Keeping a healthy home means detailed vacuuming once a week or so. And of course, using a HEPA filter. But if you hate vacuuming, it’s a hard job to keep up! But detailing can be surprisingly easy with the right machine. That means choosing between a canister vs upright.
Are you paying someone by the hour to do the job? Be sure they’re working efficiently. In most homes, that means using a canister vs upright.
Why my bias? My health-savvy customers need detailed vacuuming. And that’s exactly what a canister’s designed for.
There’s definitely a place for uprights too! I do say so below.
What’s the same
Canisters and uprights both come with a hose, along with a wand and tool attachments for different tasks. Standard attachments often include the following.
- Hard floor tool, for bare floors.
- Crevice tool, for nooks and crannies. And, of course, crevices.
- Round brush, for dusting window frames, shutters, and much more.
- Upholstery tool.
When buying a new vacuum, avoid attachments that make you press buttons when you take them on and off. The *&%$!* buttons easily stick, defeating the purpose. Look for twist-on attachments instead. Rotating carpet brushes, however, use buttons.
Some vacuum sales persons claim that an upright works just like a canister. That’s sort of true for wide-open carpet areas. But not true for using any attachments. Here’s why.
With a canister, you can use attachments easily. That’s because the hose is longer, more flexible, and better positioned than on an upright. Some canisters also come with a rotating carpet brush.
If you use attachments often, go with a canister vs upright. You can switch from dusting to floors almost seamlessly. No stopping to attach a hose first, as with an upright.
Uprights are designed for carpets, not for using attachments. True, uprights often include a hose, wand and tool attachments, just like canisters do. But the hose is too short— and often in the wrong place— for using attachments. So, attachments don’t work with an upright. Not really.
When you can’t use attachments, you can’t reach nooks and crannies, or anything above the floor. Just for starters.
But here’s the beauty of an upright. There’s just one unit to push ahead of you, if you’re up to pushing. Nothing to tug along behind you, as with a canister.
This Consumer Reports video demonstrates perfectly the difference between a canister vs upright.
So, if you mainly have carpets to vacuum
Got wide-open areas of carpet, and not much else? Either type of machine will work for you. So whichever type you have now, you may as well keep it. Just be sure you’re using a HEPA filter.
If you mainly have bare floors
Here, you might get away with using an upright. But first, turn off the motorized brush (on every upright), so you don’t scratch your floors. With some uprights, you may need to select a floor height too.
If you need to detail your floor
You’ll need standard tool attachments, so go with a canister vs upright. Detailing includes the following.
- Edges and baseboards
- Corners, nooks and crannies
- Under low furniture
- Registers and grilles
- Throw rugs
If you want to vacuum stairs easily
A canister vs upright is easier to use on stairs. Especially in edges, corners and vertical spaces that call for using attachments. Again, attachments are far easier to use with a canister vs upright.
If most of your vacuuming is above the floor
Detailed vacuuming involves plenty of above-the-floor surfaces. Here are a few examples where a canister comes in handy.
- Upholstery and mattresses
- Radiators, registers and grilles
- Heavy drapes
- Tracks on sliding windows and doors
- Electronic cords
- Dryer vent and lint trap
- Misc. nooks and crannies
What’s your own your experience been with canisters vs uprights? Your comment just might help others.