Upright vacuum cleaners are a favorite in most homes, thanks to their versatility achieved by splitting the power and reach of a canister vacuum with the portability and attachments of a handheld machine. Because of this, the upright vacuum market is often inundated with various alterations and knockoffs of several distinct styles. Likewise, quality can be a major concern with upright vacuums, as many consumers report burning through their uprights yearly or even more frequently.
Coming in both bagged and bagless variants, the highest-reviewed upright vacuum cleaners focus on ease of use and functionality while remaining light enough to be carried across multi-room and multi-story homes. Many of these upright vacuums also feature adjustments for heights to guide across different pile heights of carpets as well as the ability to turn off the brush roll and remain gentle on hardwood flooring. Since most modern homes feature a variety of hardwood and carpeted flooring, that adjustability is key.
This article breaks down the pros and cons of this popular vacuum type and profiles five vacuums we feel are up to the task of cleaning any home flooring.
Now that we’ve covered the basic perks of the upright vacuum, let’s take a closer look at our recommended models for 2018:
Although their products are often several hundred dollars below their Dyson counterparts, Shark has quickly earned a reputation of quality through their versatile and lightweight vacuums. Their upright Navigator Lift-Away Professional is no exception.
At under 14 pounds, this is the lightest upright vacuum on our list. In addition, the Lift-Away technology allows users to leave the brush roll behind and carry the vacuum by the handle so that any one of the many attachments can be deployed to gain easier access to those hard to reach areas. Speaking of hard to reach areas—the Navigator Lift-Away utilizes several attachments; such as the pet power brush, dusting brush, and crevice tool. The real star of the show is the Hard Floor Hero attachment, which cleans hardwood surfaces in a single swipe.
The Navigator Lift-Away cleans all types of surfaces, and with brush roll control at the push of a button, moving straight from carpet to hardwood is a breeze. While the brush roll can’t be adjusted for height, it will turn itself off in case of a jam and doesn’t struggle much with any type of carpet.
Unfortunately, upright vacuums are dependent upon their weight to support the pulling and tugging found when using many of the attachments. If you’re not taking advantage of the Lift-Away technology, you may find yourself struggling to keep this vacuum upright. You also won’t be cleaning under furniture anytime soon, as the clearance on this vacuum is usually far too high to make it under a couch or bed frame. Still, we found that HEPA filtration is very effective, and despite recommending periodic cleaning of the filter, Shark promises that this feature will last for the lifespan of the vacuum.
TheShark Navigator Lift-Away NV360 is not as flashy as the Dyson, nor it is as affordable as the Bissell 9595A CleanView. The included attachments and portability, however, make this vacuum the go-to machine for anyone who needs to clean practically any surface.
25ft cord | Bagless | Foam filters | 15 lbs | ✓Brushroll | ✓Hose
Boasting the lowest cost on our list by a considerable margin, Bissell’s CleanView 9595A sets aim at the budget vacuum market and sets a new standard. When compared to its more expensive brethren, however, small quirks like the always-spinning brush roll and lackluster filtration stand out.
- Several useful attachments
- Lackluster suction
- Brush roll cannot be turned off
- Poor filtration
- OnePass Technology
- Cyclonic system for powerful suction
- Attachments: Extension wand, TurboBrush tool, dusting brush, crevice tool
- Warranty: 2-year Limited
Bissell offers several upright vacuums that are lauded for powerful performance at a reasonable cost, but the 9595A CleanView may take the cake on cost. It is the most affordable vacuum on this list by a considerable margin, and despite the implication that may have, the reviews don’t reflect this.
The Bissell CleanView 9595A performs admirably on pet hair, high-pile carpets, and low-pile carpets. The suction power promised by the Cyclonic system is very much present in this versatile and lightweight machine. The 2-year limited warranty was admirably comprehensive—especially considering the cost.
That all being said, there are a few issues with the 9595A CleanView that even the most ardent of savers will need to understand. For instance, there is no way to turn off the brush roller, so cleaning in homes filled with hardwood flooring will pose a bit of an issue. Likewise, the simple foam filter does an alright enough job of picking up smaller particles, but even light or bi-weekly cleaning will clog the foam up quickly and cut down on suction power. These issues may not be deal breakers for those with primarily carpeted flooring or those willing to keep on top of the filters, but that level of maintenance may incite some to seek out a slightly more expensive model with fewer quirks.
At the budget level, however, there’s honestly not much better than the 9595A ClearView. The four included attachments make cleaning debris in even those hard to reach areas, and provided you keep on top of maintenance; this machine will far outlast anything else near this price point.
35ft cord | Bagless | HEPA | 17.35 lbs | ✓Brushroll | ✓Hose
Perfect for carpeted flooring and pets, the Dyson Ball Animal 2 is a product that draws allure and ire alike. Suction power and simplicity of use remain the Animal 2’s strong suit, but the lack of adjustability for such a high price can make this vacuum a hard sell for many.
- Excellent suction power
- Great for pet hair
- Excellent warranty
- Limited adjustability
- Struggles on high-pile carpet
- Self-adjusting cleaner head
- Whole-machine HEPA filtration
- Instant release wand
- Attachments: stair tool, combination tool, tangle-free turbine tool
- Warranty: 5-year Limited
Dyson has a love-it-or-hate-it reputation amongst most for its boisterous claims and showy aesthetics. Regardless, there is no denying the power behind the Dyson Ball Animal 2.
Dyson touts their Animal 2 as the most powerful upright vacuum, and while that validity may be called into question, it can certainly make that claim against all other vacuums on this list. That being said, suction power is the only part that makes an upright vacuum great, and when you remove such a claim from this Dyson vacuum, the leftover features seem less amazing.
The self-adjusting cleaner head is said to make switching between hardwood and carpet as simple as rolling from one to the other. While you’ll still need to turn the brush roll on and off, we found that this adjustment tends to suffer from shag carpets and other high-pile home rugs.
When used on low-pile carpets or against pet hair, the Animal 2 finds itself in its natural habitat. A well-made brush roll combined with the suction power means that pet hair stands little chance against either the main vacuum or the tangle-free turbine tool, which is great for upholstery. The instant release wand and hose is another good feature, but the hose can only offer a limited reach.
Still, whole-machine HEPA filtration can be a lifesaver for those who suffer from severe allergies, and Dyson’s 5-year limited warranty can cover nearly any issue you may have with the Animal 2. You may struggle to adjust to the quirks of the adjusting cleaner head or the lack of attachment storage on the unit itself, but despite these detractors this Dyson model can clean exceedingly well.
25ft cord | Bagless | HEPA | 16.1 lbs | ✓Brushroll | ✓Hose | ✓Retractable Cord
Affordably priced and featuring precise height adjustment, the Hoover WindTunnel 2 UH71250 is simple to use and even retracts its own cord. Pet owners and carpet owners will rejoice at the features, but others may feel left out by the lack of hardwood compatibility.
- Great for pet hair
- Excellent adjustability
- Brush roll cannot be turned off
- Fragile belt
- Struggles on hardwood
- WindTunnel 2 technology
- HEPA filtration
- Attachments: Pet turbo tool, pet upholstery tool, crevice tool
- Warranty: 2-year Limited
Hoover makes a variety of vacuums at many price points, but the WindTunnel 2 UH71250 seems to take direct aim at the Bissell 9595A and similar budget vacuums. Choosing to focus on pet owners, Hoover’s WindTunnel 2 has a variety of attachments aimed to pull hair off on just about any surface.
The choice of focus is particularly apt for the Hoover WindTunnel 2, which may be the best overall product for pet owners in this category. The pet upholstery tool picks up the smallest kitten hair up to the longest dog hair, and the pet turbo tool is one of the best stair tools around. The focus on pet owners had to come at the expense of some things, however, and when it comes to the WindTunnel 2, that sacrifice came at the strength of the brush roll and the difficulty in picking up small particles.
Like the Bissell 9595A, the WindTunnel 2 cannot turn off its brush roll. The adjustability is perfect for a carpet of any pile, but on hardwood floors, this vacuum struggles to compete. The brush roll can also clog up from excessive pet hair, and since the unit doesn’t automatically cut the brush roll off, belt problems can be an issue.
HEPA filtration on this model is good and keeps particles from re-entering the room via exhaust ventilation. The hose isn’t as long as some of our other upright vacuum choices, but a retractable cord is a big selling point for many. Using the WindTunnel 2 is a breeze, and the high-capacity bin also means fewer trips to the trash can while cleaning the home. Those with hardwood may not be a fan of the brush roll, but the feature set and price point make the Hoover WindTunnel 2 our top recommendation for pet owners.
29ft cord| Bagged | HEPA | 20.2 lbs | ✓Brushroll | ✓Hose
This bagged Hoover model features some of the best HEPA filtration and furthest reach out of our top upright vacuums—and even propels itself. Provided you don’t mind the weight and size, this vacuum is perfect for allergy sufferers and anyone looking for a bagged upright vacuum.
- Excellent HEPA filtration
- Long hose and far reach
- Heavy & bulky
- Limited adjustability
- High clearance when cleaning under furniture
- WindTunnel technology
- Embedded DirtFinder
- Attachments: 2 extension wands, crevice tool, upholstery, dusting brush, air-powered hand tool
- Warranty: 3-year Limited
While we’ve made little mention of it thus far, bagged upright vacuums aren’t a thing of the past just yet. In fact, there are a growing number of homeowners who prefer bagged vacuums for effortless and sanitary debris disposal and lower filter maintenance cost. If bagged vacuums are your preference, then this highly-reviewed option from Hoover might be your best option in the upright category.
The Hoover Anniversary WindTunnel, not to be confused with the bagless variant on our list, is a bagged vacuum that features HEPA filtration and a closed bag system to help minimize allergens in the air. Any bagged vacuum will be heavier and larger on average than comparable bagless models, but the Hoover Anniversary offers something that even the bagless vacuums on our list can’t reach.
Coming with 2 connectable extension wands and a myriad of other tools, it’s easy to use a few of the attachments and clean several stairs or behind any piece of furniture. Combined with a 30ft cord, you might not get further reach with any other vacuum.
However, not all is perfect with the Hoover Anniversary. Limited and awkward adjustability can slow this vacuum down when swapping from carpet to hardwood, even though the vacuum performs admirably on both. The size can also make this vacuum difficult to maneuver around cluttered rooms, and the self-propelled functionality, while effective, can’t help if you’re lugging the Hoover Anniversary up and down several flights of stairs.
Provided your cleaning area is on a single floor, and you don’t mind bags, the Hoover Anniversary excels in most other categories. Public perception is positive—with many citing the DirtFinder tool as an invaluable feature. Considering the modest price point and excellent suction power, we think the Hoover Anniversary is a no-brainer for anyone who needs a bagged vacuum with lots of attachments.
Upright vacuum cleaners are quite popular with homeowners no matter what type of floor remains in the house. However, that doesn’t mean that upright vacuums come without fault. If you’re planning on purchasing an upright vacuum, there are several considerations to make.
Upright Hardwood Compatibility
Upright vacuums, unlike hardwood-exclusive and canister vacuums, can put considerable stress on your hardwood floors. Heavy wheels and brush rolls beat up natural wood and will leave permanent damage over several years, which is why homeowners with primarily hardwood floors should consider purchasing a light vacuum that can turn its brush roll off.
Accessories—Do I Need Them?
Accessories are the bread and butter of most uprights, which rely on them to overcome a few issues inherent with an upright vacuum.
Upright vacuums feature a unibody design, which is great for homeowners that dislike constantly stooping over with canister vacuums but poses a serious issue with cleaning corners and stairs. While some of our upright vacuum picks can get under furniture, upright vacuums as a whole utilize crevice tools and smaller turbo tools to get into these hard to reach areas. Otherwise, you’ll need accessories to pick up cobwebs in dusty corners, pick up pet hair on couches, and to clean staircases, so be sure to keep accessories in considerations when choosing the best upright vacuum cleaner for you.
Are Upright Vacuums Better?
Upright vacuum cleaners face stiff competition from other categories, including stick and canister vacuums. Stick vacuums tend to be more versatile and easier on the back due to their lightweight nature, but fall short in accessories and overall power. Comparing to upright vacuums to canister vacuums can be more contentious, as several factors come into play.
While canister vacuums are larger, typically utilize and generate more powerful suction, smaller hoses on upright vacuums can lead to comparable suction strength. Aside from the issue of suction, upright vacuums can be more strenuous to utilize across an entire house and often are unwieldy when carrying up and down staircases.
Ultimately, it will be up to the individual homeowner to consider whether or not an upright vacuum is right for them. Be sure to consult the following for a quick summary of what’s good and bad about an upright vacuum.
The best upright vacuum overall and the best upright vacuum for you can often be two different products. But before we crown our chosen victor, let’s look at why any of these vacuums could be right for you:
If budget is a concern, the Bissell 9595A is lightweight and more than capable with four attachments. Those looking for affordability may also want to consider the Hoover WindTunnel 2 for pets, at the included features make cleaning up after the family dog or cat simple and effective.
Powerful suction defines the Dyson Ball Animal 2, and a 35ft cord makes this an appealing, premium option for homeowners with larger living spaces. Last, but certainly not least, there is no better product for HEPA filtration and allergy sufferers than the Hoover Anniversary WindTunnel.
Each of the above four vacuums more than justifies their place on our list—but only one is best-in-class in each category: the Shark Navigator Lift-Away. The Navigator Lift-Away is portable, light, and quickly transforms into a handheld to clean staircases and distant crevices. This upright vacuum also detects problems with its brush roll, features HEPA filtration, handles carpets in a breeze, and has a powerful Hard Floor Hero attachment that earns its namesake. Whichever you might choose, keep in mind that you must balance the benefits of an upright vacuum with your personal needs.