The 4 Best Upright Vacuums for Deep
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The 4 Best Upright Vacuums for Deep

Jun 15, 2023

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By Camryn Rabideau

When it comes to cleaning your home, upright vacuums are the most popular style of full-size vacuum, thanks largely to their ease of use. "Upright vacuums are nice because they are one piece to maneuver versus two like that of a canister," says Jill Koch, owner and creator of Jill Comes Clean. "Being one unit also makes uprights easier to store." They’re also more powerful than robot and cordless stick vacuums.

There are hundreds of upright vacuums available today, and most vacuum brands offer several different upright models, which can make it challenging to find the best option for your needs. We spoke to cleaning experts to narrow down the best brands and models you can buy today, and tested nine popular products to find which perform the best in terms of suction power, debris pickup, maneuverability and more.

The best upright vacuum we tested was the Shark Stratos, which easily handles all sorts of debris thanks to its dual brush rolls, and was unmatched in terms of versatility. For households with pets, the Dyson Ball Animal 3 did a great job extracting hair from carpets—without getting its brush roll wrapped up—and also offers a larger dustbin. We also recommend the Dirt Devil Razor Pet and Shark Navigator Lift-Away ADV.

$299 at Shark

$429 Save $130

$359 at Walmart

$429 Save $70

Dual brush rolls and a lift-away canister make this the most versatile upright vacuum, ideal for whole-home cleaning.

The Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum (specifically the AZ3000 model) is our top pick for most homes thanks to its powerful suction, all-around cleaning performance and the versatile Lift-Away design. It was the only vacuum we tested that has two brush rolls—a soft, fuzzy brush for picking up fine particles and a classic bristled brush roll that digs into carpets—and it performed impressively well on both hard floors and rugs of all heights, picking up the majority of dirt, dust and pet hair in just one pass.

The soft brush roll allowed this vacuum to pick up fine dust much faster than other models in our testing, and it captured larger pieces of debris like uncooked rice just as easily, never sending the pieces flying across the floor. Additionally, the vacuum handled pet hair better than most of its competition, pulling long strands out of the carpet without them getting wrapped around the brush roll. The Stratos is also equipped with a HEPA filter, which helps it capture fine dust particles and other allergens and prevent them from being expelled back into your home. "HEPA filters matter if you want to limit the dust, dander and allergens in the air," says Koch. "For anyone with allergies, I would say a HEPA filter is probably an important factor when selecting a vacuum."

While a few of the other vacuums we tested had similar suction power, the Stratos stood out thanks to its versatile design. The vacuum's Powered Lift-Away mode allows you to remove the canister from the vacuum's frame while still using the cleaner head—creating a setup similar to the design of a canister vacuum. With this feature, we were able to easily clean under low-profile furniture with the vacuum; it was the only model we tested that could reach all the way under a bookcase with the cleaner head attached. The Lift-Away design also comes in handy when cleaning stairs, as the detached canister is lightweight and can be used with the vacuum's wand or just the hand tool. In terms of accessories, the vacuum comes with a crevice tool and upholstery tool that can be attached to the wand, but it doesn't include a dusting brush.

There were several other features that solidified the Stratos as our top overall choice. All of its controls, including floor-type selection, are located right on the handle, making it convenient to operate, and it has an odor-neutralizing cartridge in the floor head that left a fresh scent in the room after we vacuumed. Despite being one of the heavier options we tested, the vacuum has swivel steering that makes it easy to maneuver around obstacles, and it seems to almost be self-propelled, moving itself forward with minimal effort on our part. Our only real complaint is that the "max fill" line on the vacuum's dustbin is quite low, and the debris quickly reached the line when we were vacuuming up pet hair, forcing us to empty it twice during one cleaning session.

$373 at Amazon

$400 Save $27

$400 at Dyson

Vanes prevent pet hair from tangling around this vacuum's brush roll, and a large dustbin can hold more debris.

For households with pets, the Dyson Ball Animal 3 delivers powerful suction and a variety of features that make it easier to remove hair from your home. The vacuum's cleaner head has thick, stiff bristles that dig deep into rugs, pulling up pet hair that other vacuums left behind, and we found that its "hair removal vanes" do their job well, preventing long pet hairs from becoming wrapped around the brush roll—a common problem for pet owners.

The Dyson upright vacuum delivered a similar performance to the Shark Stratos in terms of debris pickup, easily capturing dirt and dust from both carpeting and hard floors. We never needed more than two passes to pick up debris, and the vacuum has enough suction power to pick up even the finest dust from hard floors. In fact, the suction is so strong that it sometimes makes the vacuum hard to push, especially on high-pile carpeting, so it's important to use the floor selection switch, located on the top of the cleaner head, to choose the proper height for the brush roll. If it's on the wrong setting, the vacuum can be hard to maneuver.

The vacuum's large dustbin is another factor that makes it well-suited for households with pets. The "max fill" line is located about halfway up the canister (significantly higher than that on the Stratos), allowing you to pick up more hair and debris before needing to empty the bin. The Dyson Ball Animal 3 also comes in several models: the base option, which we tested, as well as the Complete and Extra editions. While the vacuum itself is the same for each model, the base model comes with a combination crevice-dusting tool and a stair tool, while the Complete and Extra versions include additional pet-focused accessories such as a powered upholstery tool, a pet grooming brush, a mattress tool and more.

While the Dyson is a powerful vacuum, there were a few reasons it wasn't able to edge out the Stratos as our best overall pick. For one, the controls simply aren't as convenient: The on/off button on the Dyson is located on top of the canister, and the height adjustment is on the cleaner head, which means you have to park the vacuum and bend over to change it. The Dyson is also less versatile—it doesn't fit under low furniture due to its bulky ball design, and the vacuum's hose is extremely stiff, making it awkward and sometimes even challenging to wield the instant-release wand.

$130 at Amazon

$135 at Chewy

It's easy to drive this compact vacuum around obstacles, and it beats out several pricier models in terms of cleaning performance.

The Dirt Devil Razor Pet is more compact and budget-friendly than our other picks, but it still has plenty of suction power to tackle everyday messes. During testing, it performed well on carpeting, easily picking up dirt, dust and larger debris in just one or two passes. It didn't fare quite as well on hard floors, knocking around a few pieces of uncooked rice and requiring a few extra passes to pick up fine dust particles, but overall, we thought its suction power and cleaning performance were impressive given its price point, which is less than half that of the Shark Stratos and Dyson Ball Animal 3.

This upright vacuum is notably more compact and lighter than the Shark and Dyson models, making it well-suited for smaller homes. It has only one suction level and brush roll height, but it has a toggle switch on the top of the canister that lets you turn off the brush roll to clean hard floors, if needed. Its swivel steering and lighter weight make the Dirt Devil easy to maneuver around obstacles and into tight corners, and it was able to clean further under a bookcase than most of the other vacuums we tested thanks to its compact size.

There's a large lever that releases the vacuum's wand if you need to clean stairs or along the edges of your ceiling, and we found it was quick and convenient to use. The Razor Pet also comes with a combination duster and crevice tool, as well as a hair removal tool for upholstery. The upholstery tool isn't the best; it's not motorized and instead relies on its own suction to spin the mini brush roll, and it often gets jammed on loose fabric like pillows.

Despite its being marketed toward pet owners, we found that this vacuum's greatest weakness was its brush roll, which is prone to getting wrapped up in pet hair. If you have animals with longer fur, you’ll need to be vigilant about maintaining the vacuum's bristles, which will likely involve cutting the hair off on a regular basis. Otherwise, it may affect the vacuum's performance and lifespan.

$190 at Amazon

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$204 at Shark

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The Shark Navigator Lift-Away ADV is light and well-balanced, making it easy to carry around your home.

While their designs are similar, the Shark Navigator Lift-Away ADV is a smaller and lower-price option than the Stratos that still performs well across a variety of surfaces. We particularly liked that this upright model is only 12.3 pounds, making it much easier to carry around than the Stratos, which weighs 17.2 pounds.

During testing, the Navigator needed two or three passes to pick up most debris, as its suction isn't quite as powerful as that of the bigger vacuums. It didn't fling any rice around the hard floors, though, and it has the same self-propelled design as the Stratos, which makes it easy to drive, even on thick carpeting. The vacuum's on/off switch is located on top of the canister—it's actually a three-way toggle that allows you to select whether you’re cleaning carpeting or hard floors. There's also a slider on the vacuum's handle that lets you switch between regular and maximum suction.

This Shark vacuum also features the brand's Lift-Away design, which makes it easy to clean stairs and high areas. However, it's not as versatile as the Stratos. The biggest difference is that the Navigator's cleaner head can't be used when the canister is detached; you can only operate the wand in Lift-Away mode. The Navigator comes with a crevice tool, dusting brush and powered pet hair removal brush for upholstery, and there are storage spots on board for the first two accessories.

Because this vacuum is more compact, it has a smaller dustbin than our other top picks, and the "max fill" line is only around an inch above the bottom of the canister. The bin filled up quickly during testing, especially when we were sucking up pet hair, so this vacuum may not be the best choice if you have pets.

$198 at Walmart

$259 Save $61

The Eureka Innova Upright was a close runner-up as a lower-price pick, as it's powerful and well-built. It did a good job picking up different types of debris, and we liked that it has a button on the handle that lets you select the flooring type, as well as a "Quiet" mode that uses less suction. However, it's fairly heavy and lacks swivel steering, making it hard to maneuver, and it's more expensive than the Dirt Devil Razor Pet, which delivered a similar cleaning performance.

$101 at Bissell

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$107 at Target

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The Bissell CleanView Swivel Pet is lightweight for its size, and we especially liked that it has side brushes on the cleaner head that sweep dirt and dust out from along walls. This vacuum is another solid value pick, offering good suction on both hard floors and carpeting, but it's a bit bulky, especially next to the Dirt Devil Razor Pet, and not as easy to operate.

$62 at Amazon

$80 Save $18

$62 at Chewy

$75 Save $13

The Dirt Devil Endura Reach was the lightest upright vacuum in our testing, weighing just 9 pounds, but its performance wasn't on the same level as its competitors’. It has just a single setting with moderate suction, and it's louder than average during operation.

The Eureka PowerSpeed is inexpensive and lightweight, and while it had average performance on carpeting, the vacuum struggled on hard floors, failing to pick up a fine coat of dust even after six passes. It also lacks swivel steering, making it harder to maneuver.

The Hoover Swivel XL Pet was bulky and awkward during testing, and certain components, such as its height adjustment switch, felt cheap and flimsy. While we loved the extra-large dustbin, which was the largest of all the models we tested, the vacuum didn't wow us with its suction and struggled to pick up fine dust particles from hard floors.

We focused on bagless upright vacuum cleaners during testing, as our experts agreed they’re generally easier to use and less expensive to maintain. However, if you prefer a bagged vacuum, the Kenmore Elite is a popular model that's available at a moderate price point.

I’ve been a product tester for more than six years, and I’ve conducted firsthand testing and reviews on a range of vacuums, including everything from classic upright models to cordless stick and robot vacuums. As someone with several pets—including two long-haired golden retrievers—vacuuming is part of my daily routine, and I’ve owned several upright models over the past decade.

I didn't rely on my experience alone. Throughout the research and testing process, I consulted with several experts, including Kathy Cohoon, owner of a Two Maids housecleaning franchise, and Jill Koch, owner and creator of Jill Comes Clean. Both offered guidance on choosing the right vacuum for your home and tips on how to test upright vacuums. I also spoke to Allen Rathey, director at the Indoor Health Council, who provided more technical insights on how vacuums work and what makes good models stand out from the rest.

Using guidance from our experts, as well as our own research and personal experience with upright vacuums, we came up with the following testing criteria, which we used to evaluate each model:

We created a testing area with controlled variables and specific amounts of debris, including uncooked rice, dirt and flour (to replicate dust), and we noted how many passes it took for each vacuum to pick up all the debris. We repeated these tests on both medium-pile carpeting and hardwood floors. We also evaluated each vacuum's ability to pick up dog hair (which is in no short supply in my home). In addition to measuring how many passes it took the vacuum to remove hair from a carpet, we noted how much hair ended up wrapped around each vacuum's brush roll. We evaluated each vacuum on ease of use, comparing them head-to-head to see which models were the easiest and most comfortable to operate.

To assess each vacuum's maneuverability and size, we carried each one up and down a flight of stairs. We also used each model to vacuum around common obstacles like dining room chairs and under a bookcase, taking note of how easy they were to push and turn. For vacuums that had a number of settings, we tested each mode, noting whether they were beneficial or just gimmicky. We also used any tools and accessories that came with each vacuum, using them to clean upholstery, stairs and crevices and evaluating their effectiveness.