In this Guide
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, canisters can be very expensive. Overall, they’ll cost a pretty penny more than you’d spend on an upright model.
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 canister vacuums make the grade. That’s where we come in! We created this special guide to help you find the best canister vacuums 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. Then, we squared what we found with the consensus from online buyer reviews, from people who spent time using these cleaners at home.
In our in-depth reviews, you’ll find all you need to know about each of our 3 favorite canister models. We’ll show you why these are the best on the market, and help you figure out which one is your ideal new vacuum!
Best on a Budget
Dyson DC39 Animal
Canister Vacuum Cleaner Reviews
Miele’s most affordable canister is a big step up from other budget models. We love the German build quality on this unit, as well as the powerful, adjustable suction system.
It’s a great choice for people with primarily hard flooring!
It’s much better built than cheaper canisters. It even puts some more expensive models by other brands to shame! Like every other Miele, the Olympus is built in Germany. You can be assured of much better quality than the brands that outsource production to the East. It’s built to last, and covered by a 7-year warranty.
There are lots of examples of great build quality on this model, so we’ll run through a few of our favorites. The extension wand is made entirely of stainless steel, and the hose is made of a plastic/metal combination which is much more reassuring than other canister hoses. The wheels are rubber-coated, to keep from marring your floors. The canister body is made of very strong plastic, like you’d find on car panelling.
It’s smartly engineered to be more user-friendly than other canisters. The 3-wheel roller base has a lower turning radius than many other models. The power cord retracts automatically. You can control the power.
You can control the suction. The Miele has an adjustment dial built into the casing, which allows you to switch between 6 different suction settings. They’re labeled with graphics to help you choose the best one for each task. You can turn up suction for cleaning out ground in dirt between floorboards, or turn suction down to clean delicate curtains or upholstery.
The convertible floor tool works on all your hard flooring, as well as low carpets and rugs. It switches between hard and carpeted flooring by way of an easy footswitch. In hard floor mode, it has thick brushes to protect the finish on your floors.
It gives you plenty of range. That’s a big plus for us, since maneuverability is probably the biggest selling point on a canister model. Between the power cord and the extension hose, you’ll have a nearly 30-foot reach. The wand is adjustable, so you can pick the right height for you, and the right length for each job.
It’s great for controlling allergens. The Miele is a bagged canister, so it’s much easier to dispose of captured dirt and dust without creating a cloud over your trash bin. It’s also equipped with onboard air filtration, both before and after the motor.
We love that Miele combines their filters with their dust bags, so you can change them both in one swoop. The bags are also self-sealing, so there’s no chance for a mess when you change them out.
The Olympus comes with a basic attachment set, consisting of a crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstery tool. They’re not unique tools on paper, but Miele’s accessories are quite simply nicer than the competition. They’re built from thick, sturdy plastic, and fit snugly on the attachment hose.
We love the natural bristles on the dusting brush, as well as the special velour strip on the upholstery tool. Velour attracts pet fur like crazy, and we’ve found that it does a much better job than brushes or rubber scrubbers for getting hair off furniture.
It’s not designed to work on medium or deep carpeting. This one will do a decent job on flat carpets and rugs, but it will get bogged down very easily in anything more intense. If you’ve got wall-to-wall carpets in your house, you’ll probably want to look at one of our other recommendations.
We know that this isn’t the cheapest vacuum to choose for our top budget pick. However, we found that canister vacuums under this price point simply weren’t reliable powerful, or user-friendly enough to justify a spot in our guide.
The DC39 is one of the most popular canister vacuums on the market. It’s full of Dyson’s signature, science-y features, from cyclonic suction to an air-driven carpet head. We like its versatility, and recommend it to people who need to clean a mix of flooring without spending too much money.
The carpet head is air-driven, which eliminates the need for a belt system. As you’ll probably know, the belts on carpet brushes are some of the most notoriously breakable and jammable parts on a vacuum. This one eliminates the need for a belt by powering the brushes using air. We like it because it’s much lighter than other carpet heads. You can turn the beater brush on and off with switch on the wand’s handle.
The DC39 makes full use of Dyson’s innovative cyclonic suction system. While some competitors have started using cyclonic suction in the past few years, Dyson has really cornered the market in that department. This model uses several tiers of layered cyclones to create a maelstrom inside the canister. It’s smarter and more powerful than most other canister models.
We love cyclonic suction because it keeps fine dirt and dust away from the filters, and deposits it around the edges of the dust chamber where it belongs. That means you won’t have to clean your filters as often. It also means you get more consistent suction, since the motor’s getting all the air it needs!
Dyson’s canister works on a central ball design, rather than a traditional wheeled base. It’s super convenient for tight spaces, because it has a practically non-existent turn radius. Previous buyers said it was super easy to navigate between and around furniture.
The ball design also lowers the center of gravity in the canister, which means that the vacuum won’t flip over when you pull it at strange angles. That’s a big problem with many lesser canister models. Tumbles and spills can scratch your floors and cause serious damage to the vacuum’s motor.
The canister is acoustically-treated to reduce noise. The air system is sealed as well, and provides HEPA-grade filtration of allergens. That means that all the fine dust and dirt particles you vacuum up will stay in the dust bin where they belong, rather than being expelled into the air all over again.
The suction is very powerful, but it’s not adjustable. Some previous buyers said they ran into trouble on rugs and carpets, since the carpet head clamped right on and wouldn’t let go. The high-powered Dyson also won’t be the best choice for vacuuming delicate surfaces, like heirloom rugs or lace curtains.
The bagless design seems to defeat the purpose of sealed HEPA filtration. Bagless vacuums tend to disperse a lot of the captured dust into the air when you dump them out. We’d recommend wrapping a trash bag around the dust chamber while you open the trapdoor, to keep the dust cloud down.
While it does have a carpet head, it won’t do very well on deeper carpeting. The air-driven brush simply isn’t powerful enough to work its way into deep carpet fibers. Previous buyers said that the suction was too powerful, and the brush was too weak. As a result, the thing just clamped itself onto their carpets and got stuck. That’s where you really miss the adjustable suction on the Miele’s.
For a fairly expensive vacuum, it’s pretty cheaply built. Dyson are one of the highest price brands on the market, but their machines are made almost entirely of lightweight plastic. The Animal is certainly less reassuring than the Miele, and we saw a few reports of parts breaking after use.
This Miele is the best of the brand’s C1 series. It’s the only one of our recommendations to have a powered carpet head, and the only canister vacuum we’re recommending for homes with serious carpeting.
We think it’s the best choice for people who want a reliable, powerful canister vacuum to handle absolutely anything in their home.
The powerful motor, combined with adjustable suction settings, makes the Titan even more versatile than the Dyson. On full blast, it can rival a cyclonic suction, and the lower settings allow the Miele to handle more delicate or tricky surfaces that are hard to vacuum with only high power settings.
It has a motorized brush head for cleaning even deep, wall-to-wall carpets. The Miele’s powered turbo attachment has a “floating” head, which means that it stays on top of the carpet as it works. That keeps it from getting bogged down or stuck (as happens with the Dyson). We like that it works on absolutely any carpets, from flat weave to shag.
You’ll also get a secondary floor head, for all your hardwoods and tile. The parquet floor attachment is extra wide and shallow, so it’s easy to cover ground quickly. We love the thick, natural bristles, which are much safer for hardwoods than the stiff nylon kind you’ll see on a lot of American vacuum. We also like the shallow design, which lets this floor head fit on stair steps more easily than other models.
Like the Olympus, it has extraordinarily good build quality. The Titan is also built in Germany, to very high standards of quality control. The body shell is made of automobile-style plastic, and the wand is stainless steel. It’s covered by a 7-year warranty. Previous buyers were overwhelmingly impressed with the build quality on this model.
Also like its cheaper sibling, the Titan has all the design conveniences and thoughtful touches that we love about Miele vacuums. It has automatic cord rewind, a 3-wheel steering system, ergonomic wand, self-sealing bags, and caster wheels that protect your floors, to name just a few.
It’s quite expensive for the average buyer. We know that the price tag will put it out of range for some people. However, we’d urge you to think about the longevity of Miele vacuums when you’re thinking about stomaching the steep price. You can easily pay $300+ for a cheaply-built vacuum that’ll break in a year or two. A Miele is more expensive up front, but you won’t have to buy another one for years.
Which is the Perfect Canister Vacuum for You?
The Miele Olympus is the best choice for people on a budget.
It’s about half the price of our most expensive recommendation (the Titan), and it does a very good job on all hard floorings. It’ll tackle mats and rugs, and has adjustable suction to help you out on all sorts of different surfaces.
While it’s priced at the low end of canister vacuums, it has build quality and reliability to compete with the best models on the market. The bagged design and air filtration system make it ideal for allergy sufferers, as well as pet owners. However, it’s not a good choice for people with whole rooms of carpet.
The Dyson DC39 Animal is the most popular of our recommendations, and it’s easy to see why buyers are attracted to this model.
It has lots of smart features which set it apart from the competition. Cyclonic suction, ball joint steering, and an air-driven carpet head are just some of the innovations the company have used for this machine.
This one will do a good job on most flooring, and has the added convenience of being bagless. We especially love the effective pet features, like the powered upholstery brush. On the downside, it’s not a good choice for allergy sufferers, it won’t work on thick carpets, and it’s not nearly as durable as the Mieles.
If you’re looking for the overall best choice both in terms of quality and versatility, we highly recommend the Miele Titan. It’s the only one of these three that can really handle full rooms of carpeting, no matter how deep.
Plus, it’s built better than the other brands, and is better designed. While the Titan is expensive, we think it’s a high-quality investment that’ll be well worth the money over the long haul.
How to Choose the Best Canister Vacuum for You
Think about your budget:
Overall, canister vacuums are the most expensive type on the market. While the most expensive upright vacuums will top out around $600, canister vacuums 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 between $300 and $600.
There are canister vacuums for sale for below $300, but we didn’t think any of them deserved our recommendation. That’s because they’re poorly designed, unreliable, and weak in terms of power and suction.
We found that they had design flaws which made them inconvenient to use. We also found that key components, like hoses and carpet heads, were built too cheaply to handle even moderate use.
We know that a $300 vacuum 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 canister 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.
Think about your floors:
Depending on the top of flooring you have in your house, you’ll want to look for different features on your canister vacuum.
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 carpets, and mostly 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.
Think about 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.
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 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 might vacuum 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.
Bagless vacuums are cheaper to maintain, since you won’t have to buy replacement bags. 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.
Looking for something a little different in your new canister vacuum? If you’re not sure that one of our recommendations for the Best Canister Vacuum is the best bet for you, check out the best-sellers on Amazon!