My search for the best upright vacuum took years and several hundred dollars in disappointments, but I’ve finally found one that I love.
Although a full-function vacuum cleaner didn’t make my list of 10 cleaning tools everyone should own, that’s only because some homes can get by with a good stick vacuum to pick up day-to-day messes.
Mine is not one of those homes. Living with two cats, a new puppy, a messy family, and my own messes, owning a full-fledged vacuum isn’t an option: it’s a must.
The Best Upright Vacuum I’ve Bought
Not surprisingly, I’ve gone through several vacuums over the years, from the shockingly high-priced Dyson (which worked very well for four years) to an even higher-priced Kirby that was one of the most foolish purchases I’ve ever made.
My mother owned a Kirby upright vacuum when I was growing up, so nostalgia convinced me that I needed one, too. A week later, I remembered hating our Kirby when I was a kid due to its impractical attachments but, after paying through the nose for it, I continued to use it until the thing died six years later.
Things to Look For
When it comes to looking for an upright vacuum, there are some important features to look to get the most for your money.
1. On-board attachments, so they’re easy to use;
2. The ability to handle both carpet and hard flooring;
3. HEPA filtration, so vacuuming doesn’t fill your home with more dust;
4. An easily emptied canister rather than bags, to keep future costs low; and
5. A price that reflects the 4 to 5-year average life expectancy of modern vacuum cleaners.
After quite a bit of research, I bought the Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind Plus Bagless Upright and it’s one of the best vacuum cleaners I’ve used.
Vacuums clean a variety of surfaces: floors, of course, but also sofas and chairs, plus soft furnishings like curtains and throw pillows.
The Hoover’s onboard attachments mean that, unlike the Kirby, I don’t have to swap the vacuum head for the hose just to use the attachments. I can pause in the middle of vacuuming the living room, for instance, and pop the dust brush on to give the curtains their weekly cleaning. Once done, it’s easy to swap to the upholstery attachment and get pet hair off the sofa.
Air-Powered Roller Bar
The attachments are air-powered, too. That means the upholstery attachment has its own roller bar which spins to get up pet hair. Unlike the other two upright vacuums I’ve owned, this attachment’s roller is also easy to clean.
The combination of convenient use and high power means I get dust, dirt, and hair up faster and more thoroughly, so my rooms stay much cleaner.
Cleans Both Carpet and Hard Floors
While every vacuum should clean carpeting well, it’s a rare upright vacuum that can do hard flooring without tossing little bits of dirt all over the place.
The Hoover didn’t disappoint me in this area. I’ve used it to clean up a spilled box of quinoa from the kitchen floor, and it did the job without spreading the mess.
The Hoover offers several settings to adjust the vacuum head’s height correctly for your floors. You want the brush to make contact with your floor’s surface, but not ride it so closely that it can’t spin to lift up debris.
Washable HEPA filtration
My son and I both have allergies, so one of my vacuum-purchasing criteria requires HEPA filtration. Also, I hate having to dust more often due to a poorly-designed vacuum, something I often encountered with the Kirby but not as much with the Dyson.
The Hoover combines a washable pre-filter plus another HEPA filter to trap dust within the machine rather than spreading fine particles back into your home’s air as you clean. Although it’s not a sealed HEPA system (and few upright vacuum cleaners are), the dual filtration does an excellent job of getting the dust out of the house.
The washable filter can be rinsed in the sink after every few uses to keep the machine’s suction functioning properly. This also protects the full HEPA filter, so it only needs replacement every couple of years.
Bagless! Bagless! Bagless!
I hate vacuum cleaner bags. For one thing, they’re an ongoing cost that adds more waste to the landfill. For another, there’s no way to change a vacuum bag without getting your face right next to it, and that always led to a 10-minute sneezing bout.
Then there’s the fact that whatever you’ve vacuumed up (e.g., food crumbs, dust mites, mold spores, etc.) are growing in the bag until you swap it for a new one. If your machine also doesn’t filter exhaust properly, you’re filling your home with yuck every time you use the thing.
A Reasonable Price
Dysons run around $600. The Kirby cost nearly twice that! Even so, most upright vacuums last only 4 to 5 years, so the price is something not to be ignored.
At less than one-third the cost of the Dyson, the Hoover was well within my budget. Plus, at that price, I won’t feel sick if it only lasts a couple of years.
Weight: At 16.5 lbs. I find the Hoover easy enough to carry up and downstairs as needed, something I couldn’t say about the Kirby upright vacuum, which weighed 24 lbs. even without attachments!
Easy brush roll access: Keeping the brush free of threads and hairs is easier on the Hoover than any other vacuum I’ve owned. Just flip two levers, remove the roller brush, and pull the threads off. I give my roller a quick wipe down while I’ve got it free, too.
Self-retracting cord: I have to admit, this is one of my favorite non-essential features. When I’m done cleaning, I want to be done cleaning, not standing there for another couple of minutes winding the cord. With the Hoover, I push a button and — ZIP — it rolls itself up in the machine. Sweet!
Full-container indicator: This is always a nice feature to have because it helps maximize your upright vacuum’s efficiency while in use.
I solved this by using a permanent marker to draw a line on the canister about 4 inches from the bottom, then told my son to empty the canister when the contents reach that point even if he’s not done vacuuming his room.
Suction control: None of the upright vacuums I’ve owned have offered this feature, but it would be nice to have. Suction control lets you adjust the strength of the hose’s suction, so it pulls less when vacuuming things like curtains. I get around this by holding the bottom hem of the curtain taut with one hand while wielding the vacuum hose with the dust brush in the other.
All in all, I have to say I love my Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Bagless Upright and would heartily recommend it to anyone whether they’re buying their first vacuum or replacing an old one.
Of course, you shouldn’t just take my word before making your purchase decision: do some research to find out which vacuum works best for your home and purposes. Consumer Reports has an excellent guide to help you, but you should also ask friends and family for their recommendations, too.