Photo: Amanda Lauren
A quality vacuum cleaner keeps your house clean by removing dirt and debris from floors, furniture, and stairs.
The large tilt-and-push design of an upright vacuum is perhaps one of the most traditional types of vacuums, useful for a variety of surfaces including carpet and hardwood floors. Despite their typically larger silhouette, most upright vacuums are relatively lightweight, easy to move around, and easy to store because they stand up on their own. The best upright vacuums even come with features including powerful suction and an array of cleaning accessories.
We tested some of the top models to see how well they picked up everyday messes. Keep reading for advice for choosing from among the best upright vacuums, and see how the following models performed in our hands-on testing.
- BEST OVERALL: Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away Upright Vacuum
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Eureka PowerSpeed Upright Vacuum Cleaner
- UPGRADE PICK: Dyson Ball Animal 3 Complete
- BEST CORDLESS: Hoover Onepwr Evolve Pet Cordless Vacuum
- BEST FOR PET HAIR: Bissell Cleanview Swivel Pet Plus Vacuum Cleaner
- BEST BAGGED: Oreck Commercial XL Upright Vacuum
- BEST WITH SWIVEL HEAD: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Upright Vacuum NV356E S2
How We Tested the Best Upright Vacuums
We unboxed and assembled each vacuum and put it through a series of tests sucking up several types of messes on hard flooring including oatmeal, which simulates fine dust, and dog kibble. We also vacuumed up pet hair from hard flooring as well as the hair deeply embedded in carpeting and area rugs.
During our tests, we noted how well each model picked everything up, its maneuverability, and how it worked in corners, tight spaces, and around moldings. If the vacuum came with accessories, we tested those as well.
Finally, we emptied the canisters of the bagless models and noted how easy or difficult this was to do.
Our Top Picks
Upright vacuums come in many different styles including corded, cordless, bagged, and bagless. While they each have their own features and conveniences, these are some of the best upright vacuums in a variety of categories.
This powerful but lightweight corded vacuum packs maneuverability and allergy protection into one package. It weighs 15.5 pounds, has a 1.3-quart dust cup capacity, and comes with a hand vacuum for cleaning stairs and areas above the floor. This vacuum cleaner also has a HEPA filter and anti-allergen seal technology that traps in dust and allergens. The enhanced swivel steering makes it easier to vacuum hard-to-reach places and navigate around furniture or other obstacles. This vacuum comes with useful cleaning accessories, including a dusting brush, 12-inch crevice tool, upholstery tool, and a wand for overhead cleaning. It has a 25-foot electrical cord and an 8.4-foot hose, so it can cover a lot of floor space before users have to unplug and move it.
We really liked this vacuum. The suction picked up dog kibble and oatmeal with ease off both hard flooring and carpeting. The LED lights proved helpful for seeing even the smallest specs of dirt, dust, and dog hair. In addition to being a great option for the average home, it should also be considered for dirtier homes with dogs and cats.
The only problem we had was that this vacuum didn’t operate optimally in tighter spaces like moldings and corners. Still, the powerful suction more than makes up for this, and the crevice tool or wand can always be used in these spaces.
- Corded: Yes
- Bagless: Yes
- Weight: 15.5 pounds
- Easy to empty compared to similar options available
- The lift-away detachable pod is ideal for cleaning furniture and upholstery
- Versatile; XL-capacity dirt cup, HEPA filter, and LED headlights integrated
- Could use more accessoires; not as many attachments as some other options
Get the Shark Rotator upright vacuum at The Home Depot or Kohl’s.
With a dynamic motor, brush roll, and 12.6-inch-wide nozzle, this powerful vacuum can lift away dirt and debris in a wide area thanks to its 25-foot cord and 7-foot hose. It weighs only 10 pounds and is easy to maneuver around the house.
The extra-large dust cup can hold up to 4.1 liters of dirt and debris before needing to be emptied, and the filter is washable. The vacuum features a quick-release handle for cleaning surfaces higher than floors and comes with three cleaning accessories, including a 7-inch crevice tool, upholstery tool, and dusting brush, which are conveniently stored within the vacuum. This vacuum can remove pet hair, clean the car, freshen up curtains, and more.
Whether shoppers need to pick up tiny bits of dirt or larger messes, the Eureka PowerSpeed Upright Vacuum Cleaner gets the job done at an excellent price. Lightweight yet powerful, it’s one of the few lower-priced vacuums with good suction. This model cleans just as well as more expensive models do, making it a smart choice for anyone who wants a reliable brand at a great price.
With five height adjustments to accommodate surfaces ranging from high-pile carpets to hardwoods, it can be used on virtually any surface.
Just keep in mind that while we liked the suction of this product, the low price means it may not last as long as more expensive models. However, the manufacturer does offer a 1-year limited warranty.
- Corded: Yes
- Bagless: Yes
- Weight: 10 pounds
- Reputable brand; should provide long-term effective use
- Lots of setting options and tools included for multiple cleaning tasks
- Lightweight construction should be easy to maneuver and carry up stairs if needed
- Settings don’t change automatically
- The plastic feels a little bit cheap; may not hild up under averse conditions
Get the Eureka upright vacuum on Amazon.
With a bevy of accessories, powerful suction, and maneuverability, the Dyson Ball Animal 3 Complete is worth the money, especially for pet owners. With extremely powerful suction, this model quickly sucked up fine debris like oatmeal, larger pieces of dog kibble, and pet hair from hardwoods, tile, carpeting, and area rugs.
Another thing that sets this vacuum apart is the astounding number of accessories that it comes with, including an underreach tool, tangle-free turbine tool, multi-angle brush tool, a pet groom tool (to remove loose hair from animals), a combination tool, an articulating hard floor tool, a carbon fiber dusting brush, a stair tool, and a mattress tool. There’s even a custom bag so users can comfortably switch accessories as they clean.
The only thing we didn’t like about this vacuum is that at 17.3 pounds, it’s a bit heavy. It’s also worth noting that while the ball mechanism makes the Dyson extra maneuverable, it also makes it challenging to vacuum under low furniture. Still, the underreach tool more than makes up for this.
- Corded: Yes
- Bagless: Yes
- Weight: 17.3 pounds
- Great for all surfaces for complete versatility; hardwoods, tile, carpeting, and area rugs
- 1-touch empty function provides ease of use between cleanings
- Easy to assemble and use right our of the box
- A bit loud compared to other options on this list
Get the Dyson upright vacuum on Dyson or Best Buy.
The problem with many cordless vacuums is that they aren’t powerful, but the Hoover Onepwr Evolve Pet Cordless is. The motor is strong enough to lift small debris as well as larger pieces. This vacuum is great on all types of flooring, including hardwood and carpeting. We especially like that the brush roll can turn off with the touch of a button near the handle, making it useful for homes with delicate area rugs.
Weighing just 6.6 pounds, this vacuum is one of the lightest on the market and a pleasure to use. It’s easy to maneuver, even under furniture. Short on storage space? The slim profile makes it a great alternative to a stick model.
The only thing we didn’t like about this vacuum is that it lacks accessories, which is surprising for a product designed for homes with pets.
- Corded: No
- Bagless: Yes
- Weight: 6.6 pounds
- Comes with a rechargeable battery that works on any Hoover Onepwr product
- Antimicrobial brush roll and pet filter removes fine dander and hair
- Large dirt cup holds ample amounts of debris for large-scale cleaning
- No accessories included with purchase
Get the Hoover upright vacuum on The Home Depot or Best Buy.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced vacuum engineered for homes with pets and one that has swivel steering, opt for the Bissell Cleanview Pet Vacuum Cleaner. It features both an edge-to-edge brush roll that removes deeply embedded hair as well as scatter-free technology, which enables it to suck up hair from hardwood floors instead of blowing it around.
This model also has specialized tools for targeting pet hair, including a pet hair corner tool that gets animal hair from the corners of floors and sofas. There’s also a Pet TurboEraser tool that pulls hair from high-pile carpet.
The Bissell Cleanview Swivel Pet Vacuum Cleaner also has a multi-cyclonic suction system for extended performance and a multilevel filtration system to trap dust and debris. Weighing 15 pounds, it has a 27-foot cord and a 6-foot hose length.
Perfect for hard flooring, this vacuum picks up both small and large debris easily. It is also great at removing pet hair and other very small debris from corners, moldings, and crevices.
Just keep in mind that it didn’t rate highly on carpeting; therefore, if you have a lot of carpets in your home, another model would be a better choice.
- Corded: Yes
- Bagless: Yes
- Weight: 15 pounds
- Has a large 1-liter dirt canister for large or frequent cleaning jobs
- Simple to operate; comes with power steering and multiple cleaning attachments
- Feels lightweight; can be carried up stairs if required
- Runs loud; may be annoying for others in the home
Get the Bissell upright vacuum on Amazon.
The Oreck Commercial XL corded vacuum cleaner comes with extra-large bags that can hold a lot of dirt, reducing the number of trips to the trash bin. The vacuum lies flat, making it easier to clean underneath furniture, and comes with bumpers to prevent scratches on walls.
The 35-foot-long cord allows users to move throughout the house without needing to unplug the vacuum cleaner. This vacuum is suitable for use on a variety of surfaces and has a microsweep feature, so cleaners can switch between floor types without adjustments. It weighs just 9 pounds, making it easy to maneuver.
Easy to assemble and simple to use, this commercial bagged upright vacuum gets the job done quite effectively with a powerful motor. It worked well on hard floors, carpeting, and area rugs, picking up large and small debris just as effectively as more expensive models. It performed fairly well in corners and other tight spaces.
The only issue to note is that this model doesn’t have a hose or accessories. So if a home contains pets or users need to clean upholstery or hard-to-reach surfaces, it’s best to go with something else.
- Corded: Yes
- Bagless: No
- Weight: 9 pounds
- Reliable brand; should provide long-term use and durability
- Lightweight construction is easy to maneuver and can be carried upstairs if required
- Long cord makes it great for larger spaces
- Could use more accessories; cannot be used on furniture or upholstery
Get the Oreck upright vacuum on Amazon or Oreck.
The Shark Navigator Lift-Away is a powerful corded vacuum with advanced swivel steering that makes it easier to clean around furniture. Use this vacuum to deep clean carpets, or switch to hard-floor mode for multisurface cleaning. The lift-away function is designed for cleaning furniture and stairs, and the 5-foot hose helps users reach overhead areas. This vacuum cleaner comes with an extra-large dust cup and sealed filtration system that captures nearly all dust and allergens. Cleaning accessories include a pet power brush and crevice tool, both of which are conveniently stored on board the vacuum. The vacuum weighs 13.7 pounds and has a 30-foot cord, so homeowners won’t have to map out electrical outlets before they clean the house.
The suction on this vacuum is astounding, picking up so much deeply embedded dog hair in carpeting that we were almost horrified. It was a truly deep clean that we had not experienced with other models.
Another thing we liked about this vacuum is that it can be assembled in just a few minutes, without needing to consult the manual. While it could use more accessories, it’s the perfect choice for spaces that are challenging to keep clean.
- Corded: Yes
- Bagless: Yes
- Weight: 13.7 pounds
- Anti-allergen complete seal technology filters dander and other irritants
- HEPA filter integrated for trapping dust, particles, mites, and more
- Lift-away feature provides effective and user-friendly cleaning
- Somewhat harder to maneuver on carpeting
Get the Shark Navigator upright vacuum on Amazon or at Kohl’s.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Upright Vacuum
Whether it’s design and function or your individual cleaning needs, here are some important features and benefits to look for when choosing the best upright vacuum.
Types of Upright Vacuums
Upright vacuums come with or without bags, and there are pros and cons to each type. Here are the main differences between bagged and bagless upright vacuums.
Bagged vacuums are powerful and provide great suction, but the bags must be replaced periodically. If you vacuum frequently or have a large home, look for a vacuum with a large bag so you won’t need to replace it after each use.
Bagless vacuums eliminate the need for buying and replacing vacuum bags. However, emptying the canister can create a mess as dust and particles can get into the air. After prolonged use, tiny particles can also get trapped inside the vacuum and diminish the vacuum’s performance.
The size of your home may determine the best upright vacuum for you. Vacuums with large bags are good for vacuuming large homes because you don’t need to replace the bags as often. A cordless vacuum or a vacuum with a long cord is also a good choice for a large house because you won’t need to constantly unplug it as you move throughout your home.
Corded vs. Cordless
Vacuums are available with or without cords. Corded vacuums are less portable than cordless models, but they are usually more powerful and have higher amperage ratings. When choosing a corded vacuum, consider finding a model with long cords that let you cover more floor space without moving the plug. Retractable cords offer additional convenience and a tidy storage solution because the cord winds into the vacuum with the press of a button.
Cordless vacuums allow you to move freely throughout the house without worrying about where the nearest outlet is. Cordless vacuums with high amperage are usually more powerful and can operate longer before needing to be recharged. Most cordless vacuums use one of the following types of batteries: lead acid, nickel cadmium (NiCd), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH), or lithium-ion/lithium-ion polymer. Rechargeable batteries have a lifespan, meaning they can only withstand a set number of charging cycles. This varies by battery type and ranges from 500 to 1,000 cycles. Cordless vacuums usually run for 15 to 40 minutes before requiring a recharge.
The motor is the central component of a vacuum cleaner. It creates airflow by connecting to a fan that sends air through the vacuum’s bag or filtration system and out the exhaust port. The motor strength, combined with other factors such as watts, amps, and voltage, determines the vacuum’s performance and suction power.
Airflow and Filtration
Airflow, measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm), determines the vacuum’s cleaning ability. Vacuums with higher airflow can pick up more dirt and dust. Airflow takes into consideration the motor’s power along with the resistance of the bag and filter system.
Upright vacuums come with filters to prevent dust and other allergens from getting into the air. While regular filters are fine for most people, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are designed to remove nearly 100 percent of airborne particles and can be useful for those who suffer from severe allergies or asthma. Vacuums with normal filters may have higher airflow ratings because they do not have as much resistance as those with HEPA filters. Some filters are reusable and washable, but they can still clog up over time, meaning they eventually will need to be replaced.
When shopping for a vacuum, look for one that is easy to move around, especially if you need to carry it up- and downstairs. Factors that affect maneuverability include weight, handle, wheels, and swivel head. The average weight of an upright vacuum is between 13 and 18 pounds, but some lightweight models can weigh as little as 8 pounds. Vacuums with swivel heads are easiest to maneuver around furniture and other obstacles. Some also come with adjustable height options, so users can raise or lower the head of the vacuum to accommodate different floor surfaces. Vacuums with smooth wheels prevent scratches when vacuuming hardwood floors.
The noise level of a vacuum cleaner is measured in decibels (dB). All vacuums generate noise, but some are quieter than others. If shoppers are looking for a quiet vacuum cleaner, they should stick to vacuums quieter than 80 dB.
Bag capacity measures how much dirt and debris a vacuum cleaner can hold before the bag needs to be replaced. Vacuums with larger bag capacity offer better airflow, which means better cleaning. Vacuums with smaller bag capacity need to be replaced more frequently.
Some upright vacuums come with accessories for more specific cleaning needs. These include tools and attachments such as brushes that specialize in picking up pet hair and cleaning under couch cushions. Keep this in mind when choosing the best vacuum for your household.
Here is some more information to help you choose the best upright vacuum cleaner for you.
Q. How does an upright vacuum work?
Upright vacuums contain a motor that creates airflow and a rotating brush that lifts dirt off the floor. The air flows from the cleaning head (or tool) through the vacuum cleaner into the bag (or filtration system) and out the exhaust port. The suction created by this airflow sucks up dirt and debris.
Q. Do you need a vacuum with HEPA filters?
While regular filters are fine for most people, HEPA filters, which are designed to remove 99.97 percent or more of airborne particles of 0.3 micron in diameter, can be useful for those who suffer from severe allergies or asthma.
Q. Are cordless upright vacuums less powerful?
Cordless upright vacuums tend to be less powerful than their corded counterparts. But, as cordless vacuums are easier to maneuver, they can be a good choice for vacuuming stairs, drapes, or other places that can be hard to reach with a corded vacuum.
Q. How long do upright vacuum cleaners last?
Upright vacuum cleaners can last for about 8 years, but the lifespan varies based on brand, model, and usage. You can extend the longevity of your vacuum by emptying the bag when it’s full and regularly replacing the filter.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.