vacuums have a generous cleaning radius
Canister vacuums are not quite as common in most households as upright vacuums, which we cover in their own report, but they can be a great fit
for people with certain cleaning needs. Canister vacs are a particularly good
choice for those who have a combination of hardwood floors and rugs or low-pile
carpet, as well as those who need to reach under beds or furniture, vacuum
stairs or above-the-floor items such as upholstery or drapes.
The Miele line of canister vacuums is always at the top of every expert
test and "best of" list that we evaluate when we prepare this report,
and there's good reasons for that. Miele vacuums are built to stand the test of
time: they're sturdy, durable and solid, without feeling stiff or unwieldly.
They also have excellent filtration. However, they tend to be pricey, and
you'll want to be sure before you buy one that there is an authorized dealer within a reasonable distance so you can easily take it in for repair if
Taking price and performance into account, we find that the best
combination of those two is found in the (Est. $600) canister vacuum. It's the upgrade pick to an upright vacuum at
Wirecutter. Testers there are fans of the entire Miele line, but make a very
good case for sticking with the smaller Miele C2. As they point out, it's the
least expensive Miele canister that includes a powered brush head, which makes
it a superior performer on carpet, even high pile carpet, an area where most
The specific "Electro Brush" that
the Miele Compact C2 Electro+ includes is the SEB 228, which has a height
adjustment for different carpet piles. The included parquet brush, the
Parquet-3, is a gentle option if you worry about a vacuum cleaner scratching
your high-end floors. Wirecutter says it performs well, too, saying, "The
bare floor tool sucked up more debris from hardwood floors faster than all the
other vacuums we've tested, and its soft bristles are gentler on sensitive
surfaces than an upright vacuum's wheels and spinning brush roll."
If you're an allergy sufferer the Miele Compact
C2 Electro+ PowerLine is a particularly good choice. HEPA filtration is
standard, and the sealed body means fewer emissions overall. A number of owners
remark on how cleanly this vacuum runs, and say it has made a notable
difference in their allergy issues -- and quite a few say they don't see "motes"
flying around in the sun as they vacuum like they have with other types and
models of vacuum cleaners.
As with all Miele vacuums, the Compact C2
Electro+ PowerLine is extremely sturdy and durable, and yet is nimble and easy
to maneuver around obstacles, under beds and other furniture, and above your
head to vacuum draperies and other higher-up surfaces. It has a 16 foot cord,
but a total operating radius of 33 feet with the hose and telescoping wand
included in the reach factor. The Electro+ weighs 12.9 pounds and stores
compactly with all accessories onboard. One popular feature is the retractable
cord that's operated with a foot switch.
The Miele Compact C2 Electro+
PowerLine is a bagging canister vacuum that uses (Est. $16 for 4 bags). That's about a year's supply for most. They're
reported as very easy to change out, much easier than the bags on most bagged
vacuum cleaners, but they're on the small side so you might have to change them
more frequently than a higher-capacity bag if you vacuum a lot.
If you'd like to upgrade to a larger capacity
bagged vacuum while still retaining many of the positive features of the
Compact C2, we recommend taking a look at the Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog. It offers
both powerful performance and enough included attachments to make it a
versatile cleaning tool. While we like the Cat & Dog because of its
versatility and focus on pet hair, any canister vacuum in Miele's Complete C3
series can be expected to perform comparably, the only differences are in the
accessory packages. The C3 Cat & Dog was a former top pick at Wirecutter,
and they're still fans of the entire C3 series too.
A C3 series vacuum, the (Est. $1,100) is the top pick at Consumer Reports, earning scores of
Very Good for carpet, Excellent for bare floors. Editors there also test the Miele Complete C3 Alize, but don't elevate it to Recommended
status due to its only achieving a score of Good on carpet (the Alize does not
include a powered brush head, however, which would explain its lower score in
that metric). The
(Est. $900) is the
top pick at Reviewed, with the caveat that, while this is the one they tested,
any of the C3 series would be a good choice.
The Miele C3 Cat & Dog has the same powered SEB 228
carpet tool as the Compact C2 Electro+ as well as a mini handheld turbo brush
that makes it particularly well-suited for cleaning pet hair off of furniture
and upholstery. There's also an upgraded parquet tool, the SBB 300-3, which is
more maneuverable than the one on the Compact C2, but is still designed to be
gentle on hardwood. Other attachments that come standard with the Cat & Dog
are a crevice tool, upholstery tool and dusting brush. Other accessories are available
as optional purchases and you can purchase any accessory for any of the vacuums
in this series.
The Cat & Dog, with its focus on controlling odors and
pet hair, includes a standard, carbon-based AirClean filter; a HEPA filter, the (Est. $25) is available as an optional
purchase. However, the HEPA filter, which is widely reported as an excellent
choice for controlling emissions, is included with the Complete C3 Marin. The
Marin also has a couple of extra convenience features, including a
"parking" system that shuts off the vacuum when you take a break,
then turns it back on when you resume vacuuming. The Marin does not include the
turbo brush, however; that's why we recommend the somewhat cheaper Cat &
Dog for most households, and the Marin for households where allergies are an
issue. Of course, as noted above, you could buy the Marin and then buy the
turbo brush separately, it's sold as the (Est. $65).
Regardless of which Miele you choose, ease of use compared
to upright vacuums, owners say, is superb. The foot controls on the Miele C2
and C3 series vacuums make it easy to adjust suction and height without
stooping. These vacuums are extremely well-balanced, and, although the Cat
& Dog weighs 23 pounds, it feels lighter, owners say, thanks to its
ergonomic design. Many users who upgraded to this vacuum (or any vacuum in the
Miele line) after years of using "cheapies" wonder why they waited so long,
saying the premium price is worth it for premium build and performance. A few
say they don't think it seems to perform as much better as its high price
indicates, but most are very pleased -- especially those with pets, stairs or
lots of hard floors. Miele offers one of the best warranties in the business:
seven years on the casing and motor, which includes parts and labor, one-year
on accessories and hoses.
Kenmore canister vacuums are a great value
Most people can't afford to reach towards the $1,000 mark
for a full-sized canister vacuum. And that's okay because there are plenty of
canister vacuums that cost much less and do just as well in testing. The
tradeoffs generally come in maneuverability and ease of use, so, unless those
latter two attributes are your top concern, or you just happen to have the
cash, there are some terrific canister vacuums that won't set your budget back
quite so much.
Kenmore has long been a well-respected name in canister
vacuums, and the (Est. $300) is one that does well in expert testing.
At Consumer Reports, the 81614 is named a Best Buy and earns Excellent scores
for its performance on bare floors and pet hair, Very good for carpet, which
are the same scores as the top-rated Miele Marin. The Kenmore also gets an
Excellent score for emissions, thanks to its HEPA filtration, which is standard
on the 81614. What brings the 81614's overall score down there is ratings of
just Good for tool airflow and noise.
Jonathan Chan at Reviewed also tests the Kenmore 81614 and
finds a lot to like. It aced his tests on bare floors, carpet and throw rugs
using a variety of debris, and really excelled when it came to pet hair pickup.
Like most canister vacuums, it's not the best performer on carpet, although
it's not bad. Ultimately, Chan gives the 81614 a score of 7.6, with both
Editors' Choice and Best of Year awards. Where it falters in Chan's tests in
usability. The top-heavy wand tends to fall over easily and the plastic clip
that's supposed to keep it standing breaks easily. He also says it feels heavy,
although at 23 pounds it's the same weight as the better-balanced Cat &
Kenmore has recently started selling some products through
Amazon, rather than just through Sears, and there we saw good owner
satisfaction. Most say it works great on any type of surface and is very easy
to use and maneuver. We did see a few quibbles: that the bag is finicky to
change out or that it's top-heavy, but, in general, users are very satisfied.
At Sears, however, the only other retail outlet for the
Kenmore 81614, owner reviewers are less complimentary. However we've found that
to be the case with reviews of Kenmore appliances at Sears. In our experience,
people tend to be more likely to take the time to leave a poor review rather
than a good one. A deep dive into the feedback there shows a lot of user
satisfaction, with some complaints about maneuverability and usability -- the
same issues Chan had -- with what seems like overly downgraded scores for those
complaints. One legitimate issue, though, is that everyone seems to agree that the
Kenmore 81614 is loud; although whether that should lead to a one-star rating from
an otherwise satisfied customer is debatable.
The Kenmore 81614 includes a small powered pet tool, a
crevice tool, dusting brush, and a bare floor tool; all accessories store
on-board. It also features a long, 28-foot, retractable cord, a 10.5-foot tool
reach and a wide, 14-inch cleaning path. With good cleaning power and that full
range of accessories, the 81614 is a very good value.
Another good choice in this category, although it carries a higher price
tag, is the (Est. $400). Consumer Reports
gives it Excellent scores for pet hair and bare floor performance, and Very
Good scores for carpet cleaning and airflow. Allergy sufferers may appreciate
that it is also one of the top-scorers there when it comes to emissions,
earning an Excellent rating. That's bolstered by the vacuum's two levels of
filtration, including HEPA media technology for removing more allergens from
the exhaust. On the down side, it gets lower scores for both noise and
While some call this an exceptional canister vacuum for its price, owner
opinions are split on the Kenmore 81714. In a switch from the owner reviews for
the 81614, we see higher satisfaction at Sears, lower grades at Amazon. Durability
is one area of concern. We spotted some reports of breakdowns within the first
few months, but many other owners that say this is an extraordinarily
well-built vacuum cleaner that lasts for years. It's not the lightest canister
vacuum and, at 22 pounds, it's reported as too heavy and bulky for some users
-- the wand is said to be especially heavy and awkward. But it does have a
10-foot attachment reach and a variety of included accessories for versatility,
such as a crevice tool, floor brush, dusting brush, and a motorized hand tool
for cleaning up more efficiently after pets. All attachments store on the
vacuum's body. It has a wide, 14-inch cleaning path and the cord is 26 feet
just have hard floors, a basic canister vac has plenty of punch
Most of the top canister vacuums we saw are priced at $300 to $1,000 or
more, but we found some strong reviews for budget canister vacuums priced at
$100 or less. While these models generally cannot handle carpets very well, they
should be adequate if you vacuum infrequently or have light cleaning jobs,
particularly if you only need to vacuum hard floors.
Among these, we saw the most positive comments for the (Est. $75), which is why it's our top pick among cheap canister vacuums.
This incredibly lightweight (less than 9 pounds) bag-equipped vacuum manages to
pack a surprising amount of power in a small package, according to expert and
owner reviewers. Chan at Reviewed gives the Mighty Mite a lot of praise, saying
that on short-pile carpets and hardwood floors, "it provided performance as good as vacuums that cost five
times as much."
Owners are very complimentary too, saying this is a terrific, basic,
no-nonsense vacuum for hard floors. A number say they keep in in their beach
homes for quick sand pickups. Although many users wish it were retractable, the
3670G's 20-foot-long cord is also described as a bonus. Most agree that as long
as your expectations aren't unrealistic, you'll be satisfied with the
performance of the Eureka Might Mite's performance.
For a few dollars more, the (Est. $90) is a step up from the regular Mighty Mite with features
that make it better suited for pet-hair pickup as well as a HEPA filter for
cleaner vacuum emissions. Both the Mighty Mite and the Pet Lover Mighty Mite
are reported as noisy, but owners don't seem to mind. In fact, some point out
that noise is expected of any vacuum, particularly one that boasts so much
power for such a compact unit.
Both Mighty Mite vacuums can use special (Est. $10 for 9 bags) designed for odor elimination. Both models have 12
amps of power and weigh less than 9 pounds. The Pet Lover does have a wider
cleaning path by an inch; it's 11 inches compared to the regular Mighty Mite's
10 inches. Both have blower ports for blowing out sawdust, leaves or other dirt
from a garage or workshop. The Pet Lover Mighty Mite includes a special
attachment for removing pet hair, but owners have mixed opinions on how
effective it really is, and some say the vacuum actually works better without
it. In that case, the less expensive Mighty Mite is a better buy if you aren't
concerned about HEPA filtration.
vacuums you might need for your home
A canister vacuum isn't for everyone; they're less common here in
America than Europe and Canada, possibly because they're not quite as good for
carpet, in general, and we Americans love our carpet. If you think an upright might
be a better choice for your home, we cover upright vacuums in their own
report. And if you're ready to ditch the big vacuums altogether, our stick vacuums report not only names a few stick vacs that can replace your
full-sized vacuum, but also a few good, inexpensive choices for quick touch ups
-- and many convert to a handheld as well. However, if you just need a handheld vacuum for your car or dust busting spot messes, we cover those too. For
heavy duty clean ups in a garage or workshop, check out our report on wet dry vacuum.
Of course, the hot vacuums of the moment are robot vacuums, and
we admit we love ours, but we're also crazy about our (Est. $300) mopping robot. It's a hard-working
lady who has saved us many hours of slaving away over a wet mop. Check out how
the whole story of how we chose it in this blog post.
Expert & User Review Sources
There are a few solid expert reviews of canister vacuums that involve
testing, most notably at Consumer Reports (which requires a
subscription), Wirecutter, Reviewed and Top Ten Reviews.
Even better, we found a lot of consensus across these sites as to which
canister vacuums were the best performers, which helped us a lot in narrowing
down our picks. And, of course, real-world feedback from actual owners and
users of canister vacuums is invaluable in gauging a canister vac's performance
and convenience in everyday, real-world use, as well as for the long term. Most
helpful were the reviews we found at sites such as Amazon, Walmart, Sears, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.