Best upright vacuum cleaner 2019: The best traditional vacuums from £139

Upright vacuum cleaners might not be as sleek or enticing as cordless cleaners like the latest Dyson V11 but there are still plenty of reasons you might want to choose one. Their main killer feature is the ability to stand without the need for external support but they’re typically also more powerful and can be more flexible than their skinny rivals, too.

In this category, there are different models to choose from and in a crowded marketplace, it can be hard to pick the right one. To make it easier to choose, we’ve included a handy buying guide to the product category and listed our favourite models below that.

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Best upright vacuum cleaner: Buying guide

What is an upright vacuum cleaner?

It almost seems silly to have a section like this here but with so many different types of vacuum cleaners on the market these days, it’s worth defining what exactly we’re going to be reviewing and talking about in this roundup.

An upright vacuum cleaner, for the purposes of this article, is a machine that can stand up on its own two legs; so to speak. These cleaners usually have powered roller brush heads and dust collection boxes or bags attached to the handle and most are mains powered. In recent times, we’ve seen an increase in the number of cordless upright vacuums, which blur the lines between the two types somewhat, but these tend to be more expensive.

Are they heavy?

Another area where uprights have been modernising in recent years is weight. Where once lugging the vacuum cleaner up the stairs was a real struggle, modern upright vacuums are now much lighter and more manoeuvrable than they used to be.

If flexibility is a top priority, though, some even allow the vacuum unit and hose to be detached from the handle, making it easier to clean awkward areas like the stairs and in awkward corners like around the sides of the sofa.

READ NEXT: Best cordless vacuum cleaners: Banish dirt and dust without the wires

Are they suitable for hard flooring?

With advances in brush head technology, notably in the ability to switch off the roller, uprights have become extremely versatile; they’re suitable for all types of flooring.

Will they take up a lot of space?

One disadvantage of most upright vacuum cleaners is their physical size. They’re usually chunkier than stick vacuums and will occupy valuable cupboard space. If space is at a premium, consider opting for a stick vacuum instead; these often come with wall-mounting charging points and can be stowed away far more neatly.

Are they suitable for allergy sufferers?

Some, but not all uprights have high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters included – these remove at least 99.95% of dust particles that pass through them, which are a key differentiator for allergy suffers, notably for those who are sensitive to house dust mites.

Dust bin capacity

One final reason you might want to opt for a larger upright over a cordless stick, is that uprights typically have larger dust collection bins, which means fewer trips to the bin to empty it and less mess overall. You can choose bagged or bagless cleaners, too; the former are more expensive to run than a bagless cleaner but compress dust and dirt for even longer between emptyings and make far less mess when they’re emptied.

How we test

To put the vacuums to the test, we use large and fine debris (Cheerios and plain flour) across two floor types: short-pile carpet and hard flooring. We scatter a set amount of this dirt on the floor, pass the vacuum over it once forwards, slowly and then weigh how much debris was picked up on each pass.

We also measure battery life for cordless models, suction in kilopascals where possible and also assess if the vacuum cleaner is easy to manoeuvre, straightforward to empty, and how convenient it is to access the washable filters.

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The best upright vacuum cleaners to buy in 2019

Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor: The best all-rounder

Price: £200 | Buy now from John Lewis

One of Dyson’s cheapest vacuum cleaners is, in fact, one of its best. The Light Ball Multi Floor is designed to be manoeuvred around right corners and squeeze into tight spaces, while the adjustable brush head works across different floors types without you having to get your hands dirty swapping brushes or heads.

It’s corded but performed near-faultlessly in our tests, managing 98% debris pickup across carpet and hard flooring. The bagless design along with a washable filter make it a breeze to maintain, too.

Read our Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor review

Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 281 x 384 x 1,057mm; Weight: 6.9kg; Bin capacity: 1.6 litres; Vacuum type: Corded; Bagless: Yes

Buy now from John Lewis

Shark DuoClean IC160UKT: The most flexible cordless vacuum

Price: £379 | Buy now from Amazon

Shark’s DuoClean Powered Lift-Away vacuum is among the most flexbile upright we’ve encountered. It’s cordless and yet it’s able to stand upright on its own, plus you can take the cleaning unit off its base so you can do the stairs, furniture, or curtains more easily. On the lowest power setting it’ll last up to 50 minutes on a single charge.

True to its name, it does a valiant job across all floor types. It has two motorised brush rollers within the main head while the two LED strips at the front of the brush head make it easier to see what you’re cleaning.

Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 250 x 260 x 1,080mm; Weight: 5.6kg; Bin capacity: 0.6 litres; Vacuum type: Cordless; Bagless: Yes

Vax AirLift Steerable Advance: The best budget upright vacuum

Price: £139 | Buy now from John Lewis

The AirLift is pretty reasonable at only £139 but it defies the odds and still delivers exceptional features and cleaning performance. It has a lift-out cylinder that makes it more convenient to clean the stairs and behind the sofa; it has a HEPA filter, which is good news for allergy sufferers; and, most important of all, it has stellar cleaning performance.

With a right-sided intake port and a brush head that stops working at extreme angles, it isn’t as flexible as the Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor. However, the Vax AirLift Steerable Advance delivers more bang for your buck than any of its rivals.

Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 300 x 240 x 1,112mm; Weight: 6.2kg; Bin capacity: 1.5 litres; Vacuum type: Corded; Bagless: Yes

Buy now from John Lewis

Bosch BCH7PETGB: The best lightweight upright vacuum

Price: £330 | Buy now from John Lewis

Its name is a bit of a mouthful but the Bosch BCH7PETGB has got it where it counts. Designed to take all kinds of dirt in its stride, particularly pet hair, the multi-purpose brush head delivers superb cleaning performance across all floor types. As for battery life, the cordless vacuum cleaner lasts an hour on a single charge, but it takes a monumental six hours to charge from empty.

Aside from its performance, the BCH7PETGB’s slim design means it will fit into the narrowest of utility cupboards, while the interchangeable handles and tools make it easy to clean the entire house. It’s also one of the lightest upright cleaners, too, at only 3kg.

Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 250 x 185 x 1,160mm; Weight: 3kg; Bin capacity: 0.9 litres; Vacuum type: Cordless; Bagless: Yes

Buy now from John Lewis

Dyson Ball Animal 2: The best vacuum for pet hair

Price: £300 | Buy now from John Lewis

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is a corded vacuum cleaner that’s designed, specifically, for households with a pet hair problem – and it’s quite brilliant at the job, too. With 270AW (air Watts) of suction power at the helm the Dyson has no issues tackling challenging debris across all types of flooring.

It also comes with a clever carbon-fibre floor tool that attaches to a metal extension wand, making it easier to clean under furniture with low ground clearance and get to places that otherwise you might otherwise struggle to reach.

Read our Dyson Ball Animal 2 review

Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 281 x 384 x 1,057mm; Weight: 7.34kg; Bin capacity: 1.8 litres; Vacuum type: Corded; Bagless: Yes

Buy now from John Lewis

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