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Canister vs upright vacuums - which should I buy?

Looking for one of the best vacuum cleaners but unsure which option is right for you? There's a huge choice of different types of vacu...

Looking for one of the best vacuum cleaners but unsure which option is right for you? There's a huge choice of different types of vacuum that go about sucking up the dust in varying ways, and here we’ll be comparing canister vs upright vacuums and giving you all the information including the pros and cons of each type.

Canister and upright vacuums are some of the more traditional types of vacuums and since they were invented, we’ve seen everything from the best cordless vacuum cleaners to the best robot vacuums hit the market. That’s not to say that canister vacuum cleaners and uprights are outdated either, because many of the top vacuum brands such as Shark, Dyson, and Miele still create a range of vacuums in these varieties. 

We’ll be explaining how upright vacuums are different from canister vacuum cleaners and what’s worth keeping in mind when you’re choosing a model to buy too. 

Canister vs upright vacuums - which should I buy?

(Image credit: Getty)

Canister vacuums 

Canister vacuums are made up of a unit and a hose with a wand attached to the end of it, and these machines are sometimes called cylinder vacuums. Normally canister vacuums feature mechanical parts such as the motor in the main unit along with a dust bag. 

Pros:  

  • Lightweight 
  • Powerful 
  • Doesn’t damage flooring 

There are plenty of pros to choosing a canister vacuum and they include how light these models feel to push around - that’s because you’re only really moving the cleaning wand around, rather than pushing the whole unit as you have to with an upright vacuum. 

The power cord normally disappears away inside the shell of canister vacuums making things a lot tidier. As well as that, canister vacuums often have bigger space to hold the engine so they can be more powerful. Helpful features include the ability to switch the floor head brush on and off depending on which type of surface you’re cleaning, this helps prevent scratches on your floor.

Cons: 

  • Hard to store
  • Emptying the bag is messy   
  • Hose can mark walls 

The downside to having a canister vacuum is that they’re fairly bulky compared to an upright vacuum cleaner, so you’ll need to have a large enough space to store one.  

When the dust bag on a canister vacuum is full, it can be a pretty messy job trying to empty it. Some canisters have washable dust bags that you can use again, but others do require you to buy new bags which are an added expense every so often.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of a canister vacuum is how easy it is to scratch walls or doors in your home as the hose rubs past them. This isn’t something you’d have to worry about with an upright vacuum. 

Upright vacuums 

Upright vacuums are one unit that has a floor head, dust bin, handle, and normally a hose that can be used with attachments. 

Pros:  

  • Some models are cordless 
  • Easy to store away  
  • Easy to empty  

Upright vacuums are available in a range of designs from a huge number of brands. There are many good cordless models available now, such as the Lupe Pure.  Choosing a cordless upright will save you from having to plug in the power cord but you’ll need to factor in the battery life too. 

The other great benefit of choosing an upright vacuum is that they are easy to store away because they are one tall unit, rather than bulky like a canister vacuum. Finally, most upright vacuums have a dust bin inside that simply unclips and can be emptied into your trash can without leaving dust everywhere. 

Cons:  

  • Heavy  
  • Not great for stairs 
  • Loud 

One of the main issues with an upright vacuum is that they’re pretty heavy because you have to push the entire unit back and forth around your home. Upright vacuums have improved since the very first models came out but if mobility is an issue for you, consider a lighter vacuum such as a stick vacuum like the Roidmi S1E.

Upright vacuums might be a great choice for anyone living in a single-story home but if you’ve got stairs to clean, they present a bit of a challenge. Upright vacuums are heavy and because they are one large unit, carrying them up the stairs to vacuum each step is no mean feat. 

Canister vacuums have a shell unit which is good for muffling some of the vacuum’s motor noise, but upright vacuums don’t have that luxury and can be quite loud. 

Canister vs upright vacuums - which should I buy? 

If you’re deciding on an upright or a canister vacuum, it’s well worth considering how much weight you’re willing to push around. Although canister vacuums do sometimes have heavy units, the hose and wand should be very light to push around. 

Consider where you’re going to store your vacuum and if you’re short on space, an upright will be the model for you. Upright vacuums are also easier to empty and don’t normally require you to buy additional dirt bags. 

Another thing to think about is the layout of your home and if there are awkward places to clean or stairs, bear in mind how heavy upright vacuums can be and consider the crevice tools that come with each type of vacuum cleaner. 

Ultimately, choosing between canister and upright vacuums will depend on what you need for your home, but keep in mind maneuverability, weight, and storage to make your decision easier. 



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