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 75 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's a corded model that rolls on a large, ball-like wheel, which helps make it more maneuverable in tight or cluttered areas. It has an outstanding performance on carpets, where it easily clears pet hair and debris like sand and baking soda.
It's equipped with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter and doesn't lose suction as its spacious dirt compartment fills. You can use it in a semi-handheld mode with any of its tools and brushes, which include a turbo brush for dislodging dirt from fabric-covered furniture and a crevice tool for getting into narrow areas. It has a long hose, which gives you more reach, and a long power cord, so you should be able to clean a big room without swapping outlets very often.
Unfortunately, it has a mediocre build quality and doesn't feel very sturdy. It can be tricky to attach its tools and brushes, and it lacks onboard storage for all of them. That said, its outstanding performance makes it a great choice for anyone with carpets to keep clean. It's also one of the best vacuums we've tested.
If you want an upright vacuum that can also be used in a handheld configuration, consider the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright instead. This model doesn't pick up as much fine debris from carpets as the Dyson Ball Animal 2, but you can use it in a handheld mode, which helps with cleaning stairs, shelves, and other elevated areas. It has an overall impressive performance on carpets, where it easily clears pet hair and larger debris like sand, and it's equipped with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter. There are some tools and brushes included that can help with different cleaning jobs, like a turbo brush for cleaning fabric-covered furniture like car seats. It also has a crevice tool for getting into tight corners. Unfortunately, its hose is on the short side, which you may find limiting when using the vacuum in its handheld mode.
If you want the vacuum with the best overall performance on carpets, go for the Dyson. If you like upright vacuums but want something better-suited for cleaning areas like your car's interior, go for the Shark.
The best stick/handheld vacuum for carpets that we've tested is the Shark Rocket Pet Pro with MultiFlex IZ163H. This portable, cordless model has a very good overall performance on carpets. It's particularly effective at sucking up pet hair and is equipped with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter.
You can use it in a handheld configuration, which is helpful for cleaning stairs or your car's interior. It also comes with a few tools and brushes, including an upholstery tool for cleaning fabric-covered furniture and a crevice tool for getting into tight corners. It's very maneuverable, with a rotating head that helps it maneuver around obstacles. Also, thanks to its bagless design and washable filters, it incurs virtually no recurring costs.
Unfortunately, its battery can be depleted in as little as 12 minutes if you use the more powerful suction setting. It also struggles a bit to clear fine debris like baking soda from high-pile carpets, so it may take more than one pass to properly clean those surfaces. Otherwise, it's a great option if you're looking for a lightweight vacuum for carpets, and it's even one of the best cordless stick vacuums we've tested.
The Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine is the best canister vacuum for carpets that we've tested. This corded canister model easily clears pet hair from low and high-pile carpet and picks up most debris like sand and baking soda. It's also very easy to maneuver since it rolls easily and comes with an LED light to illuminate dark areas, like under furniture.
It comes with seven power levels, which helps you adjust its suction based on the surface you're cleaning. The build feels very sturdy, and it's incredibly easy to maintain. You can also use it in a handheld configuration by attaching one of its included tools or brushes to the handle. This vacuum is equipped with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter, which is nice if you have a pet that sheds.
However, it has high recurring costs since the filters need to be replaced regularly and uses disposable dirtbags. Also, its power cord and hose are both somewhat short, so you may need to switch outlets if you're cleaning a larger space. That said, it delivers an amazing performance on carpeted surfaces and has a user-friendly design, making it one of the best vacuums that we've tested.
The best robot vacuum for carpets that we've tested is the iRobot Roomba S9. This well-built model has an impressive performance on low-pile carpets, where it easily clears pet hair and debris and also does a good job of cleaning high-pile carpets. Its battery life is fantastic as well, as it provides between roughly 50 minutes and 2.5 hours of continuous cleaning time.
It's amazingly maneuverable, as it uses its navigation system to move in an efficient pattern and navigate around obstacles. It also automatically adjusts its suction power depending on what surface type it's cleaning and has a dirt sensor that detects areas that need extra attention. You can use the companion app to create cleaning schedules for different rooms in your home or set virtual boundaries to keep the vacuum out of certain areas.
Unfortunately, like most robot vacuums, it incurs high recurring costs and has demanding maintenance needs, with several parts that should be removed and serviced regularly. Otherwise, this model is a great choice if you're looking for a mostly hands-off way to keep your carpets clean.
The best vacuum for carpets in the budget category that we've tested is the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. This upright model has an amazing performance on low and high-pile carpets, easily picking up pet hair and clearing most debris like sand and baking soda. There are also five surface-type adjustments that help make it easy to clean different areas.
It can be used in a semi-handheld configuration, which helps when cleaning stairs or other awkward areas. Its dirt compartment is quite large, and thanks to its bagless design, it has very few recurring costs. There are a few tools included, like a soft-bristle brush for cleaning delicate surfaces and a crevice tool for cleaning hard-to-reach areas. Also, despite its bulky size, it feels quite light in your hand.
Unfortunately, it has a limited range due to its short hose and cord, so you may have to switch outlets often, especially when using it in its handheld configuration. Also, it feels somewhat flimsy and can be difficult to maneuver since the head doesn't rotate. That said, this vacuum is very well suited to cleaning carpeted surfaces, and it comes at a more budget-friendly price point.
If you want something easier to carry around, you may prefer the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. It's a handheld model, so it's less suitable for long cleaning sessions than the BISSELL PowerForce Helix, but it's more portable and better suited for cleaning areas like stairs or your car's interior. It also has a much better performance on high-pile carpets and does a fantastic job of cleaning low-pile carpets. There's a turbo brush included that you can use to dislodge dirt from fabric-covered furniture, as well as a crevice tool for cleaning narrow spots. It's better-built and easier to maintain than the BISSELL, but unfortunately, it has a relatively short battery life of roughly 10 minutes, so you need to work quickly when dealing with a big mess.
If you have a lot of carpeted floors to keep clean or prefer a corded model, try the BISSELL. Go for the Shark instead if you want something more portable and better-suited for quick clean-ups.
Apr 15, 2021: Confirmed all picks are in stock and still the best recommendations for our users.
Mar 19, 2021: Checked picks to make sure we're still recommending the best products for our users and that they're in stock.
Feb 19, 2021: Removed the Shark ION P50 Upright as the 'Cordless Alternative' to the Dyson Ball Animal 2 because it's not easy to find in stock. Replaced it with the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright as a 'Handheld Configuration Alternative'. Checked other picks to ensure we're still recommending the best products for our users.
Jan 21, 2021: Added the Miele Triflex HX1 to Notable Mentions. Verified that current picks are still the best recommendations for our users and that they're in stock.
Dec 04, 2020: Added Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister 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.