Stick vs Canister Vacuums – What You Need to Know

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Many of us might remember when our mother or grandmother used bulky and noisy vacuum cleaners to clean our house. Vacuum cleaners have evolved so much and come a long way since then. Often, people looking to buy a vacuum cleaner find themselves in a dilemma on which type of vacuum cleaner to choose.

Both stick and canister vacuum cleaners work great. However, selecting either of them depends on you and your requirements. Let us take a look at the differences between stick and canister vacuums.

Stick Vacuum Cleaners

Stick vacuum cleaners have a sleek design with the cleaning head, motor, and dirtbag all in a single unit. A stick vacuum cleaner’s lightweight and compact design makes it suitable for people who live in smaller homes.

There are two different types of stick vacuum based on their power: corded and cordless. A corded stick vacuum runs on electric power by plugging the vacuum at a power source, while a cordless stick vacuum contains rechargeable batteries. A cordless stick vacuum is more convenient as you have the ease of carrying it around your house in any corner without needing to plug it in to a wall socket. Hence their popularity.

stick vacuum

However, if you live in a large area and have pets and kids, a stick vacuum might not be a great idea as they tend to be less powerful for their price point.


●     They are light in weight and easy to carry around and use.

●     Stick vacuums don’t take up much storage space.

●     They come in both corded and cordless versions. Cordless ones are more popular because you can use them without worrying about the electrical outlet.

●     Cordless stick vacuums can transform into handheld vacuum cleaners.

●     Most models convert to a handheld vacuum cleaner, making it easy to clean furniture such as sofas or your car.

●     Stick vacs are also usually bagless so there are no replacement dust bags to purchase.

●     Easy to empty the dirt cup.


●     They are not as powerful as most canister vacuums.

●     Even with a small motor, some of them can be quite noisy. However Dyson’s cordless sticks are some of the quietest vacuums you can get.

●     Cordless models usually have a low run time, and cleaning large spaces requires frequent charging.

●     Smaller dirt cups require frequent emptying.

●     Considering their power, stick vacuums can be expensive. You are paying a premium for the convenience of going cordless.

●     Cordless sticks have a shorter lifespan compared to Canister vacuums. Batteries will need replacing after a few years and warranty periods are limited to 2 years.

Canister Vacuum Cleaners

A canister vacuum cleaner features a design with a motor and the bin in a separate unit from the cleaning head, and both units are connected with a flexible hose. Canister vacuum cleaners have powerful motors with a separate canister to house them. They have powerful suction, which can easily lift dust and pet hairs.

Since the canister vacuums are corded, they are suitable for easy cleaning of large houses. Furthermore, most canister vacuums come with a retractable cord so that you don’t have to worry about a tangled cord.

vacuuming with canister vacuum


●     Canister vacuums are lightweight and easy to carry or pull around with wheels on the canister.

●     They are quieter when compared to stick vacuums. Particularly Miele’s bagged canister vacuums.

●     They are ideal for cleaning large homes and any surfaces with excellent suction power.

●     With the cleaning head separate from the motor, they can reach under furniture and other hard-to-reach areas.

●     Corded design means you can clean for however long you want without worrying about charging.

●     Premium models come with powered floor heads and onboard tools for upholstery cleaning.

●     A canister vacuum will generally have better performance in terms of suction power and filtration compared to a similarly priced Stick Vacuum.

●     Longer warranties and lifespan available on premium models such as Dyson or Miele.

●     They are relatively cheaper than stick vacuums.


●     You have to drag a canister behind you while cleaning, which can be difficult in small spaces.

●     They tend to take up a lot of storage space.

●     The canister design is low, requiring you to bend down more often, at least to empty the canister.

●     Bagged canisters have the added ongoing cost of replacement dust bags.

Comparison of Stick vs Canister Vacuum


Canister vacuum cleaners are great for cleaning large houses with hardwood flooring. Since the cleaning head is separate from the motor and the dirtbag, it is light in weight and easy to maneuver, making it convenient for cleaning hard-to-reach surfaces like underneath the furniture and surfaces above the ground. 

Since the dirtbag in the canister is sealed, there is no risk of dirt escaping and thus making it an excellent choice for people with allergies or asthma. Canister vacuums are also a great choice homes with pets and kids because these homes need more frequent cleaning. The best canister vacuums for pet hair include features such as anti-tangle brush rolls and HEPA filtration.

Stick vacuums are ideal for cleaning small and compact spaces as they have a limited run time. They are also great for cleaning stairs and quick clean-ups of any accidental spills. But for cleaning large surfaces, it might not be a great choice with its small bin size, limited run time and lesser suction power in most cases.

Most cordless stick vacuums also convert to handheld vacuums, which make them easy to operate when cleaning beds, sofas, the interior of your car, and other hard-to-reach spots. The small and compact size of a stick vacuum makes it ideal for smaller homes.


Suction power is the critical factor in determining the efficiency of a vacuum cleaner. When it comes to efficiency, canister vacuum cleaners are far more efficient than stick vacuum cleaners.

There is room for housing a more powerful motor that offers better efficiency with high suction power, given their design. A stick vacuum, either corded or cordless, has a sleek design that compromises the motor power; thus, they tend to be less efficient. However, the latest premium cordless models such as those from Dyson and Shark are nearly on par with premium canister vacuums. For example the Dyson V15 can deliver up to 230AW of suction power! But this is in max suction mode with a very limited run time.

The efficiency of a vacuum cleaner, either stick or canister, varies according to its model. A high-end stick vacuum cleaner can have better efficiency than a low-end canister vacuum but at a significantly higher price point.



A stick vacuum has a sleek design and will weigh anywhere between 3 to 8 pounds, while a canister vacuum can weigh anywhere between 8 to 20 pounds. With the size difference, the bin sizes in the two vacuums also differ. 

A stick vacuum cleaner has a small bin size with a capacity between 0.1 to 0.5 gallons. The Dyson Outsize has the largest dust bin of any cordless stick but is still only 0.5 gallons. When it comes to a canister vacuum, the bin size can be anywhere from 1 gallon to 5 gallons. As a result, a canister vacuum requires emptying much less frequently compared to a stick vacuum.

If you live in a small home with little storage space, then a stick vacuum is the best, while if you need to clean a large house, then a canister vacuum could be more fitting.


While it looks like a stick vacuum is relatively cheaper than a canister vacuum, if you look for a stick vacuum having quality comparable to a canister vacuum, it can be way more expensive. When it comes to the price, you can get a stick vacuum for under $200, but a good quality vacuum costs $300 to $400, while some of the premium models will cost you $700 to $1000. Depending on its model and features, a canister vacuum will cost you anywhere from $100 to $1500.

Noise Level

The noise level of vacuums varies from model to model. Even though a stick vacuum cleaner has a less powerful motor when compared to a canister, it can still make a lot of noise. Bagless stick vacuums are generally noisier than canister vacuums, especially ones with dust bags such as Miele canisters. Premium stick vacuums such as the Dyson V-Series are generally quieter.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to choosing between a stick or a canister vacuum, it all comes down to your requirements for a vacuum cleaner. Canister and stick vacuums have distinct characteristics and perform well in specific settings. 

If you live in a small space and require a vacuum for quick cleaning, a stick vacuum cleaner could be excellent with its lightweight and compact design. On the other hand, if you have a larger home with kids and pets, a canister vacuum could be a more suitable option for you with its higher efficiency and greater dirtbag capacity. Budget is also a key consideration and you need to decide what is worth more to you, the convenience of a cordless compact stick or the power, filtration and features of a canister.

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