Updated January 18, 2020 by Gabrielle Taylor

The 10 Best Upright Vacuums

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This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in March of 2015. While cleaning your home is definitely a chore, one of these upright vacuum cleaners can help make the process a little bit easier and go a lot faster. Many are equipped with attachments for deep cleaning thick rugs or lifting pet hair from your floors and furniture, and some include filters that keep allergens out of the air. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.

1. Shark Navigator

2. Dyson Multi Floor 2

3. Shark Rocket Ultra-Light

Editor's Notes

January 15, 2020:

Shark has been producing some of the best upright vacuums on the market recently, which is why we've added three of their models to our list. They stack up well against other high-end brands like Dyson, but are considerably cheaper and tend to have longer warranties. Shark's vacuums are well-made, and if something does go wrong, their customer service is reliable and prompt.

We also replaced the Hoover Air Bagless with its updated model, the Hoover Air Cordless, which is cheaper and weighs almost 3 pounds less.

We wanted to make sure to include a budget-friendly version for people who don't have a ton of money to spend, so when we removed the VonHaus 2 in 1, we made sure to replace it with the Eureka NES210 Blaze, a quality option that still costs less than $30.

Keep in mind, all of these options are meant for general use, so they might not be the best option if you have a specific task you'll primarily be using them for, like a house full of cat hair, or a large amount of hardwood flooring. In this case - instead of trying to find one vacuum to handle a dozen jobs - you might want to purchase a basic model for general use, in addition to a dedicated machine, like a pet hair or hardwood floor vacuum.

Whichever vacuum you choose, try to stay on top of its routine maintenance. By emptying the canister when it gets full, and making sure the filter is clean and clear of dust, you'll extend the lifespan of your machine and increase its efficiency. Every month or so, take a pair of scissors and cut off any hair or carpet string that has wrapped around the brush roll. This will make sure the brushes are working unimpeded, and also keep the motor and/or belt from burning out.

4. Bissell Cleanview

5. SharkNinja Rotator

6. Eureka PowerSpeed

7. Prolux LED

8. Eureka NES210 Blaze

9. Hoover Air Cordless

10. Shark APEX

Who Invented the Vacuum Cleaner?

Very little has changed in the principle of the vacuum cleaner since then.

The earliest incarnation of the vacuum cleaner took the form of manual brooms and carpet beaters. It wasn't until 1876 that Melville R. Bissell invented a carpet sweeper, after he grew tired of constantly cleaning sawdust off the carpet in his crockery shop. Soon enough, his friends started asking where they could get their hands on such a device, and a new business was created. Bissell died several years later, and the business was taken over by the first female CEO in America, his wife.

In 1901, Hubert Cecil Booth invented a gasoline-powered vacuum system that pulled dirt out of carpets (there was one that blew dirt off of them and he improved it). His vacuum system was so big that it was paraded around town by horses.

The modern, electric, portable vacuum was invented in 1907 by an asthmatic janitor from Ohio named James Murray Spanger. Tired of coughing and wheezing at work, he came up with a system that ran on electricity, but he didn't have the capital to market or produce such an idea. His cousin, William Hoover, looking to divest from the saddle industry, invested in (and eventually became president of) Spanger's Electric Suction Sweeper Company, now popularly known as the Hoover Company.

Very little has changed in the principle of the vacuum cleaner since then. The biggest difference is in the amount of suction, airflow, and filtration the devices now offer and the methods by which they incorporate such features.

So How Does an Upright Vacuum Work, Anyways?

Vacuums work by lowering the air pressure around the fan so that the air outside of the machine rushes in to fill the space. The friction caused by moving air pulls all the dirt and debris into the machine, while the device's rotary brush moves it into the intake of the vacuum itself.

The Nemours Foundation recommends them for families of children with allergies.

According to Bernoulli's principle, the narrower a space is, the faster the air has to move through it and the lower the pressure will be.

Airflow and suctionare two distinct concepts when it comes to vacuum cleaner operation. Suction is defined as the flow of a gas or liquid into an area of low pressure, whereas airflow is the amount of movement of air around the vacuum's intake into the machine, both of which are needed for a cleaner to run.

Although some may argue that HEPA filters are overkill, the National Library of Medicine recommends them for people with asthma. The Nemours Foundation recommends them for families of children with allergies.

Does a Fancy Cyclonic Vacuum Work Differently?

The first bagless vacuum was invented by James Dyson in the 1980s. Dyson vacuums make use of cyclonic centrifuge chambers that work by pushing the air around the chambers through many different cones, leveraging Bernoulli's principle to increase air velocity until the dust is thrown against the sides of the chamber where it falls away and is finally collected. The clean air then comes out of the top of the cone.

This method has been applied to industrial dust separation efforts before, which you've probably seen if you've done any country driving. Dyson isn't even the first to create a cyclone vacuum cleaner. He is, however, the first to create a small, bagless vacuum.

Gabrielle Taylor
Last updated on January 18, 2020 by Gabrielle Taylor

Originally from a tiny town in Virginia, Gabrielle moved to Los Angeles for a marketing internship at a well-known Hollywood public relations firm and was shocked to find that she loves the West Coast. She spent two years as a writer and editor for a large DIY/tutorial startup, where she wrote extensively about technology, security, lifestyle, and home improvement. A self-professed skincare nerd, she’s well-versed in numerous ingredients and methods, including both Western and Asian products. She is an avid home cook who has whiled away thousands of hours cooking and obsessively researching all things related to food and food science. Her time in the kitchen has also had the curious side effect of making her an expert at fending off attempted food thievery by her lazy boxer dog.

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