Canister Vacuum vs Upright: What’s Right For You?

So you’ve decided you need to buy a new vacuum cleaner. Great, but which type do you buy? Both canister and upright vacuums have their advantages and their disadvantages. Let’s find out which kind of vacuum will fit your life.

There are a few points you need to consider when buying a vacuum cleaner: price, personal comfort, and the layout of your house. You will generally have to pay more for a canister vacuum than an upright of the same quality. For around two hundred dollars, you will get a better upright than a canister. If your budget is tight, go for an upright.

Personal comfort is a large part of using a vacuum cleaner. Since vacuuming can be heavy work, especially in a large house, you need to consider what type of work you prefer doing. An upright vacuum requires you to push it forward wherever you go while a canister needs to be hauled behind you but can be parked with the hose extended in certain areas.

Upright vacuums tend to be slightly heavier but slide easily over carpet and would only be a problem if you’re pushing them around for hours in a large house. Meanwhile, canisters are built lightweight and much smaller than uprights. They are easier to maneuver and will be far less of a chore to move around your house with stairs.

Now we have to consider how your house is laid out. In general, canisters are better for floors while upright vacuums are better for carpet. However, most houses have both so unless yours has only carpet or tile, both types of vacuums can be considered.

Stairs and furniture are the other factors that influence what type of vacuum you should choose. Only high-end upright vacuums have the extra accessories to deal with stairs efficiently, but they are still a pain to have to carry up each step individually. Canister vacuums are light and easy to carry, and have the perfect set of accessories to deal with stairs.

Upright vacuums cannot go under furniture like tables and couches as well as canister models can. Canister style vacuums have a thin head that is separate from the body, made for sliding easily under tight gaps. However, a canister must be rolled from room to room so they can be a hassle if you have many compact rooms. Let’s review the pros of each type:


  • great for carpets
  • less expensive
  • easier to store
  • good for large open areas


  • better for stairs
  • more accessories
  • better with lots of furniture
  • lightweight and easy to carry

In the end, the decision will be based on all of these factors. If you’re willing to spend a considerable amount, and prefer the convenience of being able to clean stairs or pull the vacuum behind you, then the canister vacuum should be your choice. If you’re tight on your budget, want to push around your vacuum over carpet and don’t need to reach many tight gaps or clean stairs, then an upright vacuum is what you should buy.

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