9 best upright vacuum cleaners that tackle large areas with ease

Lesley Jones
·10 min read
Look for attachments that suit your housekeeping needs, whether that’s crevice tools for tight spaces or pet hair removers (The Independent)
Look for attachments that suit your housekeeping needs, whether that’s crevice tools for tight spaces or pet hair removers (The Independent)

Uprights may not be the most modern-looking of the vacs on the market, but there is something to be said for a powerful, corded machine on wheels to tackle hard floors, reach deep into pile and leave satisfying swishes on your rejuvenated carpet.

The benefits? You’re not working against the clock for a start; no need to frantically cover ground before the charge runs out, as with cordless models. Uprights can also feel easier to push around than many cylinder vacs and with the weight of the main body supported and on wheels, you may find them comfier to use for extended periods than top-heavy chargeable models.

Choose an upright vacuum cleaner and you’ll have a choice of bag capacities, cord lengths and weights, with many models offering technology that will automatically alter the height of internal rollers and brushes to clean both hard and soft surfaces automatically.

Adjustable suction comes in handy when you could do with a boost to tackle ingrained dirt or want to go easy on lampshades, cushions and curtains using a hand tool. Talking of which, our test selection featured everything from crevice tools to pet hair removers, mattress cleaners to soft brushes that worked wonders on laptop keyboards. There’s sure to be an attachment for your housekeeping needs.

We tested a selection of upright vacuum cleaners, all with filters to help allergy sufferers by containing dust once collected. The vacs collected dirt in integral bins or disposable bags and most adjusted, manually or automatically, to tackle differing weights of carpet and hard surfaces.

Testing them on rugs, stairs, long and short-piled fitted carpets and a selection of soft furnishings, we looked for manoeuvrability, cleaning power and the versatility to tackle all sorts of cleaning jobs with the accessories provided. When needed, we used a nifty Pikk-It cleaning tool to free any trapped debris or tightly wound hair, to keep rollers and brushes spinning.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

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Shark DuoClean upright vacuum with lift-away and TruePet NV702UKT

Bin/bag capacity: 1.1l

Floor mode adjustment: Automatic

Tools included: Crevice tool, multi-surface tool, pet power brush

Cord length: Eight metres

Weight: 5.25kg

Bagless: Yes

Adjustable suction: Yes

Power: 750w

Using this Shark model on a neglected spare room rug was a revelation – a rather embarrassing one, unfortunately. Our house proud tester was horrified by the amount of dirt, dust and hair picked up after the first use, but the longer pile of the carpet was looking tufty and new by the time he’d finished, filling the see through container with a gobsmacking amount of dust.

We loved the lights on the front of the main head and the “lift away” feature which let us unclip the main suction pod and carry it around. Lightweight and quiet, the soft front roller made it great on hard floors and the rotating brush of the pet accessory cleaned stairs – our tester’s dogs’ favourite perch – to perfection.

Buy now £299.99, Shark

Russell Hobbs RHUV6001 Hercules twin motor power upright vacuum

Bin/bag capacity: 1.65l

Floor mode adjustment: No

Cord length: Seven metres

Weight: 4.3kg

Bagless: Yes

Adjustable suction: Yes

Power: 800w

Guarantee: Two years

The suction on this lightweight Russell Hobbs upright vac was impressive; so much so that we had to slide the control adjuster to decrease power and make it easier to push on longer piled carpets. As we tested, we liked the quality of the materials used on this model, especially the handle which had a soft-grip finish, and the way tool attachments were capped off with sturdy rubber rather than harsh plastic.

Noise levels were impressive too, though we’d have liked a longer hose for using the 3 in 1 tool on stairs. No worries, though, at only just over 4kg, this machine was the lightest in our final selection of vacs, so easy to move around.

Buy now £99.99, Amazon

Beldray BEL0648NRG turbo swivel vacuum cleaner

Bin/bag capacity: 2.5l

Floor mode adjustment: No

Tools included: Three in one crevice tool

Cord length: Six meters

Weight: 6.35kg

Bagless: Yes

Adjustable suction: No

Power: 400w

Guarantee: One year

A bargain choice, this Beldray vacuum cleaner looked great in glossy black and rose gold and had a smaller footprint than most other models, making it an ideal option if storage space is tight. Although this model was easy to use all over the home for a quick whizz around, it might not have the wattage power to tackle very heavy-duty clean ups. That said, pick up was impressive for this specification and if little and often is your cleaning mode, this is a serious contender as it’s great value for the money and looks good too.

Buy now £79.99, Amazon

Tower TXP30PET bagless pet upright vacuum cleaner

Bin/bag capacity: 2.5l

Floor mode adjustment: Yes

Tools included: Crevice/multi brush, pet turbo brush

Cord length: Six meters

Weight: 5.2kg

Bagless: Yes

Adjustable suction: No

Power: 750w

Guarantee: Three years

Cleaning up after Fido or Felix? Pet owners know that some vacuum cleaners can’t cope with hair and dander but there’s a lot of suck for your buck with this Tower model. We tested its powerful motor and pet turbo brush on floors, stairs, sofas and pet beds and it performed well, especially when dealing with stubborn fluff that defeated hand-held battery-powered vacs.

Tower has a three-year guarantee on this model, which was one of the lightest to carry around the house at just over 5kg. The crevice and brush accessory were able to tackle dusting and edges and proved easy to adapt when we tackled the car interior once finished indoors. We’d have liked a swivelling head, but for this price, you can’t have everything.

Buy now £79.99, Tower

Sebo Felix peony

Bin/bag capacity: 3.5l bag

Floor mode adjustment: Automatic

Tools included: Crevice tool, upholstery tool

Cord length: 9.5 meters

Weight: 6.8kg

Bagless: No

Adjustable suction: Yes

Power: 700 watts

Guarantee: Five years

Stand out looks made this bagged vacuum a hit – there’s a range of cover designs for the Felix model; choose this peony-strewn cover and 25 per cent of profit from the sale will go to breast cancer charity, the Pink Ribbon Foundation.

Performance was impressive here, with a quiet motor, great corner pick-up and very flexible movement around – and under – furniture. The tools and detachable body were all top grade, with everything clicking solidly into place. Two more things our tester loved; the telescopic handle for adjusting height and the Sebo fresh capsules that could be dropped directly into the dust bag for fragranced cleaning. The cord coming from the top of the vac meant it never got caught under the head. A quality choice.

Buy now £246.42, Sebo

Sebo automatic X7 ePower 91501GB upright vacuum cleaner

Bin/bag capacity: 5.3kg

Floor mode adjustment: Yes

Tools included: Crevice, upholstery tool

Cord length: 10 meters

Weight: 8.4kg

Bagless: No

Adjustable suction: Automatic

Power: 890 watts

Guarantee: Five years

For larger homes with lots of carpet, this is the vacuum with the capacity to keep going without emptying – as it has a huge 5.3kg bin bag. This model doesn’t have a swivelling head like others here, so we wouldn’t recommend it for smaller spaces with lots of furniture and obstacles. But the A-rated filtration here is excellent so it’s a great choice for allergy sufferers. An optional hose extension is needed for reaching a full staircase, however, as the one included will only reach around halfway. This model is not recommended for hard floors, but it does a fantastic job on rugs and carpets, adapting to different piles with ease and rejuvenating the look of tired floors.

Buy now £259.00, Currys PC World

Dyson small ball allergy vacuum cleaner

Bin/bag capacity: 1.6l

Floor mode adjustment: Yes

Tools included: Combination tool, stair tool, mattress tool, soft dusting brush

Cord length: 9.4 meters

Weight: 6.9kg

Bagless: Yes

Adjustable suction: Yes

Power: 700 watts

Guarantee: Five years

Everything on this model clicks together perfectly, straight from the box. Quickly assembled, the first thing we noticed about this compact Dyson was the lack of whine and general noise from the motor – your neighbours are going to love this vac too.

We loved the way the cleaning wand extended down the hose tube, making it rigid on the back of the handle rather than flopping loose, as on other models we tried. And the miraculous stretch of this hose – extending to a whopping 13m – meant it was a breeze to stretch up a full flight of stairs, too.

The accessories were our favourite of all the models we tried out, and this being a specially-filtered edition for allergy sufferers, it stood to reason that the dusting tools were first class, their soft bristles making light work of pelmets, picture frames, ornaments, and plantation blinds, for example.

The wide upholstery attachment is specifically designed for use on mattresses – an often neglected area your vac really should tackle more often for dust-free sleep. Overall we thought performance was superb and at a great price.

Buy now £199.00, Dyson

Bissell cross wave

Bin/bag capacity: 0.82l

Floor mode adjustment: No

Tools included: Multi-surface cleaning formula, storage tray, multi-surface brush roll

Cord length: 7.5 meters

Weight: 5.2kg

Bagless: Yes

Adjustable suction: No

Guarantee: Two years

Our tester has a mix of wooden floors, ceramic tile, slate and carpet in her open plan home and so this Bissell model meant she could tackle the whole lot in one go without having to stop vacuuming and start mopping.

Using both suction power and a rotating cleaning brush with her detergent mix fed from the removable bottle, she could pass over once to pick up dry debris before activating the wet clean where needed, with excess water being removed too. This was better suited to routine, everyday use rather than heavy-duty cleaning but was a revelation.

Buy now £249.99, Argos

Hoover HU500SBH H-upright 500 plus

Bin/bag capacity: 1.5l

Floor mode adjustment: Automatic

Tools included: Extension tube, long crevice tool

Cord length: 10 meters

Weight: 6.25kg

Bagless: Yes

Adjustable suction: Yes

Guarantee: 12 months, with 10 years free parts guarantee

With the longest cord length of any vac in our round-up, this model also had a super-stretchy tube for connection to the hand tool which could reach to the very top of the staircase, leaving the main body of the vac safely at ground level.

We loved the extension tube on this model – reaching previously-neglected cobwebs was easy and the generous cord length (like the Sebo X7, with the longest in our round-up) meant we could wander the whole house without having to unplug. This Hoover upright model looked good in metallic blue and grey and the LED headlights on the head ensured we picked up every last bit of grit from dusty corners with its impressive suction.

Buy now £149.99, Hoover

The verdict: Upright vacuum cleaners

For all-round cleaning power and the versatility to tackle everything we threw at it, the Shark duo clean got our vote. It’s expensive, but not only was it quiet and easy to use all over the house, the results were there to see, with astounding levels of dust in the bag and tired carpets looking spruce again. For non-stop, long-range cleaning, the Hoover model was a workhorse and great value at under £200.