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Upright vs Canister Vacuum: Which One Is Right For You?

Published by: Katherine Frame

Upright vs Canister Vacuum

Whether you should purchase a canister or an upright vacuum depends on various factors such as budget, preference, and usage. Upright vacuums can be stored easily, they are less expensive, and they clean carpets efficiently. Upright vacuums are easy to move and store as well.

On the other hand, canister vacuums are more expensive, are efficient for cleaning bare floors, and are quieter. 

If you’ve ever wondered which type of vacuum is better to have in your house, the upright vs canister vacuum – we will help you figure it out in this guide. We’ll be comparing the two types so you’ll know what exactly each one offers and which one will be ideal to suit your needs.

Let’s get started…

Benefits of a Canister Vacuum Cleaner

As compared to upright vacuums, canister vacuum cleaners have a lot of benefits. Here is a list of them:

1. Canisters are Quieter 

No matter which style you pick, vacuum cleaners tend to be very loud. On average, a vacuum cleaner is as loud as the noise that comes when you flush your toilet.

However, canister vacuum cleaners are usually quieter and their noise averages around 60-65 decibels compared to 70 decibels of an upright vacuum cleaner. 

The Benefits of Canister Vacuum Cleaners

If anyone in your house has sensitive ears, you should invest in a canister vacuum without a second thought. 

2. Retractable, Manageable Cords

Most canister vacuums available in the market come with retractable cords. These cords hide inside the vacuum cleaner when they are not being uses, making the vacuum appear cleaner and ensuring that no-one trips over it. 

3. Lightweight & Easy-to-Carry 

Canister vacuums are light in weight compared to upright vacuums. Moreover, canister vacuums are designed in such a way that they feel very light, making them easy to work with and carry around.

Instead of making you carry the whole machine around, a canister vacuum sits in one place while you move around its lightweight wand and head to clean the room. 

This feature is best used when you have to clean tight spaces and staircases as you won’t have to carry around the whole machine at the time.

4. Powerful Suction

Canister vacuum cleaners usually come with powerful suction in comparison with their upright counterparts. Powerful suction makes canisters perfect for cleaning bare floors.

Canister vacuums can also clean carpets efficiently, but uprights are known for cleaning carpets in a better way. 

Drawbacks of a Canister Vacuum Cleaner

So you are still wondering if a canister vacuum cleaner is a right choice for you? Don’t be fooled by their smaller size.

Canister vacuum cleaners have much to offer and can work a lot better than your average upright vacuum. But like with so many things, there are also some drawbacks of using them too.

Let’s now take a look at the two main drawbacks of using a canister vacuum cleaner to help you understand its strengths and weaknesses.

1. Difficult to Store

It can be difficult to store a canister vacuum cleaner even though it has a maneuverable cord and head. Canister vacuums don’t have a single unit.

Rather, you have to take care of two units, which makes storing it a cumbersome task. It can be difficult to use a canister when you have to clean the whole house, as you’ll have to carry or roll it from one room to the other. 


If you are someone with back issues, you shouldn’t be investing in a canister vacuum cleaner as they are usually lower and you may have to bend over to turn them on/off. 

2. Very Bulky 

As canisters have a disjointed layout, these vacuums appear bulky. Upright vacuums balance on their head, and are easy to store, while that is not the case with canister vacuums.

Although a canister vacuum can fit in any closet, it may take more space than an upright vacuum cleaner. 

Moreover, if you don’t balance their head, wand and hose properly, these parts of the vacuum may keep falling over, which can get irritating and annoying to manage. 

Benefits of an Upright Vacuum Cleaner

If you want to get rid of every dirt and dust your carpets, rugs and floors may contain, then you just have to buy an upright vacuum cleaner. So let’s now see all the benefits of using upright vacuums:

1. Easy to Clean & Empty 

Upright vacuum cleaners are usually bagless which makes them easy to clean and empty after the dirt and dust particles have been collected from the house. 

2. Good-Sized Vacuum Head

Upright vacuum cleaners come equipped with a large vacuum head which means that it easily balances on its own and cleans large areas with ease.

Benefits of Upright Vacuum Cleaner

The large head also covers more area and hence, it allows you to go ahead with the process of vacuuming easily and quickly. 

3. Ease in Storage 

As the name suggests, upright vacuum cleaners stand upright, and hence, they can easily stand inside the closet where you store them. Some upright models also come with wall mounts, allowing more floor space. 

4. Easy to Use

It is very simple to use an upright vacuum cleaner as it has a one-piece design which makes it easy for you to carry it from one place to another.

Benefits of upright vacuum

Upright vacuums also have a handle on them which lets you pull and push the machine with ease. An upright vacuum cleaner can be carried single-handedly. 

Drawbacks of an Upright Vacuum Cleaner

There are so many benefits to an upright vacuum cleaner that you might want to buy one. But do you know the drawbacks? Let’s find out!

1. Uprights can Seem Heavy

Although upright vacuum cleaners are not heavy in weight, they can feel heavy when you use them for a longer duration as in the case of an upright vacuum cleaner, you have to move around with the complete body of the machine.

If the weight of the machine is a concern for you, you should consider buying a cordless stick vacuum cleaner instead of a canister or upright vacuum.

2. Uprights are Noisy

As mentioned earlier, uprights are noisy as compared to canister vacuum cleaners. An upright vacuum’s lowest sound is rated at 70 decibels. 

3. Maneuverability

While canister vacuums can reach hard-to-clean crevices and corners, upright vacuum cleaners are not maneuverable. They do come with some attachments to help you perform these tasks, but it can still be difficult to clean certain areas.

Moreover, the wide head of the upright can be a problem in cleaning certain narrow spaces as well. 

On top of that, uprights don’t come with retractable cords, which means that the chances of you tripping because of the cord get heightened. 

What Should Be Your Pick — Upright vs Canister Vacuum Cleaner? 

Earlier, upright vacuums were preferred by people when their main purpose was cleaning of rugs and carpets, and canisters were preferred when the main purpose was cleaning bare floors. 

However, with every passing year, both types of vacuum cleaners are doing their best to compensate for their drawbacks as uprights have started coming with small hoses and canisters now come with motorized brush attachments. 

If your home has more carpets and rugs, you should go with an upright vacuum. However, if your aim is overall cleaning of the house, you should pick a canister vacuum as it is easy to handle, more powerful, and quieter. 

Final Thoughts 

Purchasing a canister or upright vacuum cleaner should be a personal choice that depends on various factors listed above. Our recommendation would be to invest in an upright vacuum cleaner if your house has more carpeted floors, and a canister vacuum if your house has bare floors or mixed flooring.

However, you should consider all the other factors such as noise level, maneuverability, storage, ease of use, and other factors before making a decision. 


Is an upright vacuum better or a canister?

Canister vacuum cleaners and upright vacuums both have different specifications and features which distinguish them from one another. Canister vacuums are quieter, lightweight, and easy to carry. Moreover, canister vacuums are also smaller and they have a powerful suction. Canisters also come with a retractable cord. These features of the canister give them an upper hand when compared to an upright vacuum cleaner.

What is the average lifespan of a canister vacuum cleaner?

If you maintain it properly and keep it clean, a canister vacuum cleaner lasts for 8 years. Moreover, the life of your vacuum cleaner depends on many other factors such as how often you use it, how you store it, and whether you follow its care instructions or not.

What is the average lifespan of an upright vacuum cleaner?

Upright vacuum cleaners usually last for up to 10 years. However, you may need to change certain parts of the vacuum cleaner and maintain it appropriately to ensure that it lasts longer. Moreover, upright vacuum cleaners don’t require batteries like canisters.

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Article by:

Katherine Frame

Katherine Frame is a professional writer and reviewer who worked in higher education for eight years before working on The Hardware Hub. She has written for multiple home magazines and blogs.

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