If you have thick shag rugs or fluffy high-pile carpet in your home, you probably know how difficult it can be to get debris out. Some vacuums don't provide enough suction to pick up small debris like sand. Others may have heads that are too tall, so they end up gliding over dirt. An ideal vacuum for cleaning high-pile carpet should have a brushroll and a turbo brush for agitating carpet fiber and dislodging debris. It should also have a surface type adjustment feature that allows it to adapt to better suit your carpet.
We've tested over 70 vacuums, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums for high-pile carpet you can buy. 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 for carpets, the best cordless vacuums, and the best vacuums.
The best vacuum for high-pile carpet with an upright design that we've tested is the Dyson Ball Animal 2. This model does an outstanding job of cleaning high-pile carpets, where it easily clears pet hair and debris like rice and cereal. It can be used in a semi-handheld mode with its wand and hose, which is helpful if you want to clean awkward areas like stairs or your car's interior.
It has one large ball-like wheel that makes it easier to maneuver in tight spaces and a surface type adjustment feature that helps it deliver incredible performance on other surface types as well, like low-pile carpets and bare floors. It has a spacious dirt compartment, and because of its bagless design and washable filters, it incurs virtually no recurring costs. There are several tools and brushes included that can help with different cleaning jobs, including a turbo brush that can help dislodge dirt from fabric-covered furniture and a pet grooming tool.
Unfortunately, unlike some Dyson models, it doesn't have easy-clip mechanisms, so it can be a bit tricky to assemble and attach tools. It also has a plasticky build quality, and its dirt compartment feels like it might crack if dropped. That said, if you have high-pile carpets to keep clean, it's an excellent, versatile option.
If you want an upright vacuum that can also be used in a handheld configuration, the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright is worth considering. Its performance on high-pile carpets isn't quite as good as the Dyson Ball Animal 2's, but you can use it as a handheld vacuum with its wand and hose, which gives you more reach and helps with cleaning areas like your car's interior, stairs, or shelves. It's equipped with a HEPA filter and does an impressive job of cleaning high-pile carpets, although it may take more than one pass to clear fine material like baking soda. Also, unfortunately, it's more difficult to maintain than the Dyson and comes with fewer tools and brushes.
If you want the vacuum with the best performance on high-pile carpets, go for the Dyson. If you want the convenience of a vacuum that has a handheld configuration, consider the Shark instead.
The best vacuum for high-pile carpet with a stick/handheld design that we've tested is the Dyson V11 Animal. This cordless stick/handheld does a great job of picking up everything from pet hair to baking soda on shaggy carpeting, though it may struggle a bit with larger, coarser material like sand. It comes with a wide range of tools and brushes to help you clean not only tight corners and small spaces but also curtains and furniture upholstery.
It's a bagless model with reusable filters, so recurring costs are practically nonexistent. It's also fairly easy to maintain, with an intuitive design that can be quickly disassembled for maintenance or reconfigured into a handheld to clean spots like the inside of your car. While it's possible to drain its battery in under 10 minutes if you run it continuously on its highest power setting, you can extend its runtime to over 75 minutes if you're careful. Thanks to its reasonably lightweight construction and slim profile, it's also quite maneuverable.
Unfortunately, some users may be put off by its plasticky build quality. It also has a very lengthy recharge time, as it takes roughly four hours to completely replenish its battery. Still, thanks to its impressive performance and low recurring costs, it's one of the best vacuums for high-pile carpet that we've tested.
The Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine is the best canister vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested. This corded canister model does a great job of sucking up most kinds of debris on this kind of surface, ranging from pet hair to material like sand or baking soda, with very little drop in performance as its dirtbag fills up. Its seven-level suction adjustment feature should allow you to quickly adjust to changing surface types.
It has excellent build quality and feels quite premium. User maintenance is remarkably easy, as the few parts that need regular maintenance are readily accessible. Its allergen-trapping HEPA filter should be helpful for owners of heavily-shedding pets too. Its handle is equipped with a built-in LED light to illuminate dark spots, which is helpful if you're using it in its semi-handheld configuration to clean under a couch or a bed.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few parts that need to be routinely replaced, like its dirtbag and filters, so recurring costs can add up over time. Its hose is quite short, which can make cleaning high-placed shelves a little tricky. Otherwise, its blend of performance, ease of maintenance, and premium build quality also make it one of the best multi-surface vacuums that we've tested.
If you're looking for a canister vacuum to clean high-pile carpets but want something more affordable, you may prefer the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. This model isn't as well-built as the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine and doesn't perform quite as well on high-pile carpets, but it's less expensive and still does a good job on that surface type. While it's not equipped with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter, its filters are washable and it uses a bagless design, so it incurs virtually no recurring costs. It's also much lighter and more portable than the Miele, and you can use it in a semi-handheld configuration when you want to clean an awkward or out-of-reach area. Unfortunately, its power cord is quite short, so you may need to swap outlets once or twice if you're cleaning a big room.
Go for the Miele if you want the vacuum with the best performance on high-pile carpets, but consider the Eureka instead if you don't mind sacrificing some performance for something that costs less.
The best robot vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested is the iRobot Roomba S9. Unlike most robot vacuums, this well-built model delivers a good performance on high-pile carpets, easily clearing pet hair and picking up most debris like sand and baking soda. It's very good at maneuvering itself, thanks to a navigation system which allows it to create an efficient route through a room.
It has an auto-adjusting head for different surface types and is also equipped with a dirt sensor that allows it to detect spots that need extra cleaning. Also, using the companion app, you can create a virtual map of your home, make cleaning schedules for different areas, and set up virtual boundary lines that the vacuum won't cross. Its battery life is fantastic, as it gives you roughly 45 minutes of continuous runtime even if you use the most powerful suction mode. Using the most battery-efficient settings, it can last for more than two and a half hours.
Unfortunately, it's fairly difficult to maintain since many parts need to be serviced regularly. Its recurring costs are also quite high since several parts need to be replaced periodically, including the HEPA filter and rubber brushrolls. That said, its performance on high-pile carpets makes it stand out, and it's also one of the best robot vacuums we've tested.
The best vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested in the budget category is the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. This affordable upright model delivers a great performance on high-pile carpets, where it easily picks up pet hair and most debris. It has five different surface-type settings, including one for high-pile carpets, so you can easily adapt as you clean different areas in your home.
Despite its bulkier size, it feels quite light in your hand. It has a good-sized dirt compartment, and it doesn't lose suction as it fills up, so it's suitable for longer cleaning sessions. You can change it to a semi-handheld configuration, which helps clean your car or stairs. There are also some accessories included, like an extension wand for hard-to-reach spots and a soft-bristle brush for delicate objects like curtains. Only the pre-motor filter needs to be replaced regularly, so recurring costs are low.
However, it has a short hose that some may find limiting when using it in its semi-handheld configuration. Also, it lacks a rotating head and isn't very maneuverable, so it may not be ideal if you need to vacuum under low furniture like a couch or coffee table. That said, if you want an affordable option that can tackle high-pile carpets, it's a solid choice.
Feb 12, 2021: Checked that picks are still the best recommendations, and that the products are in stock.
Dec 15, 2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy, with no changes to product picks.
Nov 03, 2020: Replaced the Neato Botvac D7 with the iRobot Roomba S9 for 'Best Robot Vacuum For High-Pile Carpet'. Added the Neato Botvac D7 and Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ to Notable Mentions.
Sep 22, 2020: Replaced the Miele Classic C1 with the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine for 'Best Canister Vacuum For High-Pile Carpet'. Added the Miele Classic C1 and Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best vacuums for high-pile carpet for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
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 high-pile 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.