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The Dyson Big Ball Multifloor and Miele Boost CX1 on carpet Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The Best Canister Vacuums of 2022

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The Dyson Big Ball Multifloor and Miele Boost CX1 on carpet Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

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Editor's Choice Product image of Dyson Big Ball Multifloor
Best Overall

Dyson Big Ball Multifloor

This Dyson canister model features a specialized self-righting design and a superior reach, but it doesn't have great suction for its price. Read More

Pros

  • Self-righting design
  • Superior reach

Cons

  • Expensive
Editor's Choice Product image of Miele Boost CX1
Best for hardwood floors

Miele Boost CX1

The Miele Boost CX1 excels at cleaning up hardwood floors. Its compact and quiet motor allows it to clean your house without much fuss. Read More

Pros

  • Quiet
  • Compact
  • Powerful

Cons

  • Hard to use on caprets
Editor's Choice Product image of Miele Complete C3 Kona

Miele Complete C3 Kona

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. Read More

Pros

  • Powerful suction
  • Sturdy design

Cons

  • Difficult to push across plush carpet
Product image of Kenmore Elite 21814 Pet Friendly CrossOver

Kenmore Elite 21814 Pet Friendly CrossOver

The Kenmore Elite 21814 provides powerful suction and great onboard tools. However, it is extremely heavy and difficult to wield. Read More

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Great attachments

Cons

  • Heavy
Product image of Kenmore 81414

Kenmore 81414

The Kenmore 81414 is a beautiful vacuum that boasts a powerful motor. However, our testers did not like it unwieldy it was Read More

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Good looking

Cons

  • Unwieldy

If you're serious about cleaning, you should check out a canister vacuum. We've been testing vacuums in our labs since 2011, and we're here to help you sort through the myriad choices out there on the market.

Though most Americans prefer upright vacuums, canister vacuums are easier to lift because they divide their heft across a wand, and the vacuum's main unit. They're also not as bulky as an upright, which you'll definitely notice when it's time to vacuum stairs, reach corners, or clean furniture.

There are a few brands that stand out in the canister vacuum market, among them Miele, Kenmore, Dyson, Atrix, and Bissell. Miele canister vacuums are on our list because they're quiet, powerful, and well-built. Kenmore makes some great-looking canisters, and Dyson is worth checking out if you hate changing bags.

The Dyson Big Ball Multifloor (available at Amazon) takes the cake on this list of best canister vacuums. We love the Multi Floor simply because it combines power and ease of use. For example, the Multifloor can seamlessly transition from carpet and tile with its self-adjusting head.

These are the best canister vacuums we've tested ranked, in order:

  1. Dyson Big Ball Multifloor
  2. Miele Boost CX1
  3. Miele C3 Series
  4. Kenmore Elite 21814
  5. Kenmore 81414
  6. Shark Vertex CZ2001
  7. Atrix AHC-1
  8. Bissell 1547
Dyson Big Ball Multifloor cleaning white carpet
Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The Dyson Big Ball Multifloor is powerful and easy to use.

Best Overall
Dyson Big Ball Multifloor

The Dyson Big Ball Multifloor rocketed to the top of our rankings because of its powerful suction and easy-to-use design. During our carpet tests, the Mutlifloor’s self-adjusting brush head picked up an average of 47% of the dirt we laid out for it in a single pass. The average in our labs hovers around 30%.

Aside from power, the Multifloor provides plenty of features that make it easier to use. Our favorite is the fact that this Dyson canister can’t be tipped over. Its chassis and a few specially placed weights mean that the vacuum will always self-right. Anyone who has to turn more than a handful of corners while vacuuming their home will appreciate this feature in particular.

The excellent navigation and powerful suction also allow you to be more diligent with cleaning high-up areas. The Multifloor’s handle can articulate and bend upwards. It’s a perfect accompaniment with the combination tool. Dust on vents won’t stand a chance.

Finally, everything on the Dyson Big Ball Multifloor just feels well engineered. Parts click together in a satisfying manner, the cord automatically retracts quickly, and the brush head turns on a dime. If you’re just looking for a general floor cleaner that works on hardwood and carpet, this one is worth checking out.

Pros

  • Self-righting design

  • Superior reach

Cons

  • Expensive

The Miele Boost CX1 cleaning bare floor
Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The Miele Boost CX1 excelled at our bare floor testing.

Best for hardwood floors
Miele Boost CX1

If your home is covered in hardwood floors or tile, you need to check out the Miele Boost CX1. Our lab tests show that this vacuum is powerful, quiet, and compact. However, where the CX1 really stood out was on our hardwood testing surface. Debris and dust could not hide from this vacuum’s powerful motor. That was true on carpets as well, but it was tougher going. The high suction caused the universal floorhead to adhere, making it hard to push. You can get around it by lowering the settings and opening up the suction vent, but then you’re losing out on that powerhouse motor you're paying for.

The other thing we liked about the CX1 is how unobtrusive it is. It measures just 11” x 15.75” x 11” (D x W x H), so it can be stored inside a closet and its smooth-gliding wheels mean it can come out just as easily. We also discovered that this canister is quiet during operation. Our sound meter picked up a maximum noise level of 65.4 dBA—significantly lower than the average of 72-80 dBA.

People who have wall-to-wall hardwood in their homes will fall in love with the Miele Boost CX1.

Pros

  • Quiet

  • Compact

  • Powerful

Cons

  • Hard to use on caprets

How We Tested Canister Vacuums

The Tester

Hi, I’m Jon Chan, the senior manager of lab operations at Reviewed. If there's a product you use to clean something, it’s likely I oversee its testing in our labs. This includes everything from detergents to robot vacuums. I, along with product testers Beckett Dubay and Michael Elderbee tested all the vacuums on this list.

The Tests

Dyson Multifloor cleaning rice off carpet
Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

One of our tests involve seeing how well a vacuum can deal with large debris

Even though vacuum cleaners aren’t the big metal boxes that we usually test in our appliance lab—such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, or ranges—we still test them in such a way so that we can have both reproducible performance data and information that will be useful to our readers. We assess on the performance, features, and usability of each vacuum cleaner.

When it comes to performance, a good vacuum cleaner should be able to remove both fine dirt or dust and larger debris from your floor surfaces. In our lab, we push each vacuum cleaner—from cordless to upright—to its limit by making it clean up four types of messes: our homemade “dirt” (sieved sand and baby powder), pet hair, rice grains, and raw macaroni. We test these vacuums out on two swaths of carpet (high pile carpet and low pile carpet) and on a linoleum floor surface.

We also think it’s important to see how a canister vacuum will do in circumstances that are more difficult than a bare floor. For edge cleaning, we place a 2” x 4” piece of wood along the edge of our test carpet area, sprinkle baby powder on the carpet, and run the vacuum cleaner with one side of the vacuum head pressed against the 2” x 4”. Ideally, the vacuum should pick up all of the baby powder without leaving a strip of white dust next to the 2” x 4”.

The Shark Vertex going under a wooden bar
Credit: Reviewed / Beckett Dubay

This is how we test how well a vacuum can clean under furniture.

Additionally, we also test how easy it is for the vacuum cleaner to clean dirt or dust bunnies that have collected under furniture. Using a wooden dowel suspended at different heights, we push the vacuum forward until the top of the vacuum hits the dowel to determine how far a given vacuum can extend under a piece of furniture.

We also consider the canister vacuum’s noise level, attachments, cord length, weight, dirt capacity, warranty, mobility, and overall user experience. If a vacuum can both clean up a lot of dirt and debris and make the cleaning process easy and hassle-free, it will make its way towards the top of our ranking system.

What You Should Know About Buying a Canister Vacuum

What Is a Canister Vacuum?

A canister vacuum is made up of two connected parts. A hose and a wand separate the motor and dirt container—also known as the canister—from the brush head or cleaning nozzle, which is located at the bottom of the wand. Typically, the motor is on wheels and follows behind the user while they clean.

When it comes to storing canister vacuums, they take up more space than an upright or a cordless vacuum, but the trade off is that they run more quietly and do a better job on bare floors than upright vacuums.

How Do You Open a Canister Vacuum?

The bag or dirt cup is typically located inside the canister. Usually, the canister body is opened via a lip or latch near its center-mass. If there is none, look for a button or lever labeled, "Open".

How Often Should You Vacuum?

We get asked this question often. Your cleaning style and frequency should match your lifestyle.

If you live in a small apartment and spend lots of time in your car, you should shift your budget and your efforts toward a cordless vacuum. But, if you have a multi-level home with mostly hardwood floors, then a canister vacuum is going to serve you the best.

As far as how often you should vacuum, that depends. If you have two dogs and three kids you're probably looking at once or twice a week. People living alone can probably stand to vacuum once a week or every other week. However, no matter what, you can cut down on the number of times you need to vacuum by investing in a robot vacuum.

When It Comes to Canister Vacuums, What Does Paying More Get Me?

In the sub-$100 category, every extra dollar you spend usually goes towards more power. Of the models we tested at this price range, all of them carry the same bare-minimum array of attachments.

When you spend a bit more, around $100 to $300, you start to see stratification in usability and features. We’re talking about more attachments, better joints so the vacuum moves with you, and better warranties.

Anything above the $300 range is showing for a premium market. When we test these vacuums, we’re looking for brush heads that won’t scratch delicate flooring, designs that won’t tip over, and motors with enough power to tackle the thickest of carpets.

Other Canister Vacuums We Tested

Product image of Miele Complete C3 Kona
Miele C3 Series

Yes, the German-made Miele Complete C3 Kona might be expensive, but after extensive testing in our vacuum cleaner lab, we think it is worth checking out.

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. This 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 ever 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.

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, these attachments store onboard—even the powered Electro Plus wand slots right into the body. There's also a 7-year warranty on the motor.

Pros

  • Powerful suction

  • Sturdy design

Cons

  • Difficult to push across plush carpet

Product image of Kenmore Elite 21814 Pet Friendly CrossOver
Kenmore Elite 21814

The Kenmore Elite 21814 is what we would call a workhorse.

First off, it’s powerful. In fact, it’s one of the best floor cleaners we’ve tested. On average, it picked up 59% of the testing dirt we laid out for it—better than the Dyson.

It also comes with a motorized mini-brush that can tackle pet hair on furniture, and we liked the cross-over feature—a hardwood floor brush built right into the main brush head.

All these features make the 21814 a real winner. It would have been a contender for the top spot if it weren’t for several major drawbacks we found.

It’s heavy. The fact that it tips the scales at over 25 pounds makes it a non-starter for a lot of people—especially if you have to clean multiple floors or have limited mobility. Also, the hose is very stiff as well. When you combine this with the heavy wand, it's tough to clean overhead with this vacuum.

Also, a minor point, but we found during testing that this thing kept falling over when left unattended.

Pros

  • Powerful

  • Great attachments

Cons

  • Heavy

Product image of Kenmore 81414
Kenmore 81414

The Kenmore 81414 is one of the better-looking models that we tested for this roundup. This red-hot vacuum impressed us with its powerful dirt pickup and versatile attachments.

Our main issue with this Kenmore vacuum is its usability. The stiff hose makes the brush head difficult to turn and control. Being powerful is all well and good, but it doesn’t mean much if you have to wrestle with your vacuum to get to the dirt. And when you do get there, we found you need to exert an above-average amount of force to move it.

Pros

  • Powerful

  • Good looking

Cons

  • Unwieldy

Product image of Shark Vertex CZ2001
Shark Vertex CZ2001

The Shark Vertex CZ2001 is just brimming with features. In our book, the most prominent are the self-cleaning brush roll and the smooth-gliding canister. If you’re constantly dealing with hair getting tangled in your vacuum, the self-cleaning brush roll will significantly cut down on that.

The CZ2001 is also very powerful. It picked up an average of 63% of the testing dirt in a single pass on short-pile carpet.

With all these features and great performance, you’d imagine it’d get top marks. However, during testing, we found that the CZ2001 is prone to overheating. We had to stop cleaning testing twice to reset this vacuum.

Pros

  • Self-Cleaning brush

  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Issue with overheating

Product image of Atrix Turbo Red AHC-1
Atrix AHC-1 Turbo Red

The Atrix AHC-1 Turbo Red promises professional-grade cleaning and is geared towards workspaces. It has a HEPA filter and a lightweight design. During testing, the Atrix picked up 38% of the testing dirt on our carpets. We also noted that its svelte design allowed this canister vacuum to clean under furniture that had more than four inches of clearance.

We did have a couple issues with this vacuum. First, we purchased a brand new model straight from the manufacturer, but the product that arrived showed concrete evidence of being refurbished, including a packing slip from the original owner. Atrix didn't remedy the issue, so we resolved it by buying another model from a retailer and testing the new one. However, the whole situation left us with a bad taste.

On the design front, we also disliked the bag orientation. Dust would spew out every time we removed the bag, more so than its competitors.

Pros

  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Bad bag design

Product image of Bissell Hard Floor Expert 1547
Bissell 1547

Rounding up our list is the Bissell 1547. This canister vacuum did pretty well on our carpet tests, picking up 44% of the testing dirt in a single pass.

However, it really struggled with picking up large debris. Given that this vacuum only weighs 13 pounds, it might be good for people who want a super lightweight vacuum.

Pros

  • Lightweight

  • Quiet

Cons

  • Weak suction

Meet the testers

Jonathan Chan

Jonathan Chan

Senior Manager of Lab Operations

@Jonfromthelab1

Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.

See all of Jonathan Chan's reviews
Keith Barry

Keith Barry

Former Editor in Chief, Reviewed Home

@itskeithbarry

Keith was the Editor in Chief of Reviewed's appliance and automotive sites. His work has appeared in publications such as Wired, Car & Driver, and CityLab.

See all of Keith Barry's reviews

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