What are upright vacuum cleaners?

Published on June 6th, 2020

We all know the drill. Once a week, you lug out your vacuum cleaner, plug it in, and start chasing those dust bunnies and wads of pet hair. It’s a weekly chore in all homes – or at least it should be!

Basically, every home has a vacuum cleaner. And pretty often, that vacuum cleaner is what you would call an upright vacuum. Although recently other types of vacuums have gained popularity, an upright vacuum is still seen as the typical vacuum cleaner – in the U.S anyway.

But what exactly is an upright vacuum, and how is it different from other types of vacuum cleaners? (Also, check out which are the top upright vacuums?)

Upright vacuum – the typical configuration

When we talk about upright vacuums, we mean the type that stands up. It has a sturdy base with a brush roll, a motor, and a bag or dirt cup where all the dirt is collected. The vacuum stands up on its own, and you hold it by the handle located on the top. When you clean with an upright vacuum, you use the handle to push and pull it across the floor.

Two types of vacuums are often compared against upright vacuums: the canister vacuum, which is the one you pull behind you across the floor holding the wand, and a stick vacuum, which is the slim-lined and often cordless version of an upright.

upright type vacuum on floor

The upright vacuum has a few fundamental parts.

  • Firstly, you have the main cleaning head which the machine stands on. This part usually contains a brush roll, which adds to the cleaning power of the suction, and wheels that allow the vacuum to glide across floors smoothly. The height of the brush roll can usually be changed depending on the surface you are vacuuming, and advanced uprights even have LED headlights to offer visibility in corners or under the furniture.
  • Resting on the foot of the vacuum, you will find the motor, the filtration system, and a bag or container for the dirt. Depending on the model, you might also find an extension hose, power cord retractor, or holders for the attachments for your upright vacuum. This part is the body of the appliance, and depending on the design, it may be bulky or slim-lined, even detachable in some cases.
  • On the top, you will have the handle which you use to steer the vacuum across the floor, and usually, you also have fingertip controls to change the suction mode.

Features that make your upright vacuum practical

The benefit of an upright vacuum compared to other types of vacuums is the fact that it performs amazingly well on all kinds of carpets. The weight of the vacuum rests on the cleaning head, allowing the brush to engage the surface to pull up embedded dirt. However, by adding a few practical features, your upright vacuum will adapt to many other surfaces as well.

One of the most important features that add to the adaptability of an upright vacuum is the extension hose. It should be long, durable, and easy to detach for use. With the hose and a few key tools, you will be able to clean not only floors but stairs and other above-floor areas like furniture.

The most practical and versatile upright vacuums also come with a big set of attachments you can use on different surfaces and areas. A crevice tool is ideal for tight spots, and a dusting brush is an excellent replacement for your old duster. And if you own a pet that sheds, you definitely need the motorized brush roll tool to remove pet hair from upholstery and carpeted stairs.

The more tools and features that enable the vacuum to clean different kinds of surfaces, the more use you will have for your appliance.

upright vacuum cleaner on carpet

What are the benefits of upright vacuums?

As we mentioned earlier, an upright vacuum is often the best choice for carpets. If you have a few low or medium pile area rugs, there is no reason why a less sturdy vacuum cleaner wouldn’t work for you. But if you have carpeting throughout your house, or you have several high-pile area rugs, then you may need an upright vacuum.

Because uprights are corded, they have powerful motors that can sustain a strong suction. Combined with a sturdy brush roll, you will see fantastic cleaning results, even on the most challenging carpets. With the powerful motor spinning the brush and the weight of the vacuum pushing it against the surface, the vacuum will reach deep into the carpet and pull out all dust, dirt, and pet hair.

Although upright vacuums are bulkier than stick vacuums and may not be as handy as a cordless vacuum, no other type of vacuum can beat it in cleaning power.

It is a common misconception that all upright vacuums are awkward to use and inconvenient. If you choose one of the advanced products with excellent design, you will find that upright vacuums can be simple, easy, and effortless to use.

Summing up – What is an upright vacuum?

An upright vacuum is the type of vacuum you probably just consider to be ”a vacuum.” In the U.S., this is the most common type, although robotic vacuum and stick vacuums are gaining popularity quickly.

However, because nothing beats upright vacuums when it comes to cleaning results, they will probably continue to stay popular – especially with homeowners that have chosen carpeting for their home.

Upright vacuums continually improve in design, maneuverability, and adaptability, and the advanced models, like the ones we have listed on this site, are highly practical and easy to use. So if cleaning power is what you’re looking for, an upright vacuum cleaner should be your choice.

Matt Clayton

Matt Clayton

Chief Editor & Founder of PetHairPatrol

Matt is the founder of PetHairPatrol.com and has years of experience helping pet owners keep their homes clean. He's been featured in publications like Reader's Digest, Money, and BestLifeOnline. When this neat freak is not searching for better ways to get rid of pet hair, dander, and other messes pets leave behind, he's usually enjoying outdoors with his two (hairy) Goldens: Ben and Jerry. Read more.

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