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, and 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. 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 best vacuum for carpet with a canister design that we've tested is the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine. This corded canister model 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, it's 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, its performance and user-friendly design make it one of the best vacuums we've tested.
The iRobot Roomba S9 is the best robot vacuum for carpets that we've tested. This well-built, premium model easily sucks up pet hair from any surface type. It's also very effective at clearing sand and baking soda from low-pile carpets, delivering an impressive performance overall, and does a good job with debris on high-pile carpets as well.
The battery performance is fantastic, as it provides between 50 minutes and two and a half hours of continuous cleaning time. The vacuum uses its navigation system to generate a map of your home that you can see in the companion app, which allows you to set cleaning schedules for different rooms and create virtual boundaries. It adjusts its suction power to adapt to different surfaces and has a dirt sensor so it can identify and return to areas that need extra cleaning.
Unfortunately, like most robot vacuums, it's tricky to maintain, with several parts that need to be removed and serviced regularly. It also incurs quite a few recurring costs. That said, its performance on carpets makes it one of the best robot vacuums we've tested.
The best vacuum for carpets that we've tested in the budget category is the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. This affordable upright model has an excellent performance on both high and low-pile carpets, where it easily clears pet hair and most large and small debris. It has a good-sized dirt compartment and doesn't feel very heavy in your hand, so it's well-suited for longer cleaning sessions.
It has five different surface-type settings, allowing you to adapt it to whatever area you're cleaning. It can also be used in a semi-handheld configuration, which is useful if you're cleaning an awkward area like the interior of your car. Some of the tools and brushes included can help with different cleaning jobs, like a soft bristle brush that can be used on soft objects like curtains. Since it has a bagless design, the pre-motor filter is the only part that needs to be replaced regularly, so recurring costs are quite low.
Unfortunately, it lacks a rotating head to help it maneuver around obstacles. The hose is also quite short, which limits your reach in its semi-handheld configuration. However, it's great at cleaning carpets and definitely worth considering if you're looking for a budget-friendly vacuum.
If you want something lighter and more portable, consider the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This handheld model has a smaller dirt compartment and is less suitable for cleaning big areas than the BISSELL PowerForce Helix, but it does a better job of clearing debris from carpets and has practically unlimited range since it's cordless. It's also easier to maintain and has a better build quality. There are some tools and brushes included, like an upholstery tool for fabric-covered furniture and a crevice tool for getting into tight spots. However, its battery only provides roughly 10 minutes of continuous runtime, so you need to work quickly when dealing with bigger messes.
If you have big area rugs to clean or don't want to worry about running out of battery, go for the BISSELL. If you want something easier to carry around or better-suited for spot-cleaning, consider the Shark instead.
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.
Nov 13, 2020: Added Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+.
Oct 23, 2020: Replaced Neato Botvac D7 with iRobot Roomba S9. Added Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine and Neato Botvac D7 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.