How to Choose a Canister Vacuum Cleaner

What Factors Should You Consider Before Buying a Canister Vacuum?
Do You Need a New Canister Vacuum? Discover the Must-have Features of a Canister Vacuum & the Top Factors You Should Consider Before Making the Purchase. Read On…

Is it time for a new canister vacuum and are you unsure where to start looking and what to take into consideration? 

Well then, you’ve come to the right place to learn how to choose a canister vacuum cleaner.

But where to start?

Through this article, you’ll discover:

    A canister vacuum cleaner is a type of vacuum that’s recognized by its short, box-like canister-shape. 

    The canister is attached using a plastic hose and tubes to its power-head, making it easy to access hard-to-reach areas of the floor surface. 

    The body of the vacuum moves about on wheels and the cleaning head is moved manually by the person cleaning an area. 

    Discover more about canister vacuum cleaners in our in-depth article. 

    Factors To Consider When Buying a Canister Vacuum Cleaner

    These are the factors to consider before buying a canister vacuum cleaner:

    What’s Your Budget?

    The amount you’re willing to spend on your vacuum cleaner is a key point to consider. 

    As ‌with many appliances, the high-end vacuum cleaners will be more expensive. Some models provide better bang for your buck! 

    Highly functional and reliable canister vacuum cleaners are priced between $100 and $400.

    In some instances, certain models are more pricey, such as High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum cleaners.

    What’re Your Cleaning Needs?

    You need to consider your cleaning needs in terms of surfaces you need to clean in your home. 

    Some people use their vacuums to clean high ceilings, light fixtures and fans, however most vacuum owners use their vacuums to clean their floors.

    Do you have stairs?

    If your house has stairs, we recommend a canister vacuum cleaner above an upright vacuum cleaner, as upright vacuum cleaners aren’t designed to clean stairs on its own. 

    A canister vacuum has revolving brushes that can be used on stairs which are high-traffic areas.

    Amount of Traffic

    People-related Foot Traffic

    The traffic in certain areas of your home and the type of floor soils your floors undergo is important to consider when choosing a vacuum cleaner. 

    Most carpet soils are from shoes of people living in the home and pets that come in and out of the home. If you have several kids and pets, there will be more carpet soils on your floors.

    It has been shown that 80% of the carpet soils in homes are dry, surrounded with sharp edges. If these soils are left on the carpets, and there is foot traffic over them, the damage will increase. 

    What happens next? 

    You should use your vacuum often to avoid damaged carpet fibers.

    If your home has synthetic fiber carpets and rugs coupled with high traffic and a worse soil load, choose your vacuum that has aggressive bristles on a revolving brush. 

    Pet-related Traffic

    Dog and cat hairs are dry soils that don’t abrade your fiber. 

    The best way to remove pet hair is to utilize a revolving brush with dense, stiff bristles.

    Low Traffic Areas

    If your home encounters low traffic and a lack of specialized soiling environments, you may well choose a less aggressive vacuum cleaner, which will work well enough.

    Yet, the general rule is to choose a vacuum cleaner that is the most aggressive one your carpets or rugs can tolerate.

    Floor Type

    Another consideration alongside traffic is the type of fibers in your carpets and rugs. 

    Synthetic Wall to Wall Carpeting 

    If you have no stairs and your home has mainly synthetic fiber (such as nylon, polyester or olefin) wall-to-wall carpeting, an upright vacuum with smooth floor cleaning functionality and the needed attachments for cleaning is the right choice.

    Synthetic Fibers

    Most carpets, today, are made using synthetic fibers like nylon, while olefin and polyester are also used.

    Synthetic fibers are more durable and aggressive vacuums can be used without having to worry if they will be damaged.

    Natural Fibers

    Natural fibers need gentler handling. 

    The most utilized natural fiber seen in wall-to-wall carpets is wool. This represents less than 1% of wall-to-wall carpeting in the U.S. Wool is popular in oriental and certain other rugs.

    Combination of Smooth Floors, Rugs & Wall-to-Wall Carpets

    Most homes nowadays have a combination of smooth floors in an array of materials, rugs, and sometimes wall-to-wall carpets. 

    In homes such as this, or homes that contain stairs, canister vacuums will work best. 

    You may ask: 

    Which type of canister vacuum cleaner should I buy? 

    This relates back to the patterns and types of soiling you’re cleaning and the fiber seen in the carpets and rugs dispersed throughout the home.


    Wool is a durable fiber that needs to be vacuumed with a gentle hand. 

    You can use a revolving brush on wool with flexible bristles and the brush mustn’t have dense bristles.

    Oriental rugs are commonly made from wool, but sometimes silk is used. These rugs can be a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. 

    Many can be used daily and cleaned with a vacuum that is gentle, as mentioned. 

    Expensive rugs often have low traffic and can thus avoid heavy soils. You may want to use a carpet or rug tool that cleans via suction, not a revolving brush.

    Sisal, Mountain Grass, Coir & Sea-Grass

    Additional fibers and materials used in rugs are sisal, mountain grass, sea grass, coir, bamboo, jute, cotton, viscose and sometimes even leather. 

    Most of these rugs are woven and are ‌quite durable. They need softer bristles connected to the vacuum cleaner. You can get speciality brushes for such cases.

    What should I watch out for?

    Ensure you check the manufacturer’s care instructions prior to buying your vacuum cleaner.

    If your floors have synthetic fiber carpets or rugs on them, you can choose the most aggressive vacuum cleaner, either a canister vacuum cleaner or an upright vacuum cleaner.

    Hardwood Floors

    Canister vacuums are the ideal vacuums to use on hardwood floors. 

    They come with a brush that has soft bristles (or even no bristles). 

    Canister vacuums have a high suction power that removes dust from wooden nooks and crannies and they move about easily on wheels. 

    These vacuums keep your floors shiny and remove dust and debris. 


    When looking at your canister vacuum cleaner, there are certain factors to consider that will affect the vacuum’s overall efficiency. 

    Engine Efficiency

    You would like your vacuum cleaner to be efficient and not have to go over the same area too many times, making vacuuming faster.

    Engine Power

    The first pointer towards suction strength is provided by the engine power, in Watts (W).

    Most canister vacuums have a power of between 1200 W and 2000 W. 

    A higher wattage usually means better suction and cleaning. Yet, this value isn’t perfect. 

    Two vacuums can have an identical engine power, yet different engine efficiency outputs. 

    Depression & Flow Rate

    What is rarely signalled by manufacturers is the depression and flow rate that’s generated by vacuum cleaners. 

    This’s a more accurate indication of performance. 

    Depression (denoted in kPa) shows the vacuum that is created by the vacuum machine. This is specifically needed when cleaning carpets. 

    The flow rate is utilized in cleaning hard floors.

    A top tip

    We recommend you choose a canister vacuum cleaner with a power selector. 

    This allows you to adapt the suction force (together with noise and power consumption) applied to the floor type (smooth or carpets).

    Canister Vs. Upright

    The two main types of vacuums used nowadays are the canister and upright vacuums, and it’s good to do sufficient research so that you can choose the best one for your needs. 

    Learn more about the differences between canister and upright vacuum cleaners in our in-depth article. 

    Bagged Vs.Bagless

    Canister vacuum cleaner come two types, namely bagged and bagless. 

    Each option has pros and cons.

    Bagged canister vacuums usually have better filtration (particularly when you use cloth bags), as well as being quieter to use. 

    Bagless canister vacuums are more modern and you don’t need to buy replacement bags. 

    Find out about the differences between bagged and bagless canister vacuum cleaners in our in-depth article. 

    Corded Vs. Cordless

    Corded vacuums have a better suction power, due to being plugged in at the main unit. 

    Cordless vacuum cleaners are operated via lithium batteries, giving them better lifespan but less suction power.

    Size Bags & Dust Compartment

    Irrespective of your vacuum type, ensure the size of the bags or your dust compartment is sufficient.

    If your floor space makes up a big area, you need enough capacity (2.5 quarts minimum) in order to avoid replacing vacuum bags or emptying ‌the dust compartment too frequently.

    In other words

    The bigger your house, the larger capacity you will need. 

    If your vacuum has an indicator showing when the bag or the compartment is full, this is also handy.

    Ease of Use

    A good quality vacuum cleaner needs to be easy to use, to avoid getting a sore back and getting tired while using it. 


    The wheels need to be big enough, particularly if you have thick carpets in your home. 

    If your vacuum’s wheels are too tiny, they can get stuck over certain obstacles or power cords, putting pressure on your back and damaging your flexible hose more quickly.


    The vacuum’s weight, usually between 6 and 16 pounds, also affects its output. 

    A more heavy canister vacuum will be harder to operate and harder to carry, especially if you have stairs you go up and down.

    Carrying Handle

    If you often need to carry your vacuum cleaner, a carrying handle would be an important consideration.

    Power Cord

    The power cord should be a sufficient length (minimum 20 feet) to give you room to clean a room without needing to find an additional plug.

    Certain vacuum manufacturers give extra cleaning radius length, including the wand length, making the length longer. 

    If you have expansive rooms in your home, this will be a perk. 

    As an alternative idea, you could use an extension cord that rewinds automatically.

    Rubber Casing

    Your canister vacuum cleaner should have a protective rubber casing around the canister area. 

    This protects the machine and from your furniture and walls getting damaged when cleaning.

    Telescopic Wand

    Your wand should be telescopic, so you can adjust it to your height. 

    This will prevent a sore back, and help you access hard-to-reach areas of your floor space.

    Easy to Reach Controls

    The controls on your vacuum should be easy to reach and easy to use. 

    Some vacuum owners prefer ‌the controls on the wand handle, instead of on the canister, so there’s no need to bend down. 

    As an alternative, certain controls can be on the canister to be operated by your feet.

    Filtration System

    Vacuum cleaners offer different levels of filtration. 

    Some vacuums are more efficient and ensure dust, pollen and allergens aren’t released into the air. 

    There are certain filters that assist the filtration levels positively.

    Why Choose a Canister Vacuum With a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filter?

    If you are asthmatic or have any allergies, we recommend you buy a canister vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.

    This filter makes sure that small dust particles that trigger allergies are not released back into the room. 

    How efficient are HEPA filters?

    If the HEPA filter has leaks in the casing, it won’t work, so be wary of cheap HEPA vacuum cleaners. 

    HEPA filters have 99.97% efficiency.

    Using a HEPA filter is an efficient way to keep your home’s air allergen-irritant free.

    Noise Levels 

    The noise level on a vacuum cleaner is measured in decibels (dB). 

    The higher the decibels, the nosier the machine. 

    Vacuums vary between 60-65 dB for the most quiet vacuums to 80 dB and even more. 

    We recommend that you avoid vacuums with a decibel level of over 85 dB.

    Silent canister vacuums are more pricey but worth the extra spend if you have pets or children in the vicinity.


    Canister vacuums are harder to store due to their wand and head. 

    They have a somewhat bulky design.

    How do I store my canister vacuum?

    The canister area adds stability but the hose, wand and head normally can’t stand up on their own. 

    The canister vacuum will fit into any big-sized closet.


    There are many handy accessories you can get to accompany your canister vacuum that will help you clean a broader range of floor surfaces in your home.

    Combination Floor Tool

    Canister vacuums are normally used with a combination floor tool, which can be used on hard floors and on carpet areas. 

    Using the correct floor tool will improve the cleaning efficiency of your vacuum and tone down the noise level, which is attributed to air circulation.

    Crevice Nozzle

    A crevice nozzle is an accessory which can access hard-to-reach places.

    Upholstery Brush

    An upholstery brush can clean furniture and curtains.

    Dusting Brush

    A dusting brush can clean tiny corners in your home.

    Motorized Brush

    A motorized brush can clean carpets with ease. 

    There is an on/off switch so you don’t damage your bare flooring.

    Warranty Details

    A manufacturer’s warranty usually ranges from 1 to 5 years.

    However, Miele offers their clientele a 7 year warranty for their motors and casings in their vacuum cleaner range. 


    Consumer reviews of various canister vacuum cleaners can also help you reach a decision.

    Common Questions

    Why Do People Buy Canister Vacuums?

    Which Floor Surfaces Suit a Canister Vacuum?

    Can You Use a Canister Vacuum on Carpet?

    How Long Do Canister Vacuums Last?

    Do Canister Vacuums Have Better Suction?

    Do Canister Vacuums Lose Suction Over time?

    Is it Worth Repairing a Canister Vacuum Cleaner?

    Why You Can Trust ByPurify

    ByPurify is a thought leader in the field of vacuum cleaners.

    Our experts have put in hours of research on canister vacuum cleaners and what sets them apart from other types.

    You can therefore trust ByPurify’s well-researched knowledge and expertise shared in this and other articles.

    In Conclusion

    Canister vacuum cleaners are a worthwhile investment. 

    Although they are more expensive and harder to store, they have multiple uses for your home. 

    They come in handy when you have different types of floor surfaces to clean. 

    Canister vacuums come with an array of accessories to assist you in cleaning different areas of the home including drapes and curtains.

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