Bissell 1161 Hard Floor Expert Canister Vacuum



Avg. consumer rating = 84/100 

The Bissell 1161 Hard Floor Expert is a bagless canister vacuum designed for cleaning hard surfaces such as tile, wood or linoleum. It can also clean carpet but is only useful on very low pile carpet and area rugs.  The 1161 is also lightweight so it is easy to maneuver and carry, and it is compact so it doesn’t require much storage space. Its small size may limit its practicality in larger homes however, and the short power cord frustrates some owners.


Quick Specs
Type Canister
Bagged/Bagless Bagless
Best for... Hard Floors
Pet Hair Features No
Approx. Weight 9.1 lbs
HEPA Filter No
Power Cord Length 16 ft
Motor Driven Brushbar No
Warranty 2 Years


Consumer Ratings
A review of quality online retailers has provided the following 397 consumer ratings for the Bissell 1161 Hard Floor Expert – see table below. These ratings generate an overall score of 84 out of 100 (or about 4.2 stars out of 5). This is an average score but it isn’t bad considering the price range of the vacuum, which is fairly low. You can compare this score to others in our canister vacuum ratings table or our Bissell vacuum ratings table.

 Source  Consumer Rating  #Ratings
 Amazon  4.3 stars out of 5  169
 Walmart  4.3 stars out of 5  65
 Bed, Bath & Beyond  4.1 stars out of 5  53
 Lowe's  4.2 stars out of 5  43
 Target  4.0 stars out of 5  24
 Home Depot  4.0 stars out of 5  22
 Kmart  4.0 stars out of 5  14
 Best Buy  4.2 stars out of 5  6
 Macy's  5.0 stars out of 5  1


Consumer Insights
A thorough review of owner comments has shown the following common 1161 likes and dislikes:

- Quiet
- Retractable power cord
- Adjustable suction
- Good on hard surfaces
- Lightweight and easy to carry

- Short power cord
- Not very good on carpet
- Dust canister is a bit small

This is a popular canister vacuum and for the most part owners like it. There is some disappointment however, and this is focused mostly upon the fact that the machine doesn’t work well on carpet. But in all fairness if one does any research at all into this vacuum it is quite clear that the unit is designed for hard floors and is not really recommended for carpet.

There are also quite a few comments lamenting the short power cord. Power cords on canisters are generally shorter than those on uprights, but the length of the power cord on the 1161 is indeed short. A short cord often results in the owner having to continually find a new power outlet when moving from room to room – or sometimes even within the same room. The power cord does auto-retract however and this feature is very well liked.

Given that the Bissell 1161 is relatively compact, the dust canister is also a bit on the small side. This results in the need to frequently empty it which can be a distraction when doing a lot of vacuuming. In addition, there are reports that it can be difficult to get all of the debris out of the dust canister – material gets stuck near the top of the canister.


Small size of Bissell 1161
Showing the small size of the Bissell 1161


One other potential issue (reported by a small group of owners) is that the telescopic wand sometimes does not actually “telescope” properly. It can be very hard to move resulting in a wand that is sometimes too short for the operator to use comfortably. It should be noted however that many other owners have not had this problem.

There are also several common positive comments regarding the unit and these include that it is relatively quiet, that the suction controls on the vacuum handle are very convenient, that it doesn’t mark or mar hardwood floors, and that the tools store easily on board the vacuum.

You can read more consumer comments on Amazon if you wish.

Description & Specifications

The Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum has five levels of suction which can be controlled via remote control fingertip buttons on the vacuum handle (infrared receivers we think). There are 5 blue LED lights on the canister body which indicate what level of suction you are on. This is a useful feature when you want to dial down suction for cleaning drapes, upholstery or even lamp shades for example. The vacuum handle also includes a power on/off control which is another nice feature – you don’t have to bend down to use a switch on the canister body.

The controller on the handle requires two AAA batteries however and these are consumables and will have to be replaced over time. Fortunately your first set of two AAA batteries is included with the vacuum.


Controls shown on the 1161 handle
Suction and power controls on the 1161 handle


Given that this machine is designed for hard surfaces, Bissell have made an effort to ensure it does not scratch the flooring. The canister wheels are made of rubber and even have felt treads. In addition, the brush in the bare floor tool has very soft bristles.

Besides the bare floor tool, there are four additional tools provided with the vacuum, all of which store on-board:
- Dusting tool
- Crevice tool
- Telescoping extension wand (aluminum)
- Low pile carpet tool

There is no brushbar in the low pile carpet tool. This tool is only designed for very short carpet and it will not do deep carpet cleaning. On the other hand, the bare floor tool has a rotating brushbar with very soft bristles. This brushbar is air-driven – which means it is spun by suction and not by a motor. This generally results in less brushbar power and is an approach fairly common with canister vacuums (especially the more affordable units). The brushbar in the bare floor tool cannot be turned on and off.


1161 Bare Floor Tool
The 1161 Bare Floor Tool


The power cord on the unit is only 16 feet long and this has caused quite a bit of grumbling from consumers. This is indeed a bit on the short side. It is one of the shortest power cords we have run into in our years of vacuum reviewing. To some extent this can be alleviated with a simple extension cord but it is a bit of a pain and it minimizes the usefulness of the automatic cord rewind feature.

There are pre and post motor filters on the 1161. The pre-motor filter assembly includes a pleated filter and a foam filter. The pleated filter can be tapped gently to remove debris and the foam filter can be rinsed under water. The post motor filter can be tapped clean or if it gets too dirty it can be replaced. The vacuum does not have HEPA filtration.

Other vacuum features include a bottom empty dust canister (a little on the small side with a volume of 0.26 gallons), an 8 foot hose, a cleaning path width of 10 inches, a thermal protector (shuts motor off if unit overheats), and swivel steering. The Bissell 1161 weighs a lightweight 9.1 lbs and carries a 2-year warranty. It is also UL listed.

Vacuum Cleaner Manual
The manual, while short, still provides an overview of the 1161 parts and components, assembly information, discussion of basic vacuum features, operating guidelines, maintenance details, and some basic troubleshooting.  You can view the vacuum cleaner manual here if you like.


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About Me


I'm Nigel Russco, a 50 year old professional engineer who loves to review vacuums, and I’ve been doing just that since 2008.  

I strive to write unbiased, intelligent vacuum cleaner reviews and I provide a score for each and every vacuum I investigate.  My goal is to help you find the best vacuum for your cleaning needs.

Also, watch my video reviews on the Vacuum Cleaner Advisor YouTube Channel.