While upright vacuums are designed to primarily excel in cleaning large spaces, they can be versatile tools in any household. They're easy to use, and their distinct, bulky shape generally allows for a bigger dirt compartment, which can be beneficial if you have a big mess to clean. They're also quite good for cleaning up carpet as they can clear most pet hair and debris without too much of a problem. However, upright vacuums can be heavier than stick or canister models, making them a bit less portable and maneuverable, particularly on stairs or on other, more narrow areas.
We've tested over 80 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best upright vacuum cleaners. These picks were selected not only based on their performance but also their design, feature set, and price. For more buying recommendations, take a look at our list of the best vacuums for carpets, the best vacuums for high-pile carpet, and the best vacuums.
The best upright vacuum for bare floors that we've tested is the Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine. This corded upright vacuum does a fantastic job of cleaning bare surfaces, where it easily clears pet hair and debris. It's incredibly well-built, with an aluminum wand, rubber wheels, and a brushroll that can be switched off so it doesn't scratch your floors.
Its performance stays consistent as its dirt compartment fills up, so you don't need to replace the dirtbag too often. It automatically adjusts its head height to suit different surfaces and delivers impressive performance on low and high-pile carpets. It's also an exceptionally easy vacuum to take care of, as there are only a few parts that need to be maintained regularly, and they're all easy to access.
Unfortunately, it incurs high recurring costs since the dirtbag and filters need to be replaced periodically. Also, like most upright vacuums, it's not very portable, so it may not be ideal if you often need to carry your vacuum up or down stairs. Otherwise, if you're looking for an upright vacuum, it's a very well-built and versatile option.
The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is the best upright vacuum cleaner for carpet that we've tested. It has an outstanding performance on low and high-pile carpet, in part thanks to the surface type adjustment feature on the head. It has no problem picking up coarse debris like sand and fine debris like baking soda, while it still does a remarkable job of cleaning bare floors.
Although it's large and corded, it's quite maneuverable thanks to the vacuum ball, and its long cord doesn't make you switch outlets too often. Also, its performance remains consistent as the dirt compartment fills up. It comes with many tools, like a crevice tool, an upholstery cleaner, and a soft-bristle brush, although they can be a bit hard to attach and remove. It has almost no recurring costs as long as the parts are taken care of, thanks to its bagless design and allergen-trapping HEPA filter.
Unfortunately, it has a plasticky build that doesn't feel very sturdy, as the ball is flimsy and the dirt compartment feels like it could break if dropped. Out-of-the-box, there are also lots of parts to assemble, which is difficult since they don't have a clip-in mechanism. However, its incredible performance on all surface types makes it the best vacuum for carpets that we've tested.
The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is the best budget upright vacuum that we've tested. This affordable model is a good option for pet owners since it easily clears pet hair on most surface types, from bare floors to low and high-pile carpets. It's lightweight for an upright vacuum and doesn't feel very heavy in your hand.
You can use it in a semi-handheld mode, which is convenient if for cleaning areas like your car's interior or a staircase. There are a few tools and brushes included, like a crevice tool for getting into tight corners and a soft bristle brush for use on delicate objects like curtains. This vacuum has a good-sized dirt compartment, so you don't need to empty it too often, and it incurs low recurring costs since the only part that needs to be replaced regularly is the pre-motor filter.
Unfortunately, while it has decent overall performance on bare floors, the brushroll can't be switched off, so it sometimes sends debris flying in different directions instead of sucking it up. It's also not very maneuverable, in part because it doesn't have a rotating head. That said, if you're looking for a budget-friendly upright vacuum, it's worth considering.
If you're looking for an upright vacuum that's easier to move around, consider the BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033. This lightweight model isn't as good as the BISSELL PowerForce Helix at cleaning carpets, but it delivers a great performance on bare floors, and it has a handheld configuration that makes it more portable. It's also easier to maintain and, thanks to its bagless design and washable filters, it has almost no recurring costs. However, you need to empty the dirt compartment quite often since it's small, and it struggles to pick up large debris like cereal when it's partly full. The power cord is quite short, and the vacuum comes with fewer tool attachments than the PowerForce.
If you want something with a better suction performance and a larger dirt compartment, go for the PowerForce. If you'd prefer a more portable vacuum with fewer recurring costs, consider the Featherweight.
Apr 09, 2021: Verified picks to ensure that we're still recommending the best products and that they're in stock.
Feb 15, 2021: Added Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright to Notable Mentions. Ensured that all vacuums are still in stock and are the best picks for each category.
Dec 17, 2020: Minor text updates with no changes to product picks.
Nov 26, 2020: Added Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged to Notable Mentions.
Nov 05, 2020: Added the Shark ION P50 Upright to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best upright vacuum cleaners. We don't just base our results on overall performance, but also factors like availability, price, and reader feedback, so it isn't as though there's a single best vacuum cleaner for carpets to suit all needs.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our upright vacuum reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no vacuum is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.