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.
So far, we've reviewed over 30 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 so far 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 deal with the trouble of looking for an outlet, consider the Shark ION P50. This cordless upright doesn't clear small debris like baking soda quite as easily as the Dyson Ball Animal 2 and comes with fewer tools and brushes, but it's better-built and, crucially, is more suited for cleaning areas far away from an outlet, like the inside of your car. It's also very lightweight, and thanks to its bagless design and washable filters has virtually no recurring costs. Unfortunately, there are quite a few parts that need to be taken care of. Battery life is good for a cordless upright, as it should run continuously for close to an hour if you use it in its low-power setting. However, this drops to just over 20 minutes if you leave it in its 'ION BOOST' high-power mode.
Get the Dyson if you need more attachments and want marginally better performance on carpeted surfaces, but consider the Shark if you don't want to have to stay close to an outlet.
The best vacuum for carpet with a stick/handheld design that we've tested so far is the Shark Rocket Pet Pro. This cordless model is an excellent performer on low-pile carpet and does a very good job of clearing debris on shag carpeting. It shouldn't have any issues clearing large debris like sand and pet hair, though it struggles a little more with finer debris, including baking soda spills. That said, performance stays consistent as its dirt compartment fills, which is useful for bigger messes.
It's decently well-built and fairly easy to maintain, with most parts being simple to access. It employs a bagless design with a washable filter, so there are virtually no recurring costs. As the name implies, it's well-suited for pet owners since it has a HEPA filter to reduce the spread of allergens from shed hair and dust. It can also be quickly reconfigured into a lightweight handheld vacuum to clean smaller carpeted areas, like the inside of your car.
Unfortunately, battery life isn't a strong suit, as you can run out of charge in just 12 minutes when running it continuously in its 'MAX (BOOST)' mode. If it's used more conservatively, you can expect battery life to extend to just over 40 minutes. Short runtime aside, this is a highly versatile and portable choice.
The best vacuum for carpet with a canister design that we've tested so far is the Miele Classic C1. This corded model is extremely well-built and easy to maintain, with a simple design that feels intuitive to take apart and put back together. With its smoothly-gliding wheels and readily-accessible controls, it's also quite maneuverable, even in small and cluttered areas.
It delivers very good cleaning performance on low-pile and high-pile carpets. It should have no trouble sucking up pet hair and larger debris like cereal and sand. Performance stays reasonably consistent even as its generously-sized dirtbag fills up, which is helpful when trying to tackle bigger messes. However, it doesn't deal quite as effectively with smaller foreign objects like baking soda on this type of surface.
Because of its disposable dirtbag and filters, its recurring costs are higher than true bagless vacuums. It also has a very short power cord, which is a nuisance when you're trying to clean both wide-open spaces and cluttered rooms, though its relatively light weight makes it easier to lift and carry than other canister models. Overall, this is one of the best vacuum cleaners for carpets that we've tested.
The best robot vacuum for carpets that we've tested so far is the Neato Botvac D7. This robot can maneuver smoothly across even shaggy carpets, which is a rare trait for this type of vacuum. It does a satisfactory job of sucking up a wide range of debris, from pet hair to cereal, with fairly consistent performance even as its dirt compartment fills up.
It's also very well-built with dense plastic construction and is fairly simple to take apart and put back together. Its compact footprint makes it easy to store underneath a table or in a closet. Battery performance is another strong suit, seeing as how it can run continuously for upwards of an hour and a half in its max power setting. Its companion app grants access to a variety of options including setting up virtual room boundaries, checking various components' service status and cleaning history, and even a remote piloting function to let you control it directly from your phone.
Unfortunately, its recurring costs are on the high side and can add up over time, since there are a couple of parts that need regular replacement. The dirt compartment's fill status also can't be checked remotely, so you'll have to pause your cleaning session to check. Minor issues aside, this is a great choice if you want a robot vacuum that can deal with carpets.
The best budget vacuum for carpets that we've tested so far 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 canister model, its performance ensures it's one of the best vacuums for carpets that we've tested so far.
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'd like to make your own choice, here's the entire list of vacuum cleaners that we've reviewed so far, as to let you make the best choice for your current situation.