Updated December 13, 2017 by Jeff Newburgh

The 10 Best Canister Vacuums

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This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in March of 2015. If you're doing spring cleaning, picking up after your furry friend, or are responsible for maintaining commercial premises, make light work of this chore by using one of these canister vacuums. As an alternative to upright models, they offer compact designs with powerful suction and plenty of attachments for reaching tight spaces where dirt and dust tend to collect. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best canister vacuum on Amazon.

10. Hoover CH32008

9. Oreck XL Pro 5

8. Eureka Mighty Mite

7. Soniclean Galaxy

6. Bissell 1547

5. Electrolux UltraFlex

4. Shark Rotator Lift-Away

3. ProTeam ProVac

2. Dyson Multifloor

1. Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog

The Importance Of Being A Fan Of Suction

That suction power is measured in something called air watts, which is the result of a simple little formula.

A vacuum cleaner needs suction like a pitcher needs a good fastball.

That suction is created in a pretty fascinating way. Generally, a vacuum is like a high-powered fan designed to do a less than ideal job at blowing air.

Sure, there's some outflow of air. You can feel that if you put your hand up against any vacuum cleaner's exhaust port. That's where that burning animal smell comes from if you have pets that shed and you neglect to clean your vacuum's filter.

The other side of the fan is what's of interest to us in a vacuum, the side through which air is drawn. This draw, this suction, creates the action of your vacuum.

From there, it's all bells and whistles: bags and bins, retractable cords, extendable arms and hoses for reaching that suction action into the deepest, darkest crevices of your home.

That suction power is measured in something called air watts, which is the result of a simple little formula.

Take the amount of air that a vacuum cleaner can move through a two inch opening and measure it in cubic feet per minute (CFM). That's your air flow.

Then, see you how many inches of water said vacuum can pull up vertically through the same two inch hose. That's your vacuum measurement, or water lift.

Multiply those together, and divide it by 8.5 and I'll bet I can guess the number you were thinking of! Oh, I mean, then you get your air watts.

If, for example, you have a vacuum cleaner with an air flow of 55 CFM and a water lift of 10 inches, then it's 55 x 10 / 8.5 = 64.7 air watts.

Why 8.5? Come on, I'm a writer, not a physicist!

Clean Your Kids To Sleep

I was one of those kids who slept better with a constant noise in the background. Movement helped, too.

I ride a motorcycle now because driving a car is too reminiscent of the car rides my mom used for putting me to sleep as a baby.

Seriously, stick me in a car or an airplane, on a boat or a pool float, and I'll be asleep in minutes. Not too safe for driving, but it's great for insomnia.

It didn't matter much if anything really needed to be cleaned; the sound put me down, and quickly.

When she couldn't load me into the car (either because she couldn't commit the time or because gas prices were on the rise), she would simply run the vacuum cleaner.

It didn't matter much if anything really needed to be cleaned; the sound put me down, and quickly.

She didn't need to worry too much about whether her vacuum was an upright or a canister, whither it had a retractable cord or a guidance system that could rival a sidewinder missile. All she really needed was for it to make some noise.

You might have a kid just like me in your home right now, but, by the percentages, anyway, you probably don't. And that's good for you; I was a terror.

Either way, you have so much more to choose from in your vacuum cleaner options than my mother did.

Honestly, first and foremost, I'd recommend that you ask yourself where you plan to store it. The size differences from one unit to the next aren't that immense here, but they might just be the thing that puts you over the edge toward one particular cleaner.

When you do get one into your home, turn it on and lay down. See if it puts you out.

How Do You Say, "Vacuum," In Pittsburgh?

I went to college outside of Pittsburgh, PA, and if you aren't familiar with the dialect of the region, you're a lucky one. Stay that way.

If you've experienced so-called Pittsburghese, you may have heard terms like 'gum band' used in lieu of 'rubber band,' or you may have even tasted a 'sammich' from Primanti Brothers.

So, the Pittsburghers aren't wrong, they're just more deeply in touch with the roots of our household appliances than the rest of us.

You've also definitely heard vacuum cleaners referred to as 'sweepers,' a denotation that confounded me from the first.

Where is the sweeping action? It's just suction. If you looked up the respective definitions of the two words 'vacuum' and 'sweeper' you'd find no congruence.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the true deficiency here lies not within the dialect of Allegheny County, but rather with the etymological and historical research done by the writers of online dictionaries.

Before the advent of the electric vacuum cleaner, manual versions existed that created minor amounts of suction as their users moved them across the floor. They worked much the same way a manual lawnmower works.

And they were called 'carpet sweepers.'

So, the Pittsburghers aren't wrong, they're just more deeply in touch with the roots of our household appliances than the rest of us.

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Jeff Newburgh
Last updated on December 13, 2017 by Jeff Newburgh

Jeff is a dedicated writer and communications professional from San Francisco with a bachelor of arts in anthropology from UC Berkeley. He began his career in computer consulting and later branched out into customer service. Jeff focuses on making complex topics easy to understand. With over 10 years' experience in research, his relentless curiosity fuels a love of writing and learning how things work, and has helped to build expertise in categories such as heavy-duty power tools and computer equipment. Jeff's passion for animals affords him a strong understanding of pet products, including dog houses, beds, and grain-free foods. When he's not writing, he prefers spending time with his family and three dogs, while kicking back and relaxing with a nice glass of red wine.


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