Best Upright Vacuum in 2020

The best upright vacuum, and our #1 pick, is the versatile Bissell 9595A Vacuum ($75.99). It has a price that’s tough to beat, along with multi-level filtration that works, a canister that’s a breeze to empty, and an accessory wand with a collection of simple attachments for cleaning nearly anything in your house – all without being too cumbersome to move around so you get in and out of those tight corners with ease.

Keep reading to learn how we chose and the 2 other vacuums that made our list thanks to impressive features and power.

Top Upright Vacuum Comparison Chart

Bissell 9595ADyson Ball Multi Floor UprightShark Rocket Ultra-Light
Rank#1 - Editor's Choice/Best Upright Bagless Vacuum#2 - Best Upright Vacuum for Pet Hair#3 - Best Lightweight Upright Vacuum
Amazon Rating4andhalf-stars4andhalf-stars4andhalf-stars
Brush Rollgreen-check-markgreen-check-markgreen-check-mark
Dust TrappingMulti-level filter with washable foam layer"Whole Machine" HEPA filtration with
washable lifetime filter
Water LiftUnknown270 air wattsUnknown
Weight15.1 pounds17.32 pounds8.6 pounds
Air FlowUnknownUnknownUnknown
ContainerHalf-gallon CanisterHalf-gallon CanisterSmall canister
On Board AccessoriesThree Tools, Extension WandCombination tool and stair tool3 Tools plus Floor Attachment
Buy NowBuy NowBuy Now

How We Choose the Best Upright Vacuum

Taking a vacuum cleaner for a spin is, of course, a great way to see how it functions. But we also care about particular specs which we have found to have an impact on overall quality. Here are several that really help us find what is the best upright vacuum out there:

  • Suction Power: Suction power is sometimes measured by quantifiable specs, such as “over 100 inches of water lift” (which would be a great rating, by the way) – or by air flow, which shows how much suction power a vacuum can deploy at once for taking care of carpets at high speed. At other times, suction is graded by how tightly sealed the vacuum cleaner is, or what type of motor it uses. No matter which metric is used, we look at suction because it describes just how well a vacuum can pull out dust from deep within your carpets.
  • Weight: Weight is a surprisingly important feature of vacuum cleaners, especially upright models. The top rated upright vacuums should always be light enough to easily carry around and up or down stairs. Go above 15 pounds, and you’d better have a whole lot of power to make up for them being on the heavy side.
  • Steering: Steering refers to how easily a vacuum cleaner head can turn and pivot to reach awkward spaces. Smaller vacuum cleaners tend to be better at this, but certain features – like the Dyson ball – may also help to improve steering in larger models as well.
  • Adjustable Heads: An adjustable roller head can change its height and position based on the surface that it is cleaning. We like to see automatic adjustable heads that change position themselves when you move to a new area, but adjustable features in general are a good thing to have, even if you have to change them manually.
  • Dust Collection and Disposal: Specifically, how easy is the vacuum cleaner to empty? Are bags easy to replace? Are canisters easy to empty? You’ll notice that our top picks include canister models that you can open from the bottom and empty directly into the trash.
  • Whipping Out Accessories: Vacuum cleaner accessories are great – if they are easy to use. We really appreciate accessories that you can quickly detach, use to clean a chair or step, and then slip back in without missing a beat.

Related: Dyson DC39 Multi Floor Vacuum Review

Why You Should Buy a New Upright Vacuum Cleaner

If you’ve been considering canister vs. upright vacuum cleaners for a residential home, there are plenty of reasons to go with an upright model. Today’s uprights are powerful, versatile, and a lot easier to lug around compared to canister vacuums, which are generally more suited to commercial applications. With new design materials and less focus on metal parts, today’s uprights are also lighter than older versions!

Upright vacuum cleaners can also add new, much-needed technologies to your cleaning routine. HEPA filters can drastically cut down on dust and help people with allergies or asthma. Lightweight models can help older people clean their homes more easily with less risk of injury, and adjustable features allow for more thorough cleaning of carpets when switching surfaces.

Finally, an upright is a great upgrade if you are moving into a bigger house with a lot more floor space, and need a vacuum cleaner that can match!

Read More: Best Vacuum Cleaner for Carpets

#1 Pick  Bissell 9595A – Editor’s Choice/Best Upright Bagless Vacuum

Bissell 9595a
Bissell’s all-purpose carpet cleaning vacuum is ultra-affordable.

Price: $75.99 | Brush Roll: Rotating with Clear window | Dust Trapping: Multi-level filter with washable foam layer| Container: Canister | On-Board Accessories: Three Tools, Extension Wand | Weight: 15.1 pounds

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: A superb price and powerful vacuum features meet in this affordable model.

There are good reasons this Bissell model is a bestseller, and one of the top factors is that low price. You can’t readily find this much vacuum on the market for such a great deal, which is one of the most impressive features of this model – but that’s only one of many. The 9595A also comes with “cyclonic” cleaning, which provides some extra suction power, and a welcome multi-filtration system including a washable foam tank filter to make sure none of the dust makes it back into the air. The brush, specifically designed to dig down deep into carpet, also proved highly effective, reducing cleaning times for thicker carpets in your home.

Of course, some surfaces can’t be reached by the roller, which is why this Bissell model also comes with a snap-off hose, extension wand, and several dusting/crevice tools to clean all the hard-to-reach spaces. When the canister fills it, you can use its bottom-based opening to dump everything right in the trash, too (as long as your aim is good).

One last thing – a couple bundles are available for this vacuum, including odor elimination and easy maintenance bundles that basically just add another accessory for a few more dollars. That may be worth it if you have a specific concern that these bundles address, but otherwise you don’t need to worry about which choice to pick.

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#2 Pick  Dyson Ball Multi Floor Upright – Best Upright Vacuum for Pet Hair

Dyson Ball Multi Floor Upright
Dyson’s upright model brings extra power and durability for those with tougher jobs.

Price: $212.49 | Brush Roll: Self-adjusting | Dust Trapping: “Whole Machine” HEPA filtration with washable lifetime filter | Container: Half-gallon Canister| On-Board Accessories: Combination tool and stair tool | Weight: 17.32 pounds

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: A more powerful model is excellent for dust and dander control.

Dyson’s durable model includes a 5-year warranty and an excellent, high-end cleaner head that self-adjusts to different floor/carpet levels, essentially providing a better seal on every surface. It also has that famous Dyson ball for more maneuverability (it really can make a difference around sharp corners), and an accessory setup that we loved with a wand that can be instantly detached and used at a moment’s notice. The HEPA dust trapping sounds impressive, but keep in mind that this is “whole machine,” which basically means that dust is trapped more through sealing technology than through any specific filter.

What kept this model from being our top choice? Well, the price is a little high – especially compared to the affordable Bissell model – and it’s easily the heaviest vacuum cleaner on our list, which isn’t suitable for everyone. If you want to compare Dyson upright vacuum cleaners, we also have a few other articles and reviews that can help out in that regard.

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#3 Pick  Shark Rocket Ultra-Light – Best Lightweight Upright Vacuum

Shark Rocket Ultra Light Upright
Shark’s lightweight model is perfect for carrying around the house.

Price: $160.00 | Brush Roll: Yes | Dust Trapping: N/A | Container: Canister | On-Board Accessories: 3 Tools plus Floor Attachment | Weight: 8.6 pounds

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: This lightweight vacuum is ideal for smaller areas and lighter work.

Have a smaller home or cleaning project? Check out this Shark Rocket, one of the lightest uprights that we’ve seen yet, a model designed for both carpets and hardwood floors (it comes with a microfiber pad to help with hardwood). It may not have the power of our other models, but it can still get the job done, especially with the upholstery and dusting tools included with the vacuum. The swivel steering also makes this vacuum easier to move around than it may look like from the outset. Finally, the conversion option to a hand vac cemented this model as one of our top picks, because sometimes you just need a smaller option to take care of a sudden mess.

Note that while this model is wall-mounted, it is not wireless. You will still need to plug it in before use.

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What to Look for When Buying the Best Upright Vacuum?

  • The Right Size for Your Home: Different homes have different needs. Our Bissell model is great for an average home with a lot of carpet in it, while our Shark pick is better for smaller spaces. Dyson’s more powerful model is great for larger spaces and lots of dust or dirt. Always remember to fit the vacuum cleaner to the floors you have, and not the other way around. There are many unique vacuum devices out there for your needs.
  • Bin/Container Size: Uprights don’t have containers as large as canisters, but capacity is still important. The larger the canister, the longer you can vacuum without taking a break to empty out the vacuum.
  • Cord Length: People sometimes forget about cord length, but it’s still one of the most important parts of the average upright model, which depends on its cord for mobility. Look for cords that are long enough to reach everywhere in your rooms. The average is about 30 feet, but there is some variance here.
  • Conversion Features: A convertible vacuum cleaner can, quite simply, turn into another type of vacuum if necessary. This is an ideal feature to look for if you have a lot of weird corners and furniture to clean. Also look for less convertible but still useful accessories that can be used instantly when you pass by furniture.
  • A Broad “Cleaning Path”: The cleaning path is the wide of the vacuum head roller. Wider paths clean more quickly, but are a lot harder to move around chairs, stools and other objects. Small paths take more time but do a better job of cleaning when it comes to small spaces. Note the width (if this spec is provided), and see if it matches your home.
  • Adjustable Speeds and Power: It’s always nice to have options. Vacuum cleaners that allow you to adjust suction or speed are best suited to rooms with two different types of floors with very different cleaning needs. Flip a switch or nozzle, and you can move between modes so that every floor gets what it needs.

Read More: Dyson Hard Combines Mopping and Vacuuming in One

Mistakes to Avoid

Ignoring Filters: Filters are not only useful at extracting dust and making sure it doesn’t make it back into the air – they also impact vacuum suction capabilities. Dirty filters will lower suction power and create problems. So note the filter options when you buy the system, and if the filters need to be washed or replaced. Then make sure that you do it!

Buying a Great Vacuum…That’s Too Heavy: We’ve talked about weight a couple times, but it’s worth underlining. You’ll need to carry or push upright models frequently, which makes their weight important, especially for the elderly or those with physical limitations. The most powerful vacuum cleaner in the world isn’t worth it if you can’t safely operate it.

Never Using Accessories: It can be easy to appreciate accessories, but never use them. We looked for worthwhile accessory options so that they really could be worthwhile – and that means pulling them out and using them. You get your money’s worth from the vacuum cleaner this way, and those little areas in your home get cleaner.

Forgetting About Storage: Where are you going to put your upright vacuum cleaner? Is there enough space there for the model you want? Do you need to mount it on the wall? Don’t leave these questions for later.

Focusing on Design, Not Features: Let’s unpack what we mean by this: some buyers get distracted by visual features, like clear canister, that do nothing to improve the vacuum cleaner’s function at all. It’s nice if you like the look of a vacuum, but it’s important to remember that features should have a purpose. If they’re just there to look pretty, don’t make any decisions based on that aspect.

What Else You Should Think About

Just because upright models are very common around the house, that doesn’t mean you have to choose our top pick in this category. There are other viable residential options these days – like robot floor vacuums that can take a lot of the work out of cleaning, or ultra-light wireless models for more free form work. If uprights aren’t impressing you, take a look at other choices!

Also, if you’re concerned about health aspects and need a vacuum cleaner for someone especially sensitive to dust, you make want to investigate certification programs and other ways that filtration systems are rated. Other devices, like the best air purifiers, can help supplement a vacuum cleaner that isn’t quite good enough at filtration.

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Tyler Lacoma

When he isn't enjoying the beautiful Northwest outdoors, you can find Tyler on business and tech sites, writing about the latest news, analyzing trends, and generally making the Internet a more interesting place.

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One Comment

  1. my patented device works as well on Hoover and the Dyson’s (25)(30)(33)(50)(65) it slips into the power cable clip on the rear of the wand vacuum , the wand can be extended to the full length of the hose about 9’6” without the vacuum chasing the user, or banging into furniture, or in my case flipping over after chasing me across the wood floor in the kitchen, I tied the 25 to the dinning room chair with my belt, you guessed it my pants fell down I can laugh now but at the time I was mad $325.00 for the best vacuum ever invented, what a let down. I called the 800 number on the box, I was told the hose is stiff, stretch it to the limit and tie it off for a few days and it will help. in the meantime we will send you a new hose (GREAT) not so fast the hose pulled back to 39″ the (STOP VAC tm.) holds the vacuum in place on wood-tile-concrete and carpet, it can be made for about $12.00 and weights about a half pound when not in use it hangs on the vacuum in a small woven bag that I get at the dollar tree.

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