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 75 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 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. This extremely well-built vacuum has seven different suction power settings, so you can easily adapt to whatever surface type you're cleaning. It's also very maneuverable with smoothly-rolling rubber wheels and LED lights on its handle to help you see what you're doing in shadowy corners.
It uses a spacious dirtbag, and its performance stays consistent as it fills up. It delivers an incredible performance on bare floors, where it easily clears pet hair and debris, like rice and cereal, and does an excellent job on low and high-pile carpets as well. You can switch it into a semi-handheld mode and use it with any of its tools and brushes, which include an upholstery tool for cleaning fabric-covered furniture and a crevice tool for getting into tight corners. It's equipped with a HEPA filter, which is nice if you're concerned about allergens.
Unfortunately, it incurs relatively high recurring costs since the dirtbags and filters need to be replaced on a regular basis. The power cord is also on the short side, so you may need to swap outlets once or twice if you're cleaning a big room. That said, its amazing build quality and versatile performance make it one of the best vacuums we've tested.
If you like canister-style vacuums but want something easier to carry around, you may want the Miele Classic C1 instead. This model has worse performance than the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine on every surface type, but it's lighter and much more portable. Like the C3, it's extremely well-built and easy to maintain. It comes with the same tools and brushes, including an upholstery tool for cleaning fabric-covered furniture and a crevice tool for cleaning tight spots. It has a fantastic performance on bare floors where it easily clears pet hair and debris, and it also does a very good job of cleaning low and high-pile carpets. However, it's not equipped with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter and has a much shorter power cord.
Go for the Complete C3 if you want the vacuum with the best performance and don't mind that it's on the heavy side. Go for the Classic C1 if you want something more portable and don't mind swapping power outlets as you clean.
The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister is the best canister vacuum with a bagless design that we've tested. This model has excellent maneuverability, thanks to its ball-shaped wheel and rotating head. It doesn't have any parts that need to be replaced regularly, and the filters don't need to be washed, so it's exceptionally easy to maintain.
It cleans pet hair from bare floors and carpets very effectively and also does a good job with fine debris, like baking soda. Several tools and brushes come included, like a hard bristle brush for scrubbing stuck-on dirt and a turbo brush to use on fabric-covered furniture. Like most canister vacuums, it's on the heavy side, but it feels light in your hand and has good storage capabilities.
Unfortunately, it struggles to suck up larger debris, especially bulky material like cereal, which tends to get pushed around or clog the vacuum. Still, its user-friendly, low-maintenance design and decent performance make it worth considering if you're looking for a bagless canister vacuum.
The Eureka Mighty Mite is the best budget canister vacuum we've tested. This affordable model is more portable than many canister vacuums, and it doesn't feel very heavy in your hand. It has a fantastic performance on bare surfaces like linoleum or hardwood and easily clears pet hair from all surface types.
It has good maneuverability, with a long wand that makes it easy to clean under couches and coffee tables. You can detach part of the wand to use it in a semi-handheld configuration, which is helpful if you're cleaning stairs or shelves. It also comes with some tools and brushes, including crevice and upholstery tools. Its dirtbag is very spacious, which is helpful during long cleaning sessions, and it even has an indicator to let you know when it's full.
Unfortunately, it's mostly made of cheap-feeling plastic, so its build quality is mediocre. It also struggles to clear fine debris, like baking soda, from high-pile carpets, so it may take a few extra passes to properly clean those surfaces. That said, this model has a lot to offer for a budget-friendly price. It's even one of the best car vacuums we've tested.
Feb 26, 2021: Checked that we're still recommending the best products for our users and that they're in stock.
Feb 05, 2021: Verified picks to make sure the best products are recommended and in stock.
Jan 15, 2021: Added the BISSELL Zing Bagless Canister to Notable Mentions.
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.