5 of the Best Canister Vacuums: More Versatile Than an Upright

When it comes to deep cleaning, it’s hard to beat an upright vacuum.

One big issue with these deep cleaners is its sheer size.

Most uprights available right now weigh more than 15 pounds. That’s the price you pay for deep cleaning.

5 of the Best Canister Vacuums

And with the exception of a few brands like the Shark, most uprights will not be able to clean tight spots.

This is where a canister vacuum comes in.

A good quality canister vacuum like the Miele C2 Electro+ is a great option if you’re looking for something that will deep clean carpet and at the same time versatile enough to clean other areas.

We will be looking at several of the best options and how to choose one that will best suite your needs.

Our Pick: Miele C2 Electro+

The Miele C2 Electro+ offers that great combination of power and filtration that not a lot of canister vacuums have. It comes with a powerful 1,200 watt motor and a motorized brush that will deep clean carpet with the best of them. One downside would be the cost but it’s still cheaper than the Miele C3.


Pros

  • Excellent power and filtration
  • Will deep clean carpet thanks to the Electro Plus Floorhead
  • Great for folks who have allergies
  • Adjustable suction enables this to clean various areas like blinds, rugs and drapes not just carpet
  • Cord rewind will save you time

Cons

  • Most expensive option
  • Cost of bags will add up

I could have put the Miele C3 in this list but that bad boy costs close to a thousand bucks! The Miele C2 is a great option because it has almost the same power as the C3 but at a much more affordable $480!

Home owners looking for a canister vacuum that can deep clean as well as clean other areas this is a clear cut option.

What makes this a great option?

More than the power, Miele is known to produce high quality products. Don’t mind paying the $480++ price tag as this machine will last for more than a decade. That’s how high quality Miele vacuums are.

Another reason would be the filtration. Of all the vacuums in the list, the Miele C2 offers the best filtration. Not only is this vacuum bagged, it also has a HEPA filter.

If you have allergies of any kind, this is the option you want because there is not exposure to allergens even if you empty it. That’s because the bag is sealed shut when you remove it.

Powering this canister vacuum is a 1,100 watt vortex motor. The cleaning head (Miele class this the Electro Plus Floorhead) also comes with its own motor – a must have to deep clean carpet.

Suction is easily controlled through a dial on the body so also clean lighter stuff such as rugs. You can also adjust airflow by adjusting a knob on the handle so it is possible to use this on blinds or curtains without sucking them in.

Using this will also be easy thanks to the fingertip controls and ergonomic handle.

Miele backs this up with a 7 year warranty. If you buy this from Amazon, you can purchase extended warranty of up to 3 years.

More than just the cleaning performance, consumers like the build quality and finish. Unlike cheaper brands that mostly cheap plastic, Miele uses high quality materials. The wand itself is steel with notches that lock it in place. It is also telescopic meaning you can adjust the length.

Some potential issues

Biggest issue would be the cost. This is easily the most expensive option in the list but is somewhat offset by the fact that Miele vacuums are well-built and will last for more than a decade. Sure there are reviews here and there about this prematurely breaking but those are rarities.

Cost of bags can also add up so if this is a concern then go with a bagless vacuum.

Bottom line: The Miele C2 Electro+ is a great option for folks looking for a canister capable of deep cleaning carpet. It has the best filtration of all the options here so it is an option for folks with allergies. If the C2 is too expensive then go with the Miele C1 Turbo Team that will work great on low to mid pile carpet.

Great for Pet Owners: Kenmore 81614 Multi-Surface Bagged

The Kenmore 81614 offers similar features to the Miele but with less power and filtration. But you’ll save quite a lot for this – around $200! If you don’t want to spend close to $500 for a canister vacuum then this is a great budget option.


Pros

  • The two-motor system allows this to deep clean carpet
  • HEPA filtration will block out 99.97% of allergens and keep it inside the bag
  • Replacement bags are cheap (less than $1 per bag)
  • Decent cord length at 28 feet with cord rewind
  • Height adjustment setting enables this to clean carpets of varying thickness

Cons

  • No mini-turbo brush that would have been great for pet hair on upholstery
  • Floor tool does not work as well as the main cleaning head
  • Tugging it too hard will flip it to its side

Pet owners looking for a versatile canister that can rid their homes of pet hair should take a look at the Kenmore 81614.

This variant is the pet version of the Kenmore 81214 with a more powerful motor, longer power cord and a mini-turbo brush.

The mini-turbo brush is a huge deal when cleaning pet hair from upholstery as it is more efficient at doing so.

It also has the ability to deep clean carpet thanks to the motorized brush in the main cleaning head.

The bagged system and HEPA filter make this a good option for people with allergies. If the Miele C2 Electro+ is too expensive, this is a good cheaper alternative.

Replacement bags are also cheap at less than $1 per. Extension wand is adjustable so you can lengthen or shorten it depending on the area you are cleaning.

Cord is around 28 feet long which is plenty for a canister plus it has cord rewind.

Usability is also improved from the previous versions with the suction adjustment now located at the handle.

There’s no question that this vacuum will perform. It will pick up pet hair on carpet and upholstery. Biggest issue would be quality as a number of consumers left complaints about poor quality and malfunctioning.

Reviews also said to buy the “Type Q” bags for the proper fit.

The large wheels make this prone to tipping over if you pull on it too hard. And the large motor is quite noisy.

Bottom line: Pet owners will appreciate the power and versatility of the Kenmore 81614 canister vacuum. Quality won’t be up to par as a Miele C2 but for less than $260 this machine brings a lot to the table.

Lightweight Option: Eureka Mighty Mite Bagged

The Eureka Mighty Mite is the lightest option of the canister vacuums in this group. Even with the tools plugged in, this vacuum weighs a measly 9 pounds. You can easily carry this up and down a flight of stairs without straining your back. The powerful 12 amp packs a lot of punch and the HEPA filter will keep allergens up to 0.3 microns inside the bin!


Pros

  • Weighs just 9 pounds
  • Powerful motor works great at picking up dirt on upholstery and bare floor
  • Has a mini-turbo brush that will work great at picking up pet hair on upholstery
  • Carry-on handle makes carrying easy
  • HEPA filter keeps dirt up to 0.3 microns inside the bag
  • Bags are cheap

Cons

  • No cord rewind
  • Can’t use this on thick carpet
  • Noisy

Don’t let the small size of this vacuum fool you, it packs a lot of power thanks to the 12 amp motor.

The compact size makes it a viable option in smaller size homes. A quick look under the main cleaning head reveals that it does not have any beater bar, so this will only work on low pile carpet.

Don’t expect it to deep clean carpet. The lack of a brush also makes it hard to push on thicker pile rug or carpet.

Consumers who love this vacuum have homes with mostly bare floor surfaces. Don’t worry about pet hair, this canister vacuum will be able to handle it easy thanks to the mini turbo brush.

Aside from cleaning floors and upholstery, the Might Mite Pet Edition also comes with a crevice and an angled brush tool that works great on cleaning vents or ceiling fans.

Take note that this canister is a bagged vacuum so you’ll have to purchase extra bags. Not really a big deal because replacement bags are less than a $1 per.

Cord length is also decent at 20 feet but it does not have any cord rewind. After cleaning you’ll have to wrap the cord around hooks under the body.

Some potential issues

There are a number of complaints about sub-standard quality that range from the flexible plastic hose breaking to the main cleaning head not working well. If these issues concern you then you can purchase the optional 3 year extended warranty from Amazon to get that extra peace of mind.

Bottom line: The Eureka Mighty Might Pet will work best inside homes with lots of hardwood or tile. Pet owners will appreciate the power that this vacuum brings to the table to go along with the mini turbo brush that will pick up pet hair easily on upholstery.

Easy to Carry:  Shark Rotator NR96

Shark Rotator Powered Lift Away Canister NR96

The Shark Rotator NR96 is a more refined option versus the Eureka Mighty Mite. But this refinement will cost you roughly $100 more. It has the same lightweight properties and power but Shark’s version is a bagless vacuum.


Pros

  • Another lightweight option at around 10 pounds
  • Lift away feature further reduces the weight making it easier to clean a flight of stairs
  • Main cleaning head has its own motor making it capable of deep cleaning carpet
  • HEPA filter will keep dirt up to 0.3 microns inside the bin
  • Compact size makes it easy to store

Cons

  • Small dirt bin – a concern if you’re cleaning a large home
  • Handle can get in the way when cleaning deep under furniture

The NR96 is Shark’s only canister vacuum in their product line and with good reason.

Most of their upright vacuums are versatile enough to do what a canister vacuum does thanks to the Lift Away feature.

And this variant has that same feature.

With a push of a button, you can separate the dirt bin and the wheels.

The only purpose of this feature is to reduce weight which is a few founds give or take. Not having the wheel assembly also makes it a bit more compact to clean stairs.

It doesn’t matter if you’re cleaning bare floor or carpeted stairs, this vacuum will be up to the task.

The main cleaning head also has LED headlights that will help track dust under furniture. No other vacuum in this list has this feature, yes even the Dyson.

It can also swivel which makes moving around furniture easy.

Some potential issues

One potential issue with this Shark is the small dirt bin. If you’re cleaning a large space, frequent trips to the bin will be necessary. And since this is a bagless, you will be exposed to dirt. But it does come with HEPA filtration which helps keep dirt inside the bin.

Bottom line: The Shark NR96 is a great option if you’re looking for a lightweight canister vacuum that can clean both carpet and bare floor. It has separate tools for such. This variant will cost more than the Eureka but it’s much more refined and has more tools.

Bagless Option: Dyson MultiFloor Bagless

The Dyson MultiFloor Bagless would have been ranked higher if it had a motorized brush. Unfortunately it does not and the $300 price point makes this the second most expensive in this list behind the Miele. But it does have great points like the dirt bin that can hold around 1 liters of dry dirt and perhaps the best maneuverability thanks to the ball technology.


Pros

  • Upgraded bin is easy to empty
  • Ball technology does not easily tip over when you pull the hose
  • HEPA filtration that is certified asthma and allergy friendly by the AAFA
  • Great suction power will pick up dirt

Cons

  • Lacks a motorized brush which means this will not deep clean carpet
  • Expensive
  • Lacks a mini turbo brush

When it comes to refinement and performance, Dyson has always ranked on top of a lot of “best of” lists. Unfortunately that’s not the case with the MultiFloor canister vacuum.

Even if this variant has lots of power (250 air watts), it lacks one feature that would have make this leap frog over the other variants.

This variant lacks a motorized brush. It does have a brush but it’s driven by air. Don’t expect this vacuum to deep clean carpet. It will only pick up surface dirt but to expect this to do more than that would be unfair.

In typical Dyson fashion, expect quality to be on the upper end of the spectrum as Dyson uses pretty good quality plastics. Don’t expect to see too much metal from this for weight saving reasons.

Don’t expect to get a lot of tools with this variant. It only comes with the combination brush and crevice tool. If you have pets, you may want to consider buying the tangle-free turbo brush that works great on upholstery.

Bottom line: Make no mistake that the Dyson MultiFloor Canister vacuum is a very good product. Quality and performance have to be up there with the best canister vacuums. Unfortunately, the lack of a motorized cleaning head is a big downside and renders this unusable on thicker pile carpet.

How to choose a canister vacuum?

Not everyone will have the same needs. Joe has 3 dogs and lives in a home with lots of carpet while Jake does not have any pets and lives in a home that doesn’t have any carpet.

This is just an example of how different our needs are. So to help you narrow down your options and there are many, these are the important features to look at.

Bagged vs Bagless

First thing you’ll have to look at is how the vacuum will hold dirt.

Will it use a disposable bag or a not?

This topic has been debated and each side has its plus points.

A bagged vacuum is a great option if you suffer from any type of allergy like rhinitis or asthma. These bags are designed such that dirt that gets sucked in goes inside the bag.

The best brands offer features that will seal the bag like the Miele and Sebo shut when you remove it.

Biggest advantage obviously would be not having exposure to dirt when you empty the bin. However, the cost of bags do add up over time and if you’re averse at paying extra for this then go with a bagless.

A bagless vacuum does not have any bag to hold dirt. It relies solely on filters to ensure that dirt (at least most of it) stays inside the bin. However there will still be exposure when you empty the bin so it is also important to look at how these bins empty before buying one.

To learn more about a bagless and bagged vacuum, please read my detailed guide.

Dirt capacity

Having a larger dirt bin means you will not have to empty it as often or replace the bag if you have a bagged vacuum. The downside though is the larger the bin, the heavier the vacuum.

In a canister vacuum, this really isn’t a big deal unless you’re constantly going up and down a flight of stairs because these machines have wheels. So you don’t have to carry it while cleaning.

Filtration

The better the filtration the cleaner the air coming out of the exhaust. This is a big deal because allergens that get through the filter can trigger an allergy. Most good brands offer HEPA filtration like the Miele and Dyson. A bagged vacuum in most cases will keep most of the allergens inside.

Tools

The biggest strength of a canister vacuum will be its versatility and interchangeable tools. Get something with at least a brush and crevice tool for cleaning areas above the floor. If you have pets then consider getting something with a mini turbo brush that is efficient at cleaning pet hair off upholstery.

The more expensive brands also offer better attachments made from quality materials that will not prematurely break.

Cord and hose length

The longer the cord the less you’ll need to look for a power outlet. If you can find something with a cord rewind, you’ll have a winner because it’s a time saver. Minimum in my opinion would be around 20 feet. Anything less would be too short.

The same goes with the hose. A canister vacuum with a long hose will have good reach above floors. If you live in a home with a high ceiling, then a long hose and wand is a must.

To wrap up

There you go 5 of the best canister vacuums that will provide a lot of versatility to clean any part of your home and vehicle.

Miele C2 offers the best quality overall but is the most expensive. While the Kenmore 81614 offers a cheaper alternative with similar features. Folks looking for something lightweight will not go wrong with either the Eureka Mighty Mite Bagged or Shark NR96. It will just depend on what type of flooring you have at home.

Dyson is another option but the lack of a motorized brush is a big downer.

If you find these options useful please share you experience in the comments section below.

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