Upright Vacuum vs. Canister Vacuum: Difference between Vacuum Types

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Difference between Upright Vacuum and Canister Vacuum

Upright vacuums are of a vertical design and include a base on wheels that roll across the carpet and a long vertical handle from which to push. Canister vacuums are like long tubes with a long hose and wand that can roll across carpet.

Both upright and canister vacuums contain intake and exhaust ports for airflow, a motor, an electric plug, and a bag or container to hold the dirt. Newer vacuums have HEPA filter systems and ways to prevent the dust and dirt to be introduced back into the air.

Upright Vacuum
Canister Vacuum


Upright vacuums canister vacuums do what they were designed to do - suck up dirt and dust from rugs and carpets. Canister vacuums are typically easier to move around furniture and to carry up and down stairs. Upright vacuums normally have a bit more power, making it a better option for a large room.

The vacuum performance will many times come down to an argument of manufacturer over upright or canister. As a rule, upright vacuums have more powerful motors and more suction. Allergy sufferers swear by canister style vacuums because of the HEPA systems, but they are available on some uprights now.


Canister vacuums have many accessories that make it easy to vacuum rugs and hardwood floors with just a flick of an attachment. If you have back problems, you probably would prefer an upright vacuum to a canister.

Since canisters are portable, they normally have a retractable cord. This of course means no more trying to wind up a vacuum cord like the one you have to on an upright. Some people find it awkward to pull a vacuum, but it is just a matter of getting used to the vacuum. The hose attachment on an upright is typically short and can potentially pull the vacuum over during use.

Bags or Bag-less?

As a rule, bags hold more dirt and dust than the compartments you can empty and reuse. Keep this in mind when selecting a new vacuum. Whether you choose bags or bagless, make sure the vacuum has some sort of a filtering system that keeps more dirt, allergens, etc. inside the container or bag.

The price of a vacuum that takes bags might be cheaper at the outset, but keep in mind how much the vacuum bags will add to the lifetime cost of the appliance.

Similarities and Differences

  • The battle of best vacuum has been raging for years and it will always come down to a personal preference when deciding which vacuum is better. Both types of vacuum offer variable tools and options to make your housecleaning tasks easier. The options in vacuums will ultimately come down to personal choice. Always check the manufacturer's guarantee before making a final decision on your vacuum.
  • Originally, upright vacuums were the best choice to keep carpets cleaned and canister vacuums worked best on hardwood floors. The line isn't as distinct these days as both upright and canister vacuums are multipurpose.

Which type is easier to use?
  • Upright Vacuum
  • Canister Vacuum

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