If you're serious about cleaning, we think you should check out a canister vacuum.
Though most Americans prefer upright vacuums, canister vacuums are easier to lift because they divide their heft across a wand and canister. Plus, they're not as bulky as an upright—good news when it's time to vacuum stairs, reach corners, or clean furniture.
Miele vacuums are well-represented in our list because they're quiet, powerful, and well-built. Kenmore makes some great affordable canisters, and Dyson is worth checking out if you hate changing bags.
But there are still a lot of choices out there, and we're here to help. We've been testing vacuums in our labs since 2011, and can tell you that these are the best canister vacuums you can buy.
Updated October 16, 2017
Miele C3 Series
Where To Buy$899.00 Houzz Buy
Miele C3 SeriesBest Overall
Yes, the German-made Miele Complete C3 Kona might be expensive, but after extensive testing in our vacuum cleaner lab, we think it is the best vacuum you can buy.
This bagged canister vacuum is lightweight and quiet, but it's also quite powerful. In our tests, the Kona simply captured more dirt than its competitors. That was true whether we measured how much dust it got out of thick carpet, or how much debris it cleaned off bare floors.
Every Miele we've tested feels well designed and sturdily built, and the Kona is no exception. Nothing feels cheap or wobbly, and it glides across floors with ease. We especially like how its wand is weighted, so it doesn't tip over when you walk away from vacuuming.
Still, we prefer the Kona to other Miele vacuums. Miele makes several C3 vacuums, ranging from a $650 model with an air-powered brush all the way to a $1,500 model with LED lighting. The Kona sits in the middle of the lineup, but includes a powered brush for rooting dirt out of thick carpets, a telescoping wand for cleaning hard-to-reach corners, a hardwood floor brush, and a combination dusting brush, upholstery tool, and crevice nozzle
When cleaning is done, all those attachments store onboard—even the powered Electro Plus wand slots right into the body. There's even a seven year warranty on the motor.
Kenmore 81614Best Value
The Kenmore 81614 costs half what the least-expensive Miele C3 sells for, but still cleans almost as well. In our tests, it had no problem with getting debris off floors, or scaring up dirt from the darkest corners of a thick carpet. We appreciated how many attachments it came with, and the height-adjustable powered floor brush will work on any kind of carpet.
The 81614'S Pet PowerMate attachment is unique to Kenmore. It's a tiny, powered brush meant for cleaning pet hair off upholstery, drapes, and car seats. It was the only vacuum attachment we tested that reliably got the wiry fur of a Great Pyrenees dog out of floor mats.
The main difference between this inexpensive Kenmore and pricier canister vacuums is fit and finish. You'll immediately notice that the Kenmore is a lot louder than our top pick—16.3 dBA louder, to be exact. While the Miele C3 and Kenmore 81614 weigh about the same, the Kenmore's wand frequently topples over, and its attachments feel cheap and clunky.
Still, nothing cleans better for so little money.
Miele C2 Series
Miele C2 Series
Got dirty floors, but not a lot of space? Consider the Miele Compact C2 Onyx or Electro+. Smaller, lighter, and less expensive than the C3 series, the C2 still has the same superb fit and finish that Miele is known for.
This quiet, bagged canister vacuum rid both carpet and hardwood floors of everything from pet hair to dust. The best part? The C2 cleans well at the edges of a room, too. That means no more dusty baseboards.
If you have mostly hardwood and tile floors, the Onyx's air-powered brush will suffice. If you have deeper carpets, you should upgrade to the C2 Electro+, which features a motorized brush for stirring up long-dormant dirt and dust. No matter which model you choose, the Miele C2 Series is an affordable luxury that takes some of the effort out of housecleaning.
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball
Dyson's newest Cinetic Big Ball is our pick for a bagless canister vacuum.
Yes, it costs a lot, and similarly priced bagged vacuums outpace it on cleaning. But if you hate buying bags, the Cinetic Big Ball more than meets expectations. It rides on a large ball, which is both easy to maneuver and impossible to tip over. We also like that its air-cleaning system doesn't rely on a disposable filter.