Best Upright Vacuums of 2022

    Ten models that tackle pet hair, carpet, and dirty floors with impressive results

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    testing lab with dozens of upright vacuums lined up and test technician in background Photo: Consumer Reports

    If you’re looking for a new full-sized vacuum, you may be weighing the choice between an upright and a canister. Both have their champions, but upright vacuums outsell all other types by far. In fact, almost half the vacuums on the market are uprights, according to NPD, a market research group.

    In addition to being easier to store, when it comes to carpet cleaning, upright vacs have a design edge over canisters: “With the full weight of the vacuum sitting over the power brush, you can more easily push it down into the carpet pile to suck up the debris caught deep inside,” says Frank Rizzi, a senior lab technician for CR who tests vacuums. In our tests, the best uprights are good at cleaning bare floors, too.

    Consumer Reports is continually testing vacuums in its labs. For our carpet-cleaning test, we embed talc, sand, and pet hair into carpet before vacuuming. For bare floors, we use the same type of debris to observe whether the vacuum picks it up or scatters it around instead. To judge how easy an upright is to operate, we maneuver the vacuum around and under furniture just like you would.

    The Overall Score for each model incorporates results for each of these tests, as well as ratings for that brand’s reliability and owner satisfaction, based on information gathered from CR’s exclusive member surveys.

    Reliability and owner satisfaction results in the lists below are gathered from Consumer Reports’ 2020, 2021, and 2022 Winter Surveys covering 58,781 upright vacuums owned by members who purchased a new machine between 2012 and 2022.

    Here are 10 great bagged and bagless upright vacuums from our tests, listed in alphabetical order. For more on vacuums, see our vacuum buying guide and our complete vacuum ratings.

    CR’s take: This sturdy upright excels at cleaning both bare floors and pet hair, earning an Excellent rating on both of those tests. It does almost as well on carpet, so if you have mixed floors, it could be a good choice for your cleaning collection. Airflow gets above-average marks, and its emissions are fairly clean. The brand earned a middle-of-the-road rating for predicted reliability but only a Fair score for owner satisfaction.

    CR’s take: Although “pet” is part of this model’s name, the Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150 is better at cleaning bare floors than pet hair, earning an Excellent rating in our bare-floor test. It still earns a Very Good rating for removing pet hair, though. It reliably cleans carpet and has clean emissions, meaning everything it sucks up stays in the vacuum. It’s a bit on the noisy side compared with some of the other models on this list. It’s also heavier than most, weighing 21 pounds. It has a fairly long 35-foot cord and an indicator that lets you know when the bag should be replaced. Kenmore earned average scores for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

    CR’s take: If you have a pet that sheds and your floors are hardwood or tile, the Kenmore Pet Friendly 31140 will serve you well. It earns Excellent ratings on the bare-floor test. It also does a fine job cleaning carpet. Suction through the hose is impressive, so if you use your attachments to clean curtains or upholstery, you won’t be disappointed. Emissions are clean, meaning this bagged vacuum will retain what it sucks up. It comes with a HEPA filter, which is designed to capture more dirt particles, and a light that indicates when the bag is full so that you know when it’s time to change it, two pluses if you’re sensitive to dust.

    CR’s take: The Kirby Avalir 2 is one of the most expensive uprights in CR’s ratings. But you do get impressive carpet cleaning capabilities; this model earns an Excellent rating in that test. It also aces our bare-floor and pet-hair cleaning tests, and does it all without spewing debris back into the air. But it has two shortcomings: It weighs a hefty 23 pounds, contributing to its Fair rating for handling, and it’s one of the noisiest uprights we’ve tested. Based on our survey data, Kirby uprights earned a Very Good rating for predicted reliability and a Fair rating for owner satisfaction. Note that Kirby vacuums are sold only by independent Kirby distributors via in-home demonstrations.

    CR’s take: If you have pets and carpeting, the bagged Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog is the upright vacuum for you. It aces our tests for cleaning pet hair and carpet. In fact, there’s not much this vacuum can’t do. It earns an Excellent rating for cleaning bare floors, and no matter the surface, it doesn’t spew debris back into the room. A bonus: It’s quieter than most uprights. With a generous 40-foot cord, you’ll have a lot of running room, too. But our testers found the 22-pound vacuum a bit harder to handle than some other models. Miele earned top marks for owner satisfaction in our survey but only an average rating for predicted reliability.

    CR’s take: The 17-pound Dyson Ball Animal 2 has impressive results in CR’s lab tests for carpet cleaning. It aces our bare-floor and pet-hair tests, too. Emissions are clean, so this vacuum won’t spew debris back into the room (although emptying the bin can stir up some dust). It comes with attachments that help you get into tight spaces. In our brand reliability survey, Dyson uprights earn middle-of-the-road scores for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

    CR’s take: A recent addition to our ratings, the Kenmore Pet Friendly Cross-Over DU3017 is another strong contender. It earns Excellent ratings for cleaning bare floors and removing pet hair, living up to its model name. It’s almost as good at cleaning carpet, and tool airflow is impressive, making this a good choice if you use your attachments a lot to clean upholstery or curtains. Emissions are clean. But like some of its brandmates, this Kenmore is a bit noisy, and our testers report that it’s not the easiest vacuum to maneuver around and under furniture.

    CR’s take: A Target exclusive, the Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away NV586 has a 26-foot cord and weighs about 16 pounds. It receives an Excellent rating in our pet-hair and bare-floors tests, though it doesn’t fare as well on carpet. Our testers found that this vacuum handles well, but it’s noisier than other upright vacuums. In our member survey, Shark earned Very Good marks for both predicted reliability and Excellent for owner satisfaction.

    CR’s take: One of the many Sharks in our vacuum ratings, the newly tested Shark Rotator Lift-Away ADV DuoClean LA500 rises almost to the top of our bagless upright ratings, acing our tests for bare floors and pet hair and earning a Very Good rating in our carpet-cleaning test. The “Lift-Away” in the model name refers to the fact that you can lift the collection bin away from the main handle and use it as a canister. This comes in handy when cleaning stairs and reaching into corners for cobwebs. Airflow is ample, and the Shark comes with several attachments.

    CR’s take: The 17-pound bagless Shark Vertex DuoClean has plenty of bells and whistles. Testers like the Duo brush roll, which is great for both carpet and bare floors. The vacuum also picks up pet hair especially well, earning an Excellent rating on that test. It has exceptional suction power and does a solid job containing small dust particles in the dustbin. The lift-away canister makes it easy to clean out-of-the-way places.

    Mary H.J. Farrell

    Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.