Canister vs. Upright Vacuums Comparison: What’s the Better Choice?

If you’ve been searching for your next vacuum cleaner, you probably noticed the ongoing battle between canister and upright vacuums. 

Canister vs. upright vacuum is a battle that may never end. Both types are equally as efficient, which is what makes it tricky to choose just one. For this reason, you should carefully consider both vacuum cleaners so that you can choose the one that fits you the best. 

Because both types are equally as efficient, the focus is on your needs and preferences in terms of features and suction power. 

We know that this is easier said than done. This is precisely why we created the following list of the best canister and upright vacuums for you to choose from. 

On top of that, you’ll find valuable information on how to choose between the two. Take a few minutes to read the article below so that you can make the best possible decision. 

Read More:

Top 3 Canister Vacuums on the Market

Bissell Zing Canister Vacuum

Bissell Zing is among the best canister vacuums on the market. It’s a small and compact canister that’s easy to use across all kinds of floor surfaces. 

The most important thing to mention is that this is a bagless canister vacuum. It comes with a 2l dust cup that’s easy to empty and wash when needed. It’s a more eco-friendly and cost-efficient option than bagged canisters. 

It has an adjustable height, allowing you to go from one floor surface to another with a flip of a switch. However, keep in mind that it’s corded, featuring a retractable 15′ long power cable. For this reason, you’ll maybe have to use an extension cord. 

Bissell Zing weighs less than 8 pounds, so you probably won’t have any issues carrying it around. Also, all its filters are removable and washable. 

Bissell Zing Canister Vacuum

Specifications

  • Dust Bin Capacity: 2 l
  • Cord Length: 15 ft
  • Weight: 10.23 lbs

Pros

  • Crevice tool and dusting brush included 
  • For all floor types 
  • Easy to maneuver with 

Cons

  • Not for large debris 

Our detailed review offers all the Bissell Zing Canister info you need.

Miele C1 Limited Edition

Miele C1 looks like one of those classic canister vacuums. However, it’s much more than that, offering supreme cleaning power with strong suction and several cleaning tools. 

It comes with a rug and floor combination brush and a parquet brush. This allows you to clean all floor types, which is excellent if you have combined flooring in your house. 

It has a large operating radius thanks to its power cord and extension pole and hose. In total, it offers some 29.5” of operating radius, making it easy to clean all the areas of your home, including above-floor ones. 

Miele C1 has a six-setting rotary dial for adjusting its speed according to the floor you’re cleaning. Keep in mind that it also has an electrobrush for a more thorough carpet cleaning. 

Miele C1 Limited Edition

Specifications

  • Suction Power: 1200 W
  • Weight: 16.1 lbs
  • Operating Radius: 29.5 in

Pros

  • For hard floors and carpets 
  • Adjustable power 
  • Onboard accessory storage 

Cons

  • Not for plush carpets

Need more details on the performance of Miele’s C1? See the complete review.

Kenmore Elite 21814

Kenmore is one of the best choices when it comes to canister vacuums for pet hair. Elite 21814 is an ideal canister vacuum to consider if you have combined floors. 

This one comes with a motorized Pet Powermate tool that picks up even the most stubborn pet hairs and dander. Its unique design prevents all the hair from tangling around the brush, which keeps general maintenance to a minimum. 

Its two-motor system powers the CrossOver nozzle, allowing you to switch between carpets and hardwood with ease. 

This Kenmore vacuum comes with a 26′ long power cord and an adjustable wand of 11′. It features HEPA filtration, trapping 99.7% of even the tiniest particles like dander, hair, and dust. 

The vacuum cleaner includes a crevice tool, dusting brush, bare floor tool, and a fan sweeper. 

Kenmore Elite 21814

Specifications

  • Filtration: HEPA
  • Weight: 29.6 lbs
  • Cord Length: 26 ft

Pros

  • Onboard accessory storage 
  • Dust and dirt sensor 
  • LED lights 

Cons

  • Tricky to maneuver on carpets 

Best Rated Upright Vacuums for the Money

BISSELL Cleanview Swivel Pet Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner, Green, 2252

Bissell Cleanview 2252 is one of the best upright vacuum cleaners for pet hair. It has a triple-action brush roll that works with scatter-free technology to pick up pet hair, dander, dirt, kibble, and kitty litter. 

It’s a big upright vacuum cleaner, weighing 15 pounds. It comes with a 27′ long power cord and a 6′ long hose for some added reach. 

Its cleaning path is quite wide, which allows you to clean more on an initial pass. It’s equipped with swivel steering, making it easier to maneuver and control the upright vacuum. 

This is a bagless vacuum, featuring a 1L dust cup that’s easy to empty. The entire emptying system is hygienic, allowing easier emptying so that you don’t have to touch any of the dirt. 

BISSELL Cleanview Swivel Pet Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner, Green, 2252

Specifications

  • Dust Cup Capacity: 1 l
  • Weight: 15 lbs
  • Cord Length: 27 ft

Pros

  • Edge-to-edge cleaning 
  • Pet hair corner tool included 
  • Large, easy-to-empty dust bin 

Cons

  • Bulky construction 

Shark NV501

Shark NV501 is among the most popular upright vacuum cleaners. It’s a bagless, corded vacuum with a 1.3-quarts dust cup that’s easy to empty. It’s a see-through dust cup making it easy to see when you should empty it. 

This Shark features the brand’s unique Lift-Away technology. It allows you to detach the body of the vacuum cleaner when cleaning stairs and other above-floor surfaces. 

It features a HEPA filter combined with Anti Allergen Complete Seal Technology. The system ensures that all the vacuumed debris remains in the vacuum without going back into your breathing space. 

Although this upright vacuum cleaner appears quite large and bulky, it’s easy to maneuver with. It features swivel steering that helps with working the vacuum around furniture legs and other obstacles. 

Shark NV501

Specifications

  • Capacity: 1.3 qt
  • Weight: 15.5 lbs
  • Cord Length: 25 ft

Pros

  • 25′ long power cord + 8.4′ hose 
  • LED headlights 
  • Quiet operation 

Cons

  • Bulky and large 

Is Shark NV501 what you need? Find out here.

Oreck Commercial XL

Oreck Commercial XL is a large upright vacuum with a 12-inch wide cleaning path. It’s among the best for hard floors and low-pile carpets in big rooms with not as many obstacles. 

This one is easy to use and control via the on/off switch that’s on the handle. The vacuum has automatic floor adjustment settings that allow you to clean different floor types with ease. It adapts to all surfaces without any assistance on your part. 

It features a powerful, high-speed brush that spins at 6,500 RPM. It moves all the dirt and debris toward the inlet, ensuring that none is left behind. 

Keep in mind that this one weighs only 9 pounds, although it looks rather large and heavy. It comes with a 35′ long power cord and a disposable top-fill inner bag. 

Oreck Commercial XL

Specifications

  • Cleaning Path: 12 in
  • Weight: 9 lbs
  • Cord Length: 35 ft

Pros

  • Protective bumpers 
  • Side edge brushes 
  • Low profile 

Cons

  • The bag develops an odor when left full for too long 

Do you require more info on the Oreck Commercial XL? See our full analysis.

Canister Vacuums: The Good & The Not-So-Good

Canister vacuums are convenient, powerful, and easy to use. However, they also have some setbacks that might make you question if this is the right choice for your floors. 

It’s among the oldest type of vacuum cleaners, although new and modern models deliver much more than old-school canister vacuums. 

Take a minute to discover all the advantages and setbacks you can expect with a canister vacuum cleaner. 

What is a canister vacuum?

Canisters have a unique design that allows ease of use and efficiency. The weight is distributed between the cleaning head and the canister itself, which makes it easy to maneuver with. 

This is precisely why canister vacuums are typically more comfortable to work with than uprights, but that also depends on the particular model. 

Advantages

The main advantage of canister vacuums is the ability to clean above-floor surfaces with ease. There are a long hose and an extension pole between the cleaning head and the vacuum itself. This makes a canister vacuum ideal for cleaning furniture, stairs, and other above-floor surfaces. 

Setbacks

These vacuums are generally easy to work with. However, maneuverability may be an issue if the hose is too long. Although you may think that a long hose is a good thing, a hose that’s too long may twist and twirl, knocking things over as you vacuum. 

Also, nearly every canister vacuum is bagged, with only a few modern models being bagless. 

Upright Vacuums: Pros & Cons

Upright vacuums are probably the most popular on the market for quite some time now. And although they come with quite a few setbacks, these vacuums offer plenty of advantages. 

An upright vacuum cleaner is usually an ideal choice for pet hair regardless of the floor type you have. Also, these are almost always bagless, which makes them a more eco-friendly choice. 

Check the text below to discover the most notable pros and cons of upright vacuums. 

What is an upright vacuum?

Every upright vacuum is designed to be pushed and pulled across the surface. These have a large body that’s between the cleaning head and the handle. 

In most cases, upright vacuums are bagless and corded. However, some exceptions to the classic design do exist. 

Advantages

An upright vacuum cleaner typically has strong suction and is suitable for all kinds of floors. These vacuums are almost always bagless, which makes them more eco-friendly and cost-effective since you don’t have to keep buying dust bags. 

In most cases, these come with a few tools for several surfaces and upholstery. 

Setbacks

These don’t really have many setbacks. For the most part, people complain about the weight and sometimes bulky design of upright vacuums. 

Setbacks depend on the model because some don’t come with as many tools. Also, they are usually corded and come with relatively short cords. 

Which is Better: Canister or Upright Vacuum?

Choosing between upright and canister is somewhat tricky at times. However, once you compare the two, you can clearly see the differences. This allows you to pick upright or canister much easier. 

It’s hard to tell which type wins the canister vs. upright battle. It all depends on what you need in a vacuum cleaner in terms of maneuverability, filtration, and versatility. Check the guide below to learn more about these factors. 

Maneuverability

A canister vacuum cleaner is probably easier to maneuver with than an upright. It’s because upright cleaners are somewhat heavier, and you’re supposed to push them. 

Also, canisters have long hoses that help with reaching hard-to-reach areas. Uprights aren’t as suitable for these areas and places with plenty of furniture and other obstacles. 

Bathe & Brush Your Pet Regularly

Brushing and bathing might be the two most important things to help reduce the amount of loose fur on your clothing and furniture.  

By bathing and brushing your pet, you take off all the loose hairs. This allows you to throw them in the garbage, which means they won’t end up on your clothes. Keep in mind that some pets require daily brushing, and it’s vital that you’re consistent with this. 

Suction

You can go for either upright or canister and still get strong suction. In most cases, it depends on the model since you can find both upright and canister models that are strong or weak. 

Suction power depends on how full the dust bag/cup is. It might also weaken with the use of some accessories such as crevice tools. 

Filtration

You should always consider filtration when choosing a vacuum regardless of the type you’re going for. A canister vacuum cleaner almost always has filter bags. However, bagless models exist as well, in which case you should look for the one that has HEPA filters. 

HEPA is the best choice when it comes to upright cleaners as well. 

Flooring Types

Canister vacuums are often more versatile when it comes to cleaning different flooring types. However, this tends to depend on the particular model you’re interested in. 

Uprights are ideal for hard floors and low-pile carpets. These vacuums usually have beater bars that can damage high-pile rugs. On the other hand, canisters work on carpets equally as well as on hard flooring. 

Budget

It’s hard to tell which of the two types is more expensive because the price usually depends on many different things. Things like suction power, convenience, filtration, and accessories affect the overall price the most. 

For this reason, you should consider your budget before you start looking for your next vacuum cleaner. 

Pets

As we said, you may want to go for a canister vacuum if you have pets. It’s because these vacuums are usually bagged, which is better for cleaning pet hair. 

Bagless models have dust bins that aren’t always the most hygienic during emptying. This may be a problem when cleaning pet hair and dander, especially if you’re prone to allergies. 

Versatility

In most cases, a canister vacuum is somewhat better when it comes to versatility. These vacuums have a longer reach and can clean above-floor surfaces, stairs, upholstery, and other areas that uprights can’t. 

However, some upright cleaners are equally as efficient. Look for the one that has an extension hose or can be detached and used for above-floor surfaces. 

Conclusion

As we mentioned, it’s hard to tell the winner of the ongoing battle of canister vs. upright vacuum. Both types have been around for quite a while, sporting different models that have various features and functions. 

Canister vacuums are often recommended to people who are sensitive to dust and pollen. But, uprights can do an equally as great job at removing these allergens if they have strong suction and HEPA. 

For this reason, make sure to consider all the critical factors when choosing between an upright and canister vacuum. Think about what would be the best vacuum for your needs and preferences before you choose one of the models we mentioned. 

Once you have a clear idea, you can easily find the best one regardless of whether you’re looking for an upright or canister vacuum. 

Recommended Reading

Sources and Resources

Olivera Jancikin

I’ve been a dedicated writer for Clean That Floor for approximately 3 years. I’ve written about various topics, mostly focusing on cleaning products, vacuum cleaners, mops, and simple cleaning solutions for homeowners. I enjoy testing tips and tricks on house maintenance, reviewing both the process and results.

Clean That Floor