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 105 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums to clean carpets. We selected these picks based on their performance on low and high-pile carpet and their 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 best vacuum for carpets that we've tested with an upright design is the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright. This upright vacuum features three levels of surface adjustment, allowing you to change the height of its head depending on the floor type that you're on. It delivers outstanding performance on low-pile carpet, where it easily cleans pet hair and large debris and clears an impressive amount of debris on high-pile carpet, though you may need to make an extra pass to fully clean very fine debris.
This vacuum's bagless design and washable pre-motor and allergen-trapping HEPA filters result in a near-total lack of recurring costs, as long as you regularly clean the filters. Its 'Lift-Away' feature allows you to pick up and carry its canister, making it easier to clean shelves and counters as well as under and on top of furniture. It comes with an assortment of attachments, including a motorized turbo brush and an extension wand for cleaning hard-to-reach areas.
Unfortunately, due to the bulky front-mounted dirt compartment, it can be hard to clean under tables and chairs. Some lighter rugs can get stuck in its main vacuum head when its brushroll is spinning. Also, there are quite a few parts that need regular cleaning. Otherwise, its versatile cleaning performance and more maneuverable alternative configuration make it one of the best bagless vacuums we've tested.
If you prefer the cleaner means of debris disposal and superior filtration performance that come with a bagged vacuum, consider the Kenmore Intuition Bagged. This upright incurs higher recurring costs than the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright because of its disposable dirtbag. However, it's easier to maintain and shouldn't release nearly as much dirt and dust when emptying the vacuum. It delivers impressive performance on high-pile carpet and does a great job of cleaning high-pile carpets, though it struggles notably more when cleaning fine debris like baking soda from the latter surface type. It also has an allergen-trapping HEPA filter and has a 'Lift-Up' design that enables you to pick up and carry its canister to better-clean hard-to-reach spots. However, it's also hard to maneuver, primarily because of its large dirtbag compartment, making it hard to navigate under furniture like tables and couches.
Get the Shark if you want a vacuum that performs a little better on low-pile carpet and incurs minimal recurring costs, but consider the Kenmore if you value the advantages that come with a bagged vacuum.
The best stick/handheld vacuum for carpets that we've tested is the Dyson V15 Detect. This cordless vacuum features a built-in particle sensor that counts and measures the size of fine debris that you suck up, and you can view that information by looking at the LED display at the back of the vacuum body. It has a surface detection system that enables it to automatically adjust its suction power depending on the floor type that you're on.
This vacuum delivers superb performance on bare floors and sucks up a remarkable amount of debris on low and high-pile carpet, including pet hair as well as fine and large debris. You can easily reconfigure into a handheld vacuum for dealing with messes in tight corners. Its washable HEPA filter and bagless design result in a near-total lack of recurring costs. Depending on your choice of suction power mode and usage habits, you can expect roughly 10 to 70 minutes of runtime on a single charge, which should be sufficient for vacuuming most areas.
Unfortunately, while this vacuum's relatively lightweight construction makes it fairly easy to maneuver on bare floors, its strong suction power and lack of a brushroll on/off switch can cause it to get stuck on rug tassels or very shaggy carpets. It also doesn't feel particularly sturdy and has many parts that need to be cleaned periodically. Still, its dense feature set, versatile overall performance, and relatively portable design make it one of the best vacuum cleaners with good suction that we've tested.
The Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine is the best canister vacuum for carpets that we've tested. This bagged canister vacuum feels amazingly well-built, courtesy of its high-grade plastic body and dense rubber wheels that enable it to roll smoothly on a wide variety of surface types. It's also very easy to maintain, with the few parts requiring regular maintenance being very simple to access. It also has a seven-level suction power adjustment feature that lets you adapt to different surfaces.
This vacuum delivers fantastic performance on bare floors, easily clearing pet hair as well as small and bulky debris. It also does a great job on low and high-pile carpet, though you may need to make another pass to fully clean very fine material from these surfaces. It has a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean, not to mention an onboard storage compartment for its attachments and a power cord that retracts with the press of a button.
Unfortunately, since you need to replace this vacuum's filters and dirtbag periodically, recurring costs can add up over time. Its hose is also rather short, making it difficult to clean some faraway areas. Otherwise, if you're looking for a canister vacuum that can handle debris on a wide variety of surfaces, this is a great option.
The best robot vacuum we've tested for carpets is the iRobot Roomba S9. This robot vacuum has a surface detection feature that enables it to automatically change its head height depending on the floor type that it's on. It delivers impressive performance on low-pile carpet and does a good job of sucking up debris on high-pile carpet, though it may need to make an extra pass to fully clear particularly fine material.
This vacuum is highly maneuverable, as it can easily negotiate itself around furniture and easily climbs over obstructions like electrical cords. You can use its companion app to set up no-go zones that the vacuum won't enter or schedule cleaning sessions for specific areas. The vacuum itself feels amazingly well-built and offers superb battery life since you can expect roughly anywhere between 50 to 150 minutes of continuous runtime on a single charge, depending on your choice of settings.
Unfortunately, this vacuum has many parts that need periodic cleaning, including its allergen-trapping HEPA filter. Also, like many other robot vacuums, a few components need regular replacing, so recurring costs can add up over time. Otherwise, its great overall performance on carpets and advanced automation features make it one of the best multi-surface vacuums we've tested.
The best handheld vacuum for carpets that we've tested is the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This handheld cordless vacuum delivers superb performance on low and high-pile carpet, easily cleaning pet hair as well as small and bulky debris. It comes with a turbo brush to help clear messes on upholstered surfaces, and its brushroll uses angled plastic fins that are advertised to reduce the incidence of hair wraps.
This vacuum's compact size makes it easy to pick up and carry wherever you may need. Its plastic construction feels durable for the most part, though it's worth noting that its dustbin is a little fragile. It's easy to disassemble and reassemble for regular maintenance, and since its dust cup filter is the only component that needs regular replacing, recurring costs are decently low.
Unfortunately, this vacuum has a very short runtime of roughly 10 minutes on a single charge. It doesn't have a suction power adjustment feature either, so you can't increase its suction power to help clear especially stubborn debris or turn it down to help conserve battery life. In addition, it lacks a HEPA filter to trap allergens, which may be a disappointment if you have a pet that sheds heavily. Still, its strong performance on carpets and portable design make it one of the best lightweight vacuums we've tested.
If you're on a budget, the best carpet vacuum we've tested is the Wyze Cordless Vacuum. This budget-friendly cordless stick vacuum delivers superb cleaning performance on high-pile carpet and clears an impressive amount of debris on low-pile carpet. Depending on the surface that you're on, you can swap between three different suction power modes by tapping on the touchscreen interface at the back of its body. As long as you regularly clean its allergen-trapping HEPA filter, it shouldn't incur any recurring costs.
This vacuum's very lightweight construction makes it easy to maneuver around furniture or lift over obstructions like electrical cords. You can easily reconfigure it into a handheld vacuum to clear messes in tight spots, and it comes with a combination upholstery tool/soft-bristle dusting brush as well as a dedicated crevice tool. Depending on your choice of settings and attachments, it supplies roughly 10 minutes to an hour of continuous runtime, which should be enough for cleaning most rooms.
Unfortunately, it does have quite a few parts that need regular cleaning. Also, while it feels reasonably well-built for the most part, some components are a little fragile, especially its clear plastic dustbin and easily-scratched floorhead. Otherwise, if you're looking for a budget-friendly cordless vacuum that can easily handle messes on carpets, this is a great choice.
Dec 22, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still available and represent the best choice for their given category.
Nov 22, 2021: Replaced BISSELL PowerForce Helix with Wyze Cordless Vacuum as 'Best Budget Vacuum For Carpets' category pick. Re-categorized Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ from 'Handheld Alternative' category pick to new 'Best Handheld Vacuum For Carpets' category pick. Removed Wyze Cordless Vacuum from Notable Mentions, added BISSELL PowerForce Helix to Notable Mentions.
Oct 28, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still available and represent the best choice for their given category. Added Wyze Cordless Vacuum to Notable Mentions, removed Shark Navigator Lift-Away from Notable Mentions due to current availability.
Sep 30, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still available and represent the best choice for their given category. Added Shark Vertex Pro, Neato D8, Eureka FloorRover Elite NEU630, and yeedi vac station to Notable Mentions. Removed Neato Botvac D7 from Notable Mentions due to current availability.
Sep 02, 2021: Checked that picks were still accurate and represent the best choice for their categories.
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.