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The Best Canister Vacuums

Jan. 20, 2016
Product Comparisons, Shopping
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Based on 7,882 analyzed user reviews

NerdWallet Shopping’s scoring of the best canister vacuums is based on our analysis of the opinions of experts and shoppers like you.

Picking a canister vacuum isn’t easy. We researched some of the most popular models on the market to make your decision a little less confusing.

We recognize that consumers look for different qualities in vacuums, so we scored multiple feature of top models, including their performance on carpet and hard surfaces.

Here are our top canister vacuums ranked in order of overall score.

The vacuums

1. Miele S6270 Quartz

Whether it’s performance, ease of use or noise level, the Miele S6270 receives rave reviews from users in a majority of the categories we studied. When it comes to convenience, the vacuum boasts convenient one-touch cord retraction that some less-advanced Miele models don’t have.


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Miele S6270 Quartz

  • Overall score: 9.46
  • How well it cleans: 8.5
  • Ease of use: 9.5

Buyers Like

  • Its performance on bare floors
  • Its lightweight design, which is ideal for cleaning stairs
  • Its noise level during operation

Buyers Dislike

  • Its performance on carpets
  • Its ability to pick up pet hair

Read our full Miele S6270 Quartz review

2. Miele S8590 Alize

The Miele S8590 Alize scores high in practically every category we analyzed, including performance across a range of surface types, maneuverability and durability. The Alize also has a spotlight handle and integrated tool storage that some other Miele canister models lack.


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Miele S8590 Alize

  • Overall score: 9.38
  • How well it cleans: 8.7
  • Ease of use: 9.2

Buyers Like

  • Its performance on hardwood, tile and stairs
  • Its ability to pick up pet hair
  • How easy it is to clean

Buyers Dislike

  • Its performance on carpet and rugs

3. Miele S2121 Olympus

The Miele S2121 Olympus is a strong performer on carpet, hard floor and stairs, making it a good choice for shoppers who have these surfaces in their homes. It does, however, have a smaller cleaning radius than both the Quartz and the Alize.


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Miele S2121 Olympus

  • Overall score: 9.00
  • How well it cleans: 9.0
  • Ease of use: 8.6

Buyers Like

  • Its performance on stairs
  • Its noise level during operation

Buyers Dislike

  • Its relatively short power cord
  • Its ability to pick up pet hair

Read our full Miele S2121 Olympus review

4. Dyson Ball Multifloor

The Dyson Ball Multifloor satisfies users looking for a lightweight device that can tackle large homes with multiple stories.


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Dyson Ball multifloor

  • Overall score: 8.96
  • How well it cleans: 8.4
  • Ease of use: 8.9

Buyers Like

  • Its performance on stairs
  • Its lightweight design, which is easy to roll and maneuver

Buyers Dislike

  • Its performance on thick carpet and rugs
  • Its ability to pick up pet hair

5. Electrolux Ultrasilencer El6986a

Convenience-minded consumers appreciate the Electrolux Ultrasilencer El6986a for its easy-to-clean design, light weight and low noise level during operation.


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Electrolux UltrasilencerEl6986a

  • Overall score: 8.76
  • How well it cleans: 7.7
  • Ease of use: 9.3

Buyers Like

  • How easy it is to clean
  • Its noise level during operation

Buyers Dislike

  • Its performance on carpet and rugs
  • The company’s customer service

6. Bissell Zing 6489

Due to its light weight and portable design, buyers report that using the Bissell Zing 6489 to vacuum stairs is a breeze.


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Bissell Zing 6489

  • Overall score: 8.56
  • How well it cleans: 8.6
  • Ease of use: 8.8

Buyers Like

  • Its performance on stairs
  • Its lightweight and portable design

Buyers Dislike

  • Its noise level during operation
  • The company’s customer service

7. Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G

The Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G is a lightweight and durable model that excels at stair cleaning.


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Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G

  • Overall score: 8.53
  • How well it cleans: 7.6
  • Ease of use: 9.1

Buyers Like

  • Its performance on stairs
  • Its durability

Buyers Dislike

  • Its performance on carpet
  • Its noise level during operation

Read our full Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G review

8. Panasonic MC-CG917 Optiflow

The Panasonic MC-CG917 Optiflow canister vacuum is easy to clean and proficient on carpet.


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Panasonic MC-CG917 Optiflow

  • Overall score: 8.50
  • How well it cleans: 9.4
  • Ease of use: 8.6

Buyers Like

  • Its performance on carpet
  • How easy it is to clean

Buyers Dislike

  • Its weight, which makes mobility difficult
  • Its performance on stairs
  • The company’s customer service

9. Kenmore Progressive 21514

Boasting a strong performance on carpet and stairs, the Kenmore Progressive 21514 also comes with an attachment specifically designed to pick up pet hair.


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Kenmore Progressive 21514

  • Overall score: 7.86
  • How well it cleans: 9.0
  • Ease of use: 4.6

Buyers Like

  • Its performance on carpet and stairs
  • Its pet hair attachment

Buyers Dislike

  • Its weight, which makes mobility difficult
  • Its bulky tools
  • Its difficult-to-clean filters

Our analysis

Our scores range from a low of 1 to a high of 10. Here’s how we devised them:

Overall score: The overall score reflects buyer satisfaction with each vacuum in 10 categories, including how well it cleans across various surfaces, ease of use, durability and noise.

How well it cleans: This score reflects buyer satisfaction with the vacuum’s performance on carpet and hard floors, including hardwood, bare, tile and vinyl. It also considers buyer satisfaction with the vacuum’s ability to clean up pet hair and debris.

Ease of use: This score reflects buyer satisfaction with the vacuum’s ability to maneuver — including its weight and cord length — the process of emptying or cleaning it out, and whether it’s easy to operate.

Canister vacuum buying guide

Canister vacuums’ ultra-portable designs simplify housecleaning. Designs vary, but they’re often recognizable by their separated motor and suction head.

When buying a canister vacuum, keep these factors in mind:

Surface type
Most canister vacuums perform well on hardwood and tile surfaces. If you have carpeting or rugs in your home, you’ll want a model that can tackle those surfaces effectively as well.

Weight
Since you’ll likely be carrying your canister to the areas in your home that need cleaning, consider its weight before you purchase. You don’t want to lug a bulky device up stairs.

Noise
If you get a chance, test out the models you’re comparing before you buy to gauge their noise levels. If you can’t, consult online reviews from past purchasers.

Cord Length
Note the length of each vacuum’s power cord. Longer cords may be especially helpful for users who want to clean large rooms — or even multiple rooms — without having to regularly unplug and move the device.

Special Uses
Keep an eye out for any tools, attachments or brushes that come with a particular canister model and might fit your household’s needs — special nozzles for picking up pet hair, for example.

Cleaning
Assess how easy it will be to clean the canister. Some models come with a bag system, while others are bagless. Dumping a used bag may be less messy, but you’ll have to factor in the cost of replacement bags.

The Best Canister Vacuums

ProductOverall Score
(1-10)
Buyers Like
Miele S6270 Quartz
See review above
9.5-Its performance on bare floors
-Its lightweight design, which is ideal for cleaning stairs
-Its noise level during operation
Miele S8590 Alize
See review above

9.4-Its performance on hardwood, tile and stairs
-Its ability to pick up pet hair
-How easy it is to clean
Miele S2121 Olympus
See review above
9.0-Its performance on stairs
-Its noise level during operation
Dyson Ball Multifloor
See review above
8.9-Its performance on stairs
-Its lightweight design, which is easy to roll and maneuver
Electrolux Ultrasilencer El6986a
See review above
8.8-How easy it is to clean
-Its noise level during operation
Bissell Zing 6489
See review above
8.6-Its performance on stairs
-Its lightweight and portable design
Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G
See review above
8.5-Its performance on stairs
-Its durability
Panasonic MC-CG917 Optiflow
See review above
8.5-Its performance on carpet
-How easy it is to clean
Kenmore Progressive 21514
See review above
7.9-Its performance on carpet and stairs
-Its pet hair attachment

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Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.