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Best Upright Vacuums From Consumer Reports' Tests

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

Upright vacuum cleaners in the Consumer Reports lab.
Test technician Alex Nasrallah takes inventory of the uprights in CR's vacuum lab.
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If you’re looking for a new vacuum, check out the uprights when you shop. These vacuums outperform canister models on carpets and are much easier to store. Upright vacuums outsell all other types by far. In fact, almost half the vacuums on the market are upright models, according to NPD, a market research group.

The upright vacuum has a design edge over canisters when it comes to carpet cleaning. “With the full weight of the vacuum sitting over the powerbrush, 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. 

How We Test Vacuums
Consumer Reports is continually testing vacuums in its labs. For the carpet-cleaning test, we embed talc, sand, and pet hair into carpet before vacuuming. For bare floors, we use the same type of debris and observe whether the vacuum picks them up or scatters them 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. Both are determined based on information from CR’s member survey regarding respondents’ experiences with more than 51,000 upright, canister, and stick vacuums purchased over the past 10 years. A brand’s reliability rating gauges the likelihood that newly purchased models will have problems within five years, while owner satisfaction shows how likely our members are to recommend a vacuum to others. 

Here are eight great upright vacuums from our tests, arranged alphabetically, not in order of Overall Score. For more on vacuums, see our buying guide and our latest vacuum ratings.

1

Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150
Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150

    Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150

    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 that 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, however. It’s also heavier than most, weighing 21 pounds. It has a 35-foot cord, which is fairly long, and an indicator that lets you know when the bag should be replaced. In our survey, Kenmore receives middling scores for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

    2

    Kenmore Pet Friendly CrossOver 31220
    Kenmore Pet Friendly CrossOver 31220

      Kenmore Pet Friendly CrossOver 31220

      CR’s take: At 18 pounds, the bagless Kenmore Pet Friendly Crossover 31220 is lighter than its brandmate above. It matches the Kenmore 31150 with top-notch bare-floor cleaning and, true to its name, earns an Excellent rating at picking up piles of cat fur. It falls short of our top marks for carpet cleaning, earning a still-impressive Very Good rating. And unlike some bagless models, it’s top-notch at retaining the debris it cleans up. But this Kenmore is noisy, and the cord is 29 feet long, a foot shorter than the cord on some of the vacuums featured here.

      3

      Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog
      Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog

        Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog

        CR’s take: If you have pets and carpeting, the bagged Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog is the upright vacuum for you—it aces both those tests. 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 earns top marks for owner satisfaction in our survey but only average for predicted reliability.

        4

        Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away NV831
        Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away...

          Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away...

          CR’s take: The Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away NV831 is a good choice whether you have bare floors or carpet, earning an Excellent rating for floors and a Very Good score for carpet. But it’s so-so at removing pet hair, so if you have a dog or cat, there are better choices. It handles and traps dirt well, but it’s a bit on the noisy side. The bagless model weighs 18 pounds and has a 30-foot cord. Shark gets a Very Good rating for predicted reliability and also has high owner satisfaction.

          5

          Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away Speed NV800
          Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away...

            Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away...

            CR’s take: At 15 pounds the bagless Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away Speed NV800 is one of the lighter uprights on this list. It earns an Excellent rating for cleaning bare floors and is almost as good at removing pet hair. But cleaning carpet is a challenge, so it’s not the best choice for homes with rugs. Emissions are clean—no debris is released back into the room—and it handles well. The cord is 30 feet long.

            6

            Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away NV586 (Target)
            Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away...

              Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away...

              CR’s take: A Target exclusive, the Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away NV586 has a 26-foot cord and weighs roughly 16 pounds. It receives an Excellent rating in both 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.

              7

              Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed NV680
              Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away...

                Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away...

                CR’s take: At 14 pounds, the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed NV680 is the lightest model on this list. But it’s no lightweight at cleaning, and it’s one of the quietest bagless uprights in our tests, earning a rating of Very Good for noise. It does a solid job of getting embedded dirt out of carpets, plus it’s a beast at removing pet hair, a must if you have a dog or cat. This vacuum is great at keeping debris from flying back into the room, and it handles very well. The cord is 30 feet long.

                8

                Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away NV501
                Shark Rotator Professional...

                  Shark Rotator Professional...

                  CR’s take: If you have mostly bare floors, the Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away NV501 is for you; it earns an Excellent rating in our test for carpetless floors. It’s not bad on carpets, either, earning a Very Good rating in that test. This Shark is easy to maneuver and keeps dirt trapped inside the vacuum. But it’s not the best bet for households with pets. In our tests, it struggles to vacuum up pet hair. It weighs 17 pounds and has a 30-foot cord.

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                  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.