Cleaning carpeted floors can be a difficult task for many vacuums. Carpeted floors tend to hold on to various types of foreign material, so it's crucial to have a vacuum with plenty of suction power and a brushroll that can dig its way into this type of surface and lift away debris. The best vacuum to clean carpet should also be maneuverable enough to navigate furniture and shelves without getting stuck on shaggy surfaces.
We've tested over 135 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuum cleaners for carpets. We selected these picks based on their low- and high-pile carpet performance and design, feature set, and price. For more recommendations, look at our list of the best vacuums, the best vacuums for high-pile carpet, and the best cordless vacuums.
The SEBO Airbelt D4 is the best vacuum for carpets we've tested. Even with a basic straight-suction floorhead, this high-end canister vacuum does a very good job dealing with pet hair and solid debris on low-pile carpets. However, if you need to clean thicker carpets, the ET-1 powerhead bundled with the top-range D4 Premium model is one of the most effective attachments on the market. It features four levels of height adjustment, an automatic brushroll cutoff switch, and an indicator light to let you know if the brushroll is set too high to touch the ground or if its bristles have been worn down. You can precisely control the vacuum's suction power using the rocker switch on its handle, letting you quickly adapt to different types and lengths of carpeting. It's worth noting that this vacuum can be hard to find from most mainstream appliance retailers, and it's best to purchase it directly from the manufacturer or a specialized vacuum retailer.
The SEBO also feels remarkably well-built, and its three-stage S-Class filtration system is incredibly effective in keeping allergens sealed away. User maintenance is remarkably simple, and it incurs low recurring costs for a bagged vacuum thanks to its high-capacity dirtbags and long-lasting filters. Looking for something more maneuverable? Consider the Miele Complete C3, which is a little smaller and lighter. However, it uses smaller dirtbags and less durable filters, resulting in higher ownership costs. Like the SEBO, it'd also be a good idea to purchase a C3 model with a powerhead, like the C3 Cat & Dog, C3 Kona, or C3 Brilliant, if you plan on cleaning a lot of very dense carpeting.
Check out the Miele Classic C1 Cat & Dog PowerLine PowerLine if you're shopping at a slightly lower price point. This canister vacuum feels less sturdily built than the SEBO Airbelt D4 and has a shorter overall range. It also lacks an onboard tool storage compartment, though you can mount its upholstery tool, crevice tool, and dusting brush to an included clip that can be attached to the base of its hose. With all that said, it's notably cheaper than the SEBO, and its 1200W motor puts it in a similar ballpark to the SEBO regarding debris-pickup performance. This Cat & Dog variant of the C1 comes bundled with Miele's SEB 228 powerhead, which features five levels of height adjustment, allowing you to quickly adapt to many carpet types, from low-pile to plush carpeting, along with a parquet head for cleaning hard floors as well as a mini turbo brush for cleaning fabric-lined furniture. You can adjust the vacuum's suction power if you're having trouble pushing the head around on thick carpeting using the six-level rotary dial at the back of its body.
This vacuum is also smaller and lighter than the SEBO, making it easier to maneuver in cluttered areas. It's easy to maintain, with an easily-accessible dirtbag and filters. Unfortunately, it incurs higher ownership costs; it uses 2.5L dirtbags instead of the SEBO vacuum's high-capacity 4.5L bags. These smaller bags will fill up much faster and thus need replacing more often, and the Miele also uses filters with a much shorter lifespan.
The best mid-range vacuum for carpets is the Dyson Ball Animal 3. This bagless upright is less sturdily built than the Miele Classic C1, but it's still very good when dealing with debris on carpets. Compared to its predecessor, the Dyson Ball Animal 2, it has a redesigned floorhead with built-in plastic combs to trap hair and prevent it from getting tangled around the brushroll. There are also three surface settings to adapt to different floor types, so it's a lot easier to maneuver on carpets than the older model, which formed a very tight seal with the ground and could even tear up longer carpet fibers. It also has an onboard HEPA filter and an allergen-sealed body, so it does a good job of trapping most fine particles as you clean. That said, shaking out its dustbin can release a cloud of dust, making for a less hygienic means of debris disposal than throwing out the Miele's sealed dirtbags.
This vacuum's ball-shaped-wheel mechanism makes it more maneuverable than a traditional upright, but it's still a bulky, heavy appliance. Its mainly plastic construction also creaks and flexes while in use, which is disappointing for a vacuum at this price point. You'll also need to manually wind back its power cord at the end of every cleaning session, which can be a nuisance due to its substantial length.
The BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Turbo Rewind is a good option if you want to spend less on an upright vacuum for cleaning carpets. It isn't as powerful as the pricier Dyson Ball Animal 3, so you'll probably have to make a few extra passes to clear away the same amount of debris that's been embedded deep within high-pile carpets and rugs. However, it's cheaper and considerably easier to maneuver on plush carpeting since its floorhead doesn't generate as tight a seal with the ground. It offers three levels of surface adjustment, so you can quickly adapt to different lengths of carpeting. There's also brushroll off switch, which makes it easier to free the vacuum if it's gotten tangled on obstructions like rug tassels and can be used to avoid scattering around loose debris on hard floors.
Unfortunately, the build quality is flimsy. It has some components that need periodic cleaning, some of which are a hassle to get to. This includes its brushroll, which requires removing 10 Philips-head screws to access. If you prioritize ease of maintenance and a cleaner means of debris disposal, go for a bagged model like the Kenmore Intuition Bagged. You can also detach its canister body from its floorhead and carry it around while cleaning with its hose, making it much easier to clean tight spots than using the BISSELL. However, the Kenmore is harder to push around on carpeted floors.
The best budget carpet vacuum we've tested is the Eureka FloorRover. This bagless upright is less maneuverable than the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Turbo and falls slightly behind when it comes to dealing with debris on low-pile carpet. However, it has its fair share of advantages besides its cheaper price tag. While you can't change the brushroll's height for improved maneuverability on thick carpets, you can turn the brushroll off to more easily free it from carpet fibers if it gets stuck. It also comes with a wide assortment of attachments, especially for a vacuum at this price point, including a miniature turbo brush for cleaning fabric surfaces.
Unfortunately, overall build quality is mediocre, with the mainly plastic body feeling quite fragile and a rather flimsy brushroll mechanism. It isn't much easier to maintain than the BISSELL either. Its brushroll is particularly difficult to access. If you're looking for something a little lighter that still does well on carpets, the BISSELL PowerForce Helix is a good option. However, it feels even more cheaply built, does an awful job of sealing in allergens, and still gets stuck pretty easily on thick carpeting.
If you'd rather not deal with a power cord when vacuuming carpets, the Dyson V15 Detect is a solid option. Compared to a high-end canister vacuum with a powerhead like the SEBO Airbelt D4, this flagship stick vacuum has a less potent suction motor and a more rudimentary floorhead with no height adjustment and no brushroll cut-off, so it tends to get stuck in really thick carpeting, forcing you to turn it off to free it. Still, this Dyson's 230AW suction motor is remarkably powerful for a cordless model. It allows it to suck up debris embedded in low and medium-pile carpeting without much effort, with the added benefit of grab-and-go convenience compared to a bulkier corded machine. Additionally, its surface sensor lets it raise its suction power automatically when passing over carpeted floors.
If you want a cordless machine that's easier to maneuver on thicker carpets, the Miele Triflex HX1 is a solid alternative. With a lower suction power, it's considerably easier to maneuver on plush carpeting. Like the Dyson, it has a surface detection system, which changes the brushroll speed depending on the surface and can stop it if something gets tangled within the mechanism. Unfortunately, its max battery life of a little over 30 minutes falls way short of the Dyson vacuum's roughly 60-minute runtime, and it has a much smaller dustbin.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best vacuums for cleaning carpet. We don't just base our results on overall performance but also on factors like availability, price, and reader feedback, so it isn't as though there's a single best vacuum cleaner for carpets to suit all needs.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our vacuum reviews, ranked by their performance on carpet. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no vacuum is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.