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 reconfigure 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 100 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 options, look at our lists 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 premium bagged vacuum cleaner delivers fantastic suction performance on bare floors and does an excellent job clearing debris like sand or pet hair from carpets, though it may struggle slightly with finer debris like baking soda. The vacuum also has seven levels of suction power adjustment, which is helpful if you plan on cleaning a wide mix of floor types.
This vacuum feels amazingly well-built, with a dense high-grade plastic body and stainless steel telescoping wand, and is remarkably easy to maintain. Despite its somewhat heavy design, it's very easy to maneuver thanks to its dense rubber wheels that enable it to roll smoothly over electrical cords and rugs. Its handle features a built-in LED light to help you see what you're cleaning when using the vacuum in a semi-handheld configuration.
Unfortunately, recurring costs can add up since you need to replace its pre-motor filter, its allergen-trapping HEPA filter, and dirtbag periodically. Its primary hose is also short, making it difficult to clean high-up shelves when using the vacuum in its semi-handheld configuration. Otherwise, its amazing build quality, versatile overall performance, and remarkably easy-to-maintain design make it one of the best multi-surface vacuums that we've tested.
If you're looking for a canister vacuum that's a little easier to pick up and carry, take a look at the Miele Classic C1. This bagged canister vacuum has a shorter total range than the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine and doesn't have a handle-mounted LED light, but it doesn't weigh quite as much and is consequently easier to pick up and carry. It does a similarly fantastic job of clearing debris on bare floors, but it doesn't clear fine or large debris, like baking soda or sand, from carpets quite as effectively as the C3. Still, it feels very well-built and is incredibly easy to maintain. It's also very impressively easy to maneuver, even in cluttered areas. Unfortunately, this vacuum doesn't have a HEPA filter to better trap allergens as you clean.
Get the C3 if you want a canister vacuum with a HEPA filter and a longer range, but consider the C1 if portability is a bigger priority.
The best bagless canister vacuum that we've tested is the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister. It's incredibly easy to maintain, with parts that are easy to remove and clean and attachments that clip together easily. Its bagless design also incurs practically zero recurring costs since it doesn't use a dirtbag. It has non-replaceable filters as part of its unique built-in filtration system, including a HEPA filter to reduce allergens.
Its dirt compartment stores a decent amount of dirt and includes a clearly marked max fill line, so you know when to empty it. It's easy to empty straight into a garbage can, and you can simply detach it from the cyclone mechanism and wash it with water if needed. It's also very maneuverable thanks to its ball design, and it comes with a ton of tools and attachments to help you clean hard-to-reach areas or crevices. That said, it's on the heavier side, and its cord is somewhat short, so you may need to switch outlets to clean larger areas.
Unfortunately, it struggles quite a bit with bulkier debris like cereal, which tends to get pushed around and can get stuck in the vacuum's opening. It can also have trouble with grainy material like sand on carpets, but on the upside, it does a much better job with smaller debris and pet hair on all surface types. All in all, this is a great canister vacuum if you don't want to deal with the hassle of disposable dirtbags.
If you don't want to spend as much, consider the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. It doesn't have HEPA filtration like the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister and comes with a very limited set of tools and attachments, but it's considerably cheaper, and its simple, bagless design is similarly easy to maintain, with virtually no recurring costs, thanks to its washable filters. It's relatively lightweight and easy to maneuver. However, its cord is even shorter than the Dyson's, meaning you may have to switch outlets more often. Still, it does a great overall job on all surface types and doesn't struggle with larger debris as the Dyson does.
Go with the Dyson if having a range of tools and a HEPA filter is important to you, but if you want a much cheaper bagless canister vacuum, the Eureka is a good alternative.
The best canister vacuum that we've tested in the budget category is the Eureka Mighty Mite. This basic canister vacuum delivers exceptional cleaning performance on bare floors, where it easily cleans pet hair as well as bulky and small debris, like cereal or rice, without too much difficulty. It clears an impressive amount of debris on low-pile carpet and does a good job of sucking up material on high-pile carpet.
This vacuum's plastic construction is also very lightweight, making it easy to pick and carry to another room or maneuver in cluttered areas. Its dirtbag is fairly spacious, so you shouldn't need to empty it too often. It's also fantastically easy to maintain, as the few parts that need periodic cleaning are simple to access.
Unfortunately, it doesn't feel especially premium, and while the assembly isn't too complicated, the wand could fall apart if it isn't properly put together. It doesn't come with very many tools, with only a combination upholstery and crevice tool with a sliding hard bristle brush at one end. Otherwise, this is a good choice if you're looking for a basic canister vacuum that delivers good overall performance on many surface types.
Sep 23, 2021: Verified the availability of all main picks and ensured that they still represent the best choice for their given category.
Aug 25, 2021: Added the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister as 'Cheaper Alternative' to the Best Bagless Canister Vacuum.
Jul 26, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
Jun 04, 2021: Verified that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
May 07, 2021: Verified that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
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.