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Difference Between Stick Vacuums and Upright Vacuums

Published by: Katherine Frame

Difference Between Stick Vacuums and Upright Vacuums

Anyone purchasing a vacuum cleaner may find it complicated to choose the right one. There are numerous models and variants to consider for different purposes (like for carpet cleaning or the hard surface area). You don’t want to regret your purchase, right? 

So, in this guide, we will analyze the differences between stick vacuums and upright vacuums to help you select the right vacuum cleaner.

Stick Vacuum Cleaners

Stick vacuum cleaners are getting very popular nowadays. They are lightweight and are used to remove dust from hard-to-reach areas. Such types of vacuum cleaners are ideal for small to medium-sized apartments. 

Stick vacuum cleaners are cordless and run on chargeable batteries, so it is convenient to clean dust, dirt, pet hair, and easy spots.


Here are some of the advantages of a stick vacuum cleaner:

  • They are lightweight compared to the upright vacuum cleaner.
  • Stick vacuums are easily movable from one place to another, which makes them the best for spot cleaning.
  • Makes less noise.
  • Adjustable height. 
  • Easy to store.
  • Suitable for busy people.


Despite several benefits, stick vacuum cleaners suffer from various limitations.

  • Stick vacuum cleaners have low suction power.
  • Since the size of the vacuum cleaner is small, it provides less filtration.
  • They have limited run time.
  • It does not have a beater bar.

Upright Vacuum Cleaners

Upright vacuum cleaners are bulky with various modes of operation. Their wide-body design contains a cleaning head attached to a bag and a handle.

They are suitable for cleaning large surface areas. Most of the upright vacuums are corded and have high suction power. 


Upright vacuum cleaners offer several benefits:

  • Upright vacuum cleaners are cost-effective.
  • They are reliable as they can last for more than 15 years.
  • Upright vacuums have motorized brushes which are favorable for heavy carpet cleaning and hardwood floors.
  • They can clean a wide surface area.
  • The maintenance of such types of vacuums is easy.
  • They have strong suction power.


Upright vacuums cleaners have the following disadvantages:

  • Upright vacuum cleaners are a little noisy.
  • They are bulky. So, it is difficult to move them from one place to another.
  • It is inconvenient to reach awkward spaces.
  • Thus, it is challenging to clean staircases with an upright vacuum cleaner.

Difference Between Stick Vacuums and Upright Vacuums

Since we have analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of both types of vacuum cleaners, let’s compare them considering the following factors:

1. Features

Both vacuum cleaners have the same features. The only difference is that the upright vacuum cleaners have a HEPA filter, which is not there in a stick vacuum cleaner. It is due to its compact size. 

2. Appearance

Appearance is one of the main differences between a stick vacuum cleaner and an upright vacuum cleaner. It can also be a reason for the different features they have. As far as stick vacuums cleaners are concerned, they are compact. So, it is easily moveable from one place to another.

On the other hand, upright vacuum cleaners are big and bulky. They come with a large dust bag which allows them to clean a large surface area.

3. Performance

Performance is the first thing that you should consider before purchasing a vacuum cleaner. Upright vacuum cleaners have high suction power, so they are ideal for cleaning heavy carpet flooring. They also have multiple beater brushes to stimulate the dust before vacuuming. 

On the other hand, stick vacuum cleaners have a low suction power, which is suitable for cleaning minor spots of dust, dirt, and pet hair. They are best for quick vacuum of your car, patio, and other small hard-to-reach areas.

4. Storage 

If you have limited space, you should go for a stick vacuum cleaner. Due to its portable design, it does not require a lot of storage space. You can also store it in a drawer after detaching the floor head and extension tube.

However, upright vacuum cleaners require a lot of storage space. You need to keep it in the cabinet or wardrobe which takes up a lot of space. 

5. Cost

Both upright vacuums and stick vacuums do not have a major difference as far as the prices are concerned. But, stick vacuum cleaners are comparatively cheaper than upright vacuum cleaners. The cost of the vacuum cleaners also depends on the brand and model you choose. 

6. Weight

Talking about the weight, stick vacuum cleaners are lighter in weight while upright vacuum cleaners are bulkier. Since stick vacuum cleaners are lightweight, they are highly mobile and require less storage space. However, upright vacuum cleaners are ideal for deep cleaning.

7. Maintenance

The maintenance of both types of vacuums depends on the appearance and structure of the dust pouches. If they have dirtbags, then you can throw the dust and change the bags regularly. 

For the vacuum appliances that do not have dirtbags, you should consider throwing the dust and washing the chambers to keep them clean. Cleaning and maintaining the vacuum cleaners regularly can help avoid the buildup of foul smell.

Additionally, you should also remove pet hair and lint from the beater brushes of the upright vacuum cleaner so that they can function efficiently.

8. Airflow

When you get a vacuum cleaner for your house, one of the most important things you are expecting is the high performance of the appliance. The airflow of a vacuum cleaner determines its performance or cleaning ability. 

However, evaluating the airflow is not as simple as it seems. Apart from the type of vacuum cleaner, the design also plays a crucial role in determining the machine’s airflow. A stick vacuum cleaner works efficiently with a variety of cordless machines.

On the other hand, an upright vacuum works at its best when cleaning hard flooring or large carpet areas. 

9. Weight

Who wants to have a vacuum cleaner that does more harm than good? You want a machine that helps you clean your house with great ease and doesn’t feel like too much effort. This is why a lightweight vacuum cleaner is required which is also rightfully reliable. 

Having a lightweight vacuum cleaner has more benefits than you can imagine. It will not only be easy to push & pull but will also reach the surfaces in your house that a heavy appliance will never be able to. A lightweight machine will allow you to clean the required area much quicker as well as with maximum comfort. 

In comparison to the upright type, a stick vacuum cleaner features a much lighter weight. On average, they are usually below 10 pounds in weight whereas an upright vacuum can go as high as 25 pounds. 

10. Ease of Use

One of the most crucial factors while not only buying a vacuum cleaner but any electronic device is the simplicity of its usage. 

A stick vacuum cleaner was specially formulated for the users to clean their house with maximum comfort and convenience. They are light in weight, simple to use and there’s no hassle of cords. They can fit into tight areas and all in all, one can never find them difficult to deal with. 

You can use a stick vacuum for many such applications for which an upright vacuum would never seem appropriate. Some of these include cleaning on various floors or vacuuming your four-wheeler. 

11. Pet Hair

If you have a dog or cat in your house, you would know how much of a challenge it is to get rid of pet hair. It is worth noting that stick vacuum cleaners now feature much better performance than earlier in this aspect. 

However, the catch here is that these types of vacuums fill up too quickly as they pick up pet hair in large amounts. As we also mentioned above, the dust cup of a stick vacuum is too small, therefore, it may be a bit troublesome to use a stick vacuum for removing pet hair.

Moreover, when you are using this vacuum cleaner at its absolute level for a longer period, its battery is going to run out too soon as well. 

On the other hand, an upright vacuum cleaner has no problems displaying in this respect. They make use of cords as well as much bigger dust bags. Therefore, upright vacuums certainly win in this one. 

Different Kinds of Floors 

It is important to also consider the type of floor for which you are looking for a vacuum cleaner in the first place. Let’s look at the two most common types of floors and how they respond to upright and stick vacuum cleaners respectively: 

  • Carpets: If carpets are spread all around your house, you must go for an upright vacuum cleaner without a hitch. In the majority of cases, a stick vacuum cleaner works efficiently as well, however, they seldom get too harsh on the pocket. Therefore, an upright vacuum is an ideal pick for you that not only does the job well but also offers great value for money.  
  • Hardwood: A stick vacuum cleaner is considered to be the best choice for hardwood floors as this kind of flooring doesn’t truly need a lot of suction power. A cordless stick vacuum would work just fine for this floor with its lightweight nature and ease of use. 


Stick vacuum cleaners are great if you have a small apartment while upright vacuum cleaners are suitable for larger areas, mostly covered in carpets. 


Can a stick vacuum replace a normal vacuum?

Stick vacuums are becoming popular day-by-day due to their compact size and lightweight design. But, they can’t replace a normal vacuum cleaner. Even though it is movable from one place to another, it is difficult to use a stick vacuum cleaner on a large carpet area. However, we can’t say that it is impossible as technology is advancing at a rapid rate.

Do stick vacuums work on carpet?

Stick vacuums are perfect for cleaning open floors and low-heaped carpets. But, stick vacuums cannot be used to clean heavy carpet flooring as it has low suction power. You can consider an upright vacuum cleaner for that purpose.

Where does the dirt go in a stick vacuum?

In a stick vacuum cleaner, the dirt sucks up into the wand from the suction head. Then, it is filtered to the dust bins attached to the device. Hence, you can empty the dirt bins when full and replace them with a new one.

How upright vacuum cleaners work?

An upright vacuum cleaner has a beater brush attached to it. This beater brush stimulates the dirt on carpets and hardwood flooring. Then, the electric motor and the fan throws air from one end and sucks in the new air with the dust from another end. Thus, the dirt and filth get trapped in the dust bags or canisters.

What are some disadvantages of getting an upright vacuum cleaner?

An upright vacuum cleaner isn’t very flexible or convenient in comparison to a stick vacuum. While a stick vacuum cleaner can easily fit into smaller spaces, it is not a very feasible thing to do when using the upright one. You will be required to make use of hose attachments for cleaning edges, stairs, or upholstery when using this vacuum.

Why should I get a stick vacuum cleaner?

The best part about getting and using a stick vacuum cleaner is that these are cordless. They are very convenient to use as you don’t have to keep switching between electricity outlets and collecting cords every time you are cleaning around your house. You can also use them for cleaning cars, garages, as well as any other areas where an electrical socket isn’t possible to find. They are lightweight and flexible.

What are some things to keep in mind while buying a stick vacuum cleaner?

A stick vacuum cleaner has a quite small dust cup or container and one will need to empty it every so often. Moreover, having a cordless design, these vacuum cleaners can only function for a limited period. Nonetheless, if you choose a high-end brand and model, you are likely to get long hours of runtime.

Why should I get an upright vacuum cleaner?

There are various benefits of getting an upright vacuum cleaner and their absolute suction power certainly tops it all. They can easily clean large areas with great ease. Moreover, with their huge dust bags, you don’t have to worry about emptying them now and then.

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Article by:

Katherine Frame

Katherine Frame is a professional writer and reviewer who worked in higher education for eight years before working on The Hardware Hub. She has written for multiple home magazines and blogs.

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