Best upright vacuum cleaners to give your home a thorough clean

·25-min read
 (VAX)
(VAX)

Vacuuming your home should not be a heavy chore these days, with a range of cleaners available that offer all that your home might need, from long flexes, extendable hoses and re-chargeable batteries to a range of additional tools that target specific tasks.

Your vacuum cleaner does have a lot to do, as most of us go over our floors at least once a week – more often if we have pets or kids who track dirt into the home and shed hairs.

Choosing the best upright vacuum cleaner for you can make the chore go far more smoothly, so have a think about what kind of cleaner would best suit you, your floor types and your home. Do you need a cylinder vacuum cleaner, a stick or an upright? Do you prefer to plug in or are you happier with a cordless, rechargeable model? Do you want a big, all-purpose cleaner plus a smaller, handheld model for quick clean-ups? Or would a robot vacuum cleaner be the right choice for you?

Upright vacuum cleaners have many plus points. If you have a larger home, they are good for cleaning big spaces and if they have a generous cord, you can do the whole room without having move the plug or use an extension lead.

A cordless model allows you to reach additional areas and those that have plenty of additional tools can mean you only need to buy one cleaner, rather than a couple. An upright vacuum cleaner is easy to manoeuvre and quite stable and because you push the machine in front of you, rather than pulling it along behind, you have more control and there’s less strain on you and the machine. Some can feel heavy, however, so if you have back problems or are petite, look for a lightweight model.

The cleaning head on is often more thorough that a cylinder’s, with brush rolls as well as impressive suction. They also usually have a good capacity for your dust and rubbish, so don’t need emptying as often.

New features such as HEPA filters and bagless models, lights and variable power settings mean that there are lots of great features on offer for all.

What to look for in an upright vacuum cleaner:

  • Weight: If you are petite, or have back or joint problems, a super lightweight machine may be perfect. Just bear in mind that you might compromise on engine size, and therefore power and bag size.

  • Appearance: if your machine needs to be left in a corner, will it look out of place? Many new vacuum cleaners are designed to fit with your décor.

  • Storage: does it pack down into a smaller size when you’re not using it? Does it need to fit into a cupboard? Check the dimensions before making your final choice.

  • Bag or bagless? Having a bag to collect the dust means it’s simple to remove it for disposal. However, that creates an on-going cost, as you need to replace the bags and they may also go out of stock. A bagless vacuum sounds like a great idea and most of the time works well but do check that the internal space can be easily cleaned. There’s nothing worse than dirt and even mould inside an appliance!

  • How much can it hold? What is the bag (or bagless) capacity? If it has a small reservoir for rubbish, you’ll be emptying it more often. Bear in mind that a large capacity will get heavier.

  • Cord length: does the machine have a good length of electrical cord? Will it reach the power points in your home?

  • Power settings: while many of us are happy with one power setting, an adjustable one can be handy for cleaning more delicate surfaces such as upholstery, curtains, rugs and around window frames.

  • Full bag indicator? While not essential, it’s good to know when the bag is approaching its capacity.

  • Plug-in or battery? While plugging the machine into the mains means you can vacuum for longer, a battery powered machine can take you to places a cord can’t reach. You will have some down-time while the battery is recharging.

  • Built-in re-chargeable battery, or removable? Having discussed cord versus battery, what type of battery suits best? An in-built one is often able to hold a longer charge. A re-chargeable pop-out one means you could, if liked, buy a spare battery to have on charge while you’re cleaning, giving you twice the run time.

  • Tools: have a think about what else you might use the machine for – sofas, curtains, blinds, crevices, the car and more? Look for one that has the tools to match and don’t get carried away buying a machine that offers 100 tools, 99 of which you’ll never use.

  • Filters: If you have allergy sufferers in your home, you might consider a HEPA filter, which can remove lots of fine particles and allergens from the floors and air. For any vacuum, make sure the filters are easy to clean or replace.

Best vacuum cleaners for:

  • Best for the environment: Lupe Pure Cordless £499

  • Best for hairs: Shark Classic Anti Hair Wrap £329

  • Best for pets: Dyson CY2B - £339.95

  • Long run time: VAX Edge Dual Pet & Car - £300

  • Best re-charge time: AEG Ultimate 8000 - £549.99

  • Best traditional upright cleaner: Hoover upright 300 - £129

  • Best for compact storage an use as a handheld cleaner: Hisense Hi-Style - £99

  • Best for hard floors: Russell Hobbs Hercules - £99

  • Best for quick clean-ups: GTECH AirRam MK2 - £200

  • Best for quiet running noise: Klarstein Cleanbutler 4G Bagless - £143.99

Find our list of the best upright vacuum cleaners below

Lupe Pure Cordless

Best for: environmentally friendly, very manoeuvrable

Battery life: 60 minutes

Battery type: rechargeable

Cord length: n/a

Dimensions: 26 x 17.5 x 114 cm

Weight: 4.6 kg

This has been designed by engineer Pablo Montero (formerly at Dyson), in the attempt to create the best cordless upright vacuum cleaner, with an attention to detail and to the environment. Each part of the machine can be replaced if it fails and can also be recycled at the end of its life. This means single-use plastic has been eliminated and that you won’t be contributing to landfill when you finally get bin it.

It also looks pretty cool too, with its monochrome aesthetic and slim profile. On first use, it is incredibly easy to manoeuvre, with a head that swivels as you push and although the fairly narrow power head might at first seem a disadvantage, I found it incredibly useful for getting into all nooks and crannies – plus suction goes right up to the edges, so all the floor is cleaned, even beside the wall.

It makes two very large claims: to have double the suction power of other models, even corded models, and to suck up an impressive 99.99 per cent of dust particles – even those pesky microscopic ones.

You can buy an extra battery to increase your vacuuming time (a hefty £100) and it has a fairly good 60 minutes of running time (on the lowest power setting), plus the cleaner head is designed to work on lots of different surfaces, meaning you won’t need more than one machine; you can even turn off the brush roller if your surface is delicate, whichworks well on rugs. It seems to engage this feature by itself if it encounters something that might get caught up in it, which is incredibly handy.

Inside the head is a high powered brush bar that tackles deep dirt and of course hair; it’s actually two brushes that rotate in opposite directions, with a central inlet to suction in the dirt. On the outside, the machine is well sealed to prevent air leaks (which might result in a loss of suction). You can remove the side hose to use for small clean-ups such as on upholstery, or add a wand extension to clean high up areas like picture rails. This has a reach of two metres, so even short people like me can get to those tricky spots.

Other tools include a multi-function crevice and upholstery tool that are stored on the body of the machine – no extra boxes of kit and no reason to mislay them. The detachable battery comes with a UK plug and inside is a washable, high quality HEPA filter – great for avoiding more waste.

Buy now £499.00, Lupe

Shark Classic Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum NZ801UK

Best for: cleaning up hairs

Battery life: n/a

Battery type: Plug-in

Cord length: 8 m

Dimensions: 117 x 26 x 30 cm

Weight: 6.5 kg

This is probably the gold standard if you, as I do, live in a house where everyone has long hair; not having to cut swathes of hair from the brush roller in your vacuum cleaner is money well spent.

Suitable for all floor types, from hard to carpet, the Shark can remove both large and small particles of dirt. The machine pivots above the cleaning head to reach tricky corners and you have a couple of options to help clean other places; you can remove the tube and reservoir part of the cleaner to manage stairs, sofas, cars and other small spills (creating a handheld vacuum cleaner), or you can remove the brush head on its wand to use beneath beds and other furniture.

The head is a generous size, especially if you are cleaning huge swathes of carpet and is also good for corners and along the sides of your furniture. Inside the cleaning head are two brush rolls, which allow the Shark to move effortlessly between carpets and hard floors.

The first brush is a bristle brush-roll that works hard lifting dirt from your carpets, the second is a softer roll, which acts like a duster, pulling dust and grim into the suction area.

The best part - of course - is a sort of comb that removes the hair as it is lifted, meaning no strands get wrapped around the brushes and it works as well on human as pet hair. The reservoir is a generous size and the whole machine is well sealed, keeping dust and allergens inside the unit until you empty it, so it is good for allergy sufferers.

Tools are kept on board the machine, making them quick and easy to reach and store and the filters are washable, meaning less ongoing cost and no additional waste.

Buy now £329.00, Amazon

DYSON Ball Animal Vacuum Cleaner

Best for pets: Dyson CY2B

Battery life: n/a

Battery type: Plug-in

Cord length: 10.81 m

Dimensions: 107 x 29 x 39 cm

Weight: 7.5 kg

The Dyson needs little introduction as it was the first cyclonic, bagless upright vacuum cleaner and this, one of the larger of its models, is good for homes with pets, especially long-haired, shedding pooches and moggies. It’s also great for larger homes, as it can power through rooms in a jiffy and has a long cord to help you reach every corner. It scores highly on manoeuvrability; the big ball allows you to twist and turn to reach every space in your home with just the turn of your wrist and it can be used on all floor types.

There is no variable power setting, so it’s either on or off - take care with rugs. It can pick up hairs of all lengths quickly and easily and you can use the additional Mini Pet Turbo Tool to clean areas where hairs collect, your sofas and the pet’s bed; this small tool has rotating brushes inside it just like its bigger counterpart on the cleaning head. There’s a crevice and an upholstery nozzle included.

Want to switch to cleaning tricky corners, crevices, cobwebs on the ceiling and more? Unclick the five-metre wand from inside the handle, attach a tool and you can reach high, low and under furniture. The cleaning head can be attached to the wand too, making it easy to clean under beds and tables. This machine is a chunky beast, so those with mobility problems might struggle, especially carrying it upstairs but the sturdiness of the machine means that it contains a big, powerful motor and a large capacity reservoir of 1.8 litres and it will be robust and long-lived. The cleaning head is large and it’s good fun to be able to see all the muck getting sucked up through its clear plastic head cover, if that’s your kind of thing.

Emptying the reservoir is easy – it unclicks from the machine’s body with one click and a push of a button drops the lower door, letting all your collected dust and debris out in one go straight into the bin. The seal across all parts of the machine is good, so it holds all dust and potential allergens inside the reservoir.

Buy now £339.95, Amazon

VAX Edge Dual Pet & Car

Best for: long battery run time plus two batteries included

Battery life: 100 minutes

Battery type: re-chargeable

Cord length: n/a

Dimensions: 33 x 16 x 112 cm

Weight: 5.2 kg

Vax has long been a great name in carpet shampooing but it also offers a range of other appliances, including this cordless upright vacuum cleaner that’s ideal for pet owners. It’s also weighted towards those who need to clean the car frequently, which is also often true for those with shedding pets!

The VAX has been well designed and is well weighted too, with the weight supported by the floor, so as not to feel too heavy in your hand and it is easy to steer and move. It’s cordless, so it will go with you anywhere in your home and out to the car, giving you more freedom to roam further without being tethered to a plug socket and it comes with two batteries, which is fabulous – you don’t need to purchase an extra one and you get twice the running time - up to 100 minutes.

The cleaning head is a good size, with two brush bars to handle carpets and hard floors alike; the front brush is softer, to lift up the dust and dirt and then behind this is a twin helix brush bar that cleans deep into surfaces such as carpet. It can handle any size of debris from large rubbish to fine dust and it comes with a good range of tools for all kinds of cleaning including a mini-motorised pet tool, which lifts pet hair from your furniture and car, plus a handy crevice tool and dusting brush.

There are lights on the front to really highlight the grime, the reservoir is a good size and it empties at a touch.

Buy now £300.00, Currys

Hisense Hi-Style II HVC532WUK 2-in-1 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Best for: compact storage and use as a handheld cleaner

Battery life: 70 minutes

Battery type: re-chargeable

Cord length: n/a

Dimensions: 17 x 118 x 26 cm

Weight: 2.5kg

This is a sleek and slim machine with an upright stick that supports the dirt-collecting reservoir.

Cordless as well as bagless, it’s compact and it stores neatly, as you can fold the handle over and slip it inside a cupboard or behind a door making the most of your cupboard space. It’s freestanding too.

The head is fairly narrow, so you won’t be vacuuming wide swathes of floor as you go but that does mean it’s ideal for getting between furniture and into smaller spaces.

It had a revolving brush inside the head – it’s also easy to remove to deal with the inevitable hair-wrap - to remove dust and hair. The parts that touch the floor are softly padded to ensure you never scratch your surfaces, ideal for those with wooden or laminate flooring.

You’ll need six hours to charge up, and once done, running time is a good 70 minutes. The machine will tell you both when it needs re-charging and when the battery is full again, helpful alerts when you have other distractions in the house.

The battery can be re-charged either in place on the cleaner or it can be removed and charged on its own. The capacity of the reservoir is 0.5L capacity; not enormous, though you will be able to clean a couple of rooms before emptying and it takes just the push of a button to open it for dumping all that grime into the bin.It has a washable filter for a super clean floor and to avoid extra cost.

Best of all, you can remove part of the cleaner – essentially the reservoir and the nozzle plus handle – from the main body of the machine, converting it into a handheld vacuum cleaner, perfect for sprucing up the car seats, stairs or for a quick clean-up. Two speeds offer two power levels and LED lights on the front of the vacuum head mean you can see the dust and dirt more easily.

Buy now £99.00, Very

Hoover upright 300

Best for: traditional looking vacuum cleaner

Battery life: n/a

Battery type: mains powered

Cord length: 8.1m

Dimensions: 114 x 30 x 32 cm

Weight: 4.94kg

The Hoover 300 is easy to take with you around the house thanks to its light weight: it comes in at less than 5kg. Boasting a steerable 80-degree angle head with flexible joint to enable you to reach all tricky spots, even under tables and beds.

It looks traditional, so those who love a good upright will immediately feel at home with it and it comes in three bright colours - because why can’t your vacuum be stylish too?

Need to get under the sofa or other surfaces? Simply take the Pets Turbo Brush mini hose with brush attachment from its place on board, uncouple the hose from the side of the machine and connect the two and you have a powerful way to vacuum small, raised or tricky spots and especially to remove pet hair that seems to get absolutely everywhere.

How many times have you gone to a different floor of the house, only to have to return to the kitchen or utility room to get the tool you forgot? No such issues here: the tools are all kept on the machine’s body, meaning that you won’t lose any and that they are always handy.

It is bagless, using cyclonic technology to ensure no loss of suction, with a one-touch trigger that you press to open and empty the dirt reservoir which holds an impressive 1.5 litres of dirt and dust.

Inside the wide head is a rotating brush to deep-clean even quite thick carpet and the machine contains HEPA filters to trap allergens and small particles, avoiding all those allergens flying about in the air.

These filters can be washed to help keep your machine clean and the technology of the cyclones means that the dust is directed away from the filter, so they stay cleaner for longer and you don’t need to wash them as often as other models.

The 300 can tackle all types of floor surface, from carpets, to wooden floors and tiles and the brush bar is adjustable to clean different surfaces better.

Buy now £129.00, Currys

AEG Ultimate 8000 Series Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Best for: re-charge time

Battery life: 35 minutes

Battery type: Lithium Ion

Dimensions: 25 x 25 x 115 cm

Weight: 2.8 kg

The 8000 offers powerful cleaning and it has been designed to blend with your décor, so if you have no room to store a vacuum cleaner and leave it out in view, this might be the one for you.

Simple to use, with a high-speed motor to maintain a hefty suction power and thus a deep clean for all your floor surfaces and it has double filtration, to remove even the smallest particles of dust.

The lithium ion battery gives you a fairly decent run time and promises to clean an area of 75m2 on one charge; a re-charge takes just 2.5 hours and you can also buy a spare battery (£55) if you have a large home, so you could carry on cleaning for another 75m2 if you so wish.

If you have a quick spill to clean up, simply grab a portion of the vacuum from its charging station and use it as a handheld vacuum, thus avoiding the bind we often find ourselves in of buying a ‘big’ vacuum for everyday use plus a small handheld for quick jobs.

There are three power settings to choose from – I’d probably have it on high power for most of the time but there are occasions when you need less suction, such as around windows, on curtains and on cushions with fringes if you don’t want them getting destroyed! Alternatively, if you select Auto Mode, the vacuum will sense what type of surface it is cleaning and use the most suitable power setting. This would work really well if you are moving from carpet, to hard floor, to rugs and back again.

The 8000 comes with a plethora of tools and nozzles including a pet and a crevice nozzle for hard-to-reach places. It has a good sized cleaning head which claims to pick up débris of all kinds, from very fine dust to, it promises, pebble-sized items. If hair and other débris gets stuck in the vacuum’s brush roll, simply press a pedal on top of the nozzle to clean it.

The head contains a brush plus a soft roller, which polishes the floor as it goes and is ideal for tiles and wooden floors. The filter can be changed or cleaned quickly and easily, as it simply snaps in and out and the battery is a high performance unit with a pretty good run time. Available in four colour options.

Buy now £549.99, AEG

Klarstein Cleanbutler 4G Bagless

Best for: quiet running noise

Battery life: 20-35 minutes

Battery type: in-built

Cord length: n/a

Dimensions: 67.5 x 14.5 x 18.5 cm

Weight: 1.5kg

Many of us dream of a butler to help around the house and they are prized for their discretion and silence – so it’s perhaps fitting that this is one of the quietest vacuum cleaners of this bunch.

While the company’s promise that it is ‘silent’ may be a touch overstated, this really is very quiet, so it would be perfect for new parents who want to get on with a bit of cleaning without waking the baby (that said, it could actually double up for a white noise machine). It’s cordless, so easy to take with you into any room and it has powerful suction too. It also includes a HEPA filter, taking even tiny particles and allergens out of the air (it promises to remove 95 per cent of pollen and particulates), so it’s good for allergy sufferers.

It’s also designed to be used on many different surfaces and it will handle any kinds of débris. On the business end is a modestly sized motorised floor brush that helps the vacuum power raise the dirt from the surface, storing it in the also quite modest bagless dust container; the brush head can swivel up to 180-degrees so it will reach any tricky space and it is a breeze to move it about and carry it.

Tools are included for upholstery and crevices, plus there’s a dusting brush to help you clean anything from hard floors to carpets, your sofa or stairs It has an extendable suction tube too, pulling out to 65cm, which is great for short and tall vacuumers alike and saving back pain.

It’s also easy to empty, as you simply open the dust container’s base flap and pour the dust and dirt into your bin. There are two power settings to suit how dirty things are, achieved by pressing the power button once or twice and then once more to turn it off; you can use the less powerful setting on delicate areas, such as upholstered furniture. It comes with a built-in lithium-ion battery, comes with a charging station that also holds all the tools (genius) and is ready to go again after just four hours, when it will run for a fairly decent 20 minutes on high power, 35 minutes on its lower setting.

This is perfect for those in bedsits, flats and small homes who could use it as their main vacuum cleaner, or for those in larger homes who want to keep a smaller machine upstairs or for quick clean-ups.

Buy now £143.99, Wayfair

Russell Hobbs Hercules

Best for: hard floors

Battery life: n/a

Battery type: Plug-in

Cord length: 7m

Dimensions:26 x 32 x 114 cm

Weight: 7.1 kg

Though this is quite a chunky model and not as light as some of the upright vacuum cleaners we’ve reviewed, the Hercules is well-priced and fairly easy to move about, plus its long cord means that you can clean large areas at a time without having to plug in at a new location.

In fact, if what you have is acres of hard floors or large corridors of carpet, it’s the one for you. It’s fitted with a generous 1.6 litre dirt reservoir. so you can clean the whole house without having to empty it (and when you do, it can be emptied with just two touches) and it has an energy-efficient motor that provides good suction power without racking up your electricity bill – something that’s on all our minds lately.

Inside, it uses multi-cyclone technology to suck the dust and dirt into the clear plastic reservoir and it also has four filters including a HEPA filter to help keep dust and other allergens inside the machine, rather than floating in the air.

The cleaning head is wide and can clean both hard floors and carpets, though it has just the one power setting. When you want to clean other, more tricky areas, there’s a 1.8m flexible hose; this means that with the seven metre power cord, you have a total cleaning radius of nine metres – pretty impressive!

The handle has a soft-grip surface and the cord retracts into the machine when not in use, making it easy to carry the machine around without tripping, even up the stairs. There’s a tool included for cleaning upholstery and crevices and adding a small brush tool to the flexible hose makes stairs easy to tackle too.

It works well on most types of dirt including hair and it keeps a strong suction, even when the reservoir is nearly full.

Buy now £99.00, Amazon

GTECH AirRam MK2 Cordless Bagless Vacuum Cleaner

Best for: quick clean-ups

Battery life: 40 minutes

Battery type: re-chargeable

Cord length: n/a

Dimensions: 112 x 33.5 x 20 cm

Weight: 3.2

This machine is a teccy update of those old fashioned carpet sweepers that your Granny had. It doesn’t have a reservoir for the dust and dirt, holding this all in the head. While this obviously means it doesn’t have anywhere near as large a capacity as other cleaners, it does make it ideal for quick clean-ups and for carrying up and down stairs. Think of it more as a motorised dustpan and brush.

It’s also good for those who might struggle to use a dustpan, so the elderly or those with disabilities would find this really useful and you might choose it as a second cleaner in place of a handheld model.

It has bright LED lights on the brush head to help you see where the dirt lies and some fancy technology called AirLOC that means that you suck up the larger debris as you push forwards and it ‘locks’ on the backwards pull, so that dirt doesn’t come back out again - handy.

This little cordless cleaner has a lithium ion battery to give you plenty of run time and there is an indicator to let you know when it’s running low. Once it’s full, open the bin and simply press a sliding lever on the cleaner head and all the debris is pushed out without having to touch any dirty surfaces, The brush inside rotates to give floors a deep clean and spins dust up into the suction area, it can cope with very fine dust and it is suitable for any kind of floor surface. The handle is easy to grasp and the whole handle moves to allow you to reach under tricky furniture.

The handle is also adjustable, so it will be ideal for all in the family, no matter how tall or short they are. Its slim profile makes it easy to store in a cupboard under the stairs or behind the kitchen door. Finally, it is light and manoeuvrable and makes a great addition to your household, though you’d probably need a ‘big’ vacuum cleaner too.

Buy now £200.00, Argos

Verdict

For a great clean, good design, plus extra Brownie points for being environmentally friendly and recyclable, the Lupe Pure Cordless is a great choice and delivers more cleaning power than its modest size would suggest.

The Shark is great for those with long hair or pets and of course the Dyson is always good value from a name you can trust.

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