Canister vs Upright Vacuum- A Complete Comparison

Choosing the right vacuum cleaner is vital to keep your home clean, free of dust and make cleaning easier. Most people have a choice when it comes to vacuums — how to choose a canister vs upright vacuum. Typically, both types of vacuums do an excellent job cleaning carpets, rugs, hardwood floors, and tiled floors. However, there are fundamental ways how upright vacuum cleaners operate differently from canister models.

dyson canister vs uprightEven though there are new types of vacuums on the market—for example, stick vacuums, handheld vacuums, cordless vacuums, and robot vacuums—canisters and uprights are still the primary household cleaning appliance. Many top vacuum brands such as Miele, Dyson, Shark, and Hoover have a modern range of upright and canister vacuums.

Traditionally, upright models were the most common type of vacuum cleaner. But canister vacuums are becoming more popular. So, you may be thinking: “Which type of vacuum should I buy? A canister vac or a traditional upright vacuum cleaner?”

This article explores the pros and cons of both types of vacuums. You will find out which type is best for your cleaning needs. This information will help you make an informed decision when you buy your next vacuum cleaner.

Features of Canister Vacuum Cleaners

A canister vacuum consists of the canister body that contains the motor, filters, dust bag, and, on some models, storage for extra cleaning tools. A flexible plastic hose and metal or plastic telescopic wand attach to the body. The vacuum head attaches to the wand.

Most canister vacuums come with a range of accessories to tackle various cleaning tasks. You can expect to have a crevice tool, upholstery brush tool, and dusting brush as standard. The top vacuum brands have extra tools such as a motorized brush head, electro turbo brush for pet hair, and parquet twisting brush for cleaning in tight spots.

Canister vacuumDepending on your needs, you can choose between a bagless canister vacuum and a bagged model. A bagless vacuum cleaner has a dust bin that is easy to empty. There are no additional costs to buy dust bags. Canister vacs with bags are preferred by many because they trap odors and dust better. Also, there is no risk of spillage or dust in the air when emptying the dust bin.

For allergy sufferers, it’s vital to look for a canister vacuum with HEPA filtration. A HEPA filter removes over 99% of airborne dust particles to keep the air in rooms free from allergens. The top cylinder vacuums, such as the Miele Complete C3 range, feature the HEPA AirClean system. This filtration method prevents particles from escaping through the dust bag or canister body.

To use a canister vacuum, you only have to operate the lightweight wand and pull the canister behind you. This design can make it easier to clean stairs, upholstery, hard-to-reach places, and all types of floor surfaces, including hard floors.

Features of Upright Vacuum Cleaners

A traditional upright vacuum has a motorized brush head, dust container, handle, and flexible plastic hose attachments in one unit. Depending on the design, upright models can come with a range of cleaning tools. These can include a crevice nozzle, upholstery tool, and dusting brush tool.

Some top vacuum brands include extras such as LED lighting, counter-rotating brush heads, a detachable canister, and a beater bar.

Like some canister vacuum models, there is a range of bagless uprights. The Dyson Multi Ball Floor 2 is one of the most popular models. A bagless model typically has exceptional suction strength and doesn’t clog as easily. Also, there are no running costs when it comes to buying dust bags.

upright canisterSuppose someone in the household is an allergy sufferer. In that case, you should think about an upright vacuum with a HEPA filter. Top brands such as Shark, Kenmore, and Hoover have quality uprights with HEPA filtration. Many Dyson upright vacuums have a built-in allergy filtration system that only expels clean air.

To operate an upright vacuum, you push the unit in front of you. To get to hard-to-reach places under furniture or up high, you can use the flexible hose that most upright vacuum models have.

Canister vs Upright Vacuum — Pros and Cons

What are the advantages of a canister vacuum versus a traditional upright model? Here are the pros and cons of both types of vacuums.

Canister vacuum pros

  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Creates less noise than upright vacs—usually between 60 and 65 dB
  • Easier to clean high places, stairs, under furniture, and tight spaces
  • It comes with a wide variety of tools for almost any cleaning job
  • The flexible hose and wand make them easier to maneuver
  • More powerful suction than upright models
  • Less chance of damaging delicate floor surfaces
  • Automatic cord rewind

Canister vacuum cons

  • The wand and flexible hose, along with attachments, make it difficult to store
  • It usually requires some assembly before using
  • Using a canister vac involves more bending and lifting
  • The brush roll generally isn’t as powerful as upright vacs

Upright vacuum pros

  • Usually has a more affordable price tag than canister vacuums
  • An upright is more efficient at cleaning rugs and thicker carpets due to the motorized brush roller
  • There is less bending involved with operating an upright vacuum
  • It’s easier to store an upright vac
  • Floor cleaning is easier as it has a wider cleaning path
  • It stands up on its own

Upright vacuum cons

  • An upright has louder noise levels compared to canister vacs—generally above 70 dB
  • It weighs more than canister models and can be more awkward to use
  • Not great for vacuuming stairs
  • Challenging to clean around furniture and get into tight spaces
  • Not ideal for cleaning hard floors and may damage delicate surfaces

How to Choose Between Canister and Upright Vacuum

dyson canister vs uprightCanister vs upright vacuum, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Traditionally, uprights were viewed as the best cleaners for high-pile carpets and high-pile rugs. In contrast, cylinder vacuums had the advantage for hard floors.

Newer vacuum models are trying to bridge the gap. Many of the best upright vacs have a built-in flexible hose for cleaning in tight spaces. Top range canister vacuums may have motorized brush tools to make deep cleaning carpets easier.



If you are looking for a bagless vacuum cleaner, there are excellent options for both canister bagless vacuums and an upright bagless vacuum cleaner.

How can you choose between the two? For some people, a canister versus an upright is a matter of personal preference. You may prefer pushing an upright in front of you, but others like the flexibility of using a canister model.

However, the type of floor surfaces in your home can help you choose which is best.

Buying an upright vacuum is generally best if you mostly have carpeted floors, especially deep-pile carpets and rugs. The electric brush roller works best for removing deep dirt and debris from carpet fibers.

For homes without carpets, a canister usually has the best advantages. The floor tool usually makes it easy to switch from hard floors to carpet areas without losing suction power. The best canister vacs even have automatic sensors to adjust power.