What’s Right for You?
Many people ask ‘which machine is right for me’? The answer to that question lies in a series of questions you need to ask yourself before you go vacuum shopping. Often, I am asked which machine cleans better, the upright or the canister? The answer is they clean equally well, but in different ways. To figure out which type will suit you best ask yourself the following questions:
1) What type of flooring do I have? Carpet or hard floor?
If you have a mix (most people do), how much of your floor is carpet, and how much is hard floor? If you have mostly hard flooring, an upright might work, but a canister is likely to be a better choice. The reason for this is that the canister is more versatile over multiple floor surfaces then most uprights. Some uprights come with the ability to switch off the roller when doing hard floors, but these typically are more expensive machines, and may not fit in your budget. If you have mostly carpet, either machine will work well.
2) How cluttered is your cleaning environment?
If you have a lot of furniture to work around, or if you have a lot of stairs in your home, a canister will be a little easier to work with than an upright. Typically canisters can sit on their tail on stairs, making them easier to clean, and with a lot of furniture to get around, the smaller head on a canister will usually work out better then the larger heads on uprights. If you have large, open areas to clean, an upright will be easiest as it will clean large areas faster and easier then the small head on a canister.
3) Do you have any health issues (for example a bad back or arthritis)?
People who have these health issues will often find uprights easier to use then canisters because there is only one piece to the machine; it is out in front of you and easy to push. The exception to this is if the machine is heavy. Obviously, people with these health issues will do better with a lightweight machine, whether it is an upright or a canister.
4) What type of machine have you used in the past?
If you have used one particular type of machine for a long time, you will most likely be uncomfortable switching to another type. My wife has always used an upright, and when I brought her home a VERY expensive canister, she used it a few times and went right back to her old upright, saying she preferred it to a canister. We tend to be creatures of habit, and once we are used to a certain type of machine, will tend to want to stay with it.
5) Do you have pets or lots of traffic in the home?
Kids and dogs make a mess just being themselves, cleaning up after them can be a fulltime job. Most uprights will handle extra hair and fur easier then canisters, because they typically have larger diameter roller bars, which make it harder for hair and fur to wrap around the roller. However, many canisters now have the option of large diameter roller bars as well, so check the roller of the machines you are looking at if hair is an issue in your home.
6) How much money do you want to spend?
Notice I put this at the bottom of the list. Not that budget isn’t importan--it is of course!--but it should not be the first consideration. There are a lot of machines on the market today, ranging in price from under $100 to well over $3,000.00. If you use price as the first criteria, you limit yourself from many machines that may be perfect for your needs. Unlike 20 years ago, today there are a lot of machines on the market for under $500.00 that will do an excellent job of cleaning, and will also be very durable. In the old days, if you wanted something to last, you were pretty much stuck with a door to door sold machine, which was extremely expensive.
7) In the end, either an upright or a canister will clean equally well for many jobs.
By asking yourself these questions, you will be able to narrow your search and make your decision easier. By talking to a knowledgeable salesperson at your local, independent vacuum dealer you will learn much more about individual brands and models of machine as well. Picking the right machine seems daunting at the beginning of your search, but you can make it easier with a little bit of thought before you start, and by talking to a vacuum professional you can get the best bang for your shopping buck!