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The 6 Best Upright Vacuums - Winter 2024 Reviews

Best Upright Vacuums

While upright vacuums are designed to excel primarily 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 carpets 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 less portable and maneuverable, particularly on stairs or narrower areas.

We've tested over 140 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuum with an upright design. These picks were selected based on their performance, design, feature set, and price. For more buying recommendations, look at our lists of the best vacuums for carpets, the best vacuums for high-pile carpet, and the best vacuums.

  1. Best Upright Vacuum

    The best upright vacuum we've tested is the Dyson Ball Animal 3. This bagless upright vacuum has a powerful suction motor and delivers exceptional cleaning performance on different floor types. The top-range Complete variant is only available from Dyson's website and comes with a wide assortment of attachments for handheld use, including a mini turbo brush, a multi-angle brush, and even a dedicated pet grooming tool.

    Its floorhead has three suction gate settings, so you can quickly adapt to everything from high-pile carpet to flat surfaces like hardwood or laminate. The floorhead also features a set of plastic combs that capture long hair, preventing most of it from getting tangled in the mechanism. There's also a brushroll off switch, so you can clean hard floors without worrying about sending large debris scattering everywhere or easily free the vacuum if it gets stuck on thicker carpeting.

    Unfortunately, build quality isn't a strong point, with a mainly plastic body that creaks and flexes slightly while in use. You'll also need to manually roll back its power cord when you're done cleaning, which is a disappointing omission for a vacuum that's this expensive and can be a bit of a hassle since the cord is so long. While the Dyson vacuum's ball-shaped wheel makes it fairly maneuverable for an upright, this is still a bulky and heavy machine, and you might find it a bit of a hassle to grab from a closet and use for smaller cleaning jobs.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Upright Vacuum

    If you're looking for something cheaper and more portable, the Shark Stratos Upright is a great choice. It shares a common design with other Shark vacuums in its 'Lift-Away' design, which lets you detach its canister body from its floorhead and carry it around in one hand while cleaning tight spots with its hose in the other. This makes it a better option for cleaning tight, awkward areas than the larger, bulkier Dyson Ball Animal 3. However, it doesn't perform as well as the Dyson on carpets, and you can't change its brushroll height, so it tends to get stuck on surfaces like shag carpeting more frequently. One of the Shark's more unique selling points is its odor neutralization system, which works through a replaceable cartridge in its floorhead that emits a detergent-like scent as you clean; this can become a tad overwhelming if you use the vacuum regularly.

    While the Shark's attachment set isn't as varied as the Dyson's, it still comes with a miniature turbo brush, an upholstery nozzle, and a crevice tool, which will cover many of your needs. The vacuum's primary brushroll has a set of integrated fins that do a good job of preventing hair from getting wrapped around the roller, similar to the Dyson vacuum's anti-tangle combs. However, unlike the Dyson, the roller isn't removable, so cleaning it is a bit of a hassle.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Upright Vacuum

    The Shark Performance Plus Lift-Away is the best upright vacuum cleaner we've tested at a mid-range price point, available only from Costco and Walmart retailers. It uses the same iteration of the dual-roller DuoClean floorhead design as the Shark Stratos Upright, which is quite effective in preventing hair from getting tangled in the mechanism, as well as the Stratos' odor-neutralizing floorhead-mounted cartridge. Its reconfigurable 'Lift-Away' chassis is also similar in allowing you to pick up and carry the canister unit separately from its floorhead. However, there are slight differences. The Performance Plus only has a power socket at the base of the canister unit, unlike the Stratos, which has the socket at the base of its wand; this means that you can't use the Performance Plus' motorized head when the vacuum is in its Lift-Away configuration like you can with Stratos.

    The Performance Plus has a weaker suction motor than the Strator, though actual debris pickup performance between the two vacuums is very similar, which is very good. It won't have any trouble dealing with debris on bare floors or carpets, and it's a slightly smaller and lighter appliance. Unfortunately, the Performance Plus shares many of the same downsides as the Stratos. While there are two different speed settings for its brushroll, you can't change its floorhead height, and it can get bogged down on shag-pile rugs. The primary brushroll isn't removable either, making it hard to pull out any stuck-on debris or tangled strands of hair. On the upside, you can detach and easily clean the secondary soft roller.

    See our review

  4. Best Lower Mid-Range Upright Vacuum

    The Kenmore Intuition Bagged is the best upright vacuum cleaner we've tested at a lower mid-range price point. It incurs higher ownership costs than bagless alternatives like the Shark Performance Plus Lift-Away since you'll need to occasionally replace its disposable filters and dirtbag. However, it's even cheaper than the Shark, and since it uses dirtbags that seal in debris and has a separate HEPA filter, it offers superb filtration performance. Better yet, you can release its dirtbag from its internal compartment with the press of a latch, so you won't dirty your hands when taking it out.

    While debris pickup performance isn't as impressive as more expensive models like the Dyson Ball Animal 3, the Kenmore still delivers impressive overall performance on carpets and bare floors. It also has a brushroll off switch, preventing it from scattering around larger debris on hard flooring. Additionally, like Shark's series of 'Lift-Away' upright vacuums, you can disconnect its canister unit from its floorhead and carry it around, making it easier to clean hard-to-reach areas with its hose.

    Unfortunately, there's no way of adjusting its floorhead height, so it can easily get bogged down on thick, high-pile carpeting. Its bulky dirtbag compartment also makes cleaning under tables and chairs difficult. Check out the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Turbo if you want something easier to maneuver on thick carpeting. However, the BISSELL feels flimsier, and its bagless design is more demanding in terms of maintenance since you'll need to empty its dustbin and clean its filters regularly.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Upright Vacuum

    Consider the BISSELL PowerForce Helix if you're looking for an upright vacuum at a budget-friendly price. Right off the bat, it's crucial to note that this vacuum feels cheap and toy-like, even when compared to mid-range options like the Kenmore Intuition Bagged, though this isn't much of a surprise given its low price. It also does a terrible job of sealing fine allergens. Still, if all you're after is strong performance on a budget, it's worth a look. It has a floorhead with five levels of height adjustment, enabling you to rapidly adapt to various carpet pile heights, which is a rare feature at this price point. It's also powerful enough to easily lift away debris embedded deep within low and high-pile carpeting.

    Unfortunately, there's no brushroll off switch, so be careful when cleaning around obstructions like rug tassels, which can get wrapped around its brushroll and trapped in its floorhead quite easily. Taking out its brushroll for regular cleaning is also a bit of a hassle since you'll need to remove a few screws to pull it out.

    See our review

  6. Best Cordless Upright Vacuum

    The Shark Vertex Pro Powered Lift-Away is a solid option if you're looking for an upright but don't want to deal with a power cable. Its cordless design allows you to clean far-away areas far more easily than even uprights with a long power cord, like the Dyson Ball Animal 3, which has an operating range of nearly 40 feet. However, this comes at the cost of runtime, as this cordless Shark can only run for a maximum of about 40 minutes when using it in its upright configuration. Worse, you can drain its battery in as little as 10 minutes if you use it continuously in its high-power 'Boost' mode. Of course, it's worth noting that this setting is meant for cleaning small, stubborn messes rather than bigger areas.

    Like many more conventional Shark uprights, it has a 'Lift-Away' mode, which allows you to pick up and carry its canister body separately from its floorhead while cleaning tight spots with its hose. However, the Vertex is even more portable in this configuration compared to its corded peers, thanks to its more compact body. It also delivers exceptional performance on bare floors and does a great job with pet hair and other kinds of solid debris on carpets.

    It's lighter and more maneuverable than most conventional uprights, but its lack of a brushroll off switch and floorhead height adjustment can cause it to get stuck on rug tassels and dense shag-pile carpeting. Despite its advertised "Self-Cleaning" design, the primary brushroll in its twin-roller floorhead also collects a lot of pet hair. Worse yet, it shares a common downside with most other Shark vacuums: its primary roller isn't removable, making it a hassle to clear away any stuck-on debris.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged : Unlike the Kenmore Intuition Bagged, the Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged is a bagged mid-range upright vacuum with five head height adjustment levels. However, it's heavier, less maneuverable, and doesn't perform as well on any surface type. See our review
  • Hoover ONEPWR Evolve Pet: The Hoover ONEPWR Evolve Pet is a relatively compact, lightweight, cordless upright vacuum powered by a removable, rechargeable battery pack. It delivers impressive performance on bare floors and high-pile carpet. Still, it does a terrible job of sealing in fine particles and has a shorter battery life than the Shark Vertex Pro Powered Lift-Away. See our review
  • Dirt Devil Endura Max: The Dirt Devil Endura Max is a budget-friendly bagless upright with a higher-capacity dustbin than the BISSELL PowerForce Helix, but it doesn't perform quite as well on carpets. See our review
  • Shark Rotator Pet Lift-Away ADV: The Shark Rotator Pet Lift-Away ADV is a very good alternative to the Shark Performance Plus Lift-Away. They're very similar in overall design, but the Performance Plus has a more effective floorhead design and an odor-neutralizing cartridge in its floorhead. That said, the ADV does have a slightly bigger dustbin. Untested - Join the discussion

Recent Updates

  1. Mar 01, 2024: Ensured all main picks are still available and represent the best fit for user needs. Added FAQ section to answer user questions.

  2. Feb 09, 2024: Replaced Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV with Shark Performance Plus Lift-Away as 'Best Mid-Range Upright Vacuum' pick. Added Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV to the Notable Mentions.

  3. Jan 12, 2024: Slight in-text adjustments to further clarify product information.

  4. Dec 11, 2023: Removed Shark APEX Upright from Notable Mentions due to current availability.

  5. Nov 10, 2023: Replaced Dirt Devil Endura Max with BISSELL PowerForce Helix as 'Best Budget Upright Vacuum' pick. Added Dirt Devil Endura Max to Notable Mentions.


How do upright vacuum cleaners work?

At their core, upright vacuums function the same as any other vacuum: an electric motor (drawing current from either a wall outlet or a battery) spins a fan that drives air towards an exhaust port and creates a differential in air pressure, thereby generating suction. This flow of air gathers up lightweight dust and dirt, where it then passes into a dirtbag that's porous to air but thick enough to trap debris or through a complex spiraling path that effectively throws debris out of the path of the air and into a dustbin. Upright vacuums are characterized by having this entire system located within a self-contained unit positioned above the floorhead but beneath the vacuum handle. They also differ from vacuums with a simpler pure suction head by having a powerhead with a motorized beater bar/brushroll that knocks loose embedded debris so that this stream of air can collect this debris.

What's good about upright vacuums?

Upright vacuums should be the first type of vacuum you consider if you have a lot of carpeting. While they're generally the bulkiest and heaviest type of household vacuum on the market, their powered floorheads and fairly powerful motors make them a good fit for deep-cleaning sessions.

Can I use an upright vacuum on hardwood floors?

You can, but whether you actually should comes down to a couple of factors. If you use an upright to clean hardwood, make sure it has a brushroll off switch to prevent the beater bar from leaving scratches on your floors. Leaving a brushroll/beater bar running on hard floors can also scatter around larger debris on bare surfaces. Some manufacturers, most prominently Shark, offer uprights with a secondary soft roller (like the Stratos Upright), which is much better than a roller with stiff bristles for collecting fine dust or hair on bare floors.

Are upright vacuums better than canister vacuums?

It isn't really a case of one type of vacuum being better than the other. They simply suit different uses. As stated previously, uprights are ideal for carpet cleaning. Of course, you can buy a powerful canister vacuum with a powerhead, but it's also worth noting that this attachment is quite hard to find on budget-friendly models. In contrast, there are plenty of cheap uprights with 'premium' features, like a height-adjustable head for cleaning multiple carpet lengths.

Meanwhile, canister vacuums are generally easier to use and maneuver since their heavy motor unit is essentially located in a carriage you pull behind you, you only have to hold up a simple handle and wand, which places a lot less strain on your shoulder and arms. Unlike most upright vacuums, you can also easily swap the floorhead on a canister for a simpler, lighter pure suction head better suited to cleaning hard floors.

Should I get an upright or stick vacuum?

It depends on your living situation and needs. A stick vacuum is better suited for a smaller, tighter home or apartment with mostly bare floors. They're smaller and lighter, making them much easier to maneuver in tight spots.

In contrast, an upright vacuum makes more sense for larger homes with plenty of thick carpeting—their motorized floorheads and powerful motors enable them to draw out debris embedded deep within carpet fibers.

All Reviews

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 on 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.