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 115 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.
The best vacuum with an upright design we've tested is the Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV. This bagless upright vacuum delivers outstanding performance on bare floors and does a very good job dealing with debris on low and high-pile carpet. Like most Shark upright vacuums, 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. It 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 quite quickly.
This vacuum's twin brushroll floorhead helps it clear away debris in shallow cracks and crevices. Unfortunately, while the primary brushroll is advertised as self-cleaning, it isn't designed to be removed, making it much harder to cut away any tangled hair. It also has quite a few parts that need regular cleaning, but thankfully, they're easy to access for the most part. Some components feel a little flimsy, like its clear plastic dirt compartment.
If you're looking for an upright vacuum to deal with pet hair, the Shark APEX Upright Vacuum is an excellent choice. This bagless vacuum is the flagship of Shark's lineup of corded uprights and differs from other models with a larger dustbin and a longer hose. It delivers exceptional pet hair-cleaning performance on surfaces like hardwood or tile as well as low and high-pile carpets. Like many other Shark vacuums, it has a 'DuoClean' floorhead with two brushrolls. The manufacturer advertises the primary brushroll to be tangle-resistant. However, it still tends to collect a fair amount of hair and isn't designed to be removable, making it significantly harder to cut away any stuck hair. Thankfully, its secondary soft-roller, designed for improved debris pickup on bare floors, can be pulled out and cleaned pretty easily.
This vacuum's allergen-sealed construction and onboard HEPA filter help limit the spread of fine allergens like pet dander as you clean. If you need to clean any hard-to-reach areas, its 'Lift-Away' design allows you to pick up and carry its canister body separately from its floorhead. Its swiveling floorhead helps make it decently easy to maneuver in tight spaces, though its large dirt compartment makes it hard to clean under tables and chairs.
If you prioritize the cleaner means of dirt disposal that come with a bagged vacuum, consider the Kenmore Intuition Bagged. It incurs higher costs of ownership than bagless alternatives like the Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV due to the disposable nature of its filters and dirtbag. However, its dirtbag also seals in fine particles and can be released from its compartment with the press of a latch, meaning that you don't need to worry about releasing a plume of dust and debris when emptying it. This vacuum delivers impressive overall performance on low and high-pile carpets and does a superb job of cleaning bare floors, though it does struggle slightly with pet hair on this kind of surface.
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 pivoting floorhead, so you can maneuver around obstacles when used as an upright with less difficulty. 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.
If you're looking for an upright vacuum at a budget-friendly price, consider the Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged. Unusually for a vacuum at this price point, this vacuum uses dirtbags that the manufacturer advertises to offer HEPA-level filtration, so you shouldn't worry too much about fine particles spreading around as you clean. The vacuum's simple design also makes swapping in a new dirtbag easy, and you can remove its brushroll from its floorhead to clear away any tangled hair. It does an excellent job cleaning debris on bare floors and delivers good overall performance in low and high-pile carpet, thanks to its five-level surface adjustment feature. You can also clean hard-to-reach areas by cleaning with its hose and range of attachments, including a miniature turbo brush and a soft-bristle dusting brush.
Unfortunately, since you'll need to replace its dirtbag periodically, recurring costs can add up. If you don't want to deal with the hassle of swapping out dirtbags, the Eureka FloorRover Elite NEU630 is a great alternative that delivers strong performance. It feels notably less sturdy than the Hoover, with a plastic chassis that flexes and creaks while in use and a fragile brushroll mechanism. The Eureka also lacks any floorhead height adjustment for cleaning uneven surfaces.
The Shark Cordless 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. It's very similar to the now-discontinued Shark ION P50 Upright in design, with a 'Lift-Away' alternative configuration that allows you to pick up and carry its canister body separately from its floorhead. 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 also isn't removable and tends to attract a lot of pet hair, despite its advertised "Self-Cleaning" design, making it quite hard to clean properly.
This vacuum delivers exceptional performance on bare floors and does a great job dealing with pet hair and various other kinds of solid debris on low and high-pile carpets, with minimal loss in suction performance as its dustbin fills. Battery performance is decent overall, as you can expect a maximum of 40 minutes of runtime when using it in its upright configuration, though you can drain its battery in as little as 10 minutes if you use it continuously in its high-power 'Boost' mode.
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.
May 12, 2022: Verified that all main picks still represent the best option for user needs and expectations. Added Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away to Notable Mentions.
Apr 13, 2022: Substantial article restructuring to align with test bench update. Recategorized Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV as 'Best Corded Upright Vacuum' pick. Recategorized Eureka FloorRover Elite NEU360 as new 'Best Upright Vacuum For Pet Hair' pick. Added Shark Cordless Vertex Pro Powered Lift-Away as new 'Best Cordless Upright Vacuum' pick. Removed Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright from recommendations. Added Shark APEX Upright Vacuum to Notable Mentions.
Mar 10, 2022: Ensured all main picks are still available and represent the best option for user needs and expectations.
Feb 10, 2022: Swapped BISSELL PowerForce Helix with Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged as 'Best Budget Upright Vacuum' pick; re-categorized BISSELL PowerForce Helix as new 'Cheaper Alternative' pick.
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.