Easy to Steer and No Dirt Left Behind: We Tested the Best Canister Vacuums (2022)

Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.

Everyone has their preferred household chore—washing the dishes, watering the plants, taking out the garbage. For those of you who sit squarely on #TeamVacuuming, you’re probably already aware of the many benefits that come with gliding a lightweight, powerful vacuum cleaner across your hardwood floors. And if you’re not a fan of vacuuming, we’d wager you just haven’t met the right one yet.

The best canister vacuums have retractable cords, breezy maneuverability, powerful suction, and a quieter sound than their upright counterparts. But if you’re still not sure what the whole canister silhouette is all about, read on, below, to find out what happened when we put five industry-favorite models to the test in our own homes. (Hint: Things got a whole lot cleaner.)

Our Favorites

  • Best overall: Miele Complete C3 Calima Powerline
  • Best design: Airsign HEPA Vacuum
  • Best suction power: Dyson Big Ball Multi Floor
  • Best bells and whistles: Shark Vertex Canister Vacuum
  • Best for hard floors: Bissell Hard Floor Expert Canister Vacuum

Best Overall: Miele Complete C3 Calima PowerLine

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Bagged vs. bagless: Bagged | Weight: 20 pounds | Cord length: 24 feet | Surfaces: All

What we like:

  • HEPA filter
  • Tools and attachments stored internally
  • Powerful suction

Worth noting:

  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t come with electric brush head

Why we chose it: A thoughtfully designed, powerful vacuum that‘s fun to use and will last for decades.

We like to be realistic when it comes to finding the “perfect” version of a product. It’s a tough feat to have all of your requirements met in one machine, so we were delighted to discover that Miele’s Complete C3 Calima PowerLine model checked off most of our boxes. To begin with, the HEPA filter is a big selling point, particularly for those with allergies to even the finest of house dust. The canister is another highlight, as it rolls around with ease and the attachments can be conveniently stored right inside the canister. Other handy features include foot pedals that control the power settings, as well as a retractable cord.

The Calima comes with a parquet twister floor head, a turbo brush floor head, an upholstery nozzle, crevice nozzle, and a dusting brush with synthetic bristles—in other words, if you have a surface to vacuum, this model can accommodate in spades. It also has a strong suction power of 1,200 watts. It does come with a high up-front cost, but these Miele vacuums have been proven to last for roughly 20 years, which makes a big difference when it comes to cost per use. Its main drawback, if we’re being picky (which we are), is that it doesn’t come with an electric brush head, so you can only toggle between suction powers from the canister, not the handle. However, you can purchase an attachment if this is a feature you’re really after, so it still earns our top spot. Overall, gliding Miele’s Calima across the floor made vacuuming feel efficient and—dare we say—rather fun.

Best Design: Airsign HEPA Vacuum

Easy to Steer and No Dirt Left Behind: We Tested the Best Canister Vacuums (2)

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(Video) Best Canister Vacuum in 2020 (Top 7 Canister Vacuum Cleaners) 💦 👍🏻 💡

Bagged vs. bagless: Bagged | Weight: 10.8 pounds | Cord length: 26-foot radius | Surfaces: All

What we like:

  • HEPA filter
  • Made from recycled and biodegradable materials
  • Sleek, streamlined design

Worth noting:

  • Strong suction, but less powerful as some others in side-by-side test

Why we chose it: A powerful, eco-friendly vacuum with a stylish millennial aesthetic.

Domino’s deputy editor, Julie Vadnal, recently took the Airsign vacuum for a spin and was initially struck by the millennial-style marketing coming from this new DTC company. “I’d never felt targeted by a product more,” she says. Her everyday vacuum at home is a Dyson upright cordless model, but she notes that Airsign’s canister style is a tempting alternative for a few reasons. Setup was easy thanks to the neatly labeled packaging, and the vacuum is made from 20 percent recycled plastic—and can be disassembled for recycling. She also enjoyed the 25-foot radius and HEPA filter, and notes that the suction was strong (250 air watts). “The suction power of the highest setting is so strong that I at one point worried the Airsign would catch a corner of my flat-weave rug and inhale the entire thing, like in a cartoon,” she says. However, when compared to the Dyson, the latter performed better on her hardwood floors. Though Vadnal depends on the storage convenience of an upright vacuum, she notes that if she lived in a house (rather than a smaller apartment), she’d go for the Airsign without question.

Best Suction: Dyson Big Ball Multi Floor

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Bagged vs. bagless: Bagless | Weight: 17.64 pounds | Cord length: 21 feet | Surfaces: All

What we like:

(Video) Top 5 - Best Vacuum Cleaners (2022)

  • Impressively powerful suction
  • Unique ball-shaped design
  • Long-reach wand stretches to 50 inches

Worth noting:

  • On the heavier side

Why we chose it: The highest caliber suction, plus a clever ball-shaped design for comfortable steering.

We had a hunch that Dyson’s canister vacuum would deliver on powerful suction (the brand is known for it, after all), and after testing its Big Ball model, our expectations were pleasantly exceeded. This vacuum has what Dyson refers to as Radial Root Cyclone technology, which basically means there are 19 tiny tornadoes inside that do an extremely effective job at capturing dust and dirt particles. The turbine head works for all floor types, and there’s a suction release trigger on the handle for vacuuming more delicate flooring. (One small note: We would have liked if this feature could be locked in, rather than having to hold the trigger the entire time.)

The canister itself is designed around a ball, which helps with steering and self-corrects when it tips over. We especially appreciated the long-reach wand, which stretches to 50 inches and was handy for getting cobwebs out of ceiling corners and crown molding; plus it didn’t feel heavy or clunky to point around the room. This vacuum isn’t super-lightweight, though, so if that’s your preference, this may not be your cup of tea. But if you’re looking for impressively powerful suction, this one’s a winner.

Best Bells and Whistles: Shark Vertex Canister Vacuum

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Bagged vs. bagless: Bagless | Weight: 17.8 pounds | Cord length: 25 feet | Surfaces: All

What we like:

  • LED headlight
  • Can control speed and floor settings on handle
  • Flexible wand to clean under furniture

Worth noting:

  • Wand isn’t lightweight
(Video) Top 5 Best Canister Vacuums in 2020

Why we chose it: A vacuum with useful design features that go above and beyond.

Sometimes extra design features are just that—extra. But in the case of Shark’s Vertex canister vacuum, they take the experience above and beyond. Starting from the beginning, setup for this model was remarkably quick and easy, and once we switched the vacuum on (achieved via a convenient foot pedal or the handle’s smart display), the LED light illuminated dust and debris that was swept up with powerful suction. The canister only weighs 9 pounds, so it’s pretty effortless to roll around a room, plus Shark included its MultiFLEX technology with this canister model, and it’s quite satisfying to bend the wand in half to reach under a sofa or coffee table.

Perhaps our favorite feature of this vacuum is the LED smart display on the handle, which lets you turn the vacuum on and off, as well as adjust the suction strength for the specific surface you’re cleaning. The simple trash release and cord retractor were minor but much appreciated finishing touches, too. We did notice that while the canister is very lightweight, when we were using the wand to clean higher hard-to-reach surfaces, it felt slightly heavier than expected—not a deal breaker but worth noting if those biceps are out of practice.

Best for Hard Floors: Bissell Hard Floor Expert Canister Vacuum

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Bagged vs. bagless: Bagless | Weight: 9.1 pounds | Cord length: 15 feet | Surfaces: Low-pile carpet, stairs, sealed wood floors

What we like:

  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver
  • Digital fingertip controls
  • Small size good for storage

Why we chose it: A budget-friendly vacuum that’s easy to maneuver and won’t scratch your floors.

The Bissell canister vacuum we tested for this story is the lightest and most affordable pick of the bunch. (Though extreme budget seekers might want to check out this model.) We were initially struck by the ease of assembly and how lightweight and effortless it was to maneuver the Bissel around the room. Another enjoyable feature is the battery-powered digital fingertip controls (batteries included) that let you flip the vacuum on and off and adjust the suction power. It’s also on the smaller size, which is great for storing in smaller spaces, but less so for cord length (15 feet) and the receptacle capacity (1 liter). The wheels are designed in rubber to avoid scratching, and the brush’s bristles are extra-soft, which makes this one of the best canister vacuums for hardwood floors and delicate rugs. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly vacuum for a smaller space that can keep your floors tidy, this is a solid pick.

Runner-up

Miele Classic C1 Cat & Dog Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Self-proclaimed cleaning-obsessed writer Gregory Han shared that his favorite model (which he has owned for more than 10 years) is Miele’s Classic C1. It starts at $749, but “if you want to buy a vacuum once and never again, get a Miele,” Han says. The 1,200-watt motor is powerful, and this model is especially good with pet hair.

How We Chose These Products

When coming up with a list of canister vacuums to test, we looked at well-regarded brands in a range of price points, skipping models that have a track record of unreliable performance or shifty quality issues. After weeks of research, we came up with a group of vacuums—all of which have historically elicited stamps of approval from industry experts. Once they arrived at our front door, we ran each one through a series of tests on hardwood, bathroom tile, and rugs. We clocked how easy the setup process was and how effectively they managed to pick up dust, debris, and hair. We also observed different features that made vacuuming a more enjoyable, efficient experience, including attachments, suction power variation, and dirt disposal.

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Bagged vs. Bagless

Within the category of canister vacuums, there are bagged and bagless models. Bagless canisters are useful because they eliminate the need to buy replacements, which is helpful from both a financial and waste perspective. However, disposing of dirt can be messier and can also release dust particles into the air that you’ve just vacuumed up. Furthermore, some users argue that bagged vacuums (though often heavier) are better at suctioning up dirt and cleaning the air, particularly those with HEPA filtration. We tapped Miele’s product manager, George Tjoumakaris, for advice on these kinds of technicalities (the brand uses AirClean 3D Efficiency GN filter bags). “Bags ensure that dust is picked up and securely captured inside the machine,” he says. “This filters more than 99.9 percent of all dust particles and automatically closes for hygienic replacement, ensuring no debris escapes.”

Ultimately, choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference and where your priorities lie. We found it satisfying to empty out the dirt and dust we just sucked up, but can also see the benefits of a bagged system.

Size and Weight

The vacuums we tested weighed between 9 and 20 pounds. We noticed that with most of the models, the weight was concentrated in the canister, which means that when you’re in the process of vacuuming, the handle and hose are what you’ll be using, and these are generally more lightweight than upright models. However, in terms of size, canister vacuums are less compact, and this requires more storage space. If you live in a small apartment, that is definitely worth taking into consideration.

Capacity

If you live in a spacious home with shedding pets and a steady flow of dirt, dust, and debris, a larger canister capacity is going to be a game changer. While upright models tend to feature the largest capacity, canister vacuums are also designed with this in mind.

Cord Length and Handling

One of our favorite features of canister vacuums is the retractable cord. Long gone are the days of winding an unwieldy cord around two plastic knobs—nay, with these models all you have to do is tap a button and it’s out of sight in a flash. As for length, we tested vacuums between 15 and 25 feet and noted that with the shorter cords, we had to unplug and replug more often when switching rooms.

Noise Level

Canister vacuums are typically regarded as quieter than upright models, so they’re worth considering if you’re someone who is sensitive to sound or simply prefers a less noisy cleaning experience. If this is a subject that’s especially important in your vacuum decision-making process, look for brands that list their sound output, like Airsign, which has a max of 75 decibels.

Attachments

It’s all too easy to neglect the attachments that come with your vacuum, which is why models that clip them onto the handle or—even better—store them in the canister (like Miele’s Calima model) make the process of switching to different brushes and hoses a bit more effortless.

Ask Domino

Q: How do I clean a canister vacuum?

Staying on top of changing filters and bags (when applicable) is the number-one way you can prolong the life span of your vacuum and keep it clean. If you have a bagless model, clean the dirt receptacle by wiping it down with a microfiber cloth and washing it with water and soap.

Q: How can I tell if a canister vacuum has high suction power?

Look at the air watts (AW) a vacuum has to determine the suction power. For reference, the more powerful models we tested measured around 1,200 AW.

Q: Do canister vacuums work on carpet?

Tjoumakaris notes that canister vacuums work as well on carpet as they do on hardwood floors. We noticed that when switching from our hardwood floors to carpet or rugs, the suction power needed to be reduced quite a bit, otherwise it was too difficult to glide across. Another solution? Switching floor heads. “There is a great deal of flexibility with these when utilizing different floor heads,” Tjoumakaris says. “There are a few different floor head options with Miele’s canister vacuums, including the Turbobrush, which works well on low- to medium-pile carpets, and the Electrobrush for intensive deep cleaning and optimal care of carpets.”

Q: Are canister vacuums good with pet hair?

If you’re looking for a vacuum that can suck up a lot of pet hair, Tjoumakaris says to go the bagged route. “Vacuum cleaners with dust bags are always the best choice in regards to hygiene, since it’s a closed system and the dirt is captured and removed entirely via the bag,” he says.

The Last Word

Cleaning is an unavoidable fact of life, but when you invest in tools that make the experience more efficient and effective—like a canister vacuum—keeping your home tidy can feel like a breeze. For spotless floors and cleaner air, upgrade to a canister vacuum with powerful suction, innovative features, and easy-to-use attachments.

Domino’s editors independently curate every product on our site, because we’re just as obsessed with a great deal and an under-the-radar discovery as you are. Items you purchase may earn us an affiliate commission.

FAQs

Are canister vacuums worth it? ›

If you're shopping for a vacuum, a canister model is worth considering. All of the canister vacuums in Consumer Reports' tests do a terrific job cleaning bare floors, and some are very good at cleaning carpet.

Do canister vacuums have better suction? ›

Canister vacuums generally have more suction power than upright models. This power makes them particularly well suited for cleaning bare floors. And while they're also efficient at cleaning carpets, upright vacuums, especially models that use collection bags, tend to be more effective carpet cleaners.

Which Kenmore canister vacuum has the most suction? ›

The Kenmore – Elite has the best suction power of all the vacuums we've tested — even 5% better than the new motor design in the Apex — pulling minus 23 kilopascals of air pressure. That makes it excellent for getting dirt out of floor cracks and picking crumbs out of your couch.

Is a canister vacuum better than an upright? ›

Pros: Canister vacuums are better than upright models for cleaning bare floors, stairs, and under furniture, and the attachments are handy for cleaning drapes and upholstery. Some are as good as uprights at cleaning carpets. Most are quieter, and the separate powerhead makes them seem lighter as well.

How much suction is good for vacuum? ›

The level is between 25 and 65 l/sec. The larger air flow, the larger the capability is to carry the dust from the nozzle and into the bag. For an H-marked machine – a vacuum cleaner for collection of dust hazardous to health – the air flow / air velocity in the suction hose must never be less than 20 m/sec.

Why do people buy canister vacuums? ›

Canister vacuums tend to be lighter weight and easier to carry than upright vacuums (Example: the V-CAN-10 canister vacuum weighs 9 pounds while the V-DMU-14 upright vacuum weighs 24 pounds) They generally have better suction and flow rate, which can mean easier and faster cleaning for your cleaning team.

Why should I buy a Miele vacuum? ›

Most Miele vacuums are made of high-end materials that make them feel far more durable than many of their peers. Good overall performance. Miele vacuums offer strong and consistent cleaning performance on a wide variety of surface types, including hardwood floors as well as low and high-pile carpet. Easy to maintain.

Is Amazon an authorized dealer for Miele? ›

Yes, Amazon is authorized to sell Miele.

How many watts is a good vacuum cleaner? ›

An upright vacuum cleaner should be around 100 air watts and a cylinder vacuum cleaner needs to be about 220 air watts.

Does shark make a canister vacuum cleaner? ›

Here's why you need a Shark® canister vacuum.

Shark's powerful suction is ideal for cleaning all floor types, from hard floors to carpets.

Are bagged vacuums better? ›

In general, bagged models tend to work more efficiently than bagless vacuum cleaners because they have an extra layer of protection for their filtration system. If someone in your household lives with allergies or asthma, it's in your best interest to choose a model that will filter out the air as best as possible.

Are Kenmore canister vacuums still being made? ›

There is a wide range of Kenmore vacuum cleaners currently available, including upright cleaners, canister vacuums, sticks and hand-helds as well as carpet shampooers.

Does Dyson make a canister vacuum cleaner? ›

Dyson Big Ball™ canister vacuums.

With self-righting technology. For easy, powerful cleaning.

Is Eureka still in business? ›

Today, Eureka still manufactures environmentally friendly vacuums and more as part of the Electrolux Home Care Division. We offer eureka central vacuum replacements, parts, tools, accessories, motors, bags, filters, and much more.

How much should a good vacuum cost? ›

We recommend a few different types of vacuums that usually cost about $150, including an excellent bagless upright vacuum, a decent cordless vacuum, and a basic (but good!) robot vacuum.

Is Electrolux vacuums still in business? ›

Founded over 100 years ago, Electrolux continues to reinvent floor care. Our remarkably flexible and efficient Ergorapido® cordless vacuum makes it easier to keep your home clean, comfy and cozy - for all to enjoy.

Does Miele make upright vacuums? ›

Miele upright vacuums are outfitted with premium filtration innovations and strong cleaning performance to make your home the cleanest on the block. Miele U1 Dynamic uprights feature a strong 1200 watt suction motor with 140 cubic feet suction at the intake.

Does shark make a canister vacuum cleaner? ›

Here's why you need a Shark® canister vacuum.

Shark's powerful suction is ideal for cleaning all floor types, from hard floors to carpets.

Are bagged vacuums better? ›

In general, bagged models tend to work more efficiently than bagless vacuum cleaners because they have an extra layer of protection for their filtration system. If someone in your household lives with allergies or asthma, it's in your best interest to choose a model that will filter out the air as best as possible.

Is Kenmore vacuum out of business? ›

However, earlier this year Panasonic confirmed that they are winding down their North American small appliance business and therefore will no longer be making Kenmore Vacuums as of the end of 2016.

What is a bagged canister vacuum? ›

A bagged vacuum cleaner works in the traditional way of using a replaceable bag as a filter to trap the dirt while allowing air to flow through the bag. Bags must be replaced when they are full. Bagless vacuum cleaners use filters to trap dirt and debris in a dirt cup or chamber that can then be emptied.

Is Electrolux vacuums still in business? ›

Founded over 100 years ago, Electrolux continues to reinvent floor care. Our remarkably flexible and efficient Ergorapido® cordless vacuum makes it easier to keep your home clean, comfy and cozy - for all to enjoy.

How do I clean my shark vacuum canister? ›

Empty and clean the dirt canister over a bin and remove what is in there. Let the dirt canister dry for 24 hours before re-inserting the dirt canister into the vacuum. Take the canister to a sink of warm soapy water and scrub it clean with a microfiber cloth.

Why do bagless vacuum cleaners lose suction? ›

The most common cause of loss of suction is that the filters have become blocked. They may require cleaning or replacing. Another cause could be that the vacuum cleaner hose is blocked.

Do bagless vacuums lose suction? ›

The other one I mentioned was that on a bagless vacuum you wont lose suction as your dirt chamber fills up. The reality of it is as your filter gets clogged with dirt you lose suction. Depending on the vacuum and filter sometimes this can be worse than with a bag filling up and losing suction.

Why do vacuum cleaners lose suction? ›

If your vacuum cleaner has lost suction power, it's time to empty the container. Vacuum cleaners come with various foam or mesh filters. These might get clogged over time if not cleaned or replaced properly. This will cause your vacuum to lose suction.

How long should a Kenmore vacuum last? ›

How long do Kenmore vacuums last? A. It's suggested that the typical vacuum can last up to an average of eight years. With proper maintenance, a Kenmore vacuum could last that long or longer.

Who owns Kenmore now? ›

Kenmore. The Kenmore Appliances brand is owned by Sears but manufactured by various appliance makers. The brand has a long history of over 100 years, having launched in 1913 originally on sewing machines.

Is Kenmore made by Whirlpool? ›

Whirlpool makes washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators that bear the Kenmore badge. In addition to Whirlpool-branded appliances, the company also manufactures Amana, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, and Maytag kitchen and laundry appliances.

Does shark make a vacuum with a bag? ›

Shark, one of the United State's most popular vacuum brands, produces many models of bagged and bagless vacuum cleaners.

How long do vacuum bags last? ›

The bottom line. Many vacuum brands recommend changing the bag before it becomes full, at least every three months. The purpose of changing the vacuum bag when you need to is so that your vacuum cleaner is working at an optimal level.

Do vacuum cleaners still use bags? ›

You will have to buy replacement bags. Most vacuum cleaner bags are not reusable and need to be replaced regularly. The vacuum is less effective when the bag is full as suction is reduced. Change your bags every 2-3 months for peak suction power.

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