Canister Vacuum Buying Guide: Buy a Cleaner to Fit Your Needs

Last updated on February 19th, 2023

Maintaining a clean home is not an easy job, especially when it comes to fighting the dust off your carpet or the stubborn stains from your floor. And I am sure at some point or the other we all have stood in the middle of our living room looking at the dust deposits on the rug and the sofas and wonder, where does all of this dust come from!

Purchasing a vacuum thus becomes a priority in any home to ensure floors and furniture alike maintains some semblance of cleanliness in a busy home. Read our Top 15 Best Canister Vacuum Cleaner Reviews.

When it comes to the hard floors and stairs the canister vacs are excellent but the carpet and rug cleaning is mostly considered a challenge for them. High-end models of the canister vac can do a brilliant job at it because of their combination of a notable deep-cleaning with strong airflow through the hose for use with their long wands.

canister vacuum buying guide


The Advantages and Drawbacks of Having a Canister Vacuum

The Pros:

In recent years, canister models have become more popular as non-carpeted floors (i.e. tile, wood, linoleum) cleaner. This is because:

  • They are excellent for homes that are mostly bare or hard/bare floors surfaces, upholstery, stairs, and great for above-floor cleaning too.
  • The smaller nozzles of canister units make it able to clean places like under furniture’s and those with powerhead can save your cleaning time.
  • It has greater airflow and suction power than other cleaners like uprights, sticks, or hand vacuums. Easy cleaning as you just need to move the hose and wand during the cleaning.
  • Many canisters/cylinders use good filters like HEPA, AirClean, or even water filters.

The biggest advantage to having a high-quality canister model is that you will not be forced to push around a huge device when you do not need to. A canister device can be left on the ground or you can hold it in your hand, and it is absolutely essential if you have a flight of stairs in your home.

They also make cleaning furniture and difficult-to-reach space is much easier, and are the preferred vacuum cleaner for people with pets as well as small children and messy husbands.

The Cons:

Perhaps the drawback to having a canister device is that if you have large stretches of carpet that need to be clean, sometimes an upright vac is easier. But many people have nooks and crannies, areas above floors like curtains, ceiling fans, and stairs, or underneath furniture that they need to clean.

Also, the canister model may be a little cumbersome when carrying and store it as the size is bigger. Anyway, with a good canister vacuum cleaner, you can do all of these with very little effort.


The 6 Types of Canister/Cylinder Vacuum

When shopping for canister machines, many consumers are overwhelmed by the variety of models offered and the features they carry. It’s not easy if you just walk into a vacuum store and look for the most suitable cleaner.

So, before you get the type of cleaner it’s good for you to understand the home environment and know your personal preferences when choosing a vacuum.

This section addresses the types of canister vacuum offered and helps you determine which cleaner is right for you.

Although you will hear the manufacturers claimed that their produce the best cleaner. Each and every home environment like rooms’ size and floor type is different. Also, some homes having several pets while some other family members are suffering from asthma/allergy.

So, ask yourself the following questions first before going to the following section to choose the best machine to better suit your home cleaning environment.

  • Why do you want to get a new vacuum? Just for normal house cleaning, clean pet hairs (including long hairs), for car cleaning, or what?
  • Your house flooring – mostly hard floors, carpets (high or low-pile), or both?
  • Do you need to clean tight places and stairs or the second floor?
  • Anyone in your family members is suffering from asthma or allergies?
  • Are you looking for something that can last long or just a device for a quick clean-out?

Of course, there are many other things to consider before making a concise decision to buy a new vacuum. Following are the different types of canister cleaners and under what conditions they are ideal.

1.) Bagless Vs Bagged

Traditionally, most of the canisters are bagged canisters before manufacturers produce bagless models. The quality bagged vacuums can last very long and you need to buy the bag for replacement.

The newer bagless canister vacuum sucks up debris into a plastic compartment that is reusable. Rather than having to throw out a full bag and replace it with another one, you need only pop open the lid and empty its contents into the trash can.

The bagless option seems to be a money-saving strategy over the long term IF you can take good care of it, including dismantling it to clean the filter or any possible areas that get a clog.


2.) For Hardwood Floors

Many people will agree that the canister vac is the most suitable for hard floor cleaning. So, if your house is mostly hard floors (even with pets) and less carpet, then the canister is ideal for your cleaning needs.

If you have laminated floors, it’s critical to make sure that your cleaner head is soft and won’t scratch or damage the surfaces. Also, some canister models come with rubber wheels for easy maneuverability and also for protecting the hard floor surfaces.

Check out our editor’s recommendations on the best hard floors canisters.


3.) For Allergy Sufferers

Asthma and allergy sufferers are very sensitive to pet hairs as well as any kind of dust. Thus, you should get a cylinder vacuum that comes with a HEPA filter that is proven to capture more dirt, dust, and allergens.

The sealed vacuum system is able to keep almost all of the exhaust air inside the filter compartment before come out to the room. Usually, we also called this kind of cleaner Allergy-friendly vacuums and it can ensure the freshen air in your home environment.


4.) For Pet Hairs

If your house has more than one pet, then you should consider getting a cleaner that not only can do the house cleaning but also specially designed for pet hairs removal. The canister and upright vacs is very suitable for this purpose.

If you can get several pet hair tools to help combat the pet hair, your cleaning jobs will be easier. Those pet hair attachments include:

  • Telescoping wand – to help the vacuum reach a greater radius
  • Crevice tool – Some models come with LED lights on their crevice tool to help you find the hidden hair
  • Turbo eraser – adds extra suction power to help you remove the pet hair that wedged deep into carpets
  • Grooming kit – to suck the loose hair from the pets

Click here for the recommended pet hair vacuums.


5.) For Carpets

Although a vacuum canister is not the best vacuum for carpets, you still can use it, especially if your home is mixed with hard floors and carpets. Most canister models still can clean the low to mid-pile carpets especially with the motorized powerhead.

If you have large wall-to-wall carpets or high-pile carpets to clean, you may prefer the carpet cleaner or upright vac. Here are our recommendations.


6.) For Stairs

A canister vacuum with a long hose and accessory to clean the staircase railings will be ideal. If you want a machine to clean the entire house, the canister can be a smart pick since it’s good for various floors including above-floor cleaning.

The only thing is that you have to carry up and down the floors. So, you can get a quick hand or cordless stick vac for easy cleaning including the stairs. Check out our editor’s pick on the best vacuums for stairs.

After you know the different types of canister/cylinder vacuums and under what conditions they are ideal, in the following section we will cover the criteria or factors to consider when you want to buy a new canister.


How to Choose the Best Canister Vacuum for You?

Tips to choose a canister vacuum

Canister vacuums are ideal for houses with lots of tricky areas to vacuum. They’re more agile, maneuverable, and versatile than upright vacuums. We prefer canisters for homes with a mix of flooring, especially when there are stairs and other challenges involved.

However, canister units can be expensive. Overall, they’ll cost a pretty penny more than you’d spend on other vacuum models. When so many vacuums these days are cheaply made and unreliable, how can you be sure you’re spending your hard-earned money wisely?

It’s hard to know which vacuum models make the grade. That’s where we come in! We created this buying guide to help you find the best canister vacs on the market, and especially the best model for you!

We did lots of research on all the leading models, and compare features and specs on all the big players. We also took a look at professional lab reviews from experts at leading publications like Consumer Reports and

Then, we squared what we found with the consensus from online buyer reviews, from people who spent time using these cleaners at home. Following are the essential factors to consider when you intend to get a new canister.


1.) Your Budget

The canister vacuums are considered an affordable type on the market. While the most expensive upright vacuums will top out around $600, canisters can be as expensive as $1,000.

While we’re not saying you’ll have to spend that much, you should be prepared for a slightly higher price tag. We’ve tried to keep our recommendations affordable, so we’ve chosen models that are mostly below $500 on our site.

There are canister machines for sale for below $100, but we do recommend some of the reliable models since most people prefer a device that is below $300.

We found some of the cheap models had design flaws which made them inconvenient to use. We also found that some components, like hoses and carpet heads, were built cheaply to handle even moderate use.

We know that a $300 machine is an investment. However, we think it’s smarter to spend $300 once than to spend $200 every year or two for replacements.

The more you pay for a cylinder vacuum, the more power, versatility, and durability you’ll get. More expensive options have better suction, motorized carpet heads, and heavier duty parts made from dense plastics and metals.


2.) Your Floors

Depending on the top of flooring you have in your house, you’ll want to look for different features on your canister device.

For carpeted floors, you need a floor head with a beater brush. Roller brushes are super important for loosening up dirt and hair that gets ground into carpet fibers. If you have any deep, wall-to-wall carpets, you’ll need a fully motorized carpet head.

If you have mostly low-pile carpets, and hard floors, you can probably get away with an air-powered beater brush.

For hard flooring, you’ll want an attachment with a wide suction head, and thick, soft bristles to protect the finish on your floors. A good brush head is also helpful for loosening up fine dirt particles which can stick to hard flooring.


3.) Durability

Key areas to look at are the hose, the joints, and the floor head. The hose takes the most strain since it’s the part you use to pull the vacuum around your house.

You’ll want to make sure it’s made from heavy-duty plastic, or preferably a metal mix. Cheap hoses can crack extremely quickly, and instantly ruin the suction of your vacuum.

Make sure the joints at which the hose meets the canister are solid, too. These pieces can be poorly designed, and render your vacuum useless when they break.

Finally, the floor head is a very important piece to consider. The floor head takes lots of pressure every time you use your vacuum.

You’re always putting pressure on the head and the neck joint, especially if you’re vacuuming carpets. Make sure it’s made from heavy-duty materials that can handle the strain.


4.) Bagged Vs. Bagless

Canister models come in both bagged and bagless options. They each have their advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll want to be sure you stake out your preference before you buy.

Bagged canister vacuums are the clear choice for people who suffer from allergies, or are trying to control dust and fine particles in their air.

While bagless canisters models might suck up fine dust and dirt, they can release a lot of the finer debris back into the air when you dump the chamber into the trash.

Bagged models keep it all sealed inside, so there’s no mess and no allergy problem. Since they capture more dander and tiny dust particles, they’re probably the best choice for pet owners as well.

Also, with bagless models, you don’t have to buy replacement bags regularly. While some brands’ bags are cheaper than others, bags are a maintenance cost you’ll have to stomach if you buy a bagged vacuum.

With a bagless vacuum, you’ll only have to pay for the vacuum itself. Bagless vacuums can also be more convenient for pet owners since fur can fill even the biggest bag in no time. However, bags do contain allergens much more effectively than bagless dust chambers.


5.) Size, Capacity, and Power

In the world of vacuum cleaners size matters. A vacuum cleaner that is too small a dirt cup will fill up with dirt quickly before you are even done cleaning a single room. If you buy a vacuum with a large capacity it would be too hard to maneuver.

First, determine the square foot or area of space you will be cleaning. This is generally available in-home maps or apartment ads. If this information is not available you can measure it by using the length and width of the room and multiplying them. All rooms’ square foot area can then be added up to get the complete area of space you will be cleaning.

Find a vacuum cleaner that cleans the size of the area that you have or a little more. Also, the cleaner should have enough power suction to pick up all types of dust and pollens. Generally, a canister with higher motor power i.e. above 1000W should be enough for most cleaning needs.


6.) HEPA Filter

HEPA stands for “High-Efficiency Particulate Air”. This type of filter is excellent at capturing dirt and allergy-causing particles. These filters are built using small fiber held together in a random layout. More info here.

With a distance between the fibers equal to or more than that of particles, it is supposed to trap. These filters have to be replaced every 3 to 10 uses depending on the filter type and the area being cleaned. The advantage of these filters is that reduce any pollution by the carpet vacuum cleaners.


7.) Weight and Accessories

People always prefer a lightweight cleaner; this is especially true for the elderly or those having back pain problems. Look for a canister with bottom wheels for easy maneuverability. Generally, a lightweight canister vac weight should below 13 lbs.

Also, you will happy if you get a vacuum with many attachments to ease your cleaning tasks. Those accessories include a crevice tool, dusting and floor brush, nozzle and powerhead, pet hair tool, and more here.


8.) Warranty and Brand

While most vacuum cleaner manufacturers are offering a 1-year warranty, some reputable brand like Dyson is offering up to 5-year warranty, Miele (7-year) to prove that there are confident with their range of products.

You also should know some of the brands produced more expensive vacuums while other manufacturers are having cheaper units. You can get inexpensive cleaners from Bissell, Eureka, or Dirt Devil.


9.) Special Features

Many manufacturers offer specialized features only available in their models. These features might include a liquid spray head to clean floors or an extra suction head for cleaning curtains or a cordless setup that allow you to clean the home without being attached to a cord all the time.

However, not all of these small features will be valuable. It is important to analyze what extra features that are available in the vacuum cleaner models that you are looking to buy.

If you are looking for a vacuum cleaner buying guide, then the following video worth watching:


Hope the information that we have tried to cover on this website and the page will be useful to you. We have presented a few of the best canister vacuum cleaners available in the market as well as how to choose them & buyer’s guide.

But you always need to keep in mind that what has been rated best by the other users is necessarily best for you. You need to consider your own requirements first and then buy a cleaner that is most suitable for your needs.

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