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Canister vacuums can be such a drag—figuratively and literally. They require you to drag two pieces of equipment around rooms as you clean the floor, which can make the process of vacuuming particularly cumbersome and exhausting. You have to bend to turn them on and off, and when you’re finished with your work, you have to store two bulky compartments. And don’t get us started on the messy, frustrating process of changing vacuum bags. The best upright vacuums, which come in both bagged and bagless styles, only have one section to worry about, and most have a power button you can reach while standing upright.

Upright vacuums are easy to maneuver since there’s no canister constantly bumping into furniture and walls or scuffing the floors with its wheels. They may be heavier and louder than canister models, which also feature retractable cords to prevent tripping, but as electric carpet cleaners and hardwood floor cleaners go, the best vacuums can cover a larger area and are simple to use and store.

The benefits of upright vacuums don’t end there. Most come with snap-on and snap-off cylinders, so you won’t have to worry about changing vacuum bags, and attachments allow them to do more than clean floors. Ultimately, the best vacuum for you is a matter of taste, and unless you get a remote controllable model, you’ll have to do some physical work. Still, the following models will make cleaning floors and carpets easier and maybe even a little bit of fun.

Best upright vacuums: Our picks

Best overall: Dirt Devil Endura Reach Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner



This is the best upright vacuum, lightweight enough to roll all around the house, and its multi-floor brushroll works equally well on carpets and hard floors without any loss of suction power. This upright bagless vacuum comes with attachments for crevices and underneath furniture, a washable filter, and a dirt cup that’s easy to detach and empty.

Best for pet hair: BISSELL Cleanview Swivel Pet Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner



Swivel steering helps make upright vacuum cleaner easier to move around furniture, and at 13.5 inches wide, its square-edged foot is designed to fit into the harder-to-sweep corners of rooms. Specialized pet-tool attachments for the six-foot-long hose assist in picking up cat and dog hair on furniture and stairs, making this the best upright vacuum for pet hair.

Best for carpets: eureka PowerSpeed Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner



This upright vacuum for carpet can hold 4.1 liters of dust, and an LED light allows you to get a clear view when it’s being used to clean under beds and too see dark spaces beneath other furniture. It weighs in at a manageable 10 pounds, and it can easily switch from cleaning carpets to vacuuming cobwebs from the corners of the ceiling.

Best for hardwood floors: BISSELL, 3061 Featherweight Cordless Stick Vacuum



This stick vacuum is the best upright vacuum for hardwood floors, with the added bonus of being ultra-lightweight and easy to maneuver. It has swivel steering, which makes pushing it around practically effortless, and a bagless design means you won’t have to put too much energy into cleaning it out when it’s full.

Best lightweight: Eureka Airspeed Ultra-Lightweight Compact Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner



Designed for both hard floors and carpet, this model weighs under eight pounds. The super-lightweight design of this upright vacuum makes it perfect for vacuuming stairs. It includes a crevice tool and dusting brush attachment as well as a stretchable hose, and it converts into a handheld vacuum that can reach the tightest spaces, making it our pick for the best lightweight upright vacuum.

Best budget: Dirt Devil Versa Clean Bagless Stick Vacuum Cleaner and Hand Vac



You probably won’t find a better vacuum cleaner for a lower price. It works on carpet, rugs and hard floors as well as on stairs, and it converts to a handheld tool that you can use to vacuum areas above ground level. It’s not the best cleaner for large houses with a lot of foot traffic, but for single users living in smaller apartments, it should do the clean-up trick.

Features to consider when shopping for the best upright vacuums

So you’ve decided to make clean-up easier and seek out the best upright vacuum your money can buy. Now what? Well, as with all household appliances, first you need to narrow down the options. Do you want to go bagged or bagless? Should you go with a larger vacuum or get a lightweight stick model to tackle stairs? Do you need it for carpet, hard floors or both? There are a lot of decisions to make, but you can relax. We’re here to help.

What is the best upright vacuum?

Even the best upright vacuums lack the suction power of canister models. This makes them a bit less effective at cleaning smooth floors, but they can really rock a carpet. They’re a bit unwieldy when vacuuming stairs due to their size, but if you opt for a stick model or get one with a handheld vacuum attachment, the stair issue is easily solved.

The feet of the best vacuums aren’t designed to reach corners and crevices as easily and efficiently as those of canister vacuums, but having just one moving part makes them easier to maneuver, which means they work better with larger rooms. Let the user beware, however: Uprights can rouse even the deepest sleeper. The quietest models produce around 70 decibels of noise. That’s between five and 10 decibels louder than the average canister vacuum. So you might want to wait until everyone’s awake before running the vacuum.

What is the best upright vacuum for pet hair?

Pet hair sheds, and that’s a fact of home life for any family with a beloved dog or cat. To keep walking surfaces hair-free, you’ll need a pet vacuum cleaner with enough suction power to zap it all up. Experts recommend a machine with at least 12 amps of power and/or special attachments designed specifically to take care of pet hair. If you have carpet, get a vacuum with a brush roll to help loosen particles from the carpet so they can be more easily suctioned into the unit. Be sure to turn it off when vacuuming hard surfaces as they may blow dirt around the room and leave scratches on floors.

Handheld models make the best upright vacuums for pet hair because they can get between couch cushions and other hard-to-reach areas. Just be sure to get one with adequate suction power. Since pet hair will cause vacuum bags to fill up more quickly, consider a bagless upright vacuum with a bin so there is less hair build-up and you won’t have to constantly replace bags. Oh, and don’t forget to read reviews to see how other dog and cat owners have fared with whatever pet vacuum cleaner you are considering.

What is the best carpet cleaner?

As previously mentioned, the best upright vacuums for carpet will feature a brush roll to assist in removing dirt and dust from rugs. If your carpet or rug is made of synthetic fibers like nylon, olefin, or polyester, or if you have a lot of floor traffic, you’ll need a carpet cleaner with aggressive bristles on the brush roll. That means they should have dense, stiff bristles and a beater bar function to lift dry soil from the carpet so it can be brushed and suctioned away.

For carpets made of natural fibers like wool or silk, the brush roll should be softer, more flexible, and not as densely packed so that it doesn’t damage the delicate fabric. If your rug or carpet is made of especially fragile material, you might have to get a carpet cleaner with a specialty brush roll or a suction-only rug tool. To be on the safe side, check the label on your rug to be sure you’re getting the best upright vacuum for your carpet needs.

What is the best hardwood floor cleaner?

The best upright vacuums will have a brush roll with an on/off function. This makes for a more versatile machine that you can use on both carpets and hard, flat surfaces. Always turn it off before running it over hardwood floors to avoid scratching. This will also prevent it from blowing dust around and causing debris to land on your furniture or circulate around the room.

If an upright vacuum has no on/off brush-roll function, then a brush roll with soft bristles will be gentler on your hardwood floors. A good one will have enough suction power to remove debris from those tiny crevices in the wood. One reason upright vacuums for hardwood floors are preferable to canister models is that there are no wheels to leave unsightly marks as the unit rolls around during the cleaning process.

What is the best vacuum for stairs?

If you live in a house with stairs, you’ll need a lightweight upright vacuum cleaner that you’ll be able to negotiate from step to step. Since upright vacuums tend to be too bulky to accomplish this with ease, we recommend considering a stick vacuum cleaner, which, on average, weighs in at less than seven pounds. Most are battery-operated, so you won’t have to worry about keeping them plugged in while you go up and down the steps.

Cordless handhelds are another good lightweight option, though they will require a lot of bending. As lightweight and portable as they are, handhelds are probably best when used in tandem with a larger upright vacuum, especially since they may run out of power after less than a half-hour, forcing you to suspend your vacuuming until they recharge. Even if you don’t live in a house with stairs, you might find that a lightweight upright vacuum cleaner (think 10 pounds or less) will make cleaning up floors easier on your back.

Best upright vacuum on a budget: What you can get for under $30

You can easily pay hundreds of dollars for the best upright vacuum, but there’s really no reason why you can’t get what you need for around $100 and even much less. Look for a model that tackles multiple surfaces and something bagless for easy emptying. You might have to skimp on extras, like extendable nozzles and smart steering, but if you’re on a budget, these are small tradeoffs.


Q: Will an upright vacuum lose suction over time?

An upright vacuum may lose suction over time if the bag is full, the filters need to be cleaned, or the airflow is obstructed. An old or faulty motor can also lead to a decrease in suction power.

Q: How long should an upright vacuum last?

An upright vacuum should last around eight years, depending on how often you use it. A machine for a larger house that requires more frequent cleaning won’t have as long a lifespan as a vacuum that’s used in the studio apartment of someone who lives alone. Once the motor starts to go, it should be replaced, or it may be time to invest in a new vacuum.

Q: How do you clean an upright vacuum?

You should clean an upright vacuum every six months or so following the manufacturer’s instructions. The dust bin on bagless models should be emptied, and if the instructions permit it, washed with warm, soapy water. Filters should be washed or replaced, and dirt and dust should be removed from the hose and attachments. Don’t forget to wipe the wheels and remove string and hair from the brush roller.

A final word on shopping for the best upright vacuums

The best upright vacuums can be specialized to accommodate specific spaces or functions (sweeping up carpets or hard floors, sweeping away pet hair) or designed to tackle a wide range of tasks and floor types. These cleaning tools may be louder and generally heavier than canister vacuums, but a portable, lightweight design can allow for more versatility and maneuverability. And if fussing with vacuum bags isn’t your thing, a bagless version will make cleaning up after cleaning up much less of a hassle.

Related: Best robot vacuums