Canister vs upright vacuum: which one should you buy?

When buying a new vacuum cleaner, the age-old question inevitably pops up – should you buy an upright or canister vacuum? Are you facing the same dilemma?

Well, then you came to the right place since the showdown is about the begin. In other words, we will compare canister vs upright vacuum cleaners and provide you with all there is to know about these types. By learning about the pros and cons of each category, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

So, before you splash the cash – let’s dive deeper into the world of modern vacuum cleaners.

What are upright vacuums and what are canister vacuums?

Before we proceed with the advantages and disadvantages, we need to remember the differences between the types.

First of all, the design is what makes the biggest distinction between a canister or upright vacuum cleaner.

To clarify, upright vacuums are built in a way that combines the suction unit and the motor by placing them in the same body. Plus, these models feature a brush that is placed below the suction unit, so that all elements are stacked on top of each other. Thus, users can push the entire vacuum together.

On the other hand, canister vacuum cleaners do not have a unified structure. In other words, the body of these models is separated from the cleaning nozzle. In fact, these two elements are connected by a wand and a hose. As a result, users do not have to move around the entire vacuum. Instead, they only need to use the wand and the cleaning head. 

Canister vs upright vacuum cleaners: Pros and Cons

In recent years, the distinctions between these two classes have become less clear. The reason being – manufacturers are trying to create a universal device that would offer the best of both worlds. Even so, a couple of important elements are making a difference. And, you should put those features into consideration when looking for a new vacuum.


As we said, the design is the area where these two types of vacuum cleaners have the biggest disparities. In essence, the design of the upright cleaners follows a vertical approach, which allows users to push the entire device at the same time.

Also, users can control the height of the brush with the foot. Likewise, when using an upright, you will reduce the bending of the back, since the commands are located high up on the handle.

On the other hand, a canister vacuum is ‘divided’ into two or three components. As such, this design allows for easier access to hard-to-reach places, including the ceiling, stairs, or upholstery. Also, these models often have a light body, which offers great maneuverability and mobility.

Cleaning performances

Needless to say, cleaning performances should always be on the top of your list of priorities when looking for a new vacuum. So, which class can offer better performances, canister or upright vacuum?

As a rule of thumb, canister vacuums can offer more suction power than an average upright vacuum. Also, canister vacuums are versatile and flexible when it comes to cleaning. In fact, the vast majority of models come equipped with a range of accessories and tools. In some cases, the models also feature on-board storage of those attachments. All in all, these elements help canister vacuums collect dirt and debris in an efficient manner.

Read also: Bagged vs bagless vacuum cleaners

Upright vacuum cleaners can also provide you with powerful performances. However, these models are heavier and not as maneuverable. Yet, upright vacuums often come with a motorized brush, which can agitate the fiber and provide excellent cleaning of carpets and rugs. Likewise, the wider cleaning path is an advantage since it reduces the number of times you have to pass over an area.


When it comes to the ease of use, both types of vacuums have their strong points, and a couple of drawbacks as well. 

For example, canister vacuums are less noisy since their body offers more space for sound insulation. On top of that, these models are equipped with wheels that allow the suction unit to travel across the floor. Of course, one of the benefits of using a canister vacuum is the fact that you can swap the attachments at any moment and change the ‘purpose’ of the device.

However, in the battle of canister vs upright vacuum cleaners, the upright models can also say a few words regarding usability. For instance, these models are easy to store and their vertical alignment saves space in the closet.

We already said that you will save yourself from back pain if you buy one of these models. Yet, upright cleaners are heavy and a prolonged session of pushing the device around could leave some strain on the hands and joints.


It goes without saying that price is an important element as well, and prospective buyers should always pay attention to this aspect. As a rule of thumb, upright vacuum cleaners are somewhat cheaper than the canister models.

Admittedly, the prices vary according to the models from different manufacturers. But, when it comes to the question of what is cheaper, canister or upright vacuum – you should go with an upright model. Of course, the price should not be the only decision-making factor, so check out all the other features of a device before making the purchase.

So, which one should you buy – canister or upright vacuum?

After everything we said, it is clear that both of the types have a lot to offer. Therefore, there is no wrong answer when it comes to this dilemma. At the same time, the most important thing is to get the job done.

So, another important factor that could help you make up your mind is the type of flooring. Depending on the type of floors in your home, you should pick the right model. Thus, an upright vacuum cleaner is best for homeowners who have wall-to-wall carpets. In fact, if your house has a lot of thick carpets and rugs – go with an upright model. For example, Dyson offers some of the best upright vacuum cleaners in the market.

When you consider how does a canister vacuum work in the first place, it is easy to see that they are best suited for bare floors. However, recent models of canister vacuums can offer exceptional performances as an all-round domestic vacuum. So, unless you have plenty of thick rugs lying around – go with a canister model. For instance, Miele is a German manufacturer that produces first-rate canister vacuum cleaners.


  • What is an upright vacuum cleaner?

In short, upright vacuum cleaners are models that are designed in a way that the suction unit and the motor are placed within the same body. As a result, these models do not have separate components. In general, upright vacuum cleaners are ideal for cleaning carpets and rugs.

  • What is a canister vacuum cleaner?

As the name suggests, canister vacuum cleaners are the ones where the canister, i.e. a dust bag, is separated from the cleaning nozzle. Also, these models come with a hose and a wand. Typically, the cleaning head of these models can be replaced by all sorts of accessories. That is why there is no point in discussing which is better – canister vs upright for pet hair. Besides versatility, canister vacuums can offer an array of other features that make these models great for everyday usage.

  • How can I tell these models apart?

Once you see a Dyson upright vacuum, you will not confuse them with a canister vacuum ever again. The same goes for buyers who take a look at some of the Miele models of canister vacuums. Yet, here is a simple trick that can help – look for a hose and the extension wand. If the model does not have these parts and the brush is placed underneath the suction unit – you are looking at an upright model.

  • Are canister vacuums better for hardwood floors?

Due to their flexibility and versatile accessories, canister vacuums can tackle all sorts of cleaning duties in your home. Likewise, these models are easy to carry and move around. So, they are better at cleaning hardwood floors than an average upright vacuum.

  • Which is better – canister or upright vacuum?

Ultimately, the choice between an upright and a canister vacuum depends on your cleaning needs and preferences. Yet, we recommend buying an upright vacuum if you have a lot of carpets and thick rugs that need to be thoroughly cleaned. On the other hand, an average canister vacuum cleaner could be better for overall use. The bottom line is that the model in question should leave your home dust-free at the end of the cleaning session. In a way, this element is the one that determines the winner of the canister vs upright vacuum battle.

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