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 vacuum 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 30 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 Dyson Ball Animal 2 is the best upright vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested. It has an automatic surface type adjustment feature, which helps it perform outstandingly well on high-pile carpet. You can also use it in a wand and hose configuration if you want to clean more difficult-to-reach areas, like inside your car.
This fairly versatile vacuum has a remarkable performance on bare floors and low-pile carpet, so it's also well-suited for other places in your house that may not have high-pile carpet. It comes with a few added accessories like a dedicated pet grooming tool to improve its cleaning scope. While it doesn't have on-board storage for all of them, you can fit some of the tools and brushes onto the vacuum directly so you can take them with you as you clean. It's somewhat easy to maintain, although it has a few parts that need ongoing maintenance, and there are virtually no recurring costs as long as each part is taken care of.
Unfortunately, its build quality is pretty mediocre, and its transparent plastic dirt compartment feels prone to cracking if dropped. There are also many parts that need assembling before you can use the vacuum. Its parts don't have an easy-clip mechanism either, so it can be a little tricky to put them together or take them apart. However, this canister model is one of the best vacuums for high-pile carpet that we've tested and is a suitable choice for heavily carpeted rooms.
If you like the design and benefits of an upright vacuum, but you need something that can be reconfigured to better clean a carpeted staircase, check out the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright. While its performance on high-pile carpet isn't as good as the Dyson Ball Animal 2, and it struggles a bit more to pick up small debris from shaggy rugs, it still has an impressive performance on this surface type. Thanks to its handheld configuration, you have a bit more room to maneuver when on stairs. It also feels more sturdy, and as long as you regularly maintain its parts, it has no recurring costs. Unfortunately, it requires more maintenance than the Dyson, depending on your usage, and it comes with fewer tools and brushes.
If you're vacuuming mostly flat areas like rugs or living rooms, go for the Dyson. However, if you prefer having a handheld configuration available for cleaning carpeted stairs as well as rooms or rugs, check out the Shark.
The best stick/handheld vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested is the Dyson V11 Animal. This lightweight, cordless model offers an automatic power adjustment feature based on whatever you're vacuuming, and you can even manually adjust its vacuum head's suction to better suit different kinds of carpet. It can also be reconfigured into a handheld by detaching its wand, which is great for tackling difficult-to-reach messes.
It can pick up an impressive amount of debris on high-pile carpet. While it struggles to pick up large debris a bit more than it does small, its brushroll can agitate your carpet's fibers to help dislodge more. If you also need something that can handle hardwood flooring, it has an excellent performance on bare floors as it can easily pick up most debris and pet hair. Besides its performance on different surface types, it comes with a few handy tools like an upholstery tool and soft bristle brush, which can help you clean other areas of your home.
However, while its battery performance is okay, it can take a long time to recharge. If you're tackling a difficult mess using its 'Boost' setting, its battery lasts under 10 minutes, which isn't great. Its dirt compartment is also a little small, so it needs to be emptied somewhat frequently. Still, it's easy to maintain, and it has virtually no recurring costs so long its parts are taken care of.
The Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine is the best canister vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested. It has a great overall performance on high-pile carpet as it can pick up pet hair as well as most large debris without a problem. It also has an excellent build quality, and it's easy to assemble as most of its parts clip together.
Thanks to its thoughtful design, it's outstandingly easy to maintain. It has excellent maneuverability, and its suction control feature can be adjusted to several different levels, depending on what you're cleaning. You can use it in a handheld mode to get into hard-to-reach areas, and there's a bright LED light on its handle to help illuminate shadowy areas. It has an outstanding performance on bare floors too, which is great if you want to clean places like a tiled bathroom or kitchen. It also comes with a couple of tools and brushes to help you clean more specialized objects.
Unfortunately, it has a few recurring costs, especially as it uses a large but disposable dirtbag that needs to be replaced when full. It also has a short cord length, so you may need to change outlets more frequently in order to clean a large room. That said, this vacuum has a versatile performance that's well-suited for any home with a lot of high-pile carpet.
If you're shopping for a canister vacuum to tackle high-pile carpet while on a budget, consider the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. While the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine has a better performance on high-pile carpet and a higher build quality, the Eureka still offers a good performance on shaggy, high-pile rugs at a more reasonable price-point. It also has a slightly better performance on low-pile carpet than the Miele, with a comparable ability to clean bare floors. Although it has a plasticky build quality, it's much lighter to move around the home. It has virtually no recurring costs either, as long as its parts are regularly maintained.
If you have a lot of high-pile carpets that attract and collect debris, check out the Miele. However, if you like the design of a canister vacuum but you want to keep your expenses down, get the Eureka.
The Neato Botvac D7 is the best robot vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested. It has a unique D-shape design that allows it to get as close as possible to wall edges and corners, and it uses smart pathing to optimize its cleaning patterns. Unlike many other robot vacuums, it doesn't have a problem climbing on high-pile carpet, which makes it a good choice for shaggy rugs.
Although its performance on high-pile carpet isn't as great as a canister or upright vacuum, its performance is still decent. It can pick up pet hair and a satisfactory amount of large debris. It also does well on low-pile carpet. However, it shines on bare floors, as it can pick up almost everything. While its performance declines as its dirt compartment fills, it's fairly easy to empty this compartment and then send the vacuum back on its way. It also comes with a boundary strip that allows you to keep the vacuum from entering certain areas. Thanks to its companion app, you can even schedule it to clean certain rooms at a programmed time.
Unfortunately, it has many recurring costs as its filters need to be changed every one to two months, depending on your usage. It also has bad maneuverability on rugs with tassels or electrical cables, and it sends you a notification if it needs to be relocated. That said, while this robot vacuum may not be the best choice for cleaning homes full of high-pile carpet, if you have a few fluffy rugs in your home, it can help keep them clean.
The best budget vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested is the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. While this affordable model has a plasticky build quality, it delivers impressive performance on high-pile carpet. As it uses a surface type adjustment dial with five settings, you can easily set the dial to better suit your cleaning needs.
It has an amazing performance on low-pile carpet and can easily pick up pet hair as well as most small and large debris. While it has a somewhat bulky look and feel, it's surprisingly lightweight for an upright vacuum. It can also be used in a half-held position with the wand if you want a closer clean. It also comes with a couple of tools, such as a soft bristle brush, which can help you clean more delicate items like blinds when you're done with your carpet. A few parts of the vacuum need ongoing maintenance depending on your usage, but on the upside, only the filter needs to be replaced, and you can even get Febreze-scented filter variants if you prefer.
Unfortunately, its maneuverability is sub-par as it doesn't have a rotating head. It can also be difficult to get underneath a couch. The hose has a short-range, and if you're using it, there's a chance the vacuum may tip over. The brushroll continuously spins when the vacuum is in an upright position and may damage your floor if the head isn't placed in a higher setting. That said, even though it falls short in maneuverability, it can clean large swaths of high-pile carpet well, making it one of the best vacuums for high-pile at this price point that we've tested.
09/22/2020: 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. 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.