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. That said, the best vacuum to clean carpet should also be maneuverable enough to navigate its way around furniture and shelves without getting stuck on shaggy surfaces.
We've tested over 45 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums to clean carpets. These picks were selected not only based on their performance on both low and high-pile carpet but also their design, feature set, and price. For more buying recommendations, take a look at our list of the best vacuums, the best vacuums for high-pile carpet, and the best cordless vacuums.
The best upright vacuum for carpets that we've tested is the Dyson Ball Animal 2. It delivers remarkable performance on both low and high-pile carpet since it sucks up pet hair as well as small and large debris on these surfaces with barely any trouble. Even better, there's no drop in performance as the dirt compartment fills up.
It's fairly easy to maintain and doesn't have many parts that need regular maintenance. Its bagless design and non-disposable filters mean that recurring costs are virtually nil. It has a very long power cord, which is a helpful feature if you need to cover a large room or maneuver between lots of closely-spaced furniture. Despite its large size, maneuverability is good, though rug and carpet tassels can occasionally get stuck in the head.
Unfortunately, its build quality is quite plasticky overall, and, in particular, the dirt compartment feels like it could crack or shatter if dropped. It also lacks the easy-clip mechanisms found on other Dyson vacuums, which means it isn't quite as simple to quickly remove and attach a different tool when cleaning hard-to-reach areas. Still, considering its attributes, this is among the best vacuum cleaners for carpets that we've tested.
If you don't want to be limited by a power cord, take a look at the Shark ION P50 Upright. While this cordless upright/semi-handheld vacuum doesn't perform quite as well on carpeted floors as the Dyson Ball Animal 2, it's much lighter and easier to carry around, with an effectively unlimited range that should let you clean far-off places like the inside of your car. It still performs impressively well on both low and high-pile carpet and has a fairly long battery life for a cordless vacuum, supplying roughly anywhere between 20 to 60 minutes of runtime depending on the power mode used. It doesn't use a dirtbag and has washable pre-motor and allergen-trapping HEPA filters, so recurring costs shouldn't be a concern. Unfortunately, quite a few parts need to be routinely serviced, so maintenance can be a little tricky.
Get the Dyson if you prioritize overall cleaning performance and want an effectively unlimited runtime, but consider the Shark if you want a vacuum that can be carried around more easily and still offers great performance on carpets.
The best vacuum for carpet with a stick/handheld design that we've tested is the Shark Rocket Pet Pro. This cordless vacuum does a great job of clearing various kinds of debris on low-pile carpet and offers very good performance on high-pile carpets and rugs. It has an allergen-trapping HEPA filter, which should be helpful if you have a heavily shedding pet.
Thanks to its cordless design, it can be used to clean every part of your home. It's lightweight and extremely maneuverable, with a sleek design that can be quickly reconfigured into a handheld vacuum to clear debris from countertops and furniture. It uses washable filters and doesn't have a dirtbag, so recurring costs are practically nonexistent.
On the downside, battery life can be a bit of a concern if you run it continuously in its high-power 'MAX (BOOST)' mode, which drains its battery in a little over 10 minutes. That said, if you use it in a more conservative power setting, that runtime extends to over 40 minutes. Overall, this vacuum's mix of maneuverability and performance help make it one of the best cordless vacuums that we've tested.
The best vacuum for carpet with a canister design that we've tested is the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine. This corded canister vacuum clears various kinds of debris with ease on both low and high-pile carpeting. Its suction power can be adjusted through seven levels, allowing you to adapt to different surface types on-the-fly.
User maintenance is exceptionally easy overall, with relatively few parts that need regular replacing. Its included HEPA filter traps allergens as you clean, which is handy if you have a pet that sheds a lot. Its build quality is excellent overall, with a dense plastic body and wheels that roll smoothly, regardless of surface type. Combined with its relatively lightweight design, this vacuum is very maneuverable, even in small, cramped rooms. Its handle has a built-in LED light that should illuminate dark spaces and allow you to see what you're cleaning.
However, since its filters and dirtbag need to be replaced regularly, it has a few recurring costs that can add up over time. It also has a somewhat short power cord, so you may need to switch outlets when cleaning a larger or more cluttered room. Minor issues aside, this vacuum's performance and user-friendly design make it one of the best vacuums we've tested.
The best robot vacuum for carpets that we've tested is the iRobot Roomba S9. This robot vacuum delivers impressive cleaning performance on low-pile carpet and should do a good job of clearing various kinds of debris on shaggier surfaces. It sucks up pet hair easily and doesn't struggle too much with coarse debris such as sand or finer material, like baking soda spills.
Thanks to its iAdapt 3.0 navigation system, it can create a detailed virtual map of the area it's supposed to clean and then plot out battery-efficient cleaning routes, with its automatic surface adjustment feature allowing it to adapt to different floor types. You can set up virtual boundary markers in its companion app and schedule cleaning times for individual rooms too. Its overall battery life is exceptional, as it can supply roughly anywhere between 50 minutes to over two and a half hours of continuous runtime on a single charge.
Unfortunately, user maintenance can also be a bit of a tricky process, with quite a few parts that need to be inspected, cleaned, or replaced on a regular basis. It has quite a few sources of recurring costs that can add up over time. Still, thanks to its relatively impressive performance on shaggier surfaces, it's among the best vacuums for carpeted floors that we've tested.
The best budget vacuum for carpets that we've tested is the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. This corded upright delivers excellent cleaning performance on carpeted floors. It shouldn't have any trouble clearing pet hair on both low and high-pile carpet, though it doesn't do quite as well with small and large debris.
There's a five-level surface adjustment dial on the head, which allows you to better-suit the density of the carpet you're trying to clean. It's also quite lightweight and has a generously sized dirt compartment, so you won't have to empty it frequently when clearing larger messes. Recurring costs are low, courtesy of its bagless design. The only part you'll have to replace regularly is its pre-motor filter, which is available in a Febreze-scented variant to reduce odors as you clean, though we don't currently test this feature.
Unfortunately, it has a very short hose, which could be an annoyance when trying to clean in hard-to-reach areas. It's also quite bulky, with a plasticky design that feels both cheap and impedes its ability to maneuver in tight spaces. Still, if you're looking for a budget-friendly upright model, its performance ensures that it's one of the best vacuums for carpets that we've tested.
If you're looking for something far more portable and better-suited for spot-cleaning, consider the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This cordless handheld vacuum doesn't have the virtually unlimited runtime of the corded BISSELL PowerForce Helix and isn't as well-suited for cleaning large spaces, but it cleans even more debris on carpeted floors and is much lighter and easier to carry around. It's well-built and easy to maintain, with relatively low recurring costs. Its included turbo brush should help you clear debris from upholstered surfaces, while its crevice tool should let you clean tight corners. Unfortunately, it has a very short battery life of a little over 10 minutes.
Get the BISSELL if you find yourself cleaning bigger spaces more often, but take a look at the Shark if you're looking for a budget-friendly vacuum for spot-cleaning on almost any surface.
11/13/2020: Added Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ to recommendations.
10/23/2020: Replaced Neato Botvac D7 with iRobot Roomba S9. Added Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine and Neato Botvac D7 to Notable Mentions.
10/02/2020: Replaced Miele Classic C1 with Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine. Moved Miele Classic C1 to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best vacuums for carpet. We don't just base our results on overall performance, but also 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.