaced and more attachments can always be added, so be sure to purchase the right tools for your specific situation to get the most out of this type of vacuum.

Power or Portability

The delicate task of balancing power and portability is a struggle for almost all vacuum types, which approach the issue in different ways. Stick vacuums aim for a smaller body, for example, while uprights feature a unibody design to limit bulkiness. When it comes to canister vacuums, separating the hose from the motor allows for easy vacuuming once everything is set up. Bending over to move the canister across the room is a necessary detriment in the design, which is why longer hoses and retractable cords are so important.

20 ft cord | Bagged | HEPA | 18.7 lbs | ✓Brushroll

Miele pulls out all the stops on their bagged Compact C2, which boasts some of the best features and attachments out of any vacuum in any category. Miele commands a high price tag for their products, offers a comprehensive warranty and enough versatility to ensure you won’t need a replacement for a long, long time.

Pros

  • Highly versatile
  • Great for hardwood floors
  • Great warranty

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Shorter cord
  • Stiff hose

Features

  • Suction control
  • Retractable cord
  • Attachments: Electro plus floorhead, parquet floorhead, dusting brush, upholstery tool, crevice nozzle
  • Warranty: 1-year Limited Parts, 7-year Limited Motor & Casing

Honestly, this might be the best bagged canister vacuum in the market today. Miele has long since earned their reputation from products that simply work, and their Compact C2 can be a real workhorse in this department. Coming with several attachments, a retractable hose, and strong build quality, the Compact C2 feels about as expensive as it can be.

Suction control with symbols correlating to attachments and an easy-access dial couldn’t be simpler. The parquet floor head tool may be the biggest selling point for hardwood owners—and effectively cleans wood, corners, crevices, and more. A dusting brush, upholstery tool, and crevice nozzle round out the attachments, which can all be held on the Compact C2’s VarioClip. HEPA filtration keeps smaller debris out of the air once the vacuum’s taken care of it, and with a 7-year warranty on the powerful motor, Miele clearly shows their customers that they want their products to remain qualified for years to come.

All of these features do mean that the Miele is one of the most expensive canister models available. The larger motor also means a shorter yet retractable cord, so there may be a few more moments needed to plug into a different outlet than with other vacuums on our list. The suction can also be powerful enough to make maneuvering the hose a little unwieldy.

Despite some who might hesitate to use a bulkier, bagged vacuum in their home, none of these detriments could stop the Miele Compact C2 from delivering on its many promises.

Moreover, for those who are a bit concerned about price, the Compact C1 offers many similar features with a more palatable bottom line.

17 ft cord | Bagged | Multi-level filtration | 8 lbs | ✓Carpet Brush

This shockingly affordable and bagged canister vacuum is perfect for smaller homes and anyone with lots of hardwood flooring. However, a lack of motorized brush roll and minimal attachments hinder this product’s ability to truly shine.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Variable suction control
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • No motorized brush – not great for carpets
  • Weak warranty
  • Limited attachments

Features

  • Variable suction control
  • Retractable cord
  • Attachments: Multi-surface cleaning, telescopic wand, brush tool, crevice tool, upholstery tool
  • Warranty: 1-year Limited

If you have limited experience with either a bagged vacuum cleaner or a canister vacuum, then there’s no better place to start than Bissell’s ZING model.

The Bissell Zing 4122 is incredibly affordable and very highly rated. Even at such a low price point, Bissell was able to provide a myriad of features to entice skeptics, including  variable suction control, wand, upholstery tool for stairs and carpets, brush tool, and crevice tool.

The major selling point is Bissell’s multi-surface cleaning tool, which takes the place of a standard brush roll. This piece is able to quickly maneuver across carpet and hardwood without damaging either. When it comes to cleaning hardwood floors, using the Bissell ZING is as simple as setting the suction to the desired level and using the cleaning tool.

What’s slightly less obvious about this multi-surface cleaning tool, especially considering the descriptions you’ll find online about this vacuum, is the lack of motorized brush roll. Motorized brush rolls are the most popular and most effective way to clean medium and high pile carpets. When activated, several bristles agitate the carpet and send dirt flying into the air, which can then be sucked into the vacuum. Without this key feature, the Bissell performs below average on carpeted floors. Likewise, the attachments included with purchase feel less than durable, and the 1-year limited warranty essentially means that repairs and maintenance will need to be handled on the consumer end.

Still, there’s a lot to love about the Bissell ZING. Many swear by bagged vacuums for their hygienic nature, and with effective filtration, Bissell’s product doesn’t disappoint. This is also the lightest product on our list by a considerable margin—with some reporting the canister’s weight to be even less than our stated 12.5 pounds.

Pet owners and those with lots of carpets will be less than pleased, but Bissell’s ZING bagged vacuum is aiming for homeowners on a budget that need a hardwood-friendly canister vacuum that simply works. When it comes to those expectations, the Bissell ZING more than exceeds them for the price and even offers a bagless model that’s just as powerful.

24ft cord | Bagless | HEPA filters | 22.7 lbs | ✓Brushroll

Kenmore’s 22614 canister vacuum is a perfect choice for a middle-of-the-road product with a focus on pet hair removal and upholstery cleaning. A shorter hose and bulkier build aren’t ideal, but otherwise, it’s hard to think of a reason not to consider this formidable bagless option.

Pros

  • Motorized attachments
  • Great HEPA filtration
  • Low clearance for cleaning under furniture

Cons

  • Heavy & bulky
  • Shorter hose
  • Weak warranty

Features

  • Retractable cord
  • Pet PowerMate tool
  • Attachments: Crevice tool, brush tool, upholstery tool, Pew PowerMate tool.
  • Warranty: 1-year Limited

In many ways, Kenmore’s 22614 bagless canister vacuum is the antithesis of the Bissell model. Where one draws a focus on hardwood and portability, Kenmore’s choice has one thing in mind: pets.

Kenmore’s included Pet PowerMate tool is a motorized attachment that easily pulls hairs from furniture and stairs. This tool is separate from the upholstery tool, which is just one of the many ways you can get the most out of the powerful suction on this product. The brush roll can also be turned on and off with the push of a button, which can make switching from hardwood floors to higher carpets simple and easy. The HEPA filtration on this product is also effective and a must-have in a pet-friendly canister vacuum. The lower clearance of the main motorized brush also makes getting under furniture easy and effective.

Unfortunately, cleaning under couches will probably require a bit of back-breaking labor, as the hose length on the Kenmore 22614 isn’t as long as some of the other hoses you’ll find. All of the power for the motorized attachments came at the expense of portability as well, so carrying this twenty-pound vacuum up and down staircases in a multi-story house won’t be pleasant.

Instead of going for an all-around feature set like you may find on the Miele or Dyson on this list, Kenmore instead aims exclusively for pet owners and anyone concerned with the state of their carpets. Provided you’re ready for an arm workout and don’t mind bending over once or twice to get under your furniture, you can count on the Kenmore bagless canister to get the job done.

21ft cord | Bagless | HEPA | 17.64 lbs | ✓Brushroll

Dyson’s reputation for powerful, unyielding suction holds true with their Big Ball Canister Vacuum. It’s loud and a little short on features but has enough in the tank and strong enough HEPA filtration to earn its reputation as one of the best bagless canister vacuums in the market.

Pros

  • Powerful suction
  • Great for stairs and carpet
  • Large bin

Cons

  • Limited attachments
  • No attachment storage
  • Loud

Features

  • Self-righting canister
  • Retractable cord
  • Hygienic Dirt Ejector
  • Carbon fiber turbine head
  • Attachments: Carbon fiber turbine floor tool, stair tool, combination tool
  • Warranty: 5-year Limited

Dyson offers a host of canister, upright, and stick vacuums, but the entry-level Big Ball Canister promises to deliver all of what the company has to offer.

At a surprisingly reasonable price, the Dyson Big Ball canister vacuum offers deep cleaning for floors, with their proprietary suction technology and a carbon fiber turbine tool head that’s as effective as the name implies. Love or hate Dyson; they have no problem making a device that’s as aesthetically beautiful as it is good at its job.

A combination wand and brush tool and stair tool round out the surprisingly low number of included attachments. The stair tool specifically, while not motorized, is effective at getting into the corners of stairs and pulling out trodden-in debris. Combined with the light carbon fiber turbine head, the Dyson Big Ball is quite possibly the most effective canister vacuum on our list for staircases.

While there is no single detriment to Dyson’s canister vacuum, there is a host of smaller nitpicks that can make a difference to buyers that may be torn between this and other products. For instance, the two attachments are effective, but they are not easily stored on the device. This model is also quite bulky and, as is turns out, the motor’s powerful suction carries quite the presence and may scare smaller pets.

Still, HEPA filtration is excellent, and the dirt ejector mechanism takes a lot of the dust cloud issues away that are common with bagless vacuums. A 5-year limited warranty and a convenient self-righting feature solidify the Big Ball as a great option for carpets, stairs, and fans of the brand.

Buyer’s Guide


Canister vacuums can vary quite a bit from each other regarding features, weight, attachments, and overall quality. There are specific features that all canister vacuums share, however, that are worth understanding if you’re not familiar with operating them.

Are Canister Vacuums Better?

This is a common question with no definitive answer. The Upright vs. Canister debate is ongoing, with some claiming that the power of the canister models is more impressive and others arguing that the smaller motors on upright models aren’t an issue since the suction isn’t lost on a longer hose.

Final Thoughts

Each of these canister vacuums could easily be the best for someone, but only one effectively balances power, portability, reach, and offers a distinct and unique feature set: the Miele Compact C2.

While the Kenmore 22614 may be more appealing to pet owners, or the Bissell for value-seekers, the Miele Compact C2 is the only vacuum with no major weakness. The Electro Plus floor head can be adjusted to any carpet, and the Parquet floor head ensures that none of the 1200W motor’s capability is lost on hardwood or tile.

The adjustability of the Miele Compact C2 easily counteracts the Dyson Big Ball’s turbine head and offers distant suction settings for any of its attachments. The price tag is certain to scare off a few, but if you have a home that’s versatile and utilizes many different types of flooring, you can be assured that the Miele Compact C2 can handle the job and last for years to come.

No matter which canister vacuum we choose, we hope that you bear in mind the strengths and weaknesses of a canister vacuum when making a purchase, and settling on the product that’s right for you. With the right canister vacuum, cleaning any home can be effective, simple, and even fun.