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 90 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. This corded upright has a self-adjusting vacuum head that allows it to adapt to most floor types. It does a fantastic job of sucking up various kinds of debris, ranging from pet hair to fine debris like baking soda, on both low and high-pile carpet. Better still, suction performance remains consistent as its large dirt compartment fills up.
Its bagless design and washable pre-motor and allergen-trapping HEPA filters mean that recurring costs shouldn't be a big concern. You can unlatch its wand from the main body to clean shelves or furniture, and the vacuum itself comes with a very wide assortment of tools and accessories, including a turbo brush, a dedicated pet grooming tool, and a combination soft bristle brush/crevice tool. Its pivoting vacuum head and long power cord make it a little easier to maneuver the vacuum in cramped areas too.
Unfortunately, this vacuum's strong suction force can make it hard to push on some carpets and can even cause it to drag around some rugs. In addition, its all-plastic construction feels quite cheap and flimsy in some areas, which is rather disappointing at this price point. Its various components lack the easy-clip mechanism found in other Dyson vacuums, so it's a little harder to assemble or reconfigure. Still, its exceptionally versatile overall cleaning performance and wide assortment of accessories help make it one of the best bagless vacuums 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 can be maneuvered more easily, take a look at the BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033. This compact corded upright has a harder time of clearing debris on low and high-pile carpet than the BISSELL PowerForce Helix, but it's notably lighter and less bulky, making it easier clean under low-lying furniture like tables or couches. Regular maintenance requirements are also undemanding, and its bagless design and washable, reusable dust cup and pre-motor filter result in a near-total lack of recurring costs. You can also quickly reconfigure it into a handheld vacuum for spot cleaning and use its crevice tool to tackle messes in tight corners. Performance on bare floors is impressive overall, as it clears pet hair and small debris like rice without too much difficulty. Unfortunately, while it has no trouble sucking up bulky debris like cereal with an empty dustbin, it can really struggle to clear this type of material as it fills up.
Get the PowerForce Helix if you want superior performance on carpets, but take a look at the Featherweight Stick if portability and maneuverability are bigger concerns.
Jun 08, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
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.
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.