December 27, 2020

Best Upright Vacuum Cleaner for 2021: Complete Buyer’s Guide

You can find the best upright vacuum cleaner in a wide range of colors, sleek designs, and styles. But the aesthetics don’t matter quite as much as a vacuum’s suction power, filters, and their overall ability to get the job done, fast and efficiently. The vacuum you choose should fit your cleaning needs and should work with your budget. Since these appliances are available in a variety of price points and many come loaded with several types of attachments, choosing the perfect model for your home can be a real challenge.

If you don’t know much about the features to look for in a vacuum that’s built tough and can withstand heavy-duty use, or the type of power rating you need, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve tested many of the top-rated vacuums on my journey to find models that won’t clog, overheat, and come equipped with the type of power needed to keep even the most chaotic homes clean. I’ve also put together this buyer’s guide, which will explain how vacuums work, why upright vacuums are by far the toughest type on the market, and how you can choose the right model for your household, based on a variety of factors. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each of the models that made it onto my list, the features they offer, and how they rated.

Upright Vacuum Cleaner Comparison Chart

Top Pick

Shark Navigator Vacuum
• 17.36 lbs.
• Corded
• 800 Watts
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EUREKA Compact Vacuum• 7.7 lbs.
• Corded
• 600 Watts
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BISSELL Cleanview Vacuum• 17.6 lbs.
• Corded
• 1,000 Watts
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ROOMIE TEC Vacuum Cleaner• 4.5 lbs.
• Cordless
• 1,000 Watts
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Oreck Upright Vacuum • 9 lbs.
• Corded
• 800 Watts
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Eureka PowerSpeed Vacuum• Corded
• 600 Watts
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Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum

Top Pick

Our Rating: (5/5)

Want a low maintenance upright that can handle most of the maintenance needs for you? Enter the navigator. This model will deep clean your carpet and also cleans itself using the self-cleaning brush roll, which provides continuous hair removal, while working to prevent clogs. This model uses a HEPA filter that will trap allergens including dust, inside the vacuum. The swivel power steering makes maneuvering in tight places and around obstacles, a cinch. The lift away mode is perfect for homes with staircases, thanks to the detachable canister that allows you to take part of the vacuum up the stairs, leaving the heavy base behind. This model also comes with a large-capacity dust cup, in addition to its complete seal technology that prevents allergens from reentering the air when you empty out the cannister.


  • Lightweight
  • HEPA filter
  • Lift away technology
  • Self-cleaning brush


  • Price


The vacuum’s powerful system will suction up hair and debris, into the large capacity dust cup, leaving the brush roll clean and free from hair and large debris, which will improve its cleaning power. The lightweight design makes it easier to maneuver around obstacles and furniture, while the lift away technology is perfect for multi-level homes.

EUREKA Airspeed Upright Vacuum

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model features a quick release handle for fast and effortless cleaning. It also includes a dusting brush and a crevice tool that can be attached to the end of the handle and used to clean hard to reach places, windows, and upholstery. The vacuum’s powerful suction works to extract hair and dirt from carpets and hard flooring, easily. It also has a wider than average cleaning path of ten and a half inches. The vacuum weighs in at a little over seven and a half pounds, so bringing it up a flight of stairs will be a breeze. The included filter is washable and can be rinsed off and left to air dry.


  • Lightweight
  • Includes cleaning attachments
  • Wide cleaning path
  • Works on both hardwood flooring and carpet


  • Small dust cup


This lightweight vacuum features a bagless design, built-in reusable air filter, and comes with a couple of cleaning attachments that will allow you to easily deep clean your home, including those hard to reach places. The powerful suction combined with the lightweight design adds to the vacuum’s durability and makes it a great choice for both thick carpet, and hardwood floors.

BISSELL Cleanview Bagless Vacuum

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model comes equipped with one pass technology, working to suction up any hair, dirt, and debris in its path with a single pass. The unique brush design and powerful suction can cut your vacuuming time in half. The scatter-free technology eliminates scatter on hard floors. The vacuum’s onboard storage will hold the included attachments such as the crevice tool, dusting brush, turbo brush, and the extension wand. The dirt tank has a large capacity, while the tank can easily be removed with the press of a button. The hose measures in at six feet in length, with a power cord that’s twenty-five feet long.


  • One pass technology
  • Scatter-free technology
  • Includes several cleaning brushes
  • Large capacity dirt tank


  • Heavy


This model comes with all the bells and whistles you could want in a vacuum that can easily cut your vacuuming time in half. Unfortunately, the vacuum itself weighs over seventeen pounds, which can make it difficult to take up a flight of stairs, so if you live in a multi-level home, you may want to pass this model on by.

ROOMIE TEC Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is a two-in-one cordless vacuum that allows you to easily switch from an upright to a handheld vacuum by pressing a button. You can detach the vacuum from the base to access hard to reach places, or to deep clean your stairs. The vacuum boasts impressive suction power, thanks to the dual motor design. One motor will power the brush, while the other motor focuses on suction.

Since it’s battery-powered it will have a limited runtime of just twenty-three minutes. This may be a drawback for larger homes.

If you have trouble seeing under furniture and in tight spaces, then you’ll appreciate the six built-in LED lights.


  • Cordless
  • Lightweight
  • Detachable base
  • Dual motor design


  • Limited runtime


This model will be perfect for smaller homes but may be a bad choice for larger homes since it only offers twenty-three minutes of runtime. The dual motor design may be enough to make you forget about the short runtime, since it offers top of the line brush roll and suction power, so you won’t have to worry about clogs or the vacuum overheating. If you’re looking for a lightweight, more powerful vacuum, then this latest model from Roomie Tec will not disappoint.

Oreck Commercial XL2100RHS Upright Vacuum

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is a high-speed, powerful, upright vacuum that comes with double helix brushes and a well-balanced roll brush. The larger than average cleaning path measures in at one-foot wide, so you can clean using a single pass. The vacuum is also able to adjust to different types of floors automatically, thanks to the auto floor adjustment feature. The design allows you to get up close to chairs, cabinets, and baseboards. It can also easily fit under furniture, chairs, desks, and clothes racks. It weighs in at nine pounds, which can make it a great choice for multi-level homes.


  • Lightweight
  • Large cleaning path
  • Double helix brushes
  • Automatically adjusts brush based on floor type


  • Uses bags


If you’re looking for a model for work or home use, this model delivers the type of durable design and power that most buyers are looking for.

The wider cleaning path, lightweight design, and helix brush system makes this one tough vacuum that’s commercial quality. This durable vacuum can withstand heavy daily use, offers excellent suction power and is covered by a one-year warranty on the belt and a one-year commercial warranty.

Eureka Power Speed Bagless Upright Vacuum

Our Rating: (4/5)

This model weighs in at ten pounds and features five brush height adjustment options, so it can be used in tile, low pile carpet, high pile carpet, hardwood floors, and vinyl flooring. The large-capacity dust cup can hold up to six liters, so you won’t have to empty it often. The included upholstery tool, dusting brush, and pet turbo tool can be stored directly on the vacuum, so the attachments will always remain organized and highly accessible. The built-in filter is removable and washable, and works to trap allergens such as dirt, debris, pet dander, and dust.


  • Large dust cup capacity
  • Filter
  • Five brush height adjustments
  • Onboard attachment storage


  • Heavy


This affordable, vacuum is a must-have if there are pets in the home. Thanks to the powerful brush system, special pet hair cleaning attachments, and the built-in filter, this is a model that will work hard to keep your floors, upholstery, and drapes looking great and free from hair, dirt, and debris.

Upright Vacuum Cleaner Buyer’s Guide

A vacuum is an appliance that you may find yourself using as often as once or twice a day. How often you vacuum has a lot to do with your specific home environment. Often, people with children or pets, or a large family will need to vacuum more frequently than a person that lives alone. But if you’re looking for a model that can handle daily use, then power is going to be a priority. Additionally, if you have pets, then you should choose a model that comes with special cleaning attachments that are designed to pick up pet hair and debris.

“Upright vacuum cleaners do the best job removing ground-in, embedded dirt from carpeting because they are usually heavier than other styles and the weight of the nozzle helps it reach deep into the carpet pile for better cleaning.”

Before I dive into the features to look for, let’s take a look at the benefits upright vacuums have to offer, and what makes them so durable.

Benefits of Upright Vacuums

vacuum floor

A vacuum cleaner is a must in any home. Upright models are heavy and one of the most durable styles of vacuums on the market. They do an excellent job of deep cleaning carpet surfaces, but because they’re so heavy, it can take some power to maneuver one of these appliances. However, despite their heavier design, they offer many benefits that other types of vacuums do not, such as:

  • These vacuums are often more affordable than other types.
  • If you buy a high-quality model, then you won’t need to make multiple passes to pick up hair, dirt, and debris, like you will with a low-quality model that offers poor suction.
  • Since you only need to make a single pass to pick up debris, using one of these vacuums can also save you plenty of time.
  • These vacuums use motorized brushes. The combination of their heavier weight and the addition of these brushes make uprights a better choice for thicker carpets or homes that have pets, high traffic areas, and large families. By nature, a thicker carpet will hold onto more dirt, in order to clean this type of carpet, an upright model is essential.
  • Uprights are taller than other styles of vacuums. When a taller person uses an upright, they won’t have to hunch over when maneuvering it.
  • Since they’re much bulkier than standard vacuums, they offer a wider and larger cleaning path. This allows you to cover more area with a single pass. Using less movement, you’ll get more cleaning done.
  • These vacuums are versatile, allowing you to easily transition from thick carpet to a bare floor just by pressing a pedal or hitting a switch.

Are there Any Drawbacks?

  • Of course, as I mentioned, these vacuums are big and bulky, this means that taking them up the stairs or fitting them into tight spaces can be difficult. Many of these models will weigh between twelve to twenty pounds. The bigger the motor, the heavier the vacuum. They also do not have good sound insulation, so they will be significantly louder than a stick vacuum or a canister style model.
Compared to other styles of vacuums, upright vacuums generally offer a significantly larger cleaning path, which can cut your work time in half
  • Last of all, these vacuums can be very difficult to use when you’re trying to access hard to reach areas or take tight corners. But even with the drawbacks I’ve mentioned here, many people will claim that they’re the best type of vacuum for large, busy homes.

Now, let’s learn about the different features these vacuums have to offer and what you should look for to ensure the vacuum you purchase is designed to handle the size of your home and your cleaning needs.

Other Important Features

Now, let’s take a closer look at the features that really matter, such as adjustable brush heights, power, bagged or bagless design, and reusable and disposable filters.


Vacuums that are equipped with motorized brushes will clean a carpet better than one that’s powered by just suction alone. Models that come equipped with a switch that will deactivate the brush can help avoid scattering debris and will protect the finish of bare floors. When you’re shopping for a vacuum, look for a model that comes with a manual carpet pile height adjustment feature, in addition to suction control so you can also use the vacuum to clean delicate fabrics and curtains.

Bagless or Bagged?

If you use a bagless model, then you won’t have to spend money on vacuum bags. However, bagless models come equipped with filters that must be cleaned out and replaced periodically. The mess and dust that comes with emptying out a bagless model can also be a problem if you have allergies.

Cleaning Tools

Most models will come with some basic cleaning attachments that can handle a variety of cleaning jobs. On average, you’ll find a crevice tool that’s designed to help to access to those hard to reach places. An upholstery brush can be used for furniture and drapes, while a round brush is designed for dusting. If the vacuum you’re interested in comes with cleaning tool attachments, make sure it also features onboard storage, which includes designated spots on the vacuum itself where you can store each of the attachments. This will allow you to keep all of the attachments together, neatly organized and accessible.


If you’re sensitive to dust or have allergies, then make sure you choose a model that comes with a HEPA filter. The filter should be changed at least once every six months, or more, depending on how often you vacuum. If your allergies are severe, you may be better off purchasing a model that comes with a washable filter.

Noise Rating

Since upright vacuums come equipped with more powerful motors, they will often have a louder noise rating than other types of vacuums. If you live in apartments, or you want to vacuum first thing in the morning, without disturbing your family members, then look for a model with a lower than average decibel rating. Models with a decibel rating of sixty to sixty-five will be very quiet, while those with a rating of seventy decibels or higher have a volume that’s comparable to that of a blender.


How much a vacuum weighs will also be an important consideration, especially if you have stairs in the home. Full-sized models can weigh over twenty pounds, while a lightweight model will weigh around ten to twelve pounds. If you have to haul your vacuum up and down a flight of stairs, then you’ll want to search for the lightest model possible. Fortunately, there are lightweight vacuums out there that are still very powerful. If you’re looking at a lightweight vacuum, make sure you also check its power rating to ensure it offers the type of suction power you need.

Pet Hair

Some models are specifically designed for homes with pets and include features that allow you to effortlessly suction up pet hair and debris. If you’re choosing a vacuum that’s designed to manage pet hair, then make sure it offers the minimum of twelve amps of power. However, power alone will not be enough to ensure the model really can handle pet dander and hair. Look for a vacuum that also comes with attachments such as wider openings that are designed to reduce clogs caused by pet hair, and tools such as special brushes that are able to pick up pet hair.

Types of Upright Vacuums

cleaner pov

Upright vacuums are the most popular type of vacuum that you’ll come across and they’re perfect for homes of all sizes. These vacuums specialize in picking up dirt and debris in carpets and are able to clean large areas quickly. They’re also a great choice for homes with hard floors and large area rugs.

Many upright vacuums come loaded with great attachments that allow you to access hard to reach spaces that other types of vacuums just can’t

There are a couple of different types of upright vacuums to choose from; single or double motor.

Single Motor

Single motor vacuums come with one motor that powers the brush. A single motor design is the most common in upright vacuums, however, you can find dual motor vacuums, which are usually categorized as commercial.

Dual Motor

Dual-motor models are powered by two motors, one motor for the brush and the other motor operates the suction power. Obviously, two motors equals more power, so they’re a better choice if you have a larger home, thicker carpet, or pets.

Head Height Adjustment

Some upright vacuums will adjust the head height automatically, while others will have a switch. This switch is used to adjust the height of the head based on the type of floor you’re using the vacuum on such as thick carpet, low pile carpet, tile, or vinyl. This setting is important since if the vacuum sinks into the carpet too deeply it can make maneuvering it almost impossible.

Suction Power

Suction power controls are useful when you’re using a cleaning tool on upholstery or drapes. Models that offer this feature will allow you to choose from low to high suction.


So, how do you go about determining how much power you need in a new vacuum?

  • Amps is used to measure the power that goes from the outlet into the vacuum. The max number of amps that’s drawn from a standard outlet is twelve amps, so look for a vacuum that’s able to draw a total of twelve amps.
  • Wattage refers to what you’ll get when you multiply the voltage draw and amps.
  • The air wattage is the best indicator of a model’s power since it will also factor the vacuum’s suction resistance. If a model shows air watts, a rating of more than two hundred watts is an excellent indication that it’ll have the type of power needed for basic cleaning needs.

Detachable Design

Some vacuums will feature a type of lift away technology that will allow you to detach part of the vacuum from the base, leaving the base behind. This will obviously significantly cut down on the weight of the vacuum, so it’s perfect if you need a vacuum you can use to vacuum stairs or hard to reach places. However, in some cases, models with this type of technology cannot offer the same level of suction power once the vacuum has been detached from the base.

Corded or Cordless

Cordless models do exist, which can make vacuuming your home faster and easier, especially if you have a large home and not many available outlets. With a cordless model, you won’t have to deal with a cord becoming tangled, accidentally unplugging the cord when you’re vacuuming, searching for an available outlet, or winding up the cord when you’re done. However, cordless models are not without their drawbacks. Cordless models are battery powered. This means that you will need to make sure the vacuum is fully charged before use, otherwise you will notice a significant dip in power. The vacuum can also die on you during use. Most models of cordless uprights are bagless, so dirt and dust will collect in a container or dust bin that you’ll need to empty out after each use. Some will have dust bins that are transparent so you can keep a close eye on how full it is.

With a corded model, yes, you’ll have to deal with rolling up the cord, and finding an outlet, but corded models are also much more powerful than cordless vacuums. You also won’t have to worry about runtime. In the end, it will be a matter of personal preference, but if have thicker carpet or pets in the home, it’s best to go with the more powerful option.


Like other types of vacuums, upright models can become clogged and may lose their suction power over time. If your vacuum used to work well, but now it struggles to pick up even the smallest debris, then it’s in need of some routine maintenance.

  • If you’ve noticed a dip in suction power, the first step is dumping out the dust chamber or changing out the vacuum bag. If your vacuum has a dust bin, now is the time to wash it out, using warm soapy water. While doing so probably won’t improve its performance, it can help reduce any odors.
  • Before you replace the bag or bin, if the vacuum has a grille located on the inlet to the bag or bin, make sure there’s no visible obstructions. Lay the vacuum flat and take a look underneath it. The brushes should be free of hair and debris and should be able to roll freely. However, there should be some tension present from the drive belt. If the brushes are covered in hair, string, or anything else that can have an impact on it’s ability to move, then you’ll need to clean it.
  • The brush roll should be removed when it’s cleaned. It will be held in place by plastic clips. Removing the guard allows you to easily slide the brushes out and remove the belt. Once you have the brush out you can use a knife or some scissors to cut away any string or hair that’s wrapped around it.
  • Now is the time to also take a look at the hose and make sure there’s nothing obstructing the opening of the hose where the brush roll rests. If you find any obstructions, these should be removed before replacing the brush.
  • In many cases, if your vacuum isn’t suctioning up debris, the problem lies with the hose. There are multiple points that the hose connects; behind the brush, near the bottom of the vacuum, and near the intake of the motor. Disconnect the hose and check that there’s no buildup of debris or clogs. Large debris can easily cause a clog and will negatively impact suction. You can use your fingers or pipe cleaners to remove any debris that’s found near the end of the hose. If you’ve disconnected the hose, you can also just shake it out.
  • The hose may also have tears or cuts, which can also impact suction.
  • Now that you know how to handle a dip in performance, practice routine maintenance often to avoid having to take your vacuum apart. In most cases this will involve swapping out the bag or emptying the bin once you notice it’s almost full and checking the hose and brushes for debris build up. How often your vacuum needs some routine maintenance can depend on how often you use it. In most cases, once or twice a month should be sufficient.


Because a vacuum is considered one of the most frequently used appliances in the home, you should consider purchasing a new model as an important investment. This means, don’t make the price the determining factor. If you want a model that’s not going to clog often or need to be replaced annually, then you can expect to pay more. Vacuums are available in a variety of price brackets ranging from fifty dollars up to four or five hundred. Of course, you don’t have to pay several hundreds of dollars for a good model, but a higher price tag can often indicate a more durable, powerful vacuum.


Many manufacturers will cover their vacuums for at least thirty days. If you’re planning on spending a few hundred dollars on a new vacuum, then make sure it comes with at least a twelve-month warranty. Higher-priced products may come with a two to four-year warranty which will cover the motor and manufacturing defects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wireless cleaner and duster

Are Bagless Vacuums Better than Bagged?

Models that use a bag are able to hold more dirt. With a bagless model, you can save cash that would otherwise be spent on vacuum bags, but the model will also come equipped with a filter that must be periodically cleaned and replaced.

Should I Dust or Vacuum First?

You should always dust first, then vacuum. Dust, debris, dirt, and other particles are floating through the air in your home constantly. In order to stop sneezing or prevent it, make sure you wipe the surfaces down first, using a microfiber duster or a damp cloth, both of which will work to trap dust and prevent it from floating in the air.

How Do I Stop My House from Being so Dusty?

Make sure you dust and vacuum your home at least once a week. If you have pets or a problem with dust in general, then dusting and vacuuming more often may be necessary. If you or someone in your family is allergic to dust, then I recommend dusting and vacuuming at least three times a week.

Why Does My House Have So Much Dust?

Dirty filters can be to blame for an increase in dust in the home. If your house seems more dusty than usual, make sure you check the HVAC filters. If your air filter is clean, this can indicate that it’s not working properly. Additionally, if you are not dusting and vacuuming your home at least once a week, this can be a big reason behind excess dust.

Which Room Should I Vacuum First?

Always clean the toughest room first. Since cleaning the living room is often very time-consuming because it’s the biggest common space in the home, dust and vacuum this room first. After handling this room, hit the other common spaces of the home before moving to the bedrooms. By handling the big rooms first you’ll find that dusting and vacuuming the smaller rooms will go by quickly.

Final Thoughts

The best upright vacuum should provide enough power to allow you to easily suction up dirt, debris, and pet hair. It should also be able to handle different surfaces, if you have both carpeted and hardwood floors in the home. Of course, the type of upright vacuum you choose should depend on the type of flooring you have in your home, how big your home is, how often you need to vacuum, and whether or not you have pets. This guide and my product recommendations are designed to point you in the right direction, so you can easily find a model that will suit your cleaning needs and your budget.

About the author 

Karen Pugh