When I think of a vacuum cleaner, the image that comes to mind is that of an upright vacuum.
This is the good old ‘work horse’ of vacuuming.
Despite several variations and advances in technology, upright vacuums continue to be the most common choice across the world for many household vacuuming needs.
People have been buying them for decades and will continue to do so for many more.
Here are some important factors to consider when looking for the best upright vacuum cleaner for your home:
Canister vs Upright
There’s a pretty big difference in design between canister and an upright cleaning machine.
An upright machine has it’s motor and suction head attached together as a single unit, which is pushed directly in front of the user, whereas a canister model is usually comprised of a wheeled body, a hoze/nozzle, and is pulled from behind while cleaning.
There are a number of advantages to choosing an upright over a canister:
- They are less expensive than most canisters.
- They tend to perform much better than canisters on carpeted floors.
- They usually have motorized brushes, which are great for pet hair and thicker carpeting.
- The compact designs allow it to fit easily into small or narrow storage spaces.
- There are many tools and attachments available for it.
In the end, it comes down to personal preference, and knowing what type of floor you’ll be cleaning the most.
If you’re thinking about picking up a canister vacuum instead of an upright, be sure to take a look at this article: Upright vs Canister: Which Vacuum is Better For What?
The proof of a vacuum’s performance is in the cleaning, wouldn’t you say?
A good upright model should be able to effectively clean an array of surface types including hardwood, tile, and carpet. It should also be able to clean in a reasonable amount of time, and not drive you crazy by requiring you to go over the same spot again and again.
It’s not necessary to have the most powerful upright ever built, but you should look for one with adequate suction power especially if you have a lot of carpeted floors in your home.
You also want to keep in mind that a strong suction power does not always equal strong performance. A great way to see if a certain product performs well (overall) is to look at customer reviews and ratings on trusted websites like Amazon.com, and read what other customers had to say about each model.
A vacuum with a stronger motor usually has more suction power, but will also have a higher power consumption.
During use, the accumulation of dust in the filter can also put extra pressure on the motor. Thus, it makes sense to not only look for a strong motor, but also an effective filter.
Filtration and Sealing
If you deal with allergies or other respiratory conditions, a fine particulate filter (like HEPA) will help to reduce allergens in the air. A standard filter can make things worse for allergy sufferers because the machine can push air out along with all the allergens. A good filter also needs a well-sealed machine in order to prevent dust leakages from other parts of the unit.
Good design not only makes a vacuum cleaner look and feel good, but also makes it easier to use. Some features to look for are an adjustable handle and a flat profile, which makes it easy to push around.
A foot-operated switch can also make a huge difference when it comes to ease of use.
If you’re looking for something to last you a while, an auto-shut off and overheat shut off feature is great to have as it can increase the motor life and prevent unnecessary damage to the machine.
Suction power control makes it very convenient to use for both light and heavy cleaning (and for wood vs. tile vs. carpet). It also gives you more control over how quiet or loud your vacuum runs.
Another useful feature is an on-off switch for the roller brush. Depending on what you are cleaning, the roller brush may or may not be needed. In fact, when cleaning loose dirt on hard surfaces, a roller brush can make things worse by scattering the dirt around.
Bagged vs Bagless
If you choose to buy an upright bagless vacuum cleaner, you’ll save money over time on replacements bags, but you’ll also expose yourself to more dirt, dust, and allergens while emptying the unit, which can negatively impact your health.
Upright vacuums with bags, on the other hand, are designed to effectively capture dust and dirt so that you are never exposed to it during the emptying process.
Bagged vacuums also reduce clogging of the air filter, which means less power consumption and filter replacement over time.
The vacuum industry is always working hard to find new ways to make their cleaners more powerful without increasing its weight.
Lightweight upright vacuum cleaners are not only easier to push, but they are also a lot easier to store away.
Even the lightest upright vacuum cleaners today can pack quite a strong punch. However, they usually don’t have as many features as some of the heavier models.
If you’re just looking for a simple machine without all the extra bells and whistles, consider picking up a lighter model. Your back and muscles will thank you later for it.
Portability and Maneuverability
Unless you have fun lugging heavy or bulky things around, you’ll want a compact and lightweight cleaner that you can easily move from place to place.
In addition to this, having flexible attachments to help clean corners or stairs is a necessity for most households.
A long retractable power cord is also very useful too.
Special Needs & Requirements
Simply buying the highest rated model on the market is not always the best choice. You need to know what exactly you’ll be needing it for, and whether or not the features of any particular vacuum match your specific needs.
For example, the best upright vacuum for pet hair is going to be very different from one designed to clean hardwood floors.
Pet hair vacuums require more than just a strong suction. For example, you need to make sure it has the proper crevice and brush tools designed to deal with stubborn messes, like ingrained pet hair in carpets.
On the other hand, the best vacuums for hardwood flooring are usually built with a lighter design and come with an on/off switch for the brush roll. This minimizes the chances of it causing unwanted scratches and dents.
Price, Parts and Service
These are standard things that you should look at before you make any type of purchase. A warranty on critical parts such as the motor is important and should be expected. Useful cleaning accessories, such as extra long hoses, and hair removal attachments, should always be considered depending on what you need.
Best For Under $100:
The best upright you can get right now for under a $100 is the BISSELL CleanView with One Pass. It’s an affordable lightweight cleaner with a powerful suction and innovative brush design.
- Very powerful suction strength.
- Weighs only 15.1 lbs.
- Easy to move and maneuver around.
- Easy to assemble with clear instructions.
- Great value at an affordable price.
- Long cord.
- No retractable cord.
- On/off switch is not in a convenient location.
- Short hose.
Best For Under $300:
The Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional NV370 is probably the best Shark upright vacuum that you’ll find for under $300. It has a bunch of bells and whistles, an amazing suction strength for in-depth cleaning, and rotating wheels for easy movement.
- Strong suction power.
- Adjustable suction for different floor types.
- Never Loses Suction Technology.
- Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology.
- Has great attachments and pet tools.
- Swivel steering for better maneuverability.
- Great value for a good price.
- Large, and easy to empty dust cup.
- Easy to assemble.
- Can tip over when using wand/attachments.
- No on-board storage for the turbo brush.
Top Recommended Vacuums
If you want to get the best upright vacuum for the money, write down what your specific needs are, and then read as many upright vacuum reviews as you can to find the best match.
The vacuums listed below can serve as a good starting point for this.
With that being said, here is the comparison chart of the best rated upright vacuum cleaners available in 2021
Top 3 Upright Vacuum (Classic & New) Comparison Chart 2021:
|Top 3 Upright Vacuums|
(1 - 10)
Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away NV501
Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional NV370
BISSELL CleanView with OnePass 9595A
*Click on any vacuum cleaner above to see customer feedback reviews and price on Amazon.com