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 90 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 upright vacuum for carpets that we've tested is the Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine. This corded upright vacuum delivers excellent performance on low-pile carpet. It cleans an impressive amount of debris from high-pile carpet, ranging from pet hair to large material like sand, not to mention fine debris like baking soda. You can toggle its brushroll on and off or swap between four different suction power levels, and the vacuum head automatically changes height when cleaning different surface types.
Despite its bulky size and weight, it's decently maneuverable thanks to its smoothly rolling wheels, swiveling vacuum head, and long power cord, which should also make it easier to clean larger rooms without needing to swap electrical outlets. It's easy to maintain, with the few parts that require regular maintenance being very simple to access. In addition, it feels amazingly well-built. You can also use the vacuum in a semi-handheld configuration by removing its handle from its main body and attaching any one of its accessories, including an upholstery tool and a turbo brush.
Unfortunately, this vacuum's sheer bulk can make it a challenge to pick up and carry or to clean under tables, couches, and other low-lying furniture. Its filters and dirtbag also need to be replaced periodically, so recurring costs are also somewhat high. Still, this vacuum's excellent build quality, strong suction performance, and easy-to-maintain design make it one of the best multi-surface vacuum cleaners that we've tested.
If you're looking for a more portable upright vacuum, take a look at the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright. This vacuum isn't as well-built or as easy to maintain as the Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine, but it's a lot lighter, and its Lift-Away feature enables you to uncouple the main canister from its body, which makes it much easier to pick up and carry or to clean hard-to-reach areas. Its bagless design and washable, reusable pre-motor and allergen-trapping HEPA filters result in a virtual absence of recurring costs as well. This vacuum does a superb job of cleaning debris on low-pile carpet and delivers great performance on high-pile carpets. You can change the height of the vacuum head to suit different surfaces, but unfortunately, it lacks a suction power adjustment feature. Its bulky dirt compartment can also make it a challenge to clean under tables and couches.
Get the Miele if build quality and ease of maintenance are big priorities for you, but consider the Shark if you want a more portable upright vacuum.
The best stick/handheld vacuum for carpets that we've tested is the Dyson V15 Detect. This cordless stick/handheld vacuum delivers superb overall performance on both low and high-pile carpets, where it cleans everything from pet hair to fine and large debris like baking soda or sand. Suction performance remains consistent as the dirt compartment fills up, which is good if you have a large mess.
It comes with a wide assortment of tools and accessories, including a unique laser vacuum head that can help you see small debris while cleaning, an upholstery cleaner, and a conical turbo brush to clear messes from fabric surfaces. It's easy to assemble or reassemble thanks to its easy-clip mechanisms or reconfigure it into a lightweight handheld vacuum to spot clean furniture or small, closed-off spaces. Depending on your choice of suction power and attachments, it can supply anywhere between 10 to 70 minutes of runtime.
Unfortunately, this vacuum's high suction force can make it a hassle to maneuver on high-pile carpet and could even cause it to drag some lighter rugs around. There are also quite a few parts that require periodic maintenance. Still, this vacuum's lightweight construction, broad selection of tools, and versatile overall performance make it a great choice for cleaning messes on carpet.
The Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine is the best canister vacuum for carpets that we've tested. This corded canister model easily cleans 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 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 has 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 regular replacing 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 cleans pet hair and debris and 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 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 corded upright vacuum delivers amazing overall performance on both low and high-pile carpet, where it clears pet hair and small debris like baking soda without too much difficulty. It also cleans a good amount of larger debris like sand, though its performance in this respect is slightly less impressive.
Suction performance doesn't drastically decrease as its spacious dirt compartment fills up, which is good when you're dealing with several large messes, as you shouldn't need to empty it very often. The vacuum also has a surface adjustment feature that enables you to adapt to different floor types on the fly. Recurring costs are low since the only part that needs periodic replacing is its pre-motor filter.
Unfortunately, this vacuum is rather tricky to maneuver in cluttered areas due to its bulky design and lack of a pivoting vacuum head. In addition, while its plastic construction makes it fairly lightweight, it also feels quite flimsy in places. There are quite a few parts that need regular cleaning. Still, this vacuum's excellent overall performance on carpets and relatively affordable price help make it one of the best upright vacuums that we've tested.
If you're looking for a vacuum better-suited to spot-cleaning, consider the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. Unlike the BISSELL PowerForce Helix, it isn't for cleaning large areas, but its compact size and cordless design make it far easier to clean hard-to-reach areas or spots far from any electrical outlets like the inside of your car. It delivers exceptional performance on both low and high-pile carpet, where it can easily clear various kinds of debris ranging from pet hair to fine material like baking soda or larger debris like sand. It comes with a turbo-brush that's advertised to automatically clear hair wraps and a hard-bristle brush for dislodging stuck-on dirt, and a crevice tool for tackling messes in tight corners. Unfortunately, this vacuum lacks a HEPA filter, which could be an annoyance if your pet sheds heavily. Depending on your usage patterns, it also only supplies little over 10 minutes of runtime on a single charge, which might not be sufficient for big cleaning jobs.
Get the BISSELL if you want a budget-friendly vacuum for cleaning large carpeted areas, but consider the Shark if you want a handheld vacuum that delivers fantastic performance on both low and high-pile carpet.
Jul 08, 2021: Replaced Dyson Ball Animal 2 with Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine as 'Best Upright Vacuum For Carpets' pick. Removed Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine from Notable Mentions, added Dyson Ball Animal 2.
Jun 09, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
May 10, 2021: Replaced Shark Rocket Pet Pro with MultiFlex IZ163H with Dyson V15 Detect as 'Best Stick/Handheld Vacuum For Carpets' due to superior performance on low and high-pile carpet. Added Simplicity S65S and Shark Rocket Pet Pro with MultiFlex IZ163H to Notable Mentions.
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.
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.