The best small vacuums tend to be suitable for cleaning carpets, the toughest and most common task, along with bare floors. But none can deep-clean carpets like their larger cousins, so consider them as backup vacuums.
Nearly all full-sized uprights cleaned bare floors quickly and neatly, but carpets remain the toughest challenge for most machines. Top-scoring models deep-cleaned impressively while providing strong airflow through the hose for use with tools.
Pay particular attention to our noise ratings if you have bare floors, which echo sound. Many readers also view ease of handling (how easy a vacuum is to carry and the push/pull force required to use it) as important. Choose a model you've tried out in the store and find suitable to carry and use.
Considering an upright vacuum that’s not in our Ratings? Our brand-performance data can tell you how a variety of manufacturers have done in our tests over time. That can give you some idea of how well an untested model from that brand is likely to perform. You can also compare overall performance between brands.
We've analyzed our entire vacuum Ratings over the past several years. Miele and LG have consistently been among the top upright brands we've tested. Hoover, Panasonic, Kenmore, Riccar, and Shark have been solid performers over time, though a notch below the top-scoring brands. Other tested brands have scored lower. And for some, performance varied too widely for an overall judgment, or we lacked the test data needed for an accurate assessment.
Remember that models may vary and brands can change over the years. Before buying, also check our survey-based Brand Reliability information, since even a top-performing brand can have a high repair rate.