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The 5 Best Upright Vacuums - Winter 2023 Reviews

Best Upright Vacuums

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 other, more narrow areas.

We've tested over 130 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, 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 delivers exceptional overall cleaning performance on many surface types, ranging from bare floor to low and high-pile carpet. Its floorhead has three distinct surface settings, so you can quickly alter its suction force to suit different surface types on the fly. The floorhead also features a set of plastic vanes that are very effective in capturing long hair to prevent it from getting tangled in the mechanism. There's also a brushroll off switch, so you can clean hard surfaces without scattering larger debris around. Unfortunately, while its ball-shaped wheel makes it fairly maneuverable for an upright, it's still quite bulky and heavy, and you might find it a bit of a hassle to set up.

    The vacuum's power cord is very long, so you won't have to swap outlets when cleaning larger areas. You can clean hard-to-reach areas with its hose and wand, though it's important for the vacuum to be positioned upright for suction to be directed that way. It has a pretty wide assortment of attachments, like a dedicated pet grooming tool, a miniature turbo brush for cleaning upholstered surfaces, and a soft-bristle brush for cleaning delicate surfaces. Unfortunately, build quality isn't a strong point, with a mainly plastic body that creaks and flexes slightly while in use.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Upright Vacuum

    The Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV is a very solid option if you're looking for something cheaper than the Dyson Ball Animal 3. It lacks the Dyson vacuum's height-adjustable floorhead and has a less powerful suction motor, resulting in inferior deep-cleaning performance on thicker carpeting or in deep crevices. This bagless upright vacuum still delivers outstanding performance on bare floors and does a very good job on carpet. Unlike the Dyson, it has a 'Lift-Away' design that allows you to pick up and carry its canister body separately from its floorhead, making it much easier to clean on top of shelves and furniture. It has a couple of attachments, like a miniature turbo brush and a hard bristle brush for dealing with stuck-on dirt and debris.

    This vacuum features an adjustable suction control switch and two different surface modes that change the speed of its brushroll, allowing you to adapt to a multitude of surfaces quickly. Unfortunately, while the manufacturer advertises the primary brushroll as being self-cleaning, hair can still get wrapped around it. The primary brushroll also isn't designed to be removed, making it a challenge to pull out any stuck-on debris. Some components feel a little flimsy, like its clear plastic dirt compartment, though it still feels marginally sturdier than the Dyson.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Upright Vacuum

    Check out the Kenmore Intuition Bagged if you're shopping for an upright vacuum at a mid-range price point. It incurs higher ownership costs than bagless alternatives like the Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV since you'll need to replace its disposable filters and dirtbag now and then. However, it's cheaper than either, and since it uses dirtbags that seal in fine particles as well as a 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 don't need to dirty your hands. While debris pickup performance falls short of pricier, more powerful uprights like the Dyson Ball Animal 3, the Kenmore still delivers impressive overall performance on carpets and bare floors, though it does struggle slightly with pet hair on the latter.

    Similar to Shark's lineup of 'Lift-Away' upright vacuums, you can disconnect its canister from its floorhead and carry it around, making it easier to clean hard-to-reach areas with its wand. It also has a brushroll off switch, so you can stop its rotation when it gets tangled in something. Unfortunately, it lacks a brushroll height adjustment feature, so it can sometimes have trouble climbing over low-lying obstructions. Its bulky design can also make it tricky to clean under tables and chairs. Looking for something more maneuverable on carpet? The BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Turbo is a solid option, though it's demanding in terms of maintenance and feels flimsy.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Upright Vacuum

    If you're looking for an upright vacuum at a budget-friendly price, consider the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. This vacuum doesn't feel as robust as pricier models like the Kenmore Intuition Bagged and does a terrible job of sealing fine allergens. Still, if it's raw performance you're after, it offers a lot of bang for the buck, with excellent debris pickup on carpeted surfaces. Its five-level brushroll height adjustment feature is rare for a vacuum at this price point and allows you to adapt to a variety of different floor types if you're having trouble pushing it around on uneven surfaces, though there's no brushroll off switch, so be careful when cleaning around obstructions like rug tassels, which can get caught in its floorhead quite easily.

    This vacuum's mainly plastic construction makes it very lightweight for a vacuum of this type, though this does come at the cost of durability, as its plastic body creaks and flexes while in use. Thankfully, it's easy to maintain, but be aware that you'll need to remove a few screws to pull out its brushroll, so it's a bit of a nuisance to clear away any tangled hair. Looking for a budget-friendly upright with a larger dustbin? The Dirt Devil Endura Max is a worthy option, though it doesn't perform as well on carpeted floors.

    See our review

  5. 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 the hassle of a power cord. Its cordless design allows you to clean areas far from any power outlets, even compared to premium corded models like the Dyson Ball Animal 3, which has a long operating range of nearly 40 feet. However, this comes at the cost of runtime, as the 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, so it's better suited to cleaning smaller areas. This vacuum effectively replaces the discontinued Shark ION P50 Upright, and like it and many other more conventional Shark uprights, its 'Lift-Away' alternative configuration allows you to pick up and carry its canister body separately from its floorhead to clean tight spots.

    This vacuum delivers exceptional performance on bare floors and does a great job dealing with pet hair and other kinds of solid debris on carpets. It's lighter and more maneuverable than most conventional uprights, though its lack of a brushroll off switch can cause it to get stuck on rug tassels and shag-pile carpeting. Its primary brushroll isn't designed to be taken out and tends to attract a lot of pet hair, despite its advertised "Self-Cleaning" design, making it quite hard to remove any stuck-on debris.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Dyson Ball Animal 2: The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is a corded bagless upright vacuum that clears a remarkable amount of debris on carpeted floors. However, its strong suction force can make it very difficult to maneuver on this surface type and even cause it to drag around some rugs. The newer Dyson Ball Animal 3 uses a different floorhead design, making it a little easier to maneuver on carpets. See our review
  • Shark APEX Upright: The Shark APEX Upright is similar in design to the Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV and has a slightly bigger dirt compartment. However, its increase in performance is negligible and does little to justify its higher price. See our review
  • Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged : The Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged is a bagged mid-range upright vacuum that offers five levels of head height adjustment, unlike the Kenmore Intuition Bagged. However, it's heavier, less maneuverable, and doesn't perform quite 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 but does a terrible job of sealing in fine particles and has a shorter battery life than pricier models like the Shark Vertex Pro Powered Lift-Away. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jan 11, 2023: Verified that all main picks still represent the best fit for user needs.

  2. Dec 14, 2022: Verified that all main picks are still available and represent the best fit for user needs.

  3. Nov 02, 2022: Ensured all main picks represent the best option for user needs.

  4. Aug 04, 2022: Replaced Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV with Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra as 'Best Upright Vacuum' pick. Recategorized Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV as 'Best Upper Mid-Range Upright Vacuum' pick. Recategorized Kenmore Intuition Bagged as 'Best Mid-Range Upright Vacuum'. Replaced Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged with BISSELL PowerForce Helix as 'Best Budget Upright Vacuum' pick. Moved Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged and Shark APEX Upright Vacuum to Notable Mentions.

  5. Jun 15, 2022: Article restructuring to better align with user expectations. Recategorized Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV as 'Best Upright Vacuum'. Recategorized Kenmore Intuition Bagged as 'Best Bagged Upright Vacuum'. Replaced Eureka FloorRover Elite NEU360 with Shark APEX Upright Vacuum as 'Best Upright Vacuum For Pet Hair' pick. Added BISSELL PowerForce Helix and Hoover ONEPWR Evolve Pet to Notable Mentions.

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 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.