Canister vacuums stand out from the crowd due to their compact design. They tend to have great maneuverability as they use a long hose and wand to get into hard-to-reach places, while their canister body follows behind it on wheels. Many can also be reconfigured to tackle different surface types or debris by swapping the vacuum head for different tools, which is handy if you're cleaning stairs or inside your car. Their canister bodies can hold a larger dirtbag or dirt compartment than stick vacuums, and some specially designed canister models can even tackle finer debris found in workshops or garages.
We've tested over 45 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best canister vacuum cleaners to buy. We select these picks not only based on their performance across a variety of surfaces but also on their design and price. For more buying recommendations, take a look at our list of the best vacuums, the best laminate floor vacuums, and the best multi-surface vacuum cleaners.
The Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine is the best canister vacuum that we've tested. While we tested the more barebones variant, Miele offers differently-equipped variants to suit specific floor-types or debris. That said, this model has an excellent build quality and even uses a HEPA filter to help trap allergens while you clean.
It has an outstanding performance on bare floors. It also does a great overall job on carpet since it can pick up pet hair as well as most large debris and a good amount of fine debris like baking soda. Thanks to its semi-handheld configuration, it's easy to access hard-to-reach places, and its handle has an LED light that can illuminate shadowy areas. It also comes with a few accessories like an upholstery tool to help you clean more effectively.
Unfortunately, it has a few parts that need replacing over time, such as its disposable dirtbag. Luckily, its dirtbag can hold a lot of debris before it needs to be changed. It also has a somewhat short cord length, and you may need to change outlets if you're cleaning a larger room. That said, this model offers a versatile performance on any surface type, making it the best canister vacuum we've tested.
If you like Miele's canister vacuum design but are looking for something a little more portable, try the Miele Classic C1. While it slightly underperforms when compared to the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine, it's similarly well-built and easy-to-maintain but more lightweight. It offers a fantastic performance on bare floors as well as very good overall performance on carpet, although it struggles with smaller debris on these surface types. It even comes with the same tools and brushes. Unfortunately, it has the same drawbacks. It has a few recurring costs like its dirtbag. It also has a shorter cord and hose length, which means that you need to switch power outlets to clean a large room.
Check out the Complete C3 Alize PowerLine if you're looking for the best overall performance and you don't mind its weight. However, go for the Classic C1 if you don't mind slightly sacrificing cleaning ability for a less heavy vacuum.
The best bagless canister vacuum that we've tested is the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister. It uses a bagless design and has virtually no recurring costs. Its dirt compartment also holds a good amount of debris, and since it's made of clear plastic, you can see when it needs emptying.
It can pick up most pet hair on bare floors as well as carpet. It has excellent maneuverability thanks to its ball-shaped wheel design. It also comes with a variety of tools and brushes, including a turbo brush for cleaning furniture upholstery as well as a hard bristle brush to tackle more stubborn messes. Maintenance is exceptionally easy since you don't have to worry about cleaning the filters and its parts have a clip-on design that makes it easy to take apart or assemble.
Unfortunately, it struggles to clear larger debris like cereal since it gets pushed around or caught in the vacuum head's opening. Sand can also get caught on top of the vacuum head or wheels when cleaning low-pile carpet. In general, it struggles with large debris across all surface types, which is a little disappointing. That said, if you're looking to keep recurring costs to a minimum with a bagless design, this is one of the best vacuums with a bagless canister design that we've tested.
If you're looking for something a little more affordable, the Eureka Mighty Mite is the best budget canister vacuum that we've tested. This lightweight model is best-suited clearing for bare floors such as in a shop or garage. It offers outstanding performance on this surface type since it can pick up pet hair as well as small and large debris without a problem.
Although plasticky in design, it's fairly sturdy and easy to assemble. It's very easy to maintain, and its dirtbag can hold a lot of debris before it needs to be thrown away, which is great. It also offers excellent performance on low-pile carpet, where it can pick up pet hair as well as most large debris. It comes with a couple of accessories like a combination upholstery and crevice tool and an extension wand.
Unfortunately, it struggles a bit more to pick up small debris on carpet. Its electrical cord and hose range is a bit short, so you may need to change outlets if you're cleaning a particularly large room. Still, this small model packs quite a punch in terms of performance for its affordable price point and is a suitable choice if you're looking to save money. It's even one of the best car vacuums we've tested.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best canister vacuums. We don't just base our results on overall performance but also factors like availability, price, and reader feedback.
If you'd like to do the work of choosing yourself, here's the list of our canister vacuum reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While there's no single best canister vacuum, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.