When most people think of a vacuum cleaner the first thing that comes to mind is an upright. It is the classic design with a long neck and handle, wheels attached to the back, and a spinning brush roll for picking up embedded dirt. There is a good reason why it has largely remained unchanged in appearance…it’s built for heavy duty cleaning of carpets.
While the look hasn’t changed much over the years, the overall performance sure has. Today’s uprights have a lot of technology built in, making them ideal machines for a variety of floor types. Navigating the many brands and models can be a bit overwhelming so here is a rundown of what to look for when choosing one. We’ll also recommend a few popular cleaners that won’t set you back too much, providing a goood balance between quality and cost.
Before we get to our comparisons and recommendations here are a few things to think about before you decide on a new vacuum:
Filtration Is Very Important
Filtration is one of the areas that has seen the biggest improvement over the years. HEPA filters are the best choice for removing microscopic allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores from the environment before they can enter your body. It is not uncommon to find a vacuum cleaner that is rated to remove more than 99% of all allergens down to 0.3 microns in size (or smaller) before the air is expelled back into your home. In fact, you only want to consider an upright if it has this rating if you are going to be using it for any kind of carpeting at all.
Suction Power Is Key To Performance
When it comes time to pull deeply embedded dirt and pet hair out of your thick (high pile) carpets, power is a necessity. The brush roll will need to spin at a high rate but the air will also need to be forcefully pulled up into the pathways. It all starts with a powerful motor that can generate enough force to do this, but it also has to work in conjunction with the filter mentioned above. If the filters become clogged then it can degrade the performance of the machine. You need to find a highly rated model that can maintain the same suction for extended periods of time.
Specialized Attachments For All Applications
The modern household has many types of flooring and other surfaces that need the occasional vacuuming. If you are going to spend your money on a new vacuum cleaner then you need to make sure it can tackle everything you need in your ENTIRE home. Specialized attachments like a crevice tool and dusting brush can reach in tight spaces to get the dust that you just wouldn’t be able to by hand. You can also find some uprights with handheld, powered turbine tools that almost work like mini vacuums to remove pet hair from just about any surface. These work great on furniture, bedding, or anyplace where a full sized machine would be overkill. Make sure you look carefully at what onboard attachments come with any new brand you purchase.
Our Best Rated Bagged Upright
The Miele Dynamic U1 upright vacuum lineup is our top recommended bagged choice as it comes with a long list of excellent features as well as a price that is lower than you would expect. Notice it is ‘lineup’ instead of just single vacuum, as the Miele U1 consists of multiple models including the Maverick, Powerline, Cat & Dog, and HomeCare. They all have similar features and are designed for whole household cleaning with small differences.
The first notable feature found on all U1’s is what Miele calls SwivelNeck™ steering system. It’s a double jointed swivel point that lets the machine rotate around the objects in your home. It really improves the agility on this somewhat large and heavy upright vacuum so you can effectively clean smaller rooms as well as larger ones. It can also fold close to flat so you can fit it under tables or higher furniture.
The U1 is built for heavy carpeted areas where you need to pull dust particles up from the carpet’s fibers. The heavier weight and strong spinning brushroll do a great job at agitating anything that is embedded while the powerful suction finishes it off. The excellent HEPA filters along with the self sealing bags make sure that nothing can escape back into your home.
- For carpeting it is one of the best combinations of power and finesse as it powerfully pulls dust bunnies up but restores the pile back to the original condition
- AirClean™ filtration traps 99.9% of the smallest of allergens and their excellent collection bags make sure they stay there
- Fairly quiet operation so you won’t need ear protection like some of the cheaper brands
- Long power cord lets you reach the entire room without switching outlets
- Swivel steering works great around corners and tighter spaces
- It is a bit heavy and not as easy to push around as some of the smaller vacuum cleaners
- Bags can be expensive but they are bigger than standard so they hold more dirt than you would expect
Where can you learn more and compare the different models in this lineup? Click here to go to our favorite online supplier for current pricing and availability.
The Best Bagless Upright
The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball is one of the most powerful bagless uprights you can buy today. It is the only bagless upright we know of that has no filters or replace…ever! While Dyson normally has washable HEPA filters in their models, the Cinetic™ technology works in such a way that you don’t even have to remove and wash them. The dust is separated from the air in such an efficient manner that it doesn’t settle on anything including the internal filters. It is powered straight through to the collection bin.
The motor has 36 oscillating tips that will accelerate the air up to 180 mph which is astounding when you think about it. Vacuum cleaners of just a few years ago couldn’t even come close to matching that. This keeps the suction power very strong and doesn’t let the machine clog at all. You won’t experience any loss of power when using it to clean your entire home on a regular basis.
The ‘Ball’ is a glass reinforced polypropylene sphere that is even larger than the one found on their other models. It protects the important motor and other components while lowering the center of gravity. You get excellent maneuverability and an overall easy to use vacuum, especially when you compare it to other large uprights.
- Suction power and overall carpet cleaning ability is unmatched when compared to other bagless brands/models
- Quick release wand and expandable hose let you reach high areas and even full flights of stairs
- A HUGE selection of attachments (some included) to let you customize your vacuum to your specific needs
- For a larger machine it is easy to maneuver around furniture and other items in your household
- No light on the front, many other brands are including LED lights but Dyson has yet to do this
- Dust collection chamber could be bigger as it fills up fast requiring frequent trips to the garbage to empty
Now that you know a little about it, where can you check pricing and availability? Click here for our ‘Go To’ online supplier for comparison shopping and current deals.
The Best Cordless Upright
The Shark ION P50 Lift-Away is our recommended fully cordless upright vacuum. Yes that is correct, a full sized upright cleaner that is built for entire household cleaning (including carpets) with a cord-free design. It comes with a removable lithium ion battery pack that is rated to provide up to 50 minutes of runtime depending on how you use it. Plus with lithium batteries you won’t get any fading while it drains…the power remains constant throughout.
You can operate the P50 in 3 different modes: regular upright, stick, and handheld. This gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of what surfaces you can efficiently clean. For carpets and wide open hard floors you can operate it like any other full sized upright vacuum. This is the most common way to use the P50, but to reach underneath furniture or to easily clean stairs you can remove the canister while extending the wand. This is what they call ‘Lift-Away’ or stick mode as it lets you still use full suction while reaching under and above the floor. Remove the wand, add an attachment, and you have a fully powered handheld cleaner.
Shark also outfitted the P50 with what they call their Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology™. The combination of a HEPA filter and a fully sealed pathway means that it will capture and trap 99.99% of the smallest of allergens like pet dander and dust mites. This is important because you don’t want these to escape back into your home.
- DuoClean head works great on both carpets and hard floors, picking up both large debris and fine dust
- Cordless technology works great and give the vacuum enough power for whatever you need
- Dirt collection cup is really big and holds a lot of debris
- Removable and replaceable battery is a huge bonus and advantage over some other cordless models
- Headlights work great on those hidden areas around your home
- Hose does not stretch and expand as much as you would like
- Takes a bit to get used to changing the hose attachments
How can you read more consumer reviews and check online availability? Click here for pricing and more at our recommended supplier.
The Best Lightweight Upright
The Oreck Magnesium RS is our top lightweight choice as it weighs in at just about 8 pounds. This makes it one of the lightest full sized bagged uprights you can find today. And even though it doesn’t weigh much it still can handle thicker or high piled carpets, though maybe not as well as heavier vacuums can. However, the combination of powerful suction and effective filtration make it a great choice for all types of floors.
The Magnesium is very agile and easy to clean with. The lightweight design obviously helps that but it also comes with their SlimSwivel™ steering. The neck swivels while the body lies almost completely flat so you can maneuver around objects or vacuum underneath them. You won’t have to move heavy tables or chairs to get the dust bunnies out from underneath. More and more companies are putting similar features on their larger models to make it easier to meet the needs of the modern household.
Another standout feature on the Oreck Magnesium is the filtration. It comes with 5 layers of filtration that can trap virtually all of those tiny particles called allergens from the air as it passes through. The HEPA inner bag and SaniSeal™ Docking System work together to make sure no dirt escapes once it is pulled inside. This is especially important for those with indoor allergies or asthma.
- Extremely light and easy to move around all types of floors
- Suction power is very good for such a light machine
- It isn’t self propelled but it operates like one as it is simple to move across carpeting
- Tiny headlight doesn’t really do anything including lighting up what is in front of the vacuum
- Doesn’t come with the attachments that some of the other large uprights do
Where can you go for more information including consumer ratings and detailed specifications? Click here to visit our favorite eCommerce site for pricing and much more.
Best Pet Hair Upright
The SEBO Automatic X4 is our top upright for pet hair removal. It’s probably the most technologically advanced bagged vacuum that you have never heard of. While they aren’t exactly a household name, SEBO has been building high quality vacuums for a long time. Their Automatic X lineup compares favorably to residential and commercial models alike.
The X4 has a 12 inch wide cleaning path but you can get 15 inches if you opt for their X5. The automatic height adjustment works a bit different than other brands as it has an electronic controller that measures how much resistance the brush roller is experiencing. It will then adjust the head up and down to compensate for that. You don’t have to worry about changing height settings as the cleaner will do it for you.
It cannot be highly rated for pet hair without having excellent filters and this is where the SEBO really shines. Hospital grade filtration is not something you hear often but that is what comes on the X4. The system is also fully sealed and the bags seal quickly upon removal. Unlike some bagless models, this bagged upright won’t let any dust particles escape back into your home during operation.
- Powerful suction and completely sealed filtration are a great combination for removing animal hair
- Folds almost fully flat at around 5 1/2 inches while still maintaining suction power
- High quality construction (built in Germany) so it will last for many years
- Rubber wheels and bumpers protect the walls and floors from damage that can occur during use
- No on/off control for the brush roll, although everything is automatic it would be nice to have control over this
- Easy to tip over when using the wand if the hose is extended out
Where can you find today’s low pricing and check current availability? To check this and more, click here to visit our recommended supplier should you be ready to buy.