Upright vacuums offer plenty of advantages over cordless and canister models. They’re easy to store, with powerful cleaning and numerous onboard accessories. We’ve turned our vacuum expertise to finding and testing the best upright vacuum cleaners on the market right now.
We tested models at every price point, from powerful luxury models to a bargain hunter’s dream, and the Sebo X7 Automatic(available at Sebo) came out on top. Not only is it a fantastic upright, it's excellent for anyone suffering from allergies or pet dander.
These are the best upright vacuums we tested ranked, in order:
Sebo Automatic X7
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean
Shark Apex AZ1002
Shark NV352 Navigator Lift-Away
Dyson Ball Multifloor 2
Hoover WindTunnel 2 Whole House Rewind UH71250
Shark NV752 Rotator Powered Lift-Away TruePet
Bissell 22543 Cleanview Swivel Rewind Pet
Sebo Automatic X7
Weight: 17 pounds
Dirt container: Bag
Cord length: 40 feet
In the vacuum world, Sebo is known for its filtration. Their X7 model has three layers of filter. The first is the premotor S-class filter, which is rated on par with HEPA. (You can also buy HEPA filters for the X7, too.)
After the air passes through the motor it goes into the three-layered bag, which captures particulates. Finally, the electrostatic filter in the exhaust, similar to what you’d find in many air purifiers, helps to eliminate odors. The total package is a filtration system similar to what you’d find at a hospital.
Between its suction power and its filtration, the Sebo X7 can help your fight against pet dandruff, hair, or odors building up in your home.
On the performance front, the X7 is a tank. The lack of a swivel joint on the end prevents it from turning on a dime, but it makes up for its lack of maneuverability in power.
During carpet testing, it picked up 39% of the testing dirt per pass. Anything above 33% is a win for us, since it’s common practice to go over an area of carpet at least three times before moving on to the next patch.
The Dyson Animal 2 is the most powerful vacuum on this list. During carpet testing, it removed an average of 76.3% of the detritus we laid out for it in a single pass. The Animal 2 is also our highest rated bagless unit. It also has a washable filter, adding to its low-maintenance style.
We tested the Total Package version of the Animal 2, which comes with five attachments and a tote bag to carry them all in. After spending a week with it, we appreciate its tons of features, but it’s cumbersome to use. The unit itself tips the scales at 17.6 pounds, and with no solid handle on the back, it’s tough to lug up the stairs. Also, the massive ball joint on the Animal 2 makes it difficult to clean under furniture.
Like the name suggests, Shark’s Apex AZ1002 is their top-of-the-line model. Its DuoClean feature lets it easily clean on both hardwood and carpet. The Apex scored almost flawlessly on our debris tests. On linoleum, regular carpet, and shag carpet, this vacuum picked up uncooked rice, macaroni, and pet hair better than vacuums that cost hundreds more.
The Apex comes with a crevice tool, an upholstery tool, and a motorized brush head. Normally, we’d consider that a paltry spread for a Shark vacuum. However, the versatility of its motorized brush roll makes up for it. It's thin enough to slip between cushions, but powerful enough to get the job done.
Finally, the Apex excelled at our carpet cleaning tests, landing in the upper third of all the vacuums we’ve ever tested. On average, the Apex picked up 54% of the dirt we laid out for it, the best score of any Shark uprights on the market.
The Oreck XL2100RHS is a basic-but-solid floor cleaner. Its hyper-focused design includes no attachments or hoses to clean countertops or curtains. At just over 10 pounds, it’s easy to lift onto and up the stairs. Its five-inch profile is low enough to fit under most beds and some couches.
During cleaning tests, the Oreck picked up 30.25% of the testing dirt per pass. Normally, this is lower than what we like to see, but the XL2100RHS is so light that we think it’s powerful for its size.
Shark vacuums are well-loved online. The Shark Navigator NV352 alone has over 3,400 five-star reviews on Amazon. The Navigator is lighter than other Shark models, including the Apex. This makes it much easier to lug upstairs and maneuver around furniture.
During testing, the Navigator picked up around 38% of the dirt we laid out for it, so be prepared to go over an area at least three times before it’s clean. These results are fairly weak compared to other vacuums in this price range. However, the Navigator makes up for it in its features and warranty.
The Navigator comes with four cleaning attachments, including a two-foot-long crevice tool for hard-to-reach spots. It’s also backed by a five-year warranty, one of the best in the industry.
The Dyson Ball Multifloor 2 upright vacuum marks a crossroads between the company’s cordless and full-sized efforts. It weighs about 10% less than the Dyson Ball Animal 2 upright, and is subsequently about 10% less powerful.
The Multifloor 2 picked up around 64% of the testing dirt we laid out for it, which is well above average, but it lagged behind more powerful Dyson models like the Dyson Animal 2. Still, it offers a great value. You get Dyson’s engineering and attention to detail at a relatively affordable price.
As one of the oldest, most influential brands, there are places where people just say “hoover” instead of “vacuum.” The Hoover WindTunnel 2 Whole House Rewind perfectly illustrates why.
At a whopping 18 pounds, it’s one of the heaviest vacuums we’ve ever tested. In exchange for all the weight, you get a powerful vacuum. In testing, the Rewind picked up 50% of our dirt mixture in a single pass.
We also found its namesake rewind function to be useful. At a tap of a foot lever, the cord automatically gets sucked back into the unit, making storage a cinch.
Of all the vacuums we’ve tested, the Shark NV752 TruePet is the best for pet parents.
During testing, the NV752 picked up around 52% of the dirt laid out for it in a single pass.That places this Shark in the upper third of all the vacuums we’ve ever tested. (The top tier picks up around 70% per pass.)
While testing pet hair specifically, the NV752 passed with flying colors. Both its main brush head and the motorized attachment excelled at picking up cat and dog hair. The hose uses a latch system that has a satisfying click, so it’s easy to switch between cleaning the floor and furniture.
Finally, its Lift-Away feature turns the upright into a canister without wheels. The added maneuverability makes it easier to clean stairs and under furniture.
It’s on the heavier side, but that gripe aside, the NV752 truly is a great vacuum for dealing with pet hair.
The Bissell 22543 CleanView Swivel Rewind Pet is for animal lovers. It’s a pretty good entry-level upright that will last a long time. Its cord can tackle just about any room and automatically rewind afterward. Also, Bissell donates a portion of the proceeds from every purchase of this unit to animal shelters.
When we tested its cleaning ability, the Rewind Pet picked up 41.25% of the dirt per pass. It also impressed us with its edge-to-edge cleaning, providing suction all along its brush head.
I’m Jon Chan, the Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed. It’s my job to test and write about products ranging from coolers to laundry detergents. Along with my colleague Kyle Hamilton, we tested all the vacuums in this guide.
We test upright vacuums in our labs so that we can have both reproducible performance data and information that will be useful to our readers. We review the performance, features, and usability of each vacuum cleaner.
A good vacuum cleaner should be able to remove both fine dirt/dust and larger debris from your floor surfaces. We push each vacuum cleaner to its limit by making it clean up four types of messes: our homemade “dirt” made from sieved sand and baby powder, piles of pet hair, rice grains, and raw macaroni.
To determine how each vacuum performs on different floor surfaces, we test each vacuum on two swaths of carpet (high pile carpet and low pile carpet) and on a linoleum floor surface. Additionally, we test how easy it is for the vacuum cleaner to clean dirt or dust bunnies that have collected under furniture.
Still, if you’ve ever used a vacuum cleaner, you know that there’s more to a good vacuum than just how much dirt it removes. That’s why we also consider the vacuum’s noise level, attachments, cord length, weight, dirt capacity, warranty, mobility, battery life (for cordless models), and overall user experience. If a vacuum can both clean up a lot of dirt/debris and make the cleaning process feel hassle-free, it will make its way toward the top of our ranking system.
What You Should Know About Buying Upright Vacuum Cleaners
Should I Get a Bagged or Bagless Vacuum Cleaner?
It depends on what you prefer! Bagged vacuums usually offer better filtration and dust management. When you empty a dirt cup from a bagless upright vacuum, some of that dirt gets back into the air. However, bagged vacuums get emptied less, and can develop a bad odor in the meantime.
What Type of Floor Does an Upright Vacuum Clean Best?
Carpeting is divided into low-pile, high-pile, and ultra-plush categories. Most vacuums can deal with high and low-pile carpets, but only a select few are designed to deal with ultra-plush (shag). This special type of carpet feels super-soft, but because it’s so dense, some vacuums get stuck on it.
For bare floors, cordless vacuums with soft rollers are your best bet. Pine and other softwoods can get scratched and dinged by heavy vacuum use. When in doubt, use a broom and dustpan.
Are Expensive Vacuums Worth It?
Given our years of experience in testing vacuums, we have an understanding of what you get for your money.
In the sub-$100 category, every extra dollar you spend usually goes toward more suction power. All of the models we test in this price range carry the same bare-minimum array of attachments. When you spend a bit more, around $100 to $300, you start to see stratification in usability and features. We’re talking about more attachments, better joints so the vacuum moves with you, and better warranties.
Anything above the $300 range is showing for a premium market. When we test these vacuums, we’re looking for brush heads that won’t scratch delicate flooring, designs that won’t tip over, and motors with enough power to tackle the thickest of carpets.
Your cleaning style should also match your lifestyle. For example, if you live in a small apartment and spend lots of time in your car, you should shift your budget toward a cordless vacuum. Do you have a multi-level home with mostly hardwood floors? A canister vacuum is going to serve you the best.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.